I can see why the idea of composting could be intimidating. Especially when you have small kids, no time, a tight budget, little or no yard…the excuses could go on and on. Does knowing that food scraps and yard trimmings make up about 1/6th of what the average household throws in the garbage make you think again?? If so, read on…composting might not be as hard as you imagine.
Truth is, there are many ways to “do” compost. Big space or small, permanent bin or a big old heap…if there’s a will there’s a way to make it happen. Heck, you can even make compost completely indoors out of kitchen scraps alone!
If you have:
No outdoor space: Try a kitchen composter like this one. It uses a product called Bokashi that activates anaerobic fermentation. You sprinkle the Bokashi in with your food scraps and they basically ferment in the bucket – no leaves or grass clippings needed! Put it under your sink or even out on the back porch. Whatever works for you. At about $70 this isn’t a huge investment.
A little outdoor space: Try a completely contained unit like this compost tumbler. Use kitchen scraps and lawn & garden clippings to produce compost in as little as 3 weeks! Tumblers come in different shapes and sizes and seem to range in price from $140 on up. A Google search will bring you lots of choices.
Or try a worm factory. Worms do the work for you by digesting your scraps and leaving nutrient rich castings behind. They also produce liquid waste that makes an excellent fertilizer. I’m on the fence about this one…I don’t mind finding worms in the garden, but the idea of a whole box full of them gives me the eeby jeebies.
A moderate amount of space: Try making your own compost bin. You can use something as simple as chicken wire or create a wooden bin from old scrap wood. Nothing fancy – it’s just for dirt, right?
If you’d rather just buy a bin there are many options, ranging from this inexpensive black hoop bin made from recycled plastic ($24.95) to a natural cedar bin for just over $150.
A large amount of space: You could go for a really nice looking cedar double bin, but it will set you back over $300.
Or, if you’re like us and you have a big old tree in the back corner of your yard, you can start a big old compost heap behind it, with no enclosure whatsoever! It’s mostly out of sight, accommodates a huge amount of compost and is very low maintenance.
The basic ‘recipe’ for compost is simple and very flexible:
3 parts Browns (or dry ingredients) Examples are: dried leaves, twigs, dried grass, straw, shredded newspaper. These carbon rich ingredients provide energy for the microbes, which move around in the pile and decompose the materials.
1 – 2 parts Greens (or wet/fresh ingredients) Examples are: fruit & vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, fresh grass clippings, plant clippings, egg shells, tea bags. These nitrogen rich ingredients provide protein for the microbes.
Water – make sure your compost stays moist so the microbes can grow and do their stuff.
Air – turning the pile helps with decomposition and controls the odors. Who wants a stinky compost heap?
For more info, check out the Compost Guide website or this article called How to Compost, by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (click on by composting on the left hand side of the page to get to the article.)
Do you compost or would you like to start? What method do you use? How does it work for you? Any helpful hints or tips?