Composting is a family affair

Zak and Aubrey Crabb add food scraps to the compost barrels in their family's backyard.

Learn how to compost at a free seminar Sept. 14 at the Bay Community House

Watch as your yard trimmings and kitchen waste change into a rich resource – plant clippings, carrot tops, apple cores and potato skins are transformed into a great soil material that can be used to fertilize your yard or garden within 90 days or less.

Bay Village resident Laura Crabb says that her family has been composting for over seven years. Laura actually got her introduction to composting at a young age when her father was an avid composter.

So, why does Laura compost? “It just makes sense to me,” she shares. “You create a lot less garbage and you get something really wonderful [a rich soil amendment] out of something you would normally just throw away.”

Laura and her husband, Jerry, use the finished compost material around the plants in their yard. They also use the compost to fertilize their plot at the Bay Community Garden (corner of Forestview and Wolf roads) where they grow organic vegetables and herbs. Their children, Aubrey and Zak, get very excited when they get to use the finished compost in the garden and they can see the rich beautiful soil material that has been created.

Laura and Jerry both have busy careers in addition to being parents, so they do not have a great deal of time to spend tending to the compost. That is one of the things that they really like about composting. “You can spend as little or as much time as you want tending to your compost”, Laura explains. “We keep it pretty easy. The nice thing about composting is that nature’s process keeps on working for you even if you don’t have much time to spend.”

The kitchen food scraps are stored in a container in the kitchen, and the children take it out to the compost barrels every few days. Neighbors also contribute to the compost barrels. When the compostable material is placed in the barrel, some leaves are placed on top. This eliminates any problems of inadvertently attracting unwanted bugs or critters.

The Crabb family uses two barrels to store their yard and kitchen waste as it is composting. The advantage is that the barrels can be rolled to periodically mix the compost. They also have a cage that is used to store brown material (primarily leaves) that will be mixed with the green material (fruit or vegetable scraps and plant or grass clippings).

Since barrels are used for the composting, water can accumulate at the bottom and make the compost material too soggy. According to Laura, “The key is to make sure to allow enough air and drainage.” They have drilled a number of holes in the bottom and side of the barrels to allow for the air flow and drainage that is necessary.

Laura, Jerry and their children compost all of their fruit and vegetable food waste, even in winter. The compost works slower in winter, but the composting process does continue. This summer, the family is also experimenting with weeds. Currently, one of the barrels has weeds in it. Laura plans to use it in a certain spot to see if the weeds propagate, or if the compost was hot enough to kill the seeds.

Laura’s tip to anyone starting out: “A lot of people are afraid to get started as they think it will be too much work. You can make it as easy or as complicated at you want to make it. It will take care of itself.”

About the upcoming seminar:

A Compost Seminar will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Bay Community House (303 Cahoon Rd.). The compost seminar is FREE, and you will have the option to purchase outdoor compost bins at the discounted price of $50 & a compost kitchen pail for $5. To register, contact Warren Remein at or call 440-724-1578. Families welcomed!

Brenda OReilly

Co-Chair of the Bay Village Green Team

Read More on Nature & Environment
Volume 3, Issue 18, Posted 4:19 PM, 09.07.2011