Composting

Composting is the ultimate in recycling.  You eat a banana, throw the peel into your compost, it rots and becomes rich compost, you use the compost to nurture your vegetable garden.

So…how do you get a compost bin?  Easy!  You can buy one, or make one yourself.  OR, if you’re lucky, you can get one for free.

Check both your city and your county websites for free compost bin offers.  Sometimes they’ll make you take a class or take a quiz.  I had to read a short booklet on composting, then took an online quiz.  Our compost bin showed up on the doorstep a few days later.

If you don’t have this option, you can purchase one from your local hardware store.  There are some pretty fancy compost bins out there with some neat features – it all depends what you’re willing to spend.

My mom built hers out of 1/2″ hardware cloth.  She shaped it into a cylinder, and it sits inside her garden.  It works for her.

What goes in a compost bin?
-Kitchen scraps
-Grass clippings
-Leaves
-Paper
-Manure from poultry or herbivorous animals
-Hair

What doesn’t go in a compost bin?
-Meat
-Bones
-Greasy foods
-Invasive weeds

The materials that go into a compost bin can be divided into two categories: Green (nitrogen-rich) and Brown (carbon-rich).  Green items include the aforementioned manure, hair, green leaves, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and weeds.  Brown items include coffee filters, dry leaves, dried and brown grass clippings, dry leaves, paper, and eggshells.  Ideally, you’d want a 3:1 ration of Brown to Green.  Your bin can take anywhere from 3-6 months to turn into compost, depending on how well you tend to it.

Keep something on your countertop in which to place your kitchen scraps for composting.  We use a tupperware container.  Something with a lid is preferable.  That way you’re not walking back and forth between your kitchen and the compost bin.

A larger container with a lid would be nice...we're working on that

A larger container with a lid would be nice...we're working on that

Once in a while, you’ll need to water your compost bin (should have the moisture of a damp sponge).  You’ll also need to turn the bin once every 1-2 weeks.  You don’t have to literally turn the whole thing upside-down (though there are commercially sold bins out there that you CAN turn!).  We use a cultivator tool and just rake it so that everything gets mixed up.

This is ours with fresh scraps thrown in

This is ours with fresh scraps thrown in

Refer to my prior post for what our freshly turned compost looks like.  If you do it right, it should only have a faint smell.

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE: Put your compost bin in a convenient location.  We had ours by the back fence before, and none of us wanted to walk out there to throw the scraps in.  We’ve put it in our vegetable garden, close to our kitchen (that’s it there on the left).

It's right next to the gate.  That there is the kitchen window.

It's right next to the gate. That there is the kitchen window.

Also, if you end up getting one of the plastic ones with no bottom, dig it into the ground a bit.  This will make your bin more sturdy, and less likely to fall over on a windy day or if someone accidentally leans on it or if your dog is trying to eat something in it…you get the idea.

INITIAL TIME INVESTMENT: 5 minutes-1 hour, depending on how you go about acquiring your bin.

DAILY TIME INVESTMENT: 5 minutes to toss stuff into the bin, 10 minutes every 1-2 weeks to turn the bin.

Stay tuned for quails!

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