How What Where to Compost

These guidelines are true for any compost, whether it’s done in a bin, in a pile, or in the ground. (More info: Compost Bins vs. Piles)

  • Compost needs about 50% green ingredients, 50% brown ingredients, oxygen and water.

GREEN

  • “Green” is anything with moisture. It can be any color. Food scraps, grass, leaves, coffee grounds, (non-pet) manure…
  • Green is nitrogen-rich.
  • If there is too much green, it will get very stinky. If this is happening, add more brown. (Also, too much green means too much nitrogen, which means it could burn plants if it was used as fertilizer in this stinky form.)

BROWN

  • “Brown” is anything dry. Dry leaves, brown paper bags, wood chips, egg cartons…
  • Brown is carbon-rich.
  • It helps to cover the compost with a layer of only brown to keep the smell enclosed.

OXYGEN

  • The compost needs oxygen to work. That’s why it’s important to turn bins or flip piles when making compost, to let oxygen reach different parts of the compost. Also, make sure there is air circulating around the compost.

WATER

  • The compost needs moisture, so add water to give it more oxygen and help it cook.

MORE INFO

  • No: No meat, dairy, fish, or animal food oils can go in the compost, unless it’s bokashi (More info: Compost Indoors or Meat & Dairy = BOKASHI). No pet waste because sometimes it has bacteria that can survive the heat of the pile.
  • Shrinkage: Whatever size the compost starts out, it will end up being much smaller when it’s done. (Sort of like cooking fresh spinach)
  • Organic: If you’re trying to make organic compost, make sure yard trimmings you use (fresh grass, brown leaves, etc) come from a yard that doesn’t use pesticides. Anything that is non-organic, we still compost in our city’s green bin.
  • Chop it: We chop up twigs and branches with shears before adding them to the compost. Making everything into smaller pieces helps the compost digest more quickly and easily, like chewing for our tummies.

IT COOKS INTO CLEANLINESS

A few years ago, a farmer friend of mine taught me that compost piles get hot and they are actually cooking the carbon-rich brown & nitrogen-rich green scraps. They get so hot, about 140 degrees, that the creatures one might worry about staying inside the pile (bad bacteria, bugs and any rodents who might smell tasty treats inside the pile) can’t live there anymore. It’s too hot so they leave. Pretty cool, huh? (Pun inaccurate and not intended.)

When a pile is flipped, sometimes there is ash inside. A pile covered in winter snow will still cook and sometimes steam will still rise off of the covering snow! The Hollywood Orchard hosts a 6th grade field trip for the local school and a few days before the kids come, they put an egg and potato inside the compost so when the kids arrive, they can see the egg is hard-boiled and then play hot-potato with the weird stinky potato!

When the compost has been turned a few times to allow the whole thing to cook, there will be only good bacteria and healthy, nutrient-rich compost.

WHAT TO COMPOST

  • No meat, dairy or animal products (bones, butter, fish skins) or pet waste

Nitrogen/ “Green”:

  • Fruits & veggies
  • Peels, skins & cores of fruits & veggies
  • Herbs & spices
  • Nutshells
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Egg shells
  • Pits & seeds
  • Grains & beans
  • Tea bags without the staples
  • Chemical-free hair
  • Chemical-free fingernails
  • Feathers from the down sofa or birds outside
  • Fresh house plant leaves
  • Store-bought flower bouquets (only for the city green bin if your goal is organic)

Carbon/ “Brown”:

  • Shredded brown paper bags
  • Paper egg cartons
  • Toilet paper rolls
  • Brown, dry leaves (you can get them from parks sometimes, ideally they’d be from a pesticide-free yard)
  • Vacuum cleaner or sweeping dust
  • Ash from a firepit that used wood
  • Dry house plant leaves
  • Wood chips (ideally chemical-free/ non-treated)

COLLECT THE COMPOST

Collect your food scraps in the freezer or fridge, so they don’t smell or attract bugs. You can keep them in glass or plastic tupperware, or you have regular plastic bags, you can use those and wash them out and re-use them. Or use compostable bags. Or to create less waste, you can keep them in a bowl with no lid or a brown paper bag that can be tossed in to the compost.

You can also collect scraps in a smell-absorbing compost bucket on your counter-top. (We use this one. During the summer ant-parades, we keep it in the fridge.)

