We purchased two compost bins from our city’s sanitation division to facilitate our composting efforts. Municipalities across the country are offering compost bins to promote composting as an effort to reduce the amount of waste heading to the landfills. The costs and types of containers vary. Of course, there is also a plethora of composting containers and plans for constructing your own system on-line.
Determining the amount of space you have to compost is an important consideration. Years ago, we tried composting by simply creating a loose pile of compost materials. It really did not work and just ended up attracting bugs and never properly decomposed. However, my sister, who lives in a very moist climate and has a much bigger yard, has the most beautiful free-form compost pile. Her moist environment is very different from my extremely dry climate – I think that makes a huge difference in the rate of decomposition. My dry climate benefits from the enclosed style of container that helps to retain the moisture and encourage decomposition.
We added a bit of “starter” compost to the bottom of our containers. We obtained the “starter” compost from a local farm that sells beautiful compost full of tiny beneficial organisms. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but I do think it helps get the whole process started.
We have been adding all of our organic kitchen scraps such as fruit and vegetable peelings and scraps, coffee and tea grinds and eggshells. We do not add meat scraps. Plant clippings, leaves, grass, dryer lint, and even bits of paper are also great for the compost pile. Just be sure that none of the items you include have been contaminated with pet waste – you definitely do not want to add that! It is important to add small pieces of material to hasten the decomposition process. You can put any large yard clippings on the grass and run over them with the lawnmower (be sure they aren’t too large and be careful) or simply cut them into smaller pieces with pruning shears.
Adding moisture and then turning the compost pile are also important. We bought two bins so that once one is full, we can start adding material to the second bin and allow the first one to fully decompose.
We have noticed that the amount of trash we put out for collection has significantly lessened since we began composting. We just keep a little compost bucket in the kitchen to collect all of the scraps and then once or twice a day we take it out to the compost bin. One thing we have noticed is that little fruit flies are attracted to the material in the bin. If we leave the lid off for a little while, hummingbirds hover over the bin to snack on all of the delicious little fruit flies – an added unexpected benefit!
It feels so healthy, natural and earth friendly to be composting our kitchen and yard waste. I can’t wait until we can start incorporating it into our soil. But for now, I’m just enjoying the beauty of watching it come to life – who knew worms could be so exciting!