Pass Me The Potato Peels Please

Yesterday I celebrated the momentous completion of my back-deck, air-stack compost bin ~ a task which has taken me over a month of puttering out in the cold between extensive weekend travels.

When I signed the lease for this abode last November, it pleased me that the dwelling was as self contained as an apartment, yet still bright and opening out on ground-level into  some degree of natural beauty.  With no yard maintenance of any sort required, my family and I would be free to simply lock our door and head back to Pakistan at any time, without bothering anyone to monitor a garden, lawn or snow removal.    However, it was equally pleasing that the kitchen had a large wooden deck beyond its sunny patio doors, with potential for potted plants,  bird feeders and plenty of outdoor breakfasts.  Of added value were the stairs down off the deck to a hiking trail through dense woods and along a creek running for miles ~ not only past a community garden, but onward to one of our city’s largest and most central parks.     With one swish of a pen, all seemed too good to be true for a middle aged fellow making a sudden and precarious move back to the hometown he hadn’t lived in for a decade or more.

The only problem: composting.

Without a useable spot of earth for even a small household compost bin, what would my family and I do with our daily organic kitchen scraps?  I had heard of “terrace composting” for city dwellings in apartments, but most of my research only yielded results on composting with worms to break down table scraps (which was not a direction I wanted to go), or trendy but expensive “spinning” compost devices ranging anywhere between $100.00 to $600.00.

Being a strong proponent of trying to zen my way toward simplicity, and not just “buy” it, my continuing research for an economical and practical solution lead me to the solid waste management website by the Toronto city council.  Their suggestions for simple, small compost ideas included building directions for an “Air Stack” terrace device (easily fashioned from a rubbish bin or rain barrel), wire mesh and sticks, tickled my inspiration, imagination and motivation.

For approximately $65 I was able to secure a bin, a roll of wire mesh, three bricks and a galvanized steel tray (intended for a water heater, but the perfect size to catch drainage from my compost) from a local hardware store.    In addition to the basic purchased materials, I acquired three pieces of scrap wood form my father’s garage, a handful of plastic fasteners from among my uncle’s old boxes of odds & bobs, some old news papers, twigs from alongside the foot-path behind my home, a bundle of sticks (average length 30 inches) from a recent hike and a piece of plastic mesh recycled form a recently consumed crate of Moroccan clementines.   Lastly, I placed an old plastic sheet (that had once served as a mattress cover I believe) under the drainage tray so the wooden deck would not be damaged or discoloured in any way by the galvanized steel.

Perhaps things can indeed be bought on on-line which provide a certain degree of ease and maybe even a little happiness… but no price can be placed on the feeling of accomplishment one feels after using one’s own hands and determination to bring a vision into existence.

Since our little family of four relocated here to Ontario, our dedicated reducing, reusing and recycling of all bottles, cans, paper products and plastic materials has meant that we have only been averaging 3/4 of a garbage bag per week (ie. 3 bags per month).     Now that we will, once again, be able to compost all organic matter from our kitchen, my hope is that we can decrease our monthly trash by at least 1.5 bags.

Next project: a Bird feeder made form the wood of the Moroccan clementine crates mentioned earlier.    …Or for those who want further inspiration for those delightful wooden boxes, here’s a Facebook Page devoted to ideas (Can you believe somebody actually made a FB page for wooden clementine crate craft ideas?   Can you believe I actually searched for one and found it?)

Pass me the potatoes peels please….oh yeah, and the husks from those peas and the grounds from those teas.

Categories: Garden, Personal Philosophy, Reduce Reuse Recycle, Simple Living

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11 thoughts on “Pass Me The Potato Peels Please

  1. Z bint B

    Shoulda moved to Milton where the compost is picked up in its bin every week 😉
    Hey my dear brother, still waiting for an email or a call!! 5 months? sheesh!

    – Z bint B from k-town origionally (see? still a poet and still cheeze)

  2. Thank you for this post, I will definitely not be sharing the number of garbage bags we produce per month, but I am inspired by your postin attempting to change that number.

  3. Hi. Am glad u finally found a home for your family. It sounds lovely 🙂 and despite the trials u must have been thru, u still sound upbeat n positive. Thanks for posting again 🙂 missed your stories. Much blessings n smiles in your every day 🙂 Salaam.

  4. Excellent! It looks critter-safe and eminently respectable to all who may question a compost bin in an urban area (as actually happens sometimes here in the States). We add a fourth “r” to reduce, reuse, recycle- and it is refuse. Amazing the difference that one makes towards reaching a goal of simple living.

  5. 🙂 Thank you my friend, however, that would defeat the joy of trying to be as self-subsisting as possible…and would not provide me with potting soil for my intended indoor and outdoor plants this spring.

    As for meeting up…and poetry…here’s a little collection of verses I wrote just for you my dear (though I will indeed try harder to catch up more directly soon.)

    An Apology To My Friends

    Many a friend have scolded me,
    for living so elusively.
    “The slightest din is never heard!
    No note, poem, song, letter or word!

    Have friendships of your past worn down?
    Lost on the streets of your hometown?
    As dull as your old pencil’s snout?
    You’ve chewed us up! You’ve rubbed us out!”

    In my defense, I do confess,
    I’ve been a dither and daft mess.
    My days spent spinning like a fool,
    a drowning fish without a school.

    The kingdom needs so much repair,
    with tribulations everywhere.
    It’s daunting to a troubadour ~
    a simple clown and nothing more.

    A jester of my children’s court,
    juggling their dreams, with time so short.
    A minstrel strumming my bride’s fate,
    to harmonize before I’m late.

    A joker to my Queen and King,
    who need to smile and hear me sing,
    who raised me up to be the one,
    to earn the knighthood of a son.

    This bard admits he’s lost a grip,
    upon his pen’s most fragile tip.
    But ink and rich intentions still,
    fill my well and await my quill.

    Until the time when time and I,
    may sit together eye to eye,
    I fear I may seem hard to find,
    but rest assured ~ you’re in my mind.

    So dear old friends where’er ye be,
    please hear my rhymed apology:
    a metered gift, with heartfelt trills,
    and trust we’ll meet, when next God wills.

  6. Fahmida Ahmed

    Asalam Alaikum,

    It is a great news that you have found a nice home Mashallah…may Allah (SWT) bless you and your family and all of you live there with peace. ameen.


  7. Fahmida Ahmed

    Asalam Alaikum,

    Yesterday i saw you in dreams.. I do not remember exactly what i saw but that was good. Alhamdulilah …In Quran i have read that when we sleep our half soul traveling everywhere.
    sometime he met the people who has already died.

  8. Fahmida Ahmed


    i had made that video for u , i think u didnt seen even i post it on ur FB

  9. z bint b

    yes good to see you havent changed 🙂 still mr do it all myself! masha Allah. I am in Algeria now, will return soon. Do drop me a line please, I want to see you even for just 5 min insha Allah!!

    the poem is very sweet, but still no excuse 😉
    But still i love it

  10. veganmuslimah

    Masha Allah you know brother i really love your ethics as i myself have many ethics as my username gives away lol Just wanted to let you know that haha. But its really great what you do. I love your songs too lol.

  11. Amane

    I am moving into an apartment complex with a balcony and can’t wait to live the simple life that I have (recently) been dreaming of! How has your bin been working out for you since you made it? Any issues with flies on your balcony?

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