Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I've had a question or two now about composting. About everybody who comes in our yard wants to know about our bins too. I thought I'd share about our composting. It's gross stuff. It's good stuff. It's makes my garden grown.

Here's our set up: This is the back fence at the far end of the yard. There is an old compost pile on the right. I was using it as the compost pile when we moved in last fall through this past winter... then it got full of sticks in the early spring. When we built the new bins this spring, I moved some of the old pile and then just abandoned the rest. I've been moving it and using it little by little. I think next spring it will be ready to really turn under. Sticks take a long time to compost.

Next to that is Bee's volunteer garden. It just started growing. She has several tomato plants and a huge mystery vine. It hasn't produced any fruit, just blooms. It must be from a seed of some hybird produce that was composted. Bee took it over and has taken good care of it. Her things grew well and next year, we will be moving some things around and will have more plants back there. Next to that are the two compost bins.

We keep a bowl or container on the kitchen counter. Hubby hates it. When it's full, I dump it in the bins. It's supposed to be Bee's job. She will only do it if someone walks out there with her.

We've been attracting butterflies this summer. They love the peaches. There are some flies, depending on what's on top. If I cover frequently (which I am too lazy to do) with yard waste (grass clippings, leaves, etc) then that keeps them away mostly. We also have had the occasional raccoon.

Paper will break down too, we don't usually add this, but you can see a grocery sack made it's way in there. Occasionally, we have something start growing on the pile. Here, several cucumber like vines started. They didn't live long.

So, in the bins, we place the kitchen scraps (no meat or dairy). That means it's egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit peels, vegetable scraps, bread, etc. Also, we add yard waste, specifically non-woody waste.... I throw the sticks from the yard and the long branches that fall in another pile. That leaves grass clippings, leaves, greens from pruning, old plants, etc. Using a shovel, I turn it over every month or every other if I forget.

Fast forward a few months. When the elements have done their job, you get some lovely rich composted goodness. This can and should be added directly to the garden at planting and fertilizing time.

Add it to help your vegetables grow,

or your flowers.

Here are the questions we get asked a lot:

Q does it smell?
A If you sat in it, it might smell. We certainly don't smell anything in the yard. The bowl in the house can smell if there's something funky in there like corn cobs, cantaloupe rinds, etc.

Q does it attract bugs?
A yep. And worms too. You need bugs to help it all break down. They stay with the pile. Why would they leave? It's not crazy like they are swarming all over or anything... it's more like when you dig around, they are there. You don't need to buy bugs, they'll come.

Q don't I need one of those fancy bins?
A Not at all. The guy who taught the workshop I went to a few years ago said they aren't even as effective as open air bins or piles. Seriously, you can put your stuff in a pile. I got fancy this year with fenced in bins. It makes it harder to stir.

Q but I don't garden?
A You can use your compost with flowers, around shrubs, etc.

Q I thought you had to turn it a lot?
A You can. It will compost faster. You dont' have to. You can be as involved in the process as you want... or not.

Q I thought it was hard... isn't there a formula for green and brown stuff?
A It's not hard. There is a formula and tons more info out there about the technicalities about it. You can be as laid back about it as you want. It will still break down no matter what formula you use. Google it if you want to have real technical info. There's tons out there. Here's the first thing I found.

Are there other FAQs I should add to my list?

1 comment:

Ott, A. said...

Just wanted to let you know that I gave you an award over on my blog tonight. Big Congrats!
a Latte with Ott, A