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Compost Bowl

March 21st, 2009

I really enjoyed all of your comments yesterday about your compost bins & systems. Bridgett asked, “I am wondering if you all have ever seen the kitchen compost containers? You keep them in your kitchen and use it to collect your cooking scraps for a few days and then transport it out to your compost pile later. I love the idea (especially in these cold Ohio winters) but am wondering if they smell after a day or so???”
What a great question. Composting is something I grew up doing, so having a bowl on the kitchen counter collecting food scraps is very normal for me. Just about everyone I know that composts has their own system for storing kitchen waste that’s waiting for the compost pile; some hide it in a cabinet, some us a container with a lid, some us a beautiful little crock or container like one of these, and I’m sure there are ways that have never crossed my mind.
My compost bowl is an old bowl that’s cracked so I no longer use it for cooking, so it’s been demoted to compost duty. It’s always on the counter, I usually leave it there until it’s full. There are days I empty it twice a day, and some times it’s only a few times a week. I personally like having my bowl on hand right on the counter, I don’t mind it being in plain site. I actually like to advertise the fact that I compost to encourage others to do so as well.
There is one thing that I don’t throw in my compost bowl, and that’s egg shells. I put them in the toaster oven or oven and dry them out a bit, then I crush them in my mortar & pestle and add the crushed egg shells to my raised beds; I have found that they take too long to break down in my compost bin.
I should have cooked up a big dinner so I could show you a nice photo of my overflowing compost bowl, but alas we’ve been busy and only eating leftovers, so all that’s inside are a few tea bags.

Do you save kitchen waste & compost? What container do you use for this task and how often do you empty it? (take the poll)

38 Comments to “Compost Bowl”
  1. Julia on March 21, 2009 at 7:19 am

    The city I live in (Cambridge, MA) offers free compost toters that you can leave under the counter. For the folks that don’t have a garden, they can bring it over to the Dept. of Public works to dump. For me, I can just tote to the back yard. Your bowl is much more elegant.

    Julia’s last blog post.. Garden Updates – Last Day of Winter

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  2. Dave on March 21, 2009 at 8:30 am

    We save nearly everything biodegradable for the bin, especially the kitchen scraps. I keep a bucket outside that I empty into the big bin in the back every week to ten days. It’s a 5 gallon bucket that tends to get full fairly quick. It’s right outside the back door to conveniently dump the kitchen scraps.

    Dave’s last blog post.. Vegetable Garden Update Part 1

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  3. Bridgett on March 21, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Ok, you’ve done it. You’ve inspired me to research composting. Since we already do a vegetable garden, the compost bin should not be out of our scope of abilities. :)
    Question for your composters – When I peel my veggies I usually put down a piece of old newspaper on the counter to catch the peels. Can I toss the peels, newspaper and all, into the pile or do I need to remove the newspaper?

    Bridgett’s last blog post.. Time’s a Wastin’ – Free Magazines

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    • Susy on March 21, 2009 at 9:04 am

      You sure can throw the newspaper in the compost bin. I regularly use cardboard & newspaper in the garden and in my compost bins. The newspaper does take a little longer to break down than other stuff, but all you need is patience.

      If you’re interesting in purchasing a composter, I saw one for a great price at my local Sam’s Club last week. I think it was like $39 for one very similar to this:,36-628,default,cp.html

      I regularly throw paper and stuff in my compost bin. We use Seventh Generation Toilet Paper and we throw the wrappers and the empty rolls in as well. Whenever I move my piles I usually put a layer or two of cardboard down underneath the new pile, this helps keep the tree roots out of the pile and it increases earth worm traffic in the pile (or so they say).

      Once you start reading about what you can compost you’ll be amazed at how little garbage you have.

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      • Julia on March 22, 2009 at 7:55 am

        The other thing about composting is that you need a mix of green and brown matter to keep the nitrogen (or something,… I forget) in balance. We usually add enough green but the newspaper is good for the brown.

        Julia’s last blog post.. Garden Updates – Last Day of Winter

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  4. Emily@remodelingthislife on March 21, 2009 at 9:12 am

    I use a bowl too. My mom uses a pretty red crock with lid and compost bag liners but that seems too high maintenance for me :)

    Emily@remodelingthislife’s last blog post.. Link Love: Hello, Spring!

