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Urban gardening has inspired me to become an urban composter. When I first began growing food on my terrace, I didn't think much about what I'd do with the leftovers. But as I pruned and picked my tomato, pepper, and basil plants, I realized I was creating a lot of waste in the stems, stalks, and leaves left behind. I just couldn't bear the thought of putting so much organic matter in the trash. I decided I had to find a way to recycle it. If I had my druthers, I would have started a compost pile right on my terrace. But my husband wasn't having any of that. He wasn't willing to risk the smell of rotting garbage wafting into our apartment. And he made a good point when he said we'd attract every bug in the neighborhood. Instead, I decided to start hauling my garden gunk to the Union Square Green Market, just a half mile from my Manhattan apartment. A nonprofit, the Lower East Side Ecology Center, sets up a booth there, where it collects all manner of food waste in giant plastic tubs. The group uses the compost to feed a worm farm. Worms devour the waste and turn it into rich soil, which they sell for a few bucks a bag. (They also sell starter worm farm kits.) Though I began with leaves and stalks, I have since expanded my recycling to table scraps. I hoard cucumber, carrot, and onion skin, lettuce and pepper cores, tea bags, egg shells, banana peels, and orange rinds. Nothing food-related gets into my garbage. It's amazing how much two people can accumulate over the course of a week! The only thing verboten from the compost is meat and dairy. I guess the worms are vegan. I store my scraps in the fridge all week in a strong plastic bag and tote it to the market on my bicycle on the weekend. If I can't get to the market, I freeze the stuff so it doesn't get too smelly. (Right now, since I've been away most weekends, the pile is literally taking over my freezer.) I feel good about composting. Of course, I'm hardly alone. Each week the center collects leftovers from hundreds of New Yorkers, turning it into soil instead of landfill. It's certainly a growing movement, and I say, the more the merrier. Do you compost? Would you consider it? Let me know! photo: Pretty Poo Eater

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Urban gardener with well rooted ideas about plants that thrive in the city.