Gardening, Step One: Composting

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4.17.11 by sarah

Back when I was a teenager (and probably way cooler than I am now), my dad repeatedly forced me to observe his progress on the compost pile he started in our California backyard.  Naturally, I was beyond grossed out at the sight of the steaming five-foot mass of vegetable peels, raked leaves from our yard, and the months upon months of organic matter that we weren’t allowed to throw away in the regular trash can.  Depending on what Dad’s intentions were — sometimes it was to gross me out, but sometimes it was out of wholehearted pride from fostering sustainable matter in his own garden — I either rolled my eyes and laughed, or pretended to care for support.  I was soooo cool.
Fast-forward ten years.  I’m living in DC.  I just moved to a house with a yard.  I’ve never not neglected a live plant before.  And yet, for the past year or so, I’ve felt strangely guilty when I nudge fruit and vegetable matter in my sink’s garbage disposal.  Memories of odors, caused by tossing food in our aluminum trash can, strangely haunt my kitchen adventures, and usually with a grimace.  I dream that potato peels squeal out every time I threw them away in the trash: “Nooo!  We don’t belong here!”
That was a lie.  I don’t actually dream about that stuff.  But it’s kind of like how people feel about a lobster screaming as it plunges into a vat of boiling water. Thanks, Dad.  You planted this seed in my head ever so strategically, probably knowing that I’d eventually grow up and start a compost pile of my own.
What he did not know, was that I’d start a food blog, and eventually blog about it.  Or him!]
But still, I really do feel guilty by wasting food, and I have been wanting to start a garden. So I started a compost pile.  Yes, it’s true.  I am slowly turning into the person that I rolled my eyes at ten years ago.  But the cool thing about it is that I get to blog my garden’s progress, for all of you to read.  Hopefully, it will help motivate me to keep everything together.  The sunflowers, spinach, leeks, zucchini, and sugar snap peas are sprouting.  Hooray!
Enough with the photos of dirt.  This is our entryway bookshelf, and views of the flower collections that adorn our house during birthday season.

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