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  5. s on March 21, 2009 at 9:26 am

    I have one of the stainless steel bins that was given me as a gift. One of those things you wouldn’t buy for yourself, but has lasted for many years. I like the lid for odors (a few onion peels in there and you’ll know!), and it lives by the coffee maker so we can throw the filters in easily. It’s large so in the winter you can go quite a while without dumping it.

    it would make a nice shower/housewarming gift, or for someone who is an avid or newbie composter :)

    s’s last blog post.. seed starting

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    • Susy on March 21, 2009 at 2:09 pm

      That would be a great housewarming gift, along with a composting book.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Annie's Granny on March 21, 2009 at 10:16 am

    I use a plastic coffee container with lid for kitchen scraps, and it sits under my kitchen sink.

    I save my eggshells until I get a pan full, then I put them in a pan of water and boil them for a few minutes, drain and lay them on a rack to dry. I crunch them up a bit with my hands, and then grind them quite finely in a coffee bean grinder. I save these an a jar and use them to sprinkle in the planting holes for tomatoes, or mix them with coffee grounds and put them directly on my blueberries. I used to bake the eggshells, but twice I burned them…what a stink!

    Annie’s Granny’s last blog post.. March 20, 2009: Another Good Day in the Garden

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    • Susy on March 21, 2009 at 10:23 am

      Oh yes, the do stink when you accidentally burn them. Boiling is a great idea. I’ll have to give that a shot.

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    • Glyn on March 22, 2009 at 6:00 pm

      We microwave egg shells for 20 seconds and then crush- clean fast & simple.

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  7. Nate on March 21, 2009 at 10:32 am

    We have a 2.5 gallon bucket under the sink that we empty once every few days (ok, so like once a week, we’re lazy). It has a lid and doesn’t really ever stink, even if we let it go for a long time (the cover helps a lot).

    About the veggies and newspaper – yeah, throw the whole thing in. Almost all newspapers these days use soy based inks, so it’s no problem at all. We actually throw our paper shreds in there from the shredder as well, and they decompose incredibly fast. Gone in like a couple weeks.

    Composting is awesome… it cuts our garbage output down to just about nothing, and makes wonderful soil. We got our compost bin from the town for like $20 when they go for like $100 retail.

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  8. edh on March 21, 2009 at 11:27 am

    We’ve got a lidded bucket under the sink, and a small strainer thing that sits in the sink; nice because anything wet can run out the bottom before it gets dumped into the bigger one.
    Good to know about soy based inks; I’ve alway avoided newspapers because I was afraid of the heavy metals in the old inks, guess I’m not staying up on the technology!
    Our compost bins get a little funny looking at this time of year; the crows are very fond of them as feeding stations, but they object to eggshells, tea bags, and orange peels, all of which they summarily pick up and toss out of the bin, creating an odd looking perimeter that is frozen into the ice for a couple more weeks…

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  9. Teri on March 21, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    We use those big cans that peaches come in. We make smoothies for breakfast every morning and instead of putting up a bazillion quarts of peaches, we buy the big cans from Costco. When we are done with a can, we rinse it out and it goes under the sink. We then fill that with coffee grounds, peelings, and now I am going to start adding tea bags (thanks), when it is full, out to the compost bin it goes and the can goes to the garbage (recycling is not available here). Before that we just used a plastic container with a lid under the sink.
    Thanks for the egg shell tip, I am going to start doing that! Does anyone put their egg cartons in their compost……just thinking.

    Teri’s last blog post.. 79/365

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    • Susy on March 21, 2009 at 12:54 pm

      Egg cartons would work (I’m assuming you mean the cardboard type ones). I put just about anything that’s natural in the compost. Dryer lint, vacuum bag dust (although if you have plastic carpet probably not a good idea, we only have wool rugs), q-tips, paper towels, pretty much anything I think will decompose.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Sherri on March 21, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    We use a stainless steel one w/ a lid, handle and a charcoal filter. It only gets emptied every few days, so for us, this works very well. I can’t imagine NOT having a lid – but that’s just me. I love it! It was a gift and it gets used every day!

