My original composting attempt is a failure. I admit it. This is what I get for not doing my research. What I’m making is a hot mess, not compost. So today I launched my formal effort to start doing compost right. Here are the links and advice and resources that I’m following, as well as a peek at the equipment I’m planning to get.
Sooner or later, it’s time to face the topic of compost. We can only go so long on store-bought potting soil and salvaged coffee grounds. So wrinkle up your nose and dive right in. (Don’t take that literally.)
Here’s where I am so far:
The Concept of Compost
Lifted straight out of Wikipedia, the go-to knowledge base on all things, here is the start of their definition page:
At the simplest level, the process of composting simply requires making a heap of wetted organic matter (leaves, “green” food waste) and waiting for the materials to break down into humus after a period of weeks or months.
Sounds easy, huh? Believe me, I left out tons of information, including how it all works. You can read it, of course, at Wikipedia – handy if you have an avid curiosity for how things work.
Unless you have a nice neighbor willing to go sharesies on her compost operation, you’ll have to tackle your own composting,
If this is your first composting project, invest in a bin or system. You’re making soil to put around veggies and herbs that you will eat, so it makes sense to listen to the experts.
Most people will want a two-step system: First, a pail or catch bin in the kitchen to collect household waste headed for processing. Second, the place where the composting actually happens, usually set up outdoors (although there are some setups that compost right in the kitchen).
Buy or make a kitchen pail where you drop scraps that’ll go out to your compost bin. Ideally this will have a well-fitting lid, a filter to remove odors, and a sturdy handle or two. Stainless steel is great since it won’t absorb odors and can be cleaned easily, but a plastic catch pail that’s dishwasher safe is also a worthy choice. My choice – the Norpro Compost Keeper (see green box)
For the composter itself, find a place that is close to a water source and easy to get to from your house.
How to Compost – Resources
I am not going to pretend to know everything about this! Since I am still learning as I go, here are the resources I’m using, and why I’m relying on them:
- Instructions on Starting Compost Bins | National Geographic – step-by-step actions and advice, including what not to compost
- How to Compost Correctly | National Geographic – actions and slight refinements to the above resource
- 100 Things You Can Compost | Small Footprint Family – good environmental advice and a very nice starting list including things I hadn’t considered (“17. Crumbs from the bottom of snack food packaging”)
- Soil and Composting Discussion | Dave’s Garden – a section in an extremely active forum, this is a combination of Q&A, FAQ, troubleshooting, and advice. Please note that some materials on Dave’s Garden are visible to Subscribing Members only. I am not one at this writing but I do plan to get a subscription before long.
Deciding on Composting Tools
These are a few of the devices and tools I’m considering. I am leaning toward the Norpro Compost Keeper for the kitchen. For the outdoor part, I really like the idea of this Spin Bin. First, it’s 100% recycled plastic. Second, it looks light enough that I can spin it around without needing help. Third, it looks like relocating it would be a snap, unlike the box-on-ground systems and heavier spin systems – some of those look as substantial as cement mixers!
When I get my outdoor garden area set up (soon!), there’s no way I can afford to buy a ton of Miracle Gro to prepare the soil for my new plants and seeds. By starting a compost project now, I’m reducing the amount of household waste that gets hauled to the dump. I’m supporting my new garden. And I’m saving some cash!
Thank you for putting up with my trial and error for fonts on this blog. Garden Lass is back to a sans serif font as of this writing. Sorry for the eyestrain!