Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Close Second

A couple of days ago, I talked about how I was addicted to rain barrels.  That's not where my addiction ends though.  I must confess, a close second is my addiction to composting.  As I was writing this post, I was giggling to myself because I didn't realize how bad it was until I had to put it into words.  It floors me that we only started composting a year ago, and it didn't take me very long to become obsessed with it.  I think I love the idea of turning something that is normally thrown away into black rich food for your garden. Compost bin #1 is the first one we ever got.  Last year, as a housewarming present, the hubs parents bought us this composter.  It is my favorite of all the composters because you can pivot the composter upside down to easily mix the contents inside.  If we could, we would get a dozen of these babies, but they are pricey, so we only have one.  What's so awesome about this composter is that it makes compost in 4-5 months depending on the season and what type of organic material we put inside.  We also compost year round, even in the winter, so it tends to freeze up.  But come spring that baby is in action through the fall doing it's thing.
Our most recent compost bin acquisition was this DIY project.  With all the fallen leaves on our property, I became obsessed with trying to keep all the leaves for composting.  My little obsession with saving leaf bags got me in a bit of trouble with one of my neighbors though.  So that lead us to build this bin out of recycled wooden pallets.  This week, I cleaned out the strawberry beds, and all the leaves went here, on top of the existing leaf pile.  The bottom of the bin, I saw was already breaking down.  I layer soil in between the leaves to get the composting going.
When we got the nice composter from the in-laws, we quickly filled it up and realized we needed another interim bin to hold organic material while the other bin was busy composting.  So we bought a cheapy garbage can that has a screw on lid.  In our yard, it's important to have a can with lids that screw on tight because we have crazy squirrels that love to eat vegetables.  They blatantly steal tomatoes and eggplants off the vines, and apparently, one squirrel chewed a hole in the can's lid trying to get inside our bin.  See the hole?  Thank goodness the lid was fastened tight and thus the stupid squirrel didn't get in.  We also drilled holes all over the body of the can to allow air in.  Air is an integral part of composting, to help prevent mold which leads to a foul odor.
Our compost doesn't smell foul.  It has an earthy smell.  Here's a look inside the can.  I layer our yard leaves in between uncooked organic kitchen scraps.  Most of the kitchen scraps that go into our bin are coffee grinds, tea leaves, rinds, veggies and fruit scraps and egg shells.  Last year was our first time composting and I learned a big lesson.   We didn't add enough browns or leaves to our compost and it was a wet mess.  This year, every time I put in organic green material, I throw in a few handfuls of brown leaves.  This worked wonders!  Yesterday, I took our nifty mini-hoe and mixed the contents of the bin.
Here's a closer look.  Deep in the bottom of the bin, most of the material has already turned into black gold.  This bin has been working all winter.  On the top you can see the newer material I added recently, such as the asparagus spear bottoms and lemon rinds.
As if 1 interim garbage bin wasn't enough, we added a 2nd one this past winter.  LOL.  Sound a bit overboard, well, not really.  The compost bins are all in different stages of composting. The other garbage bin is already half way in the process of composting, while this newer garbage bin will start collecting the newer kitchen scraps.  Once the "official" composter above finishes with the composting process, Garbage bin #1's contents gets thrown into the "real" composter to finish processing. The garbage bins mainly act as "storage" for the organic material until it can go into the fancy composter bin.
Here's a look inside garbage bin #2. Again there are holes drilled into the side of the bin. As you can see, we just started putting material into this one, and so there isn't much in there yet.
So there you have it. You think I should start a New York chapter of CA? Composters Anonymous?


  1. You are composting very well. I have a tumbler and am doing pretty good with it currently but I've spent so much time just throwing stuff into a pile that I haven't quite gotten the knack of it yet. I'm getting good compost if I keep it moist. Right now, I think it is too wet. Mostly, I'm glad all that good organic material isn't in a landfill somewhere.

  2. I gave up on all composting methods, now I jsut throw whatever I got from the kitchen into the garden and dig it in eventually, in the winter I grab a ton of leaves frmo my parents house and dump them into the garden, come spring I till it all in.

  3. That's fantastic! It's great that you are composting and found a way to make it work for you (and not the squirrels - ha!)

    I just started last year - built a hardware wire cloth round "bin" - two, actually, one for storing dried leaves and extra mulch (brown stuff) and the other is compost.

    I also follow you layering plan of covering our raw scraps with a layer of leaves / brown stuff each time we dump the kitchen compost bucket. I started last August and just turned the compost pile last weekend to discover about a half-bin full of black gold! Not bad for 8 months!

  4. You have wonderful and thoughtful inlaws!! I was reading about the trouble with your neighbors link. I don't have a composter and the main reason would be exactly that.

    We live in a nice new neighborhood with large and connecting yards, newly planted trees, so it is very visible and anyone can see what's going on in their neighbors yard. Neighbors maintain lawns as far as the eye can see without any flowers/veggie patches. I seem to be the only one cutting up lawns and planting, so adding a composter would not be a good idea(or so my dh thinks) We have covenants, not sure if that is something that is covered in there, but we don't want to irk the neighbors!! But I'm also curious as to how much compost you generate. Is it enough for the garden or do you supplement it with store purchases?

  5. You are doing GREAT! I just recently got composting right:

    It took me three years to get it right. Year one was a big flop for me. I tried my hand a worm composting...I had fruit fies EVERY WHERE. and my worms died. I was so upset that I was responsible for the death a hundreds of worms too!. Anyway...great post.

  6. We don't have a proper compost bin. We just put it out in the corner of the chicken yard and they do the turning, if you could call it that.

  7. in addition to 2 compost bins (which my condo neighbors are on-board with, hooray!) i have worms--in my dining room.

    hello, my name is donna, and i can't stop composting.

  8. Great COM-POST!
    If you start a CA or Recycling Anonymous, count me in.

  9. I enjoyed reading about your different compost areas. I have a 3 section area in my veggie garden. I use the sections to turn the piles over, but right now, all of them are full of leaves. Since the next door neighbors were wanting to put more leaves on the piles, I had the 3rd grade or so boy come over and walk around the piles with his feet inside 5 gallon buckets. I've done that once this year, but I was too tired that day. That works to pack it down some. Last night, I raked some leaves from my flower beds onto a tarp, then dragged the tarp to my compost pile across the street. I got the bright idea to put the tarp over the pile, then got up to walk around on it to pack the leaves down. As I was getting onto it, I had my hand on the neighbor's privacy fence. I slipped, and let go just in time to avoid an injury to my armpit. There was enough of a pull, that I thought I may be sore today, but I seem to be OK.

    Do you think I may be obsessed with composting, too? Oh, by the way, the neighbor boy was asking about some of the things he saw that I had put onto the pile. He asked if they could put orange peelings and stuff on it, and said that would be fine. I do tend to have more brown than green stuff, the opposite of you.

  10. Wow... I can't believe someone asked about your leaves - that's ridiculous! We took out a bunch of grass to make a huge garden, and placed it behind our garage. There is literally nothing back there. Nothing for anyone to see... but still someone mentioned it! Oh well. It's our house - we can do what we want!

  11. Our first composter is almost filled. I can't believe it! We don't have any more room for more though, so I guess we'll just have to recycle the rest. It is very fun though!


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