    Sherri’s last blog post.. Busy Few Days…

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  11. Kelly on March 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I use a big 4L (1 gallon) ice cream bucket underneath the sink right next to the garbage. It has a lid, keeps the dog from being too interested. Since it’s quite large we only empty it every day or two.

    As for the eggshells, we keep them, clean them out, crunch them up to about quarter or loonie size and then sprinkle them around the plants that the slugs seem to enjoy attacking. Keeps them away, and after a while the break down in the soil (loooong, while…). Kind of kills two birds with one stone!

    Kelly’s last blog post..

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  12. Andres Stell on March 21, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    Great ideas. I am planning on starting to compost this spring. I am making myself a worm composting bin, based on the diy instructions found on:

    I have the bins, and just need to drill the holes, and then I am going to order worms once it is warmer, and going to stay warmer, since my bin is going to go outside.

    Andres Stell’s last blog post.. Lettuce and Pansies

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    • Susy on March 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm

      I would so love to have a worm bin too. I’ll have to look up those plans and see if I can make one.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. kristin on March 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Ah, the many phases of composting at our house . . . we have a small colander in the sink that gets emptied into a very small Simple Human stainless steel garbage can. You know the kind with the foot pedal and the liner bucket? The stuff gets dumped right into the liner bucket, no bag or anything. When that fills, once or twice a week (more in the summer when I’m canning and we’re eating a lot more veggies), it’s dumped into a metal garbage can with a lid (I think it’s a 15 gallon one, and I should have bought a plastic one to avoid the rust–oh well) outside the back door. And when THAT fills, every couple of weeks, it finally gets taken to the compost heap. Assuming the contents aren’t frozen rock solid in the can.

    It sounds like a pain in the ass, but it’s become second nature to me now. And there’s never a smell from the covered receptacles. Until they’re uncovered, that is. But considering all the other disgusting smells I encounter on an almost daily basis, decomposing carrot peels don’t really bother me.

    kristin’s last blog post.. You People Are Relentless

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  14. Dan on March 21, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    I’m in the hide it under the sink club. I use a large container with a lid and dump it when it is full. It smells but that is what the lid is for.

    ps, I am seriously considering building a three bin wooden composter like you photographed. I was going to add another earth machine this year but they are such a pain to turn so I might build one bin this year and then add onto it as needed. Thanks for sharing the photo.

    Dan’s last blog post.. Spring Seeding

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    • Susy on March 21, 2009 at 10:18 pm

      Great! I have more photos if you want them, some close ups of how it’s put together and the slats in the front/back etc. Let me know if you want them.

      Send me photos if you do build it. I’d love to see it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  15. Andres Stell on March 21, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    I have one question, for those that use eggshells in their garden, I am thinking of saving some to use for tomatoes and peppers, I am curious as to why people boil the eggshells? Is that to sanitize them?

    Andres Stell’s last blog post.. Lettuce and Pansies

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    • Susy on March 21, 2009 at 10:19 pm

      I don’t think it’s to sanitize, I think it’s more to get the stickiness off. I simply lightly bake mine to dry them out a bit (don’t burn or they STINK!), then I crush them.

      They are really great for tomatoes, and you can sprinkle the crushed ones around other plants to keep slugs and worms away.

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      • Annie's Granny on March 21, 2009 at 10:44 pm

        I do boil mine to sanitize them, because I also add a bit of ground up eggshell to my dogs’ food for calcium. I don’t know if dogs can get salmonella poisoning, but I’m not taking any chances. If you’re just going to use them for your garden, you could probably just let them air dry for easier crushing.

        Annie’s Granny’s last blog post.. March 21, 2009: Seedling Saturday

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  16. andrea on March 21, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    We used to have a crock similar to the one you linked to, and it was OK. By the time we remodeled our kitchen, I had specific ideas for dealing with our kitchen compost. At the end of our counter is a 2.5′ x 2.5′ butcher block. Below it is a pullout drawer with a compost bucket in the front of the drawer and a small bin for garbage behind that. I love being able to just drag my hand along the chopping surface and sweep the veggie scraps right in! The bin does not have a lid, but odors are rarely a problem except in the hottest part of the summer. Fortunately, it is easy to empty it regularly at that time of year anyway.

