After the last rip roaring post...lets get back to normal
I have had a few emails, with questions about composting...
if it is hard, smelly, yucky, buggy, rat infested etc etc
Well, the answer is yes and no,
to all of those things
We started composting about 3 years ago and it is pretty much second nature around here.
Ours is a triple bin composter,
with each bin in a different state of decomposition
The fist bin is fresh stuff from the kitchen and garden
This is where we mix the nitrogen (green stuff) with the carbon (brown dry stuff)
I have to add it really helps to have one of those little compost buckets in your kitchen because you really get in the habit of using it.
I have a small stainless pail
with a charcoal filter in the lid
but there are tons of good ones now,
which run around 20 dollars
All three bins get a really good soak of water
about once a week...
It has been our experience that you need to add a lot more water than you think you will need
At this point the first bin is pretty horrible looking and you will have fruit flies
but it really doesn't smell...honest!
Remember never to add meat or anything like that...it will smell like a trash can, won't break down and can cause all sorts of health problems.
You can read more info in this great book called
Let It Rot
I bought it when we first got started!
Make sure to keep the lids down because rats, raccoons, cats and dogs love this stuff!
Once things start breaking down the compost from the first bin gets added to the second bin
Some people like to add some dirt from the yard at this point
but it really isn't necessary
That bin (#2) then gets turned and soaked etc until most of the big leaves, fruit and grass have disappeared
This stage is where you can really start to see things break down
and the red worms are doing their job really well
You can buy red worms, which are not earth worms but another type of worm, on the internet
some nurseries have them too, but once your compost gets going
you wont need to add any more worms
The other thing you may notice at this point is how warm the compost is
In the morning you can see steam when you dig around and start turning your compost
I have read that if you get the soil too hot it will kill the worms
but we have never had that happen...knock on wood
The we move it all again to the final bin
You can see at this point how the bin has broken down to the point where it looks about 1/3rd full which means it's about ready for the garden
A couple of things I like about this bin is the galvanized top
and the removable slatted front
I think picking a good location is pretty important too...the bin is not all that great to look at and I like the fact that its close to the citrus orchard
because we have so much rotten fruit on the ground...daily
and so cleaning up is much easier
Here is how the slats fit into the front...they just pull up and slide easily back into place when you are done digging around
Chicken wire is pretty essential too, to contain all of the debris and allow air circulation which happen to be another component of making good dirt
This compost bin sits directly on the ground which allows moisture to get in to the soil beneath and good bugs to make their way up into the leaves and clippings
This is pretty basic construction and if you have a handy friend
you could easily build this in a day
The materials will run about $200 dollars
if you use pressure treated lumber and redwood, which we did in this case
The stuff at the very bottom is the best...super dark and rich
Your compost should smell like dirt, be full of worms and there should be very little recognizable "stuff" that you threw in, in the very beginning
If you see anything too big just chuck it back into the second bin
and let it break down some more
oh and look who's here
Mr Worm....a gardeners BFF
I don't really worry too much if there are some sticks and leaves that are not completely broken down because once this gets added to the beds it continues to decompose really quickly
A full tub of compost will double the amount of soil in your beds
and a little seems to go a long way
After mowing the grass and adding to our kitchen and garden debris, we will add a good amount of dried leaves on top, water well
and call it a day
This bed got a nice dose of compost today after the Basil
froze to death and died last week
I double dig the existing soil, add in the compost and dig some more
This bed will get planted next week and I will probably dig it again just to be sure every thing is well incorporated...sort of like making good cupcakes!
This is such a great way to spend a beautiful fall day...and my favorite time of the year to garden
I added this last photo...just for fun
; o )