“A fool looks for dung where the cow never browsed.” ~Proverb from Ethiopia
It is estimated that as much as 30% of the garbage that winds up in landfills is green compostable material. This seems excessive to me. Composting not only prevents these organic materials from ending up in landfills and incinerators, but also reuses them to create highly nutritious soil that can be used for gardening. The health of our plants and the quality of our food are directly related to the presence or absence of nutrients in the soil. Compost helps to loosen packed “clay” soils, and gives sandy soil better water retention.
Gar-bage – gärbij – noun – a thing that is considered worthless or meaningless.
While shopping for compost bins I found every imaginable shape and size. Some composters sit neatly on the ground, tucked onto a corner of the yard, others are more like barrels on casters that make turning the compost as easy as giving the barrel a push. There are instructions online for building and endless variety of home made compost pens, bins, barrels and even trenches. Each set of plans had features I liked, and some I didn’t. Finally I decided to draw up my ideal composter. I wanted a lid to prevent too much rainwater from cooling the compost, and fairly open sides for good ventilation. A larger compost pile will heat up and work much faster than a very small one.
Several sketches later, a trip to the hardware store was in order, and this is what we came up with:
The world is full of pallets that still have some use left in them. This one, covered with landscape cloth became the floor.
A couple of 4×4’s made good steady corner posts and wrapping some chicken wire around this allowed us to leave lots of gaps for ventilation.
Due to the sheer size of the thing, we chose to build it right where it will be staying. The best place to keep a composter is on level well drained ground, out of prolonged direct sunlight and strong winds, which can dry out a pile.
Now that the composter is built and ready, all that remains is to collect the necessary ingredients and get started. I purchased a small kitchen compost bucket with a filtered lid to cut down on unpleasant odors. I also purchased biodegradable compost bags on a whim.
I have never used these before, and I am not sure if I will continue, but I was curious to see how quickly they break down, and if they really make the process more convenient. I don’t mind the two seconds it takes to wash up the compost pail, but I couldn’t resist trying these.
Now that the composter is built and ready, it’s time to start the pile. With plenty of last falls leaves blowing around, and the grass beginning to turn green in patches, I should have plenty of start up material.
“My whole life has been spent waiting for an epiphany, a manifestation of God’s presence, the kind of transcendent, magical experience that let’s you see your place in the big picture. And that is what I had with my first compost heap.” ~Bette Midler
Do you compost? What kind of composter do you have?