Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pit Pot and Corn Cob Disassembly

Extracting further value from the delicious foods of summer and all year round is a simple matter of applying a little thought to what we toss.

The Pit Pot

Some items of kitchen waste are easily repurposed into gravel for your container garden. All you have to do is maintain a Pit Pot, or small container under your sink, into which to toss anything that is lumpy, solid and stolid enough to take up space below the dirt. For example:
  • Pits: Apricots, olives, peaches, and so on. If they eventually sprout, there is no harm done
  • Shells: Nut shells and egg shells should be o.k.; crab shells stink too much and artillery shells are too hazardous
  • Corks: Either natural or plastic wine corks should be fine, since they're food-grade
  • Crockery (broken): Broken clay pots are a traditional source of container gardening gravel, so you can mitigate the distress of breaking a plate by putting the pieces in your pit pot. However, don't even think of doing this for glass, unless the hands you use to garden with are immune to getting sliced open.
Things to avoid
  • Anything that stinks or explodes (see "Shells", above)
  • Anything sharp. Your hands will be working the soil, and you need to keep your blood inside the original container!
  • Anything that is not food-grade. For example, packing peanuts may not be a good idea if what-ever they are made of may leach into your food.

Corn Cob Disassembly

Let's take the concept of extracting further value to the next step by looking at the summer favorite: corn on the cob!

What is tastier than roast corn? It's one of the few foods that are even better than I remember as a child. The only drawback is that most of the ear is waste but we can easily disassemble it as follows
  • The cob can be broken up and tossed into the Pit Pot, above. While it will eventually biodegrade, it should function as gravel for a season and its byproducts should be relatively harmless
  • The leaves can be chopped into mulch. I use kitchen shears to swifly reduce the ears to bite-sized pieces that seem to work well, but I speculate that whole leave may not be too bad as is
  • The tassel makes a nice scrubbie. If you bunch the fibers together, you can scrub out a pot with them; they are pretty durable and like to stick together. When they wear out or get too skanky, just add them to the mulch!
Repurposing kitchen waste is not merely a small way to save money and improve our environment; it is a puzzle, it is fun, it is a mental challenge. Take the challenge!

We can never really throw anything away; we can only put it someplace else.
--- First Law of Thermodynamics

No comments: