Composting is becoming more and more popular, in fact you can head to your Local Sam’s Club and snatch up a plastic compost bin for about $150.00. Why would you want to spend $150 on a compost bin when you could very easily build one yourself? I actually built my own compost bin for free! I am delighted that I built it because now I won’t sense the pangs of environmental guilt as I jettison all the produce remnants into the dark void we call the garbage disposal. I don't want to forget to mention the hundreds of pounds of used ground coffee, newspapers, egg shells and tea bags that just go into your trash and then into the local land fill. I read that 67 percent of the United States home garbage waste is compostable. For those of us that pay monthly for the weight of garbage that is picked up at our curb, if we compost, this is extra cash in our pockets. You are also helping reduce the environmental impact and you are getting dark gold for your garden. For my fellow food mongers who are concerned about how far food travels and purchasing the best local food from local growers...then it would make sense that we also be concerned where those scraps end up in their journey. If you like me have a large yard, then you may want to consider building the contraption I am speaking of. I fabricated mine by going to my local hardware store and asking if I could have 3 of their pallets, of the same size, that they receive their shipments on. The best news is that the pallets are free! Most of the time retailers are happy to give anyone the pallets - just to get rid of them. When you get your pallets, just nail the sides together and you will have your very own environmentally friendly compost bin. Since I have a lot of kitchen scraps every day, this size is what works our family. You may decide to build a different size based on your family size and compostable items. The size most people will need is a 3' x 3'. All you need is just to make a box, with untreated wood, that allows air to flow in and out of it....just like the slats in the pallets I brought home from the hardware store. This small one is great for people who don't have large amounts of scraps from their kitchen and this can easily be moved from areas of your yard to others very easily. The top is covered to discourage critters from thinking its a restaurant. Airflow is critical and will allow a good exchange of oxygen thus reducing the opportunity for the unpleasant aroma associated with composting to begin broadcasting from your compost bin. I started this bin in April....so the compost will be ready for use in October. You will be surprised at the amount of kitchen scraps you can reuse in your compost bin for your fall-winter planting. Face it, it's not rocket science to build the box, nor is it rocket science placing the scraps into the bin. The bin needs a balance of nitrogen - which includes items such as grass, coffee ground and weeds - and a balance of carbon which are things like shredded newspaper (that use soy ink), pine needles and shredded paper. Check out these links for more info about composting.
Here are my top 5 tips for creating a good compost bin...one that reduces your household waste and may keep money in your pocket.
1. Decide on the size of your bin. 3’ X 3’ or 4’x4’ are what most people decide on.
2. You will need a bag of dirt (40 pounds works nicely) a bag of compost and, if you can find them...some red wiggler worms... These can be purchased at your local bait shop or hunting shop.
3. Find a location away from your home and preferably in an area that will receive minimal sun. The absence of significant sunlight will keep your compost pile from drying out and thus arresting the composting process.
4. Place dirt and compost on floor of the bin. Then begin throwing your red wiggler worms around the top of the dirt and compost. (I included the compost and dirt to provide a very attractive environment for the worms in the area to want to live in your compost bin. If you don't want to purchase those three items you can certainly omit them.
5. Make sure you give items in the bin a turn at least once a week ....but daily is preferable. At the bottom of this article, I have included a list of the items that are beneficial to the composting process.
6. Add a sprinkle of water from a hose every other day or as needed to make the items in the bin moist. You want to avoid making it wet. The goal is to make sure that it is moist. The moisture aids in the composting of the materials and will keep the worms alive that have decided to take residence in your new bin.
7. Try to chop up your scraps from your kitchen and shred newspaper or paper if possible. The smaller the pieces of the scraps you place in the bin, the quicker they will compost.
When the compost is rich and dark and does not clump in your hand, but crumbles away and you can not identify any of the original components that you placed in it…then it is done. If the compost smells or is too wet then it needs a little more time.
Here is the list of items that can go into your bin: vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds with paper filters, grass/yard clippings, leaves, egg shells, non treated sawdust, cardboard, hay, straw, corn stalks, shredded newspaper (printed with soy ink) or regular paper, dryer lint, cotton and fireplace ash. You can also add seaweed, algae, and hair. Yes hair! It contains lots of nitrogen.
Things you don't want to put in your compost bin include meats, dairy foods, bones, pet excrement, diseased plants, grease, oils, mayonnaise or peanut butter.
Regardless whether you buy your bin or you make your own, remember that all big results in life come from small changes that we purpose in our everyday lives.
If you have any questions about how to make your own compost bin or about any other article included on my blog, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org