Friday, June 15, 2012

It's a Com-POST




You can thank my hubs for that CORNY title :p.  He is guest posting today for me on the subject of compost.  The Friday Find is FREE or super cheap (depending on your city) compost bins from the city!

Give him some love in the comments so he does this again, he's got plenty of corny post titles ready to go ;).

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Gardening in the desert is a challenge. The soil, if you can call it that, is pretty much completely lacking in nutrients. So we started our garden in a raised bed. We bought some organic soil mix to fill the bed and had some success in growing some vegetables. But we knew we’d need to keep replenishing the nutrients so we turned to composting.
Composting has lots of benefits, but the biggest is that you can reduce the waste you send to landfill while creating nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden. Almost any organic plant material can be used to create compost. Fruit and vegetable scraps, lawn and tree trimmings, whatever you have. Ideally, you need to have a good mix of “greens” – nitrogen-rich ingredients such as vegetable scraps – and “browns” – carbon-rich ingredients like leaves and paper. But it’s not rocket science, if you can’t get a 50/50 mixture, just try your best.
Here is a list of some things you can compost:
Greens
·         - Vegetable and fruit scraps
·         - Coffee grounds and filters
·         - Tea bags (make sure you remove any staples first)
·         - Grass
·         - Horse or cow manure
Browns
·         - Leaves
·         - Paper products, including newspaper. Careful though – some colored inks are made with heavy metals and are not good for you or your garden so check the source!
·         - Pine needles
·         - Hay or Straw

We have a small ceramic container that we keep in our kitchen to collect our scraps in. As it gets full I take it out to one of our outside bins.

There are lots of options available for storing your compost. Open bins, rotating drums, and everything in between. We originally bought a plastic bin from Amazon (Achla Designs CMP-05 Spinning Composter Horizontal) that was easy to rotate. We did this for a few reasons. First, compost needs to be mixed up from time to time to help aerate the mixture and stir up the microbes that are breaking your compost down. We thought we would be more likely to keep doing this if the compost was in something easy to rotate. Secondly, being in the desert, we thought it would help keep the mix moist. If the compost dries out it won’t decompose very quickly.

As we filled the bin, we realized we would want a second one to start filling since the compost in the drum was nearly ready to use. We happened to find out that our city offers old trash bins that they have cleaned, cut the bottom off of, and drilled several holes into for aeration. Best of all, they were free!
I cleared a spot next to our rotating bin and we started throwing our waste in there. Amazingly, our new bin is working out *much* better than the drum. The drum has a tendency to hold *too* much water in it, especially if rainwater gets in there. Since it’s a fairly closed system, there is no drainage. And let me tell you, compost that gets too wet and sits for a while gets funky. I ended up having to leave the sliding lid of the drum open for a while to dry out.

The new bin has enough aeration to keep from getting too wet, while still being closed enough to retain some moisture. I have an old floor scraper that I use to mix things up (I do this every time I empty our compost into the bin, it only take a few seconds) and as a bonus, the end is sharp enough to break larger chunks of material up.

The bin from the city

our compost pile in the bin
After using the bin we got from the city for a few months, I can honestly say I regret spending the money on the one from Amazon. The modified garbage container was FREE, and the compost is breaking down much, much faster than in the rotating drum. But if you’d rather have something that’s a bit nicer looking then there’s no problem with a professionally made product.


There are a ton of good links out there about building your own bin and what you can and can’t compost. Here are some that I’ve used before:

6 comments:

  1. I compost also, it's great! New follower from MBC, I look forward to your future posts!

    http://wvfrugal-wvsaver.blogspot.com/

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  2. Hi! I'm a new follower from MBC. I have the same compost container in my kitchen. We compost outside, but just have some open square wood boxes that we dump the scraps in. The compost is great for our garden!

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    1. Thanks for the follow! Great little countertop bin isn't it? :)

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  3. Following you from MBC! Great post:) Hope you will please follow me back too:)

    http://kngmckellar-glorias.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. thanks! And thanks for the follow, following you back :)

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