Saturday, September 3, 2011

Beginner Composting

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Yay, I'm composting!
Composting is one of the many things I've been wanting to do for quite sometime, but didn't have the room or means until recently. Living in a small condo in a complex setting made these types of things very difficult. Composting, gardening, hanging laundry to dry, wood working and larger sewing projects are a few of the things we dived right into after our move. With our new home has come a lot of opportunity for self sustainability and I'm so grateful for that!
I've been composting for about 2 months and so far, so good. It will still be a few months before we can use the compost, but it's coming along nicely.

There are a few ways to start composting. I looked into buying a rotating bin, building an enclosure in the yard, digging a trench, just piling it up in the yard and making a bin of my own. After researching it all, I chose to make my own from a trash can. This way I wouldn't spend much to get started, it would be contained to minimize pests and I could move it around freely.

I found the the most economical trash can I could that had a lid and wheels on it. Then, I drilled a few holes all over it for ventilation. Compost needs oxygen to break down all your compost matter into a nutrient rich fertilizer.
A good ratio to start out with is 1 part browns to 3 parts greens. Too many browns and your compost will break down really slow. Too many greens and you will have a smelly pile of goo. I've had both issues so far and corrected my ratio by adding more of one or the other.

Examples of browns:
Examples of greens:
vegetable and fruit waste
tea bags
coffee grounds
weeds and other yard waste
Things you don't want to compost:
oil or grease
animal flesh or bones
dairy products
food or items that will attract pests
anything with pestacides or chemicals on it

My helper and I started by tearing up some packing paper and newspaper from our recycle bin. You don't have to tear up your paper. It will break down with time on it's own, but I wanted to help it along and my helper and I had fun doing it :)

I started layering. Paper, dry and fresh yard clippings, kitchen scraps. My helper took a break while I did this part :)

Just a note. If you use weeds in your compost, be sure it's free of seeds and let it dry completely before adding to your bin. Unless you want to grow yourself some more weeds :)

I keep this bowl in my fridge for kitchen scraps. Once full, I add to my bin.
In this batch there were plums, tea bags, lemon rinds, avocado skins and a myriad of other produce waste. You can just toss all this in your bin, but again in my effort to aid the breakdown, I squish it, tear it and shred it all up before I add it in. This is also fun :)

I keep my bin in a sunny part of the yard and every few days, my helper and I roll the trash can around the yard, so it gets a good mixing. Whenever I add anything new to the pile, I'm sure to keep within ratio, so my compost and all it's microbes are happy.
If you have any composting tips for me, please feel free to post them!

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