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Veteran gardeners swear by composting, but we’ve always skipped it--too confusing, labor intensive and, well, dirty. But a free Smart Gardening workshop (hosted by our fair city) made us converts to the cult of composting. 

Under a shady arbor in a Calabasas park, an instructor took 20 home gardeners through why we should compost (it yields nutrient-rich soil; our trash bags will be 40 percent emptier), how to begin (fill a bin with a wet 50-50 mix of dried leaves and green kitchen scraps) and what not to add (the obvious: pet waste; the not-so-obvious: wet grass clippings). 

While a hard sell on worm composting gave us the creeps, we left toting a bargain-priced $40 compost bin, then assembled it in half an hour at home. Having followed a few easy instructions from the clutch of pamphlets we pocketed at the workshop, we expect to have rich, loamy soil in a couple of months. 

The only missing piece? A handsome countertop receptacle to hold veggie scraps between backyard bin fillings. We considered a bright-red model ($50), a simple plastic version ($20) and a shiny stainless-steel bin ($40) before settling on an unobtrusive enameled-steel bucket with a removable plastic bucket inside ($30).

Smart Gardening workshops will be offered at public parks through November;

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