Thursday, March 5, 2009

Confused about Compost!

This is a post directed at all of you composters out there! I just finished chopping up a ton of veggies for our dinner tonight. I was also left with a ton of scraps. As I dumped them into the sink to be put into the garbage disposal, it dawned on me that I've been doing that a lot lately! Since we have been fasting 7 days a week, we've upped our vegetable and fruit intake and have produced a lot of waste!

I have been interested in composting for a while, but don't know where to start. I am going to start a small raised-bed garden this spring, and I know the compost would benefit our Tennessee clay-ridden soil!

So help me out! I don't have a very large yard, so I won't have that much space for the pile. What do I need? How do I maintain it?

Any help is appreciated!


Anonymous said...

Hi Ashley!
Mark has put together his first compost bin and he plans to start small this spring with using it for a garden. I'm sure he can talk to you about it this weekend. However, since we're just getting started, we'd also like to hear what someone who has gone through this process already has to say. Thanks for posting this! God bless you! Margie

Stephanie said...

I tried to post earlier but I guess I clicked on the wrong thing somehow... hopefully this one will go through...

You definitely do not need a big space to compost. We have a small yard as well. Just start with a 3' or 4' square space. You can enclose it with wire or pallets or leave it open (with children, enclosed works a bit better :-) There are bins you can purchase, but I find them to be a bit of a waste of money for something that can be done so simply... just think of how everything naturally composts in the forest with no extra tools.

An important thing to remember is not to put any animal products in the bin... pretty much everything else goes. Fruit/veggie scraps, shredded paper (in small amounts), leaves, straw, plant matter (even dryer lint, believe it or not.. if it will break down and it's not of animal origin, you can probably rest assured it can go in there!).

You just need to try to get the pile to have the consistency of a wrung-out sponge. If it's too wet, add more "browns" (dry stuff like leaves or straw). If it's too dry, add more "greens" (veg/fruit scraps, grass clippings) or water.

I usually just toss my food scraps onto the bin and cover them really well with a whole bunch of leaves I've saved from the fall or some straw leftover from garden season.

Composting can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. If you want the pile to break down quickly, turn it often. Me, on the other hand, I don't seem to have the time to get to thatery often, so I mostly let time do the work. It will eventually break down all on it's own. Like I said before... just think of how everything breaks down in the forest :-)

Hope this might help a bit!

she who must be obeyed said...

we use the hands off approach - dump it in a pile, and do nothing :) Covering with leaves is a good idea, and so is turning it occasionally, but we don't usually bother, then when the ground is tilled the compost just gets tilled in with it. With a dog (and boys) it is a good idea to enclose it with some wire. And egg shells can go in your compost too. I just got a new bucket (cheap green one with the carbon filters - love the decorative ones, but know they will end up broken by one of the kids) that holds my compost so it doesn't have to go out every day - which the kids appreciate since they are the ones who have to empty it!