Hello All, It’s Helen from Ocean City, NJ.
I’ve been Going hard for a couple years collecting just about anything organic I can and Pat packing it up in the backyard making soil. I Live in packed community So while I’ve been at this I’ve been keeping it really neat if you can believe that. I want to keep the neighbors happy and give them something pretty to look at. It’s come to the point now where I have plenty of ground in my gardens and fruittrees are taking off.
I love making soil! It is no exaggeration to say that I feed my soil like I used to feed my babies. I purée vegetables for her, Prepare consommés for her, and make sure she gets a balanced diet. I would never consider dropping off or into my compost pile a huge piece of cabbage.
I’ve created a cute little compost silos in the back along the alley. I knocked them over everyone once a while, Sift and sort.
I guess it looks like so much fun that now my neighbors want to join in! The issue is that their contributions are thoughtless. I want to encourage their participation but I don’t know if I can do it without attitude. It just really makes me angry when people drop off huge pieces of vegetation with some twisty ties on it and expect the earth to be able to chew It! That’s no way to treat your old mother! Maybe in the countryside somewhere it would be OK but in the city there’s no time for breaking things down that slowly.
Anyway I’m reaching out to all of you to ask a couple questions. Number one, do you love your compost? Do you feed it lovingly? Do you find yourself checking on it more than once a day? How would you explain this to someone else? If you were me how would you address The issue of inconsiderate donations from the neighbors without discouraging them?
Haha, I was once one of those inconsiderate donor neighbors! I was living temporarily in Nepal, in a house with a big wild untended backyard. The neighbor had a nice big buffalo living in his backyard. I've always composted all my kitchen waste, and can't stand to mix it into garbage, but this situation was temporary, so I was just dumping my kitchen waste in a hidden corner of the yard. One day I had the bright idea to pitch it over the fence for the buffalo. But I forgot that there were bones and stuff in my bin that day. So the next day, the neighbor waved at me over the fence and just said "Thanks, nice, you can give your vegetable scraps to my buffalo, but please don't include meat or bones." I was suitably embarrassed, but after that I followed his instructions.
My point is you could just thank your neighbors straightforwardly but give them instructions. It worked on me, it might work on them.
Works at a residential alternative high school in the Himalayas SECMOL.org . "Back home" is Cape Cod, E Coast USA.
There's an old saying, "You can't change someone else, you can only change yourself." With that in mind, consider how you could change your system to welcome the neighbor's contribution without feeling they're interfering with the way you like to do things.
Here are some options off the top of my head:
1. Designate one specific compost tower with a pretty sign that says, "donations here". That would allow you to sort out the garbage and chop things up and add it to which ever bin you wanted.
2. Have a pretty sign that tells what your compost likes/dislikes, and hope that the neighbors will see and understand what they need to do. Using humour and beauty usually helps.
3. Have a bucket labelled "garbage" and a chopping block with a chopper on a string, so the neighbors will chop things up and notice the garbage.
4. Help the neighbors build their own compost towers and teach the basic principles and that way they'll build their own soil.
Please don't take this wrong - you might want to change your title - it sounds a little as if you plan on composting your neighbors, not dealing with compostables the neighbors are donating! ;-
My friend has a neighbor who raises chickens in the city. He has a feeding box where neighbors are welcome to drop off their scraps for the chickens. People soon learn what will be eaten and what will be rejected. Baby strollers often pull up with a bag of leftovers in the lower carrying tray . Kids like to feed chickens. The poop along with uneaten portions goes into the compost. A very efficient way to gather nutrients for the garden, and he gets eggs out of the deal.
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