Composting Success - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2069559

Composting Success

Composting: the art of repurposing coffee grounds, eggshells, flowers, fruit, grass, kale and other vegetables.

I’m stoked that my composting yielded 1,000 tomatoes, eight dozen squash and zucchini, 24 garlic, 10 10-inch butternut squash plants and lots of kale in 2022. Freshly made, homegrown compost works as well as the fertilizer and soil additives that I had bought in the past.

For the best compost, cut the ends off bananas, carrots, corn and onions and discard them before peeling or shucking. Cut the skins to about 1 square inch. Put the scraps in a black plastic barrel, along with coffee grounds, eggshells, flower heads and water, and then rotate it weekly.

The mixture turns black after a few weeks. Time to mix it into the soil. If it’s not fully cooked or composted, shovel some into a 12-inch-deep hole and cover with dirt. It will keep composting, and anything planted above it should grow like wildfire.

A quick composting method for small gardens and house plants: Put water, vegetable and fruit scraps, flower heads and leftover coffee and juice into your blender or food processor, and spin it for a few seconds. Pour the mixture around the base of your plants. Put some in the hole before planting bulbs.

I harvested 100 tomatoes weekly. They stopped ripening when the weather turned cold, so I put them in brown bags in a warm closet. They started turning red in a week.

Zucchini sometimes grow 2 to 3 inches in a day. I pick them at 6 to 10 inches long. Butternut squash are amazing. I planted seeds in August and picked them in the fall — 10 inches tall. Kale: I had too much to eat and give away. And it keeps coming.

My elephant ear plants grew to over 6 feet tall, with leaves so big you could wear them to a jungle or beach party. (Me Tarzan, you Jane.) Originally, the bulbs weighed 30 pounds, but they more than doubled in size and produced bulblets. Now they weigh 90 pounds. I will over-winter them inside at 60 degrees.

To keep weeds down and have a neat looking garden, I get free mulch from the Hampton Bays transfer station.

For more gardening tips, email or call me:, or 631-834-2525.

Jim Dreeben

Hampton Bays