Last time I was visiting my parents (who had just moved into a new house), my mom took me on a tour of her backyard. In the farthest corner of her yard, I noticed a heap of old scraps of food.

"Oh, you have a compost heap?" I asked her. "That's so trendy right now!"

She looked at me like I was crazy. "What do you mean, trendy? This is just how we always did things."

"OH," I replied. Well, DUH! I never really thought of my mom and abuelita composting back in Cuba but, now that I think about it, of course they did. Without me realizing it, composting—which I've read a lot about lately—is simply the way things were for a lot of families.

Read more ¿Qué más? How to start a flower garden (VIDEO)

I don't know why it never occurred to me before but, now that it has, I realize just how silly I've been, thinking that composting is a new, cool trend for the home. Before, I think our abuelas simply called it "not wasting anything" and that was that. But what exactly is composting and how do you do it properly?

First of all, composting is a good idea for anyone that wants to do any kind of gardening. Basically, you're using organic materials (like waste from your kitchen and yard) to improve your potting soil. It's a good idea because, not only does it reduce landfill waste, but it also "adds nutrients and introduces beneficial organisms to the soil."

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There are, of course, smarter ways of composting than just collecting anything you can think of. The video below explains some of the basics but, in general, most people recommend keeping a balance between green matter to brown matter (some say half and half, others say 1/3 green and 2/3 brown). But, basically, there's a lot you can add—just keep in mind that there some things that you should absolutely never compost. In the meantime, though, try it and your garden will reap the benefits!

Have you ever composted? Do you want to try, after watching this video? Share with us in the comments below!

Image via normanack/flickr

About the author

Irina is a writer, editor & aspiring memoir author. She blogs at and you can frequently find her checking out new pizza and brunch spots.

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Filed Under: gardening, composting


Neither of my abuelitas ever did garden. Abuela Ana is still working full-time in a factory at 72 yrs old and my other grandmother used to work at a factory until she retired. They are both in cities and neither really likes the outdoors very much.


My father used to compost, had rain barrels, used to take usnto the farm to get eggs, fresh cheese, and we used to go to the butcher to get fresh meats.  Needless to say my sisters and I were extremely embarrased by it.  But nowadays we knownthat our father was ahead of time.  Now we do the same, and I guess my kids could be embarrased, however they think that it is cool.  Composting has diminished our trash turnout.  Between reciclyng and composting we barely have more than 1 bag of trash a week.  And the reward we get when we know we are doing something to help the earth is priceless.


I remember composting with my mom as a little girl helping her garden.

I tried starting the same recently with my little ones. I'm still working on it.

I started composting and it was so much work!
I compost but all I do is dump it in a spot in the garden and let it decompose naturally I don't get all technical about it except no meat and cheese. I don't want critters around.
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