Friday, March 30, 2012

Going Green With Composting

Patrick and I have decided to try out composting. Ever since I started gardening a couple of years ago it has been on my mind to do this. I'll admit that initially the idea sounded a little nasty but I've discovered that a good compost bin shouldn't smell.

I have also learned that compost bins need not be expensive. I had been concerned about that because I knew that I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a bin or system that we were only going to use for a few weeks (you know, in case we didn't like it). Thankfully I discovered an answer to that dilemma.

First: Purchase a bin with a lid

Soon to be compost bin!
Second: Drill 8-10 holes in the bottom and the same amount of holes in the top.

While you don't have to, it saves time to use a drill.
Canine supervision is optional.


Third: Fill the bin 1/4 full of leaves.



Fourth: Fill with dirt or grass clippings until half full.


Fifth: Add the compost from the kitchen.

Our kitchen compost container from World Market.
Obviously we eat a lot of eggs and drink a lot of coffee.

Sixth: Moisten with water and stir.



The process was simple and took less than an hour to finish. I found a nice shady spot close to the vegetable garden for the bin to reside in. So far so good! I pretty much followed the directions that you can find here. While I realize that I am new at this I have picked up a few bits of information along the way.

1. Things you can compost: Coffee grounds and filters, fruits and veggies (peels and rinds), tea bags and tea leaves, paper products (napkins, plates, towels), plain cooked pasta and rice, stale cereal, bread, crackers, olive pits and nut shells, wine corks, toothpicks, bamboo skewers, shells (both egg and crustacean).

2. Things you cannot compost: Meat (including fish), bones, dairy products, grease, animal waste, weeds, diseased plants, roots, charcoal ash, plastic, glass, metal (duh). Also, while I said nut shells can be composted, every type of shell except walnut shells can be composted. I guess it just takes them too long or something.

3. Once you have your compost bin established, it takes 2-3 months before you can use it in a vegetable garden. (less time in higher temp climates)

4. If your compost smells it may be that it is too wet or that you have added too much compost to the pile. Apparently it is better to add compost to the bin in large clumps rather than a little every day. We empty our scraps about once a week. We try to fill our container completely before taking it out to the pile.

5. Turning or stirring your pile helps it decompose faster as well as shredding and cutting up your scraps before placing them in the pile.