Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Inept, Lazy Composter

I only recently started to show a real interest in compost and the art of composting. Short on time and materials - I would just throw what-ever into the compost garbage bin and ignore it for a year or so. My compost mantra was 'Some greens; some browns.'

So, I devoted time this past winter to learning more about the science of compost. But, with an office job from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. - I still need things to happen while I'm plugging away at the computer.

So here are my thoughts for the newbie or hands-off, wait-and-see composter. From one incredibly lazy composter to another - I hope this speaks to you.

Location, Location, Location. I learned very quickly that if I had to walk any farther than my back door - (compost) things weren't going to happen. The compost bin has to be within fuzzy-slipper distance. I know my gardening limitations. This is an obvious one for me.

Enter: The Humble Garbage Can. It doesn't need to be expensive. I would even put a call out on Freecycle if you have one in your area. You may want to find a rounder can (more on that shortly). A tight-fitting lid is also helpful - keeps critters out.

The Browns - Leaves, straw. Last fall, I indulged in a leaf mulcher - to speed up the process (smaller compost ingredients = faster compost). You can also mulch the browns with a mulching lawnmower or by putting the leaves in an empty garbage can and 'blending' them with your weed whacker.

The Greens - Grass clippings and kitchen scraps. If you can cut your scraps up before-hand, great. I read something recently about a 3"-4" of green materials to 4"-8" browns. This description for the amounts of materials seems to work better than the typical ratio approach - in my brain, at least.

Air and Water - Adding a bit of water occasionally will go a long way in helping things happen in your bin. But the most important, more physical part of composting is getting air to the materials. Here's a look at what I am testing out.
  • The light blue bin at the top left has holes drilled around the sides. Because it is rounded, I am able to roll it around the yard, too. For 10 minutes - tops. Once-a-week.
  • The center, green can is the original, very neglected bin. I just recently drilled more holes in the sides. Then, I plan to ignore it for several months.
  • These are my newest creations (center and right photos). Holes have been drilled in the sides; but I also drilled holes in a bit of PVC pipe and fitted that through a hole in the container's lid. This will help more air get to the center of the pile.

I hope this helps take a little of the mystery out of composting. It doesn't need to involve expensive, cedar compost bins and the mind of an engineer or an alchemist. Just the love of using what nature provides, some ingenuity and, last but not least, the realistic desire to keep things simple.

1 comment:

Libby said...

Thank you for posting this. The title drew me in, b/c that is me, in spades. lol!