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Confessions of a serial composter

New rules mean rethinking which compost bin to use

Worm breakfast of fruit peelings and rinds
Now there's a breakfast fit for worms: Berry stems,
melon rinds, banana peel and avocado skin. If you
are not a vermicomposter, all this can go in a regular
compost bin or into the organic waste collection can.
(Photo: Kathy Morrison)

Here's the scenario I imagine in my kitchen tomorrow as the state's new organic waste law goes into effect:

Me: "OK, the worms certainly get the melon rinds, the strawberry stems, the carrot peelings and the wilty spinach."

Other Me: "Wait, the carrot peelings and the spinach should be frozen with the onion ends to make vegetable broth."

Me: "Oh, right. And the worms don't like onions. Or citrus. So my compost bin at the community garden should get the moldy lemon, along with the dried-out garlic cloves, the corn husks and the cobs."

Other Me: "But corn cobs never break down fast enough in that compost bin. You really should chop things up better and turn them more often."

Me: "Uh, thanks for making me feel guilty about not turning my compost. But here's a solution: The corn cobs now can go into the green waste, I mean Organic Waste, container. Along with the dead flowers from that vase, that rock-hard cheddar cheese, the super-stale leftover crackers and the rest of the hummus I forgot about until it turned moldy."

Other Me: "Well, you COULD grind up the crackers to bread chicken. But storage is a problem when the freezer's so full. OK, just be sure to also throw in the used tea bags -- so glad we like a brand without staples or tags. And while you're at it, round up any wine corks (natural, not plastic) and toss those in, too."

Me: "Wine corks, really? OK, got a few of those."

Other Me: "The skin from last night's grilled fish, too. And the paper towel you used to dry the fish  before seasoning it."

Me: "Wow, that bin's going to be stinky. I'll put some newspaper in the bottom, and cover up all this stuff with the stems I cut off my cured garlic crop."

Other Me: "Fight stinky with stinky! Good idea. By the way, don't forget to peel the sticker off the melon rind. Worms don't like plastic."

And ... scene!

Yes, it's going to take even compost veterans a bit of adjustment. But we can do it. The planet's worth it.

For more information on complying with the new law, check out these sites for Sacramento County residents, depending on where you live:

-- City of Sacramento

-- Folsom

-- Citrus Heights

-- Elk Grove

-- County of Sacramento (all unincorporated areas)

And if you'd like to know more about composting at home , especially worm composting , the links take you to great information from the UCCE Sacramento County master gardeners. Then during Harvest Day, on Aug. 6, come check out the compost set-up at the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center. Learn to keep all that rich, soil-building compost for yourself!

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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of Feb. 18:

It's wet to start the week. When you do get outside, between or after storms, concentrate on damage control:

* Keep storm drains and gutters clear of debris.

* Clean up tree debris knocked down by wind and rain.

* Where did the water flow in your garden? Make notes where revisions are necessary.

* Are any trees leaning? See disturbances in the ground or lawn around their base? Time to call an arborist before the tree topples.

* Dump excess water out of pots.

* Indoors, start peppers, tomatoes and eggplant from seed.

* Lettuce and other greens also can be started indoors from seed.

* Got bare-root plants? Put their roots in a bucket of water until outdoor soil dries out. Or pot them up in 1- or 5-gallon containers. In April, transplant the plant, rootball and all, into the garden.

* Browse garden websites and catalogs. It’s not too late to order for spring and summer.

* Show your indoor plants some love. Dust leaves and mist to refresh.

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