Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Compost Chronicles – Part I

I am by no means a compost expert… In fact, without Unkl K’s initiative I am sure we still would not have a composting system. I was totally hung-up on this idea that we needed a well constructed, wooden, three-tiered compost system. Well, we simplified – and the moral of the story is that you too can easily compost your kitchen scraps and transform them into “black gold”.

We took a clue from my mom, the owner of an inspiring garden and a thriving and simple compost system. Her compost, and now ours, starts with a bottomless garbage can set approximately four inches into the ground. Enter Unkl K: within 15 minutes he sawed off the bottom of a plastic garbage can and buried it in the ground. Thank the stars for people who “just do stuff”!

So now we are collecting our green waste in a container under the sink and have been happily composting for the last 10-weeks. We asked my mom to take a look at our “system” and she touted its benefits: no need to “turn” the layers AND it is rodent proof. What (dumb) luck – two things we most definitely wanted and most awesomely ended up with.

We haven’t yet harvested our compost, which probably won't be for another three months or so ... the simplicity of this approach means it takes longer for everything to decompose. We also have not added additional bins to our system, which we plan to do when our first bin fills up. So stay tuned for more posts on this topic – including tips from Unkl K’s doggy-doo composting system – which totally works! As Cole would say with hands clapping: “Yay Unkl K!”

Composting Notes and Tips

Servings: 32 gallons
Cost: ~ $15 for the garbage can
Time: 15-20 mins to create a bottomless bin and dig a hole

· Alternate layers of wet and dry waste
· Examples of wet waste include veggie scraps from the kitchen, pulled garden weeds, egg shells and coffee grounds.
· Examples of dry waste include dead leaves, dried grass, straw, sawdust and newspaper.
· The moisture of the compost should be like a “damp sponge” – if it seems to dry add more wet waste, if it seems to wet add more dry waste.
· The compost should not smell. If you smell it (without sticking your nose down into it), it is likely too wet, so add more dry waste.
· Use newspaper torn into strips as “dry waste” to absorb excess moisture.
· DO NOT put meat, oils (no salad scraps with dressing!) or dairy products into the compost
· We have been light on dry waste, so we started a pile of pulled weeds and grass adjacent to the compost. Once dried we add them as dry waste.

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