How to Compost

by Daisy

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TL,

I thought my compost pile needed a little something ‘gourmet’ today, so I jetted down to my favorite free compost store.

Now not everyone knows that these folks consider it a part of their corporate “giving back to the community” to cheerfully hand out bags of spent grounds. If they’ve gone through the ‘training’, then they should know exactly what you’re talking about when you ask for a bag. So, don’t be shy. They’re hoping to give it all away! Check out what I got ( in addition to a venti decaf with soy):

Nice, huh?

Anyhoo, a great way for me to escape the rigors of housewifery (read: make hubby babysit for a few minutes with no guilt) is turning the compost pile. It also gets rid of the angries, gives a sense of accomplishment, and fascinates the children that I’m happily playing in trash. (BTW, a well mixed, pile at worst, smells like the forest floor at after the rain…no trash stink). OH, and it’s the cheapest, most environmentally friendly hobby out there. BEHOLD:

GORGEOUS.

Here’s how anyone can have their own heaping friend:

1. Get a 3×10 roll of chicken wire and some zip ties. Unroll wire and fasten with zip ties a cylinder.

2. Fill with your plant based trash: dead plants, shredded newspaper, kitchen peelings and scraps that aren’t meat based or fatty (leftover boiled beans–yes, fat from trimming the roast–no), yard clippings and leaves, coffee grounds, tea bags, water from cooking vegetables, coffee, juice, pine needles, pretty much anything that was once a plant…plus egg shells (Why? I don’t know).

3. “Turn it” periodically. Lift the chicken wire off and put it beside the pile. Refill it. Waa-laa!

Don’t worry about it. You can’t really mess it up. It’s TRASH, for heaven’s sake. Almost all composting advice is about speeding up the process. If you do NOTHING, nature still does it’s job.

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XTRA CREDIT (For Gardeners who need compost, like, NOW)

Keep the bin pretty full. The weight of the pile speeds up the process. And it decomposes, so it’s constantly shrinking. I have to ’shop’ for curb-side clippings and leaf bags in the next neighborhood over.

Also, you can chop or mow what your putting in. Smaller pieces=faster compost.

And/or, you can hit it with the hose once in a while,

And/or you can put in plenty of dry fluffy stuff (pine needles, leaves) to keep it light and aerated.

And/or turn it often. 12 turns=garden compost. That might be two weeks if you do it every day, or two years, if you do it every other month.

Some people have multiple bins to separate the already “baked” compost and fresh trash. The people I know just keep it all in one place and use a sifter to shake out the good stuff once a year at gardening time.

Have fun!

Ivory



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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Mizé September 29, 2008 at 1:17 am

Hi. I came across your blog trough a friend´s blog.
I really liked your ideas. I´m on a journey to become more frugal and your tips are great, the laundry soap, etc.
I think it´s good to add egg shells because they have lots of calcium, good for us and the plants.
I bookmarked and will visit more often. Cheers.

Red Icculus October 7, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Hey Ivory!

This is a great guide. I posted about my compost pile here:
http://red-icculus.com/?p=126

The reason that eggshells are good is that they buffer the pH. Citrus is also a no-no in the compost pile. These keep the healthy aerobic bacteria thriving that break down the goodies for compost.

AVE dani December 19, 2009 at 1:05 pm

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Robert Lambrou September 21, 2013 at 7:52 am

I would like to take a moment to share a cautionary tale about composting. Last summer I decided to try composting for my new organic garden. I piled up clippings, gathered up kitchen trimmings, and tossed in my coffee grounds and egg shells. I piled all this in an open area of the garden and turned it as I added to it, maybe once or twice a week. I kept the pile covered with an old tarp full of holes for areation.
After about three weeks of this I was working in the garden on a warm Saturday afternoon and had the compost pile open to add garden clean up to the heap. I was assisted in my project by my eager gardening companions, Ronnie and Rusty our two miniature long haired wiener dogs who love vegetables as much as we do.
As I was finishing up, my wife Elaine called me to the back patio, concerned about how Ronnie was acting. After putting up my tools I walked over to check things out. She told me that he had been shivering and was acting anxious and then handed him to me. As soon as I held him and looked at his eyes I knew we were in trouble. As a retired firefighter I saw the signs of an impending seizure and ran to my truck to get him to a vet as quickly as possible. Fortunately I have a snart phone and was able to locate a vetrinary office that was still open at 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon.
As soon as I arrived at the office the vet took Ronnie from me and upon a cursory examination told me that he was about to go into siesures and rushed him through the back door of the exam room. A minute later her assistant came in and started asking me questions…what chemicals we might have around etc. I explained that I was growing an organic garden and had no chemicals at all. To this response she asked if I had a compost pile to which I said yes. She exclaimed its micotoxins and rushed back out the door. I immediately looked up micotoxins on my smart phone and learned that they were a poison commonly found in compost piles as part of the process of vdecomposition. They are not generally a problem for humans because we seldom, if ever, snack on the compost pile, but dogs, especially ones that love veggies, see the compost pile as a backyard buffet.
Minutes after arriving at the vet’s office he went into full seizures which lasted nearly fourty five minutes until they administered a powerful narcotic to knock him out so that he could be transported to an animal hospital.
Both Ronnie and Rusty spent the night at the hospital and we are very lucky that they are still with us. Ronnie did not return to”normal” for almost two months.
I now compost in large plastic garbage cans that I have drilled one inch holes in for ventilation. This works quite well and keeps our precious pups from danger and saves us from a vet bill that could buy exotic organic veggies for at least a year!

Daisy September 21, 2013 at 9:25 am

So sorry for what happened to your pet! Thank you for the warning. I’ve never heard anything about that before.

deborah December 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm

Your description of getting started is simple and motivating. This is the year I want to make this happen. My concern the distance from my home that I can keep my bin. I have at most 25′ from house to property line and I am concerned about hosting mice and luring them to the house. Has this happened to you or anyone you know?

Daisy December 25, 2014 at 10:25 am

deborah–I’ve never had a problem. Of course mice are everywhere, but this doesn’t seem to cause a house mouse problem. I feed my choice bits to the hens and most of what goes into the compost is leaves and grass and chicken litter. If you don’t have chickens to feed your kitchen scraps to, just fork a bit of the browns over the kitchen scraps and it will compost quickly, especially if you keep your pile adequately moist and turn it every so often. And of course, check out one of the widely available lists of things NOT to put in a compost pile. Although keep in mind these can be composted in other ways, such as an underground bin (or frankly just bury it in a hole) I hope you give it a try. Don’t let all the lists and “methods” complicate it too much. Just go for it.

Deborah December 25, 2014 at 8:02 pm

Daisy. Thanks for the reply. 2015 is the year I will make this happen.

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