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    • Susy on March 21, 2009 at 11:02 pm

      I would think that the crock would be hard to empty. I would hate to clean it out. I love that my bowl is easy to clean. Usually I just rinse it and every couple weeks it gets a trip through the dishwasher.

      Your new system sounds wonderful. When we redo our kitchen I’m considering something similar.

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  17. Susy on March 21, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I love everyone’s comments on this post and the compost bin post yesterday. Clearly it’s a great topic. I’ll be posting more about composting later this week, I’m looking forward to more great insight from all you guys!

    Reply to Susy's comment

  18. okieBubba on March 22, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I created a Redneck Ball Pit with the ton of leaves in our yard. I used about 25 foot of 4 foot high wire fence to make a circle and filled it up.

    My wife gets a drug in a little Styrofoam ice chest every month so we are using one of them to collect our kitchen scraps.

    okieBubba’s last blog post.. Our Redneck Ball Pit

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  19. Pampered Mom on March 22, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    We’ve used a number of different things for holding our compost materials. Smell and ick-factor has played a role in veto-ing many of the former options. Right now I just have a melamine mixing bowl (the last remaining bowl of a three bowl set – the other two were broken by an unnamed family member) sitting outside the patio door on our deck. It’s right off the kitchen/dining room so it works well so far. It won’t work when the weather gets warmer – too much risk of attracting bugs.

    I’ve got my eye on a stainless steel one in the Frontier catalog thinking again that I can leave it outside on the deck and then hose it down outside.

    Pampered Mom’s last blog post.. Busy

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  20. warren on March 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    We have an old ice cream bucket…you know, the types that the cheap ice cream comes in…maybe 1-2 gallons? Anyhow, we keep it handy and throw stuff in there…works great! It even has a handle!

    warren’s last blog post.. Bonbon Jovi

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  21. Karen on March 25, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Our city composts food scraps in the yard waste bins so I have gotten lazy and started giving it all to them. I need to get my bins sorted out and get back on making my own. Part of my problem at our previous place was too many leaves, so I ended up tossing way too many in the compost and it never broke down – here it’s the opposite, almost no decidious trees so I don’t have enough “brown” to go with the green. I need to get enterprising and maybe ask a neighbor with giant oaks if I can rake and bag some of theirs next fall. I can’t imagine that they’d say no to a bit less work! My kitchen scraps go into a Tupperware and then out to a bin on the porch, since my chipped bowl sort of like yours finally broke.

    Karen’s last blog post.. Spring on My Street

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    • Susy on March 26, 2009 at 10:37 am

      We have the same problem here because we’re surrounded by woods. I have special piles that are just leaves that I pile along the edges of the woods. They keep the weeds down and after a year or two they start breaking down. When I need brown material for my compost pile I grab some from the piles and use them.

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  22. Ginger on March 27, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    I have a lidded container from gardeners supply. I can’t keep eggshells in an uncovered container because our animals would get into it. I have never had a problem with it smelling. We take it out about twice a week.

    Ginger’s last blog post.. La vie en rose

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  23. Compost Post | Tomato Planting and Gardening on August 12, 2009 at 2:34 am

    […] Chiot’s Run last spring. She collects them, drys them out and grinds them up. So I started dry them out, then I stored them in a glass jar(shaken to break them up) and once the jar was full I blitzed them up in the food processor. With this done I added them to the compost, you could also spread these under your tomatoes to help with blossom end rot. […]

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  24. Charles on September 15, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I put my scraps in a bag in the freezer. This makes them break down more quickly once they’re put in the pile, and keeps nasty old food from piling up on the counter.

    Reply to Charles's comment

    • Susy on September 15, 2009 at 1:36 pm

      What a great idea!

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  25. What’s In Your Compost Bowl? | Chiot's Run on January 31, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    […] conversations about compost last week were fantastic. I really enjoyed reading everyone tips about what and how they compost. I […]

    Reply to What’s In Your Compost Bowl? | Chiot’s Run's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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