Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Simple Compost Solution

You can go out and spend all kinds of money for a fancy compost bin but sometimes a simple solution can work just as well. In the interest of full disclosure, I am a lazy composter. There I said it. I don't get out there to the bin to turn it regularly. I don't check it with a fancy compost thermometer to make sure the temperature is ideal. I don't add special compost ingredients designed to speed along the process. I probably should but I don't. I suspect if I did I would have a lot more finished compost available for my gardens. But as I said, I'm a lazy composter. I'm also a cheap composter. My big bin is a group of 4 pallets screwed together. Three pallets are actually attached and the fourth I use as a loose barrier that I move out of the way on the rare occasion I turn the pile! Most of the pallets came from transporting the paving stones for my patio project last year. Total cost - $0.




My point in revealing my composting secret is to say that you don't have to do much to get compost. If you wait long enough compost happens. Six weeks ago the compost bin was filled high up to the top board in the back with a variety of grass clippings, weeds, and spent garden plants. Today its as you see it with nearly half of the vegetable matter gone. I never turned it. Our kitchen scraps, leaves, and grass clippings go into the compost bin. Grass clippings are a little secret of mine. Adding 1-2 bags of grass clippings each time I mow greatly increases the speed of the compost - without turning.

You don't even have to have a compost bin to compost, a pile in the backyard works great although it isn't the prettiest thing in the world. Or you could trench compost. Dig a trench where you want to plant a garden and gradually fill it in with compost then cover with soil. Plant your plants in the spring over the compost trench and they will have easy access to the yummy nutrients you added. Just be sure to keep the animal products out of the bin as they can attract animals!

What Do I Compost? Vegetable scraps, coffee and tea grounds, egg shells, grass clippings, leaves, weeds, dead plants, shredded newspapers, and I even once threw in an old pair of holey jeans. After all jeans ARE made from cotton! Have you composted anything more unusual than jeans?

I hope to add a second bin soon with parts from another pallet I have handy as well as my old compost bin. Maybe by adding that second bin I can start a more regular turning process. Or maybe I'll just be twice as lazy!

7 comments :

  1. I, too, am a lazy composter. I have had a number of store-bought bins, but they tend to encourage laziness as they force me to try to dig compost out the door at the base. No mean feat that!

    http://freerangeturtle.blogspot.com/2009/05/compost-living-thing.html

    I find that if I have full access to the compost (through a fully removable front panel, or removable stacking layers - Biostack), I'm more inclined to actually turn the compost more regularly AND have compost ready to use!

    Thanks for your blog! Don't stop yet.

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  2. Works perfectly, Dave! I think the most ingenius "lazy compost bin" was one made of bales of straw, stacked one atop the other in a "U" shape. As most material was added, another bale of straw was added to the height. Eventually, even the straw broke down and it looked very easy to get at for turning, etc. But yours is brilliant and the price is sure right. :) Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

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  3. I compost the same way Dave. I have three that I built from pressure treated 1x6's. All three keep going all year with no help from me. My bin is also not fancy and built rather sloppily too-square? Who knew?:) Anyhow, I just filled two bins up with banana trees and leaves to overfull. The third one is full of finished compost I am being stingy with. Trying to figure out where to put it so my other gardens don't get jeaulous. I never have enough. I don't turn mine and it takes about one year, but once you have it going you almost always have finished compost. Pure gold! Freecycle oftentimes has pallets for offer. I myself gave away several. Wished I knew you wanted some and I'd have saved them. Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow.

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  4. Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family.

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  5. We composted our tax records last year. In turn we applied the compost to the watermelon bed. The melons couldn't do our taxes afterwards but they sure were tastey.

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  6. Old jeans - that is very creative!

    We've tried the fancy enclosed bins, but they only work if you're willing to turn them regularly and check on the water content. I don't have time to do that, so two open wire bins are perfect for us. Once one really "gets going," I start adding things exclusively to the second bin so I can harvest the first bin without too much hassle (from sorting).

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  7. Steph,

    That's a great point about the removable front. It does make it a lot easier to get access for turning or for removing compost.

    Nancy,

    I've seen the straw bale composters before. Great idea! It does take up a little more space though.

    Lola,

    I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    Kristin and Michael,

    The tax records is a good one! I thought of using our shredded important papers for vermicomspoting. There's no chance anyone can piece together our financial documents after it's been through a worm!

    Ginger,

    Open bins seem to be the easiest and most function types. Once I get the time I'll put together the second bin and do the alternating like you describe!

    ReplyDelete

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Dave

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