On a kick last summer of squeezing my own orange juice I got overwhelmed by how quickly the peels piled up. I managed to reuse a number of them by soaking in vinegar for a month to make a great de-greasing cleaning solution, but honestly, how much de-greaser does one person need!? My ability to reuse the peels once before composting was vastly outstripped by my ability to drink orange juice.

As I’ve used more fresh, whole foods in my diet, I see my compost bin fill up more quickly. My waste becomes more my responsibility. Owning chickens now gives me another place for my waste stream – I can give them some foods I won’t compost, like dairy and egg scraps, and I give them the fresher of my compost items, like apple cores, which they eat with gusto and make yummy eggs, and require less processed grain feed.

My main composting solution has been a worm bin kept outside in summer and inside in winter. It was slow to get going but the worms did produce finished compost after a year. This past winter I pushed them too far and tried to overwinter them outside. I see no worms this spring… I fear I need to start over. Sorry wormies! It has been nice to compost right in or next to my house. And watching it happen makes you realize how much if your organic waste is just water… My worm bin never fills because the water drains out the holes I drilled in the bottom (and chipmunks eat the tasty bits, too). And I can use up my compost on my garden faster than the worms and I can churn it out.

Hardest things to compost seem to be tropical fruits. I think this can’t be coincidence: banana peels, mango pits, pineapple tops, coconut husks, citrus peels. Do tropical plants need sturdier parts to hold up to warmer, wetter conditions? In the tropics these trimmings would compost better! Perhaps it’s nature’s hint that I should eat more local food. It’s also a reminder of the extra shipping costs of sending those inedible parts along with the good stuff. An argument perhaps for getting your exotic fruit in dried form? Must be energetically cheaper to dry near location grown, and ship on from there – and then maybe those mango pits will get composted where they break down better! Or is that just wishful thinking? Maybe I should see orange peels as handy biodegradeable packaging that cushions the fruit and protects it from decay and insects on its way to me. Maybe I should just move to the tropics! But then I would miss pears and blueberries – more delicate and fussy fruit to ship. Hmmm.

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