Monday, March 30, 2009

More on compost--making my own

Between being impressed with the difference the compost makes so far in the back garden and being less impressed with all the work involved in hauling the stuff, I did a little googling about making the stuff right here at home (outside, at home that is--I'm not at all at the point where I want a box of worms in my house, no thank you), and decided it might be interesting to give it a try.

I don't have a garbage disposal, so in our case it really can reduce the garbage we put out there, so that's a side benefit. And, to be honest, it really appeals to me as a science experiment and a challenge, so that's the biggie right there.

I'm not interested in spending $200-400 on a spiffy "composer" and I don't really want to use lots of my limited and precious outdoor space as a pile or series of piles or as the docking area for a specialized compost bin system.

Fortunately, I happened to recently be at a kids' science night where I was given a compost brochure (either great synchronicity or the topic is just a hot one right now?) that had, among other things, a drawing of a compositor made from a trash barrel with holes drilled all over it.

Well now! I can buy a $15 dollar garbage barrel and I have a drill and I know how to use it. Plus, if the thing is a real bust, I can always put it back to work holding bags of trash, right?

There seems to be some online discussion about whether or not a 32 gallon can is big enough to heat up enough to compost effectively, etc, but some people say it works for them, and like this whole gardening thing is for u
s: nothing ventured, nothing gained, so away we went!

I picked up a trash can (Rubbermaid, $15, even has wheels and a "locking" lid--whoo-hoo! this must be the good life!). I got out our drill and put in the 1/4" bit. I started drilling holes in the bottom and worked my way around the sides. Rose became a little more interested in composting (or at least in power tools?) and I guided her hands as she drilled many more. Rose got tired and I drilled even more. Finally the thing looked like a disco ball from the inside and I called it done.

I've put it in the back by the door and dumped in some dead leaves I had cleaned up from the yard. I made an apple cobbler (mmmm....apple cobbler) and put the peels and cores in. I added some shredded paper and coffee grounds. I cut off the dead branches off last fall's
chrysanthemum and added those. Dumped a little water in it too.

I'm pleased to report that right now I can easily tip it over and roll it around.

So far it doesn't reek, but it doesn't seem to be doing much else either. I was trilled to see it felt warm, but then I discovered it was probably the sunlight on the lid, which was a bit less thrilling, I have to admit.

I have no idea if this will do much of anything. I guess the 12 hour point is not really the place to see what fate has in store for my compost. I've read online that even terrible brown/green mixes with little attention or aeration will still compost, it just takes longer. And again, as I keep reminding my "plan-it-out-and-know-what-will-happen-before-you-even-dream-of-taking-a-first-step" self throughout this whole garden thing: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I'll keep you posted.

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