My Grandmother’s Compost Pile

Every summer when I was younger, I would make a trip up to my grandmother and grandfather’s cottage in Guilford, Connecticut. The cottage was in a secluded part of the suburban town surrounded by marshes overlooking the Long Island Sound. My grandmother or “Ma”, as we called her, was an avid gardener and very caring for the environment. She was also big in composting which she did to lower our carbon footprint and use the soil for her garden. She had two separate bins for standard trash and compost which I learned a lot about what actually goes into them.

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My grandparents cottage in Guilford, Connecticut

After every meal, Ma would carefully look over our plates and tell us what bin our food scraps would go into. After breakfast, she would be careful to throw the egg shells in the compost bin while throwing out any egg or dairy scraps in the trash. She did this as dairy scraps and other fats or oils attract raccoons and rats to the compost pile. 

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An example of what my grandmother’s compost bin looked like

On top of other organic scraps that get composted like vegetables, coffee grounds, banana peels and fruit cores, I learned about other things that can be composted that I never thought could be. I remember back when I was staying over their cottage in the summer of 2009, my grandfather was reading the newspaper at the table over breakfast. As he finished reading the newspaper, he closed it up and gave it to my grandmother who ripped it up and tossed it into the bin. I was actually pretty shocked about the things that were biodegradable as she would also throw cardboard into the bin as well.

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An example of what my grandmother’s compost pile looked like

She always managed the compost bin with a great deal of care. At the end of the day, she would take the bin into the backyard and throw all the scraps into our big compost pile which was a big combination of soil and other decomposing material with an earthy smell to it. While Ma is no longer around to continue managing the compost pile, I always wanted to continue the practice of my own when I had my own apartment or house. She taught me so much about composting and I know she would love it if I continued to do it when I had the resources.

Jeff Joslyn March 8, 2021

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