WHERE TO COMPOST

When you’re ready to compost, put your food scraps and brown compostable waste in:

  • your yard in a compost pile above ground
  • a pit in the ground with or without doors to seal it
  • a fenced in compost area
  • a plastic compost bin that turns
  • a wooden compost bin that allows for air circulation
  • a homemade compost trashcan with holes drilled in the sides

More information on this part of the process: How to Compost in Bins & Piles

NO ROOM? PUT YOUR FOOD SCRAPS IN…

  • your green or brown bin from the city
  • your indoor or outdoor worm bin (no acidic food or oils)
  • an indoor bokashi compost bucket
  • your friend’s compost
  • the compost collection of a community organization, farmer’s market or restaurant that accepts compost. (See more info below)
  • a compost hub
  • a compost co-op

For folks in Los Angeles:

  • LA Compost collects food scraps at:
    • The Atwater Farmer’s Market, every Sunday 10am-2pm (double check the LA Compost site)
    • The Los Feliz Farmer’s Market, 1st & 3rd Sundays 9am -1pm (double check the LA Compost site)
    • A slew of community hubs listed on their website
    • Community co-ops

NEED HELP?

It seems like it’s possible that everyone can participate in some part of the compost cycle. But getting started may be difficult without seeing the magic in action. In my experience, composting can a passionate team sport or an invigorating ice-skating solo. Reading about it may be all you need to start on your own, but it can also be helpful to find some experienced folks who will let you watch their process or answer questions about how they do it. You could also find a free class or offer to temporarily help a community garden with their compost. I learn so much by helping flip the pile every so often at our beloved Hollywood Orchard.

If you want to do it in a group, there may be compost hubs or compost co-ops near you that you can join.

Whether working with others or solo, I suggest trying to get comfy with the idea that trial and error is part of the process no matter what, and it can be exciting and beautiful.

For folks in Los Angeles:

  • The City gives some free workshops and discounted compost bins and worm bins.
  • Kiss the Ground also has free compost workshops sometimes, listed on their FB page.
  • Grow Good gives free classes from time to time. This LA Times article has more info.
  • The Burbank Recycle Center has a free compost workshop the last Wednesday of every month from 6-8pm from March – November, you just have to RSVP.
  • The Hollywood Orchard in Beachwood Canyon offers opportunities to work on their compost pile where the compost-curious can learn via hand-on practice. Join the Hollywood Orchard mailing list and ask to be informed of when we get together to work on our compost pile, then come play in the dirt with us!

WHY

Why to Compost

WHEN TO COMPOST

Whenever you’d like. Composting can seem tricky, but I feel like you’ll know when you’re ready. To me, love is the main ingredient. Add some to the compost, and some to yourself. It lets you keep trying until you figure out what works for you.

heart ruth signature

Compost Story infographic

 

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Why to Compost

Carbon dioxide in the air is pollution. Carbon in the soil is healthy… Anything that is alive is made of carbon, including us.

When we sweep leaves away from our lawns, we’re sweeping away that area’s food. Those leaves, flowers, seeds and natural debris, that are often seen as mess, would normally stay and break down into food for the soil and become food for the plants in that space.

It is often said to rotate crops because one type of plant will eat certain nutrients in that spot and another type of plant would eat other nutrients, letting the depleted nutrients build back up for a while. But naturally, a tomato plant drops its seeds in the same place and grows again. Why? My guess is that a tomato plant would normally die in its spot, make green & brown waste, mix with rain or snow and other fallen leaves, and become its own food next year, replenishing the soil’s nutrients. Without humans taking away their “mess,” they feed themselves. It seems the seeds would ride the wind or in the belly of an animal and end up popping up in new places too, but they’d have peace-of-mind knowing they carry a cycle of food with them where ever they go.

But why do we care about feeding the soil to feed plants? Firstly, because CARBON.

When the soil is depleted, it can’t pull carbon into itself or keep it there. Carbon dioxide in the air is pollution. Carbon in the soil is healthy. It becomes food for the soil’s bacteria. Anything that is alive- plants, animals, soil- is made of carbon, including us. There was a balanced cycle of carbon dying and becoming new life, but we added too much carbon to the atmosphere with fossil fuels and took away the ground’s ability to absorb carbon with our agriculture practices. This combination is creating pollution that is killing the planet that keeps us alive.

Ryland Englehart, co-founder of Kiss the Ground, a non-profit in LA, shares that between carbon extraction via fossil fuels and our agriculture practices, “We’ve moved 880 giga-tons [880,000,000,000 tons] of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which is heating up the planet and destabilizing our climate. Now, the oceans have absorbed a lot of this excess carbon which is resulting in ocean acidification and accelerating a mass extinction of sea life… Where do we put this excess carbon to get this cycle back into balance? The answer is literally… under our feet. It’s the soil.”

