Composting is a beautiful, dynamic, biological process of decomposition and a large component in the life cycle of our planet. Big picture: it is a regenerative process and in the breaking down of organic materials, vital nutrients are given to plants which give vital nutrients to animals and humans alike! Lettuce uses compost to make our farms rich and dynamic.
What is composting? Step into our “compost kitchen,” and let’s put together our recipe for a successful compost ecosystem! What you need: carbon, nitrogen, water, and air. How much of each we add and how many times we turn the pile will vary the time it takes to produce final product. This is when we look at the carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N). A narrower C:N will turn into a beautiful steamy humus-like pile faster, while a wide C:N ratio will turn slower. However, if the C:N is too narrow, your pile will simply rot quickly and not turn into a good, beneficial soil. That’s why we blend together ingredients with a wide C:N with a narrow C:N. Things like dead leaves and cardboard have a wide C:N ratio, while kitchen scraps have a low C:N ratio. Once we put together our pile, all need to do is water it regularly, turn it (how quickly the compost breaks down is directly related to how much you turn your pile), and let those microorganisms do their work! You will know it’s working by measuring the temperature of your pile. Ideally, a hot compost pile, one that will kill harmful pathogens and weed seeds, will peak at around 140°-150° F.
At Lettuce, we love compost. Like seriously, we LOVE compost. It is a necessary part in growing healthy and delicious veggies to fill our meal kits! We are very excited to be living and working in a city that strives to close the circle by collecting compost. However, the need for organic materials to create compost is still relevant for us and is an attempt on our part to close our own smaller circle of resources. We use the kitchen scraps* from the people we deliver meal kits to, add it to our compost piles, then we put it in our beds of vegetables. These vegetables go into our meal kits, and the cycle starts all over again! We hope you will continue to partner with us in our endeavor to grow both local produce and local compost. Through this small act, maybe we will learn different and good ways to cultivate and create healthy relationships with our community and with our soil!
*Things we DON’T accept for our compost (but the City of Austin will): Meat (both cooked and uncooked) and bones.
- Lisa Attaway is Lettuce's Field Manager, overseeing the day-to-day operation of our farms and harvest schedule.