Monday, August 1, 2011

Ken Ulman Wants To Steal Your Food

Ken Ulman wants to steal the food from your mouth -- or at least from the mouths of your earth worms.

Howard County will start a pilot program in September asking people to save food scraps for large-scale composting.  Families fill a special 35-gallon container, and the county whisks it away once a week to a Woodbine company for composting, says the Sun.

Don't fall for this, people.

This program beats throwing your vegetable scraps in the trash, but old food is gold if you give it half a chance.  Or maybe half a year in your own compost pile.

Composting is a great way to support your own vegetable garden.  Collect shredded leaves in the fall, then mix your vegetable scraps over the year.  By next summer, you'll have crumbly black compost  to improve any garden that you have.  That's Ulman's plan.  They are taking your trash, and they'll sell it right back to you.

Composting is easy.  Start small.  Inside, get a pail to collect your kitchen scraps.  Outside, create a compost spot -- as simple as a pile if you have the space or as small as a compost bin if you want to keep it out of sight.  Get a garden fork, and you're ready to go.  You can read a dozen techniques, but composting works fine even if you just mix "greens" and "browns" and leave them alone.

If you're lucky, you'll catch the bug.  People throw leaves to the curb every fall.  I collect a few dozen bags, some off the street, some off some friends in Columbia.  I shred them, and I pile them between air handlers in my side yard.  Over the year, I mix leaves into my pile to cover my kitchen scraps.  Just this weekend, I extended a raised bed and mixed two huge containers of worm-packed compost from my pile.  It barely dented my supply.

If you have the space, you should import vegetables instead of giving yours to Ulman for free.  I wrote two years ago about how Roots and Mom's Organic Market will give you boxes of produce to mix into your pile.  Buy a flexible bin like the Presto one in the box below.  When you get those leaves in November, you layer someone else's leaves with free vegetables.  Microbes love the mixture, and it burns down to compost.

There are really a thousand ways to compost.  As simple as "layer and leave."  As involved as weekly turning and trips to pick up old vegetables at Roots.  Below, I recommend some basic bins, a counter-top pail, and a flexible bin that you could use in the fall.  If I had more land, I'd build a three-bin system from wood and wire mesh.  The bins work great though where you want to keep the pile contained in a small amount of space.

Recommend: The Composting Edition
This is basic compost bin.  Pair it with some kind of pail t…
This is pail to sit on your counter and hold vegetables and scraps.  You empty them 
Another outdoor bin
Another outdoor bin
bin to buy once you're really composting.  This is flexible pla…


Simon said...

We use the Presto bin or a close equivalent as HoCo has given them out FREE in the past. Ours came from a location on Columbia Gateway Drive. Something we learned not to do was to throw cobs of corn in it - it's crack for chipmunks. We've seen them chew through the plastic to get them. If you have squirrels and chipmunks, throw the corn somewhere else and spare your bin.

Angie said...

Not everyone wants to compost, I mean not everyone even has gardens or plants that they'd need compost for. I think this is a great idea for slimming the amount of food waste that goes into the landfill. It's better that it becomes a useful product than something that just gets dumped! I garden, there I compost :)

Rebecca said...

I agree with Angie. I compost myself, so I won't use the county program either. But it is a much better alternative than letting it got to waste!

Kim in MD said...

You can get a free compost bin from the Ho Co govt (office on Columbia Gateway Drive) -

Karen said...

I also compost veggie/fruit scraps but according to the article they are taking stuff like used pizza boxes. Those don't go in my compost pile. Not a big savings for me but if they could get the restaurants and apartment dwellers on board, it might be worth it.

Pamela said...

I think this is a great idea - we just moved into a townhouse and are composting but, before that, we rented a condo and had no way to compost ourselves, though we would have loved to. This sounds like an awesome program for renters, or anyone who doesn't have much outdoor space.

Anonymous said...

I think this a great idea! Not sure why HowChow is making it out to be some kind of scam. Ninety-nine percent of people I know don't compost - they throw their scraps in the garbage, or worse, down the drain. I think a program like this will raise awareness about better ways to dispose of food scraps.

Jen said...

I was all ready to step up on behalf of apartment or condo dwellers, but I see it's already been done. I'm happy to see a composting program as I have no space to do it myself, nor do I garden/need compost.

What I hope is that this program is successful enough that it is funded well enough to actually place the bins in apartment communities. A few years back Howard County made recycling pickups no longer free to apartment complexes. Not every apartment complex chose to pay for recycling. I now smuggle my recyclables into the dumpster for same where I work (also in HoCo!). I realize that it's not the county's fault that my apartment complex is this cheap, but I hope someday we can facilitate ease of recycling (and, say, full community participation) for apartment complexes.

HowChow said...

People, people.

Nothing in the post criticizes the program, let alone calls this a scam. In fact, the post says this program is better than throwing your vegetable scraps in the trash. It just says you should compost yourself -- with a few easy suggestions.

Are people so serious that they think I literally meant that Ken Ulman wants to steal your food? Did I need to find a photo of Ulman with his pinky at his lips demanding "ONE MILLION pounds of vegetable peels?"

John in HoCo said...

Humor.....the lost art of the pc generation.

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone thinks you were serious about Ken Ullman stealing our food:-) Though now that you brought it up, I do want to see a Ken Ullman pinky-to-his-lips picture....

I will admit that the humor angle was a little lost on me simply because the tone seemed more critical than your usual posts. My comment about the scam, too, was an attempt at humor. Sometimes these things don't translate well.

Min E. said...

I was thrilled to receive the note that came with the mails! A similar program has been in place for years in the city where my folks live in Asia. Here I'm hesitant to do compost (though I seriously considered it) as I don't really have a garden. But this program will make the food scraps of a better use. Thanks for posting. :)