When plants photosynthesize, they pull carbon out of the air and turn it into sugars that go into their roots feeding bacterial colonies, mycorrhizal funghi, and aggregates. These creatures increase the root capacity by the thousands, turn the sugars into nutrients for the plant and create an environment that can store carbon for decades. “Plants pump it in and soil stores it. Nature’s living technology is amazing!”

Making our own compost and returning it to the land, pulls more carbon into the ground which helps heal climate change. (More info: watch this Kiss the Ground video.)

Also, putting the missing link back in the cycle by composting creates less landfill trash that would become methane gas.

When compost is added to an edible garden and the soil gets richer, the plants in the healthy, bacteria-rich soil don’t need pesticides or chemical fertilizers. They can be next to plants with disease and not get sick. It’s like our human immune systems: we need good bacteria (probiotics), nutrients and minerals for our organs to fight off disease. When our immune systems are strong, we’re less likely to catch something that would infect a less healthy person. Plants are the same way.

And the same way that we have to continuously eat nutrients to maintain our health, so do the plants. As we keep eating and creating food scraps, plants keep needing the scraps. Their need keeps landfills thinner and eventually, our bellies fuller. All while eliminating the need for hormone-disrupting, pollution-causing chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Helping the plant’s immune system ends up helping ours too. The garden food ends up having more nutrients for us, tasting better, and ultimately providing healing and prevention for many of our chronic diseases.

Plus plants in healthy soil need less water, which saves water. And people composting on their own land also reduces their city’s need to collect yard waste, saving more resources.

Lastly, if you are able to turn a pile, studies show that being around soil bacteria reduces depression (It’s the probiotics in the soil). And I believe any nature calms us in some way, from being around a lush forest to being around one fruit from one tree, even putting its peel-scraps in a bucket in my kitchen.

Overall, all pieces of the cycle benefit people, soil, plants, animals and the planet.

These are just my reasons though, why do you compost if you do?

How What Where to Compost

 

Jake’s Favorite Lawn Burger

 

15.5.30 TheWholeRuth Jakes Favorite Lawn Burger2

This tasty burger is award-winning! I was presented with “Jake’s Favorite Burger Award.” What does that mean? It means this is my friend Jake’s favorite burger! Yay!

I think it looks like it was made by a man who just mowed his lawn and got curious about what it would taste like if he piled some clippings on his much-earned burger. Luckily this particular man has a lawn made entirely of organic arugula and he massaged the clippings in apple cider vinegar and the burger tastes great!

A few fun facts: There is a top piece of bread, it’s just hiding on the other side of the plate. This is organic, grass-fed beef. The burger is gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free & dairy-free. It has about 6.5 grams of sugar (4g from two slices of bread, 2g from the ketchup, and a whole medium tomato has 3.2g of sugar, so I’m guessing these two slices are around .5g). Everything in it is organic except for the bread.

Also, I eat beef if it’s organic and when I feel like I need it, which varies greatly. It seems like once a month or every two months, I’ll eat a one pound package of grass-fed organic beef or a bag of beef jerky. But it’s not often. Beef is an inflammatory food and I can tell I swell from it a bit. I also usually keep my meat separate from carbs because my body stays leaner that way. It’s called food combining and it’s very effective. The theory behind it is that the enzymes that break down carbs and proteins are different and mixing them makes digestion more difficult. Without going into a huge explanation of how and why I eat what I eat, I’ll simply say everyone is different, but I wanted to share that I eat this meal as a rare, well-done treat!

Here is the “award-winning” recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 of a pound of grass-fed, organic beef
  • 1 large organic garlic clove
  • organic oregano
  • organic crushed black pepper
  • organic yellow mustard
  • organic ketchup
  • handful of organic arugula
  • tablespoon organic, raw apple-cider vinegar
  • 1/4 of an organic avocado
  • 2 slices of organic red tomato
  • 2 slices of organic yellow onion
  • 2 slices of gluten-free, multi-grain bread
  • tablespoon organic olive oil

Hide Garlic in Patty Mince the garlic glove. Heat pan on medium high. Remove about half or a third of the hamburger meat and set it aside. Form a patty with the rest of the hamburger meat and sprinkle the minced garlic on top. Cover the garlic with the meat that was set aside so that the garlic ends up in the center of the burger. Shape the patty how you’d like and place in pan. Wash your hands, you nasty bastard. (Shane added that last part.)

Toast Bread Heat a separate large pan for about thirty seconds. Add olive oil and set the bread slices in the oil, covering each side. Toast each side in pan until brown.

