Compost

We have been composting in our home for about a year now and like everything else we take a laid-back, wait and see how it does approach. When I first decided that I wanted to start composting I looked to the internet for how I should go about getting started. The results were overwhelming as most internet searches are. We could use worms or we could opt to leave them out. There were also the millions of options for containers, everything from plastic quick rolling bins, plastic stacked bins, fenced in areas, recycled pallets and wooden structures. Then there comes the option for your indoor compost storage, mini cans, bins, container, etc. I was beyond confused before I even started to gather supplies. I wish I could say that once I figured out what type of set up I wanted things got easier but they didn't. Everyone, from expert composters who are aiming to achieve specific temperatures and balance to those who really have no clue have different opinions of what can go into compost and what absolutely cannot.  A year later I still fall into the latter group and I am okay with that. So if you were looking to start composting and felt overwhelmed like I did let me share how we got started.

Outdoor Compost Bin


Why compost? We wanted to compost because we thought it would be a good way to add nutrients to the garden. I was also getting tired of taking out the trash making waste of such useful material i.e., our food scraps. 

What set up? Whatever your heart desires. Are you low on time? Do what we did and purchase a large plastic tub and drill holes all over the bottom and halfway up the sides. Feeling handy? Recycled pallets can also make a great compost bin, we made one but it was very terrible to look at in our little suburban yard. I have a feeling the neighbors would have been none too happy to look at it everyday either. We instead used the pallets to stack our firewood on. If you want a really clean and polished look and don't mind spending a lot of loot there are many options at lawn and garden centers. We have yet to over fill a bin it seems to break down quick enough for our needs. 

What do you do? Here is the part where I fly by the seat of my pants. I use a large tupperware bowl that never saw any use and collect all of the fruit and vegetable scraps during meal preparation. I do not use anything that has been cooked or has been coated in oil or butter. I do not put meat, dairy, mushrooms, or weeds in our compost. Most common items in our compost include raw fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea and egg shells (rinsed). Once my large bowl is filled I take it out and dump it into the large container. If it looks like I have more food items (greens) than dry items (browns) I grab a handful of dried leaves or non-colored shredded paper (usually newspaper) until it looks to be a pretty even amount of both. If it looks dry or the particles of food and leaves run through my fingers very easily I add a bit of water. If it gets too wet where everything clumps in together in big clumps I add more paper or leaves. We chose not to add worms to our container but tell that to the worms. Somehow the worms find there way into the container and add their own little miraculous workings into pile. I always love free help.

Inside food scraps bowl

What if you get it wrong? If you get it wrong you fix it. Compost is pretty forgiving. If it does not decompose it will rot and rotting smells and attracts critters. So if it starts to smell add leaves and paper and give it a stir and if you keep your compost from stinking chance are everything will turn out. 

Tips? Be prepared to wait, we have 2 bins. One for the current year with finished compost and one for the next year with compost in progress. If you are going to put weeds in your compost make sure that you have a pretty good handle on how to keep your compost consistently cooking. If weeds are added to the compost and they are not broken down properly they will survive and no one wants their compost spread through the garden to be filled with well fed bits of weeds.

In conclusion, I think you will find that composting is not as difficult as it may seem and like anything else once you do it for yourself it will make sense. In the beginning is was comical to see our family interactions while we all adjusted to the fact that we were not throwing out our food scraps. "Why is there an apple core in the trashcan?" I would ask while promptly pulling it out and adding it to the bowl. Over time my husband, kids, and I changed our habits and it is now second nature to place things in the appropriate receptacle. It is also fun to use the compost bowl as a determinant of our eating habits. The days when we eat healthy foods consisting of mostly fruits and vegetables (especially in the summer) the bowl fills up quickly and requires daily emptying. If we have a busy weeks where our diet strays off track with more carbohydrate consumption the bowl will remain relatively empty.  So go on, give it a try.



Black Fox Homestead

Comments

  1. I have found that composting is about THE best thing I can do for my garden - and I am so glad that we are no longer throwing away all those wonderful banana peels, egg shells and more. We aren't doing as well in the bitter cold weather - no one wants to take stuff out(and the freezer is too full of compost!) or try to chip off the dirt pile to add to it. Spring is coming though. :) Thank you for posting this...... Gentle Joy

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  2. As you said, there seem to be as many ways to compost as there are people who do it. :-) Thank you for sharing this at the HomeAcre Hop; I hope you'll join us again this Thursday.
    Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead

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