My husband recently surprised me by building our first compost bin. We’ve been talking about it for over a year but couldn’t decide on the best system to build. Did we want to use the basic pile system, build a compost bin or build a smaller system using garbage cans? Where would we put it? Then one day this fall he just built it. Using salvaged wooden pallets and metal fence posts, we now have our very own compost bin!
What is compost? To put it simply, compost is decomposed organic matter. Adding compost to your garden beds will help amend the soil and lead to healthier, more productive plants. You can purchase bags of compost at your local hardware store or make it yourself using yard waste and kitchen scraps. We’ve always purchased bags of compost each spring but since we are trying to live a more frugal, sustainable lifestyle we decided to make our own. This is where our new compost bin comes in.
Compost is made when you mix yard waste like leaves and grass clippings with kitchen scraps from fruits and vegetables. You will need to make sure you have a nice mix of both to get a good compost. The basic concept is that you mix them together in even amounts, add a little water if needed and let nature do the rest. To get a bit more technical you will need a good mix of high carbon materials (referred to as browns) and high nitrogen materials (referred to as greens) to create a healthy compost. I have included a list below to help!
We started our compost a few weeks ago with a healthy pile of fallen leaves. A few times a week we add our kitchen scraps to the pile. Every time my husband adds more scraps he gives the pile a little turn, aerating the compost so that it doesn’t get too moist. Too much moisture prohibits the development of compost and can result in a slimy, smelly mess! If we need more dry material we can always add straw or more leaves to the pile.
So now you might be asking, what types of things can I put in my compost pile? The list is long! Here is just a snapshot of materials you can include in your compost:
Materials to Compost
|Browns = High Carbon||Greens = High Nitrogen|
Stems and twigs, shredded
|*Avoid weeds that have gone to seed, as
seeds may survive all but the hottest compost piles.http://www.composting101.com/what-to-use.html
Some items to avoid are, coal ash, colored paper (including colored newsprint), foil, glass, plastic, metal, diseased plants, animal products such as meat, bones and dairy, pet waste, and any synthetic chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides.
Our method of composting may not be the quickest, most efficient way but through trial and error, we’re hoping to successfully make our own compost. Depending on the results we may add a second bin so we can better rotate the pile and create even more compost. There are hundreds of resources out there dedicated to composting. What we have learned is to not be discouraged about trying to do it “right” and to just do it. We could’ve spent another year trying to figure out the “best” way to compost, reading through tons of material about how to do it, but the end result would’ve sent us back to the local hardware store to buy yet another bag of compost.
Do you compost? Tell us about your experience in the comments!