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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Composting Story

A couple weekends ago my wife and I planted our garden.  Read about our garden here!  While planting our garden my lovely wife came up with the idea of composting.  So we started saving our food scraps...

We did some research and learned you cannot compost just any food scraps.  You should not compost any animal products like meat or bones.  Nor should you compost dairy products or cooking oil.  These things will attract unwanted pests and varmints and will make the compost pile smell foul.  One of the few exceptions are egg shells, which should be washed before placed in the compost bucket.

Here's a list of some things you can compost...
  • Any type of plant, like fruit and vegetable scraps, old house plants, grass clippings, leaves...
  • Egg Shells
  • Coffee and Filter
  • Tea Bags
  • Paper (news paper, cardboard, toilet paper rolls... I would chop it up first so it decomposes faster.  I would be careful not to compost glossy paper or other paper that may have chemicals on it.)
  • Lint
  • Hair
  • Ashes
  • Nut and Seed Shells
That's not everything you can compost, but it will give you a start.

I could have just bought a compost bin, but why make it easy on myself?  I had a bunch of lumber left over from previous projects, so I decided to make my own compost bin.

I started by building a simple frame:

Then we made a divider from old scrap lumber and faced the side with some fence boards I bought at Lowes:

My dog approved of the design and was very excited about our composting:

We made a couple gates out of lattice and we were in business!  We dumped in a layer of leaves, then a layer of kitchen scraps then a light layer of top soil into the bin:
We gave it a light spray with the hose (you want to keep the pile moist so it breaks down faster, but not too moist!  You need air to get to it!).  Now we will wait 3-4 days then mix it up. We'll continue adding our kitchen scraps and other compostable materials to the bin and hopefully in a few weeks we will have some nutrient dense compost to add to our garden!


I'll chime in to add that I know Drake's lovely fiance uses an oatmeal container for their kitchen scraps; a coffee can would work too. Those both fit nicely on the counter - just about any container works. We're using an ordinary bucket that luckily came with a lid. Also, you don't need a fancy bin like Mike made, just a pile enclosed in some sort of fencing or lattice to keep the pests out will do the job as well. I read that you shouldn't use too much grass because it takes longer to break down. A nice mix of stuff is good, the more color the better I think. It's really cut down on the amount of garbage we're throwing out. Between composting and recycling, we're only emptying the kitchen trash once every 2 weeks or so.

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