In case you forgot this is what our old compost pile looked like:
Why it was a problem:
1. It was full. There are six people sharing this one compost bin and we hadn’t done a thing with it since we moved in and exclaimed, “Sweet! There’s already a compost bin.”
2. We weren’t using a method. Despite having learned about composting when we apprenticed on a farm way back when we sort of forgot or rather just never took the time to set it up properly.
3. It was broken. I think it’s something like over 80% of homes in our town have a compost bin (due to aggressive outreach and education) and who knows when this one was built. Great design, but by now it was falling apart.
1. Loose the compost/yard waste. We did this in the sheet mulching process. It was sort of gross, but very real–as in this is what we ate and now we have to find a responsible way of dealing with it. Very fact of life-ish for the whole family.
2. Disassemble the broken bin. Stone took the broken materials to the recycling center and disposed of it properly. We didn’t find we had any use for the materials.
3. Research the best system for us. This was harder than I thought. I spent an afternoon doing research on the internet and found many “how-to’s” and “guides to composting” to be vague or be selling a system or certain type of bucket. It got confusing and I consider myself somewhat informed on the subject.
Ironically, I found the best information to be from Cornell Cooperative Extension (which just happens to be in my neighborhood) and had easy to read/understand downloadable guides. Once I found these everything became very easy. (The guides are available to you further down in the post.)
4. Construct a bin. We used the simplest method we found: the welded wire bin. We bought the materials from our local Agway. (Instructions to follow.)
5. Prepare the system for use. We created the bottom layer of bigger sticks (in instructions) and collected browns to be readily available next to bin. We also found a small shovel and gave it a home directly next to the new bin.
To recap, we are using a wire bin with the lasagna method, which involves layering browns and greens. Browns are leaves, newspaper strips, torn cardboard, sticks etc. and green are kitchen waste, grass clippings etc. Ideally, you want the greens covered at all times and more browns than greens, but you can read all about it in the super easy to follow guides I’ll pass along in just a second.
When this bin fills up we will probably build another one and let this one sit for a while and feed the new one, thus creating a cycle that should keep us from ever being in our original predicament of a full, nasty uncomposted pile of kitchen scraps.
As far as kitchen system, find what works for you! We keep a bucket that I line with newspaper (makes it easier to dump without having to touch bottom of the bucket sliminess). As I’m cooking I usually designate a bowl on the kitchen to collect the scraps and then move it to the bucket which eventually gets taken down to the yard. We move the browns to the side, add the kitchen waste to the middle and cover liberally with browns.
Viola! It’s beautiful! It’s green! It’s sustainable! It is the easiest, common sense way to reduce waste and keep your garbage from being nasty. Compost: The satisfying home habit ;-)
Also, Renee, over at FIMBY wrote a fantastic post about how her family composts a few weeks back. I think it always helps to see it in action and the way different family’s implement things into their unique flow.
Does your family compost? Share your system with us and feel free to leave a link if you’ve ever blogged about composting. Share the love and the info!