Sauté Onion Add onion to the same pan so it can sauté in the oil at the same time. I like to use the least amount of pans possible so there is less clean up afterwards.

Spice & Cook Burger When the first side looks cooked almost half way up to the raw side, flip the burger and add oregano to the cooked side. Add pepper to one side when it is almost done.

I don’t know that much about cooking burgers, but it seems like when I don’t drain the fat out of the burger (or smash it with a spatula or puncture it to see how well it has cooked), the juices help cook the burger all the way through in a more even way and in a shorter amount of time. It seems like the boiling juice inside is helping cook the center. Once it is cooked all the way through, there is less fat to drain anyway. So my advice is don’t smash, puncture or drain it until it is done cooking. How will you know it’s done cooking without puncturing it? I don’t know yet. I wait until I think it’s done and then puncture it in the center a little bit with a small knife. If it has juice immediately come out, I quickly stop applying pressure and leave it be. If it seems cooked, it’s done.

Massage Arugula In a small dish, massage the arugula with the apple cider vinegar about 10 times. Don’t be scared to squish it.

Cool the Bread Once the bread is toasted to your liking, lean it at an angle on the edge of your plate. This sounds weird. But the bottom of the gluten-free bread makes condensation from the heat and moisture so if you place it flat on the plate and leave it in the same place, it can get soggy. I like to air it out by leaning it at a diagonal on the lip of the plate. Once it’s cooled down for a couple of minutes while I do something else, I’ll flip it over and move it to a different section of the plate. If there is condensation under the original spot, I’ll wipe off the water.

Slice Tomato & Avocado Cut two tomato slices. Open your avocado by running a knife through the center until it hits the pit, then sliding the knife along the pit to slice the avocado in half. Pull the halves apart and slice the side without the seed. Scoop out the slices with a spoon. I used about 1/4 of an avocado.

Plate & Eat Place the sautéed onion on the toasted bread, then the tomato slices, the burger, avocado, and arugula. Add ketchup, mustard, the top bread slice and enjoy! Or feed it to your friend Jake. It’s his favorite! 🙂

 

 

Berry Dice to Beet You Shake

15.5.28 TheWholeRuth Berry Dice to Beet You

I didn’t realize how violent this recipe title could sound until after I became attached to the name. Oops! To me it sounds like an adorable Hobbit man in heavy tweed pants that are held up by brown-striped suspenders meeting his neighbor for the first time, in the morning, sharing a breakfast shake over the fence. He also has a bulby red nose and little cold, so even though he has a warm twinkle in his eye, his consonants are stifled.

“Berry Dice to Beet You…”

It tastes like a sunny Hobbit morning too. Hope you like it.

Recipe:

In a blender, combine the ingredients and blend on high. Makes almost 1½ glasses.

Because our blender is not as strong, I usually start blending by pulsating on low for a second and then letting it settle, again for a second, and let it settle, and I continue this until I can see that the blender has pulled in all of the whole food. It’s usually about five times. Once that has happened, I turn the blender to the highest low setting and let it run for about 30 seconds. Then I switch it to the highest high setting and blend for 30 seconds to a minute or until the texture looks drinkable. If you have a strong blender, please feel free to move through your life at your own pace.

  • Small organic banana
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cooked organic beet
  • 10 organic raspberries (rinsed)
  • 28 non-organic blueberries (soaked in a fruit/vegetable cleaner for a minute, swished for 30 seconds, rinsed until no more soap, & hopefully no more toxins 🙂
  • ½ organic Royal Gala apple (rinsed)
  • 1 big handful of dinosaur kale
  • small squeeze of fresh lime
  • 1 cup filtered water

Ass Hat Sandwich

20150503-123830.jpg

Ass Hat Sandwich: Dairy Free Soy Free Gluten Free Egg Sandwich with a giant pepper that looks like a butt holding in the ingredients and wearing a bread slice that looks like a hat. Good Morning Everyone. #sauteed #organic #yellowonion in a #pan then #ripped #organic #dinosaurkale into a #whisked #egg and #cooked on #mediumhigh until #goldenbrown then in the same #pan #toasted #ricebread in #oliveoil and #plated the #sandwich in the #order of #bread #omelet #onion #salsa #avocado #bellpepper #bread so that the #piece of #pepper #holds in the #avocado and I also #scored the #top so the #glutenfreebread could #grip the #orangebellpepper too #nofilter #yummy #breakfast #asshat #sandwich

French Fries Tacos, with a side of French Fries

FRENCH FRIES TACOS. WITH A SIDE OF FRENCH FRIES. Shane just invented the Tastiest Thing. #MexicanPrimantiBros #FrenchFries
FRENCH FRIES TACOS. WITH A SIDE OF FRENCH FRIES. Shane just invented the Tastiest Thing. #MexicanPrimantiBros #FrenchFries

Shane just invented the Tastiest Thing. French Fries Tacos, with a side of French Fries! It’s like Mexican Primanti Bros. And it’s so freaking delicious:

French Fries Tacos

Makes 2 tacos for 2 people. Or 4 tacos for 1 people. Or 3 tacos and one for tomorrow, for one person.

