This past month, my eldest daughter did a trash data collection experiment. We discovered that when we’re fighting off serious illnesses (as we were in March and April) we discard quite a few tea bags. This go-round, it was twenty-two for the month, to be exact.
But there were also teabags that went uncounted, because I put them into the vegetable stock freezer bag (I store almost all vegetable and fruit cuttings and peels, egg shells, onion and garlic skins, and any tea bags that don’t contain actual tea in a freezer bag, and when I need a quick vegetable stock, I pull out the bag and empty it into a pot and boil for about 10-20 minutes. I don’t include the teabags that have actual tea, because tea blocks the uptake of iron, so I don’t want it in our regular mealtime foods.)
So maybe we actually used 44 teabags. I’m not sure. I just know that we made an awful lot of dandelion tea, nettle tea, and Breathe-Deep tea throughout March to mid-April. And when we were through with the teabags, I popped them into the vegetable stock freezer bag. And when we were done making the vegetable stock, I discarded the whole lot to the compost pile out back.
It’s the compost pile, truly, that was responsible for what we discovered in the trash experiment: We toss about 18 bags of kitchen trash per year.
That’s definitely far less kitchen trash than we used to toss. Why? Many things that used to go into the trash now go to the compost pile, where they create beautiful, rich new soil for the gardens that are dotted around our teeny property. The veggie stock and compost pile practices ultimately save money, reduce food waste, and make us and the soil healthier.
Some people think very hard about how they compost. I have a friend who has a keyhole garden, which relies on a composting bin set directly in the center. Other people, of necessity, need to figure out an under-the-sink system. We just toss things into a pile in the backyard and add grass clippings and leaves every so once in a while. It takes no thought at all and gets us outside even in the winter, which is often more of a respite than we’d meant it to be.
When we learned how to eat the whole pumpkin, we also laughed about the stem dilemma. This was one part of the pumpkin no one will be eating. We made a funny centerpiece of it for a while. At the moment, it is sitting on the counter. Someday it will go into the compost pile.
Have you tried composting? What has your experience been with it? If you haven’t tried it, maybe you could give it a chance. Write a poem about composting, and try using a cento approach (which is all about lifting lines that were originally elsewhere, to create something new and beautiful). You can credit your sources at the end of your poem.
In making the following cento, I realized it was a harder task than I’d imagined it might be. It turns out that the people who’ve written about pumpkin on the Internet have not been thinking poetry when they pen. 🙂
If you encounter a similar difficulty, you could instead try lifting a single line from another source and make it your poem title, then write the rest of the poem in your own words. My cento is composed of other people’s words up until the last two stanzas.
From obsolete French pompon,
its seeds are roasted
for a crunchy snack,
while its flowers are
often battered and fried.
You can also eat
of the pumpkin plant,
which is good news
it’s common for eyesight
to diminish with age,
but pumpkin is plentiful
in nutrients that have been linked
to strong eyesight as your body ages.
For breakfast treats,
pumpkin’s the yum king.
But the stem? Ahem.
Ours made a lovely,
destined all the while
for the compost