My Secret Compost Garden

Amelia Dellos
5 min readAug 19, 2021

What happens when a reluctant gardener starts to compost? Read on to find out how through composting I found myself.

If I’m completely honest, I never set out to be an urban gardener or an urban composter, for that matter. A few years ago, when my neighbor Ms. Diane flew away to Mexico for her long-anticipated retirement, I took on our building’s communal garden. She left big gardening clogs to fill. Ms. Diane’s garden was a tribute to wildflowers of the Midwest, and it took hours to maintain. At the time, I didn’t really have any idea what I was taking under my purview. I didn’t have a green limb anywhere to be found on my body. And between us, I didn’t have an extreme passion for it.

On the other hand, my mother, Mary, loved to garden and had nurtured an urban garden outside our squat post-war rented Georgian. Mom grew luscious tomatoes that I would sprinkle with salt and eat like an apple. I watched her summer after summer, plant, grow and harvest, but never sunk my hands in the dirt.

Just as Ms. Diane was preparing to move, she took me out into the garden, trying to cram as much of her knowledge into me before she moved away. Once we finished pruning the rose bushes. I felt like a high school student trying to pull an all-nighter.

“Any final bit of advice for me?” I asked Ms. Diane.

She pulled off her flowered print garden gloves and placed her hand on my shoulder. “Make the garden your own.”

During the pandemic, my teenage daughter, Alena, decided we needed to shrink our carbon footprint by composting. Our village offers a composting service for a small monthly fee, but our neighbors voted it down. We didn’t let that deter us. My daughter bought the counter container and compostable bags to collect our compost. I ended up investing in a 17-gallon bright pink Envirocycle.

The Cutest Composter in the world — Envirocycle.

I thought this would be a fun mother-daughter project. It turned out to be a mom-mom project. The rest was left up to me to work out — leaving me with more questions than answers.

  • What can you compost?
  • What can’t you compost?
  • What’s a good balance between green and brown compost?
  • What’s green and brown compost?
  • What can you do about…
Amelia Dellos

I’m Amelia. As a storytelling siren, media maven, and writer whisperer (a.k.a writing coach), I believe a well-crafted story can change the world.