What you need?

Continue reading “French Fries Tacos, with a side of French Fries”

Christmas Beans

The Whole Ruth Christmas Chili Beans

For cousin Heather 🙂

Christmas Beans:

I don’t measure anything or time it really. So trust your instinct and play knowing that you can’t get anything wrong. I mean, I’m sure that’s a possibility, like if you read “bean” as “cat”, but in general, it’ll come out tasty.

For the beans in this recipe (and the photo), we made three crock pots of beans to feed a lot of people. If you only want to make one pot, use 1/3 of everything. But I recommend making a lot of beans for one person, too, because then you can freeze it and have it ready for later. That’s how Dad taught me. These are his beans, by the way, just tweaked with whatever was in Shane’s mom’s kitchen. Which is kind of my Dad’s rule of thumb: use whatever is there or whatever you feel inspired by. Continue reading “Christmas Beans”

Leftovers Soup: Good Improv Show

13.6.8 TheWholeRuth Leftovers Soup Improv
Teamwork: it’s what’s for dinner.

A post-dinner post from Saturday, June 8, 2013

Today we made soup with all of the ingredients left in our fridge. We felt very accomplished because tomorrow we get our box of veggies for the week and this soup allowed us to use all of this week’s food to the very last drop! Nothing went to waste! (Well, nothing ever goes to waste, organic food wise, because scraps or neglected foods go straight into the compost bin. But its nice when the food goes into our belly instead!)

I love the challenge of coming up with a meal with whatever is left in the fridge. It feels like an improv show where your audience is just the refrigerator. And although refrigerators aren’t much for feedback, they are great at suggestions. “Does anyone have a suggestion of what we can eat for dinner tonight?” Here is what our seemingly oafish, but always helpful refrigerator yelled out (You can make the fridge have any voice you want, but mine sounds like The Big Guy Who Works At A Moving Truck Company Who Would Also Help A Grandma Cross The Street):

Continue reading “Leftovers Soup: Good Improv Show”

A Pair of Sandwiches

#veggiesandwich #prettycolors #totallygonnafallapart"
#veggiesandwich #prettycolors #totallygonnafallapart
#beet #notaburger #beetjuice #notblood"
#beet #notaburger #beetjuice #notblood”

Veggie Sandwich: brown rice bread and all organic avocado, mushroom, red pepper, tomato, swiss chard, olive oil, raw apple cider vinegar, & non-gmo dill

Grapefruit Hummus & Beet Sandwich: brown rice bread and homemade hummus (organic garbanzo beans, organic olive oil, sea salt, splash of lemon juice, *organic grapefruit juice, tahini, organic garlic clove), non-gmo dill, and (the rest is organic) avocado, tomato, red onion, raw apple cider vinegar, & olive oil

*Please note that we only had one drop of an older lemon in the fridge so we opted to gamble on grapefruit juice… because all the other hummus ingredients were already in the blender and grapefruits were the only citrus in the house. We only squeezed in a little, and still added the old lemon drop. And we couldn’t tell the difference! Guess why, either we: Continue reading “A Pair of Sandwiches”

Meet Fat Bastard The Live Avocado

#meetfatbastard #hesingsbass #bigthickmf
#meetfatbastard #hesingsbass #bigthickmf

I’m excited for you to meet Fat Bastard. He’s the size of a small tennis ball. Which means he isn’t the size of a tennis ball… He’s the size of a golf ball- and a half. He’s the size of a large plum… He’s his own man and his own size and he doesn’t need to tell you or anyone else about it. He’s the big fella at the party who just sits in the corner and is quiet most of the time and after things get going, ends up being hilarious, but still quietly. And only if he feels like it.

He came from our CSA box. That is a Community Supported Agriculture box. If you already know what that is, please *skip ahead to find out about who Fat Bastard is dating and his hobbies. A Community Supported Agriculture box (try to say that five times fast) (you totally can) (I just have trouble with it) (but practicing just now helped more than I expected) is a box full of vegetables from a local farm. Continue reading “Meet Fat Bastard The Live Avocado”