Category Archives: Compost

Making Your own Compost Bin

 

Making Your own Compost Bin
Making Your own Compost Bin

If you intend to make your own compost pile, it would be nice to make an enclosure or compost bin for your convenience and general neatness. There are a number of compost bins commercially available in various garden stores. You can buy it if you have the money or you can do what I did, make your own compost bin. It’s not difficult and the materials you need are not that many. You can do it with your eyes closed, or maybe not.

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To Compost or Not to Compost

To Compost or Not to Compost
To Compost or Not to Compost

Well, there’s no doubt about it, composting is a good practice that any self-respected gardener should learn to do. But the question really is what materials we could make into a compost and which ones we cannot. We have been told that composting can be done with any organic material. Well, in theory that may be true, however, in real life it may not be always so.

There are a several organic materials that should not be included in the compost pile unless you know how to do it properly while there are other materials that should not even be attempted even by the experts. To compost or not to compost, that is indeed the question. And let’s see if we can provide the answers.

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Non-Edible Composting Items

Non-Edible Composting Items
Non-Edible Composting Items

In addition to the acceptable food scraps you can use to compost there are many different
organic items you can add too. Some of the items on the list may surprise you while
others will be ones you have heard of before. Just remember, by composting these items
you are reducing the amount of waste that your home produces.

Additional Composting Materials:

* Lint collected from your dryer
* Cardboard, cut into strips or small pieces
* Hair, make sure that is isn’t put in as one large clump
* Manure (from a horse, pig, or cow)
* Tree leaves, cutting or chipping them helps them break down faster
* Newspaper (considered brown food), cut into strips. Do not use the glossy pages
and do not add too much (it can dry out the pile)
* Pine needles and pine cones
* Coffee grounds and paper filter
* Sawdust and wood chips (or shavings) as long as it is from untreated wood.
* Straw – even better if it is used straw from horse bedding
* Grass clippings (green food)
* Seaweed or algae (you can get these from your home aquarium)

There are a few considerations to think about when choosing from the above list of items.
If you do use dryer lint, it would be wise to only use it from cycles when you washed
clothes with natural fibers man-made fibers would not breakdown in your compost. If
you are using your compost for your garden be extra careful that everything you add has
not been treated such as grass clippings. If any type of commercial fertilizer or
pesticide has been sprayed on the grass do not add it to your compost bin. Larger items
should be broken down as much as possible to speed up their decomposition.

The Best Food for your Compost Bin

There are some rules to learn and follow about what you can put into your compost bin in
order to keep your pile healthy and working properly. The most widespread organic
material that you will add to your compost will be kitchen scraps. The kitchen scraps are
considered green food that you feed to your compost as they contain nitrogen ñ an
essential element to the process.

It is a good idea to have a container with an airtight lid to store the food waste in your
kitchen. You do not want to attract insects or pests inside your home nor do you want to
be running to your compost bin every time you make a meal or snack. If your kitchen
container is airtight you will also cut down on unpleasant odors.

Here is a list of the most commonly used compost items from the kitchen:

* Vegetable peels and seeds
* Fruit peels, cores, and seeds
* Coffee grounds & you can compost the paper filter too
* Tea bags or loose tea leaves
* Crushed egg shells  do not add left-over eggs cooked or raw
* Breads

You may be tempted to add other food scraps into the bin, but donít. You should not add
any animal meat or bones, oily products, or fish remains not only will they be sure to
attract unwanted pests but they will make your compost smell badly. Whenever you are
adding your green food to the compost bin, make sure you cover it under a thick layer of
brown food (yard waste or other carbon producing agent such as dry leaves, wood chips,
sawdust, or small twigs).

If your food scraps are very wet or moist, in addition to putting brown food on top of the
scraps mix some in with the waste too. This will enable better air circulation.

Different Types of Composting

The most common way to compost organic material into usable fertilizer is to make use
of the naturally occurring microbes to use the material as food and energy. Other than
ensuring your pile has enough water, food, and air you can leave the rest of the job to the
ever helpful fungi and bacteria.

The types of microbes you want to inhabit your composter are aerobic, meaning they
need oxygen to thrive and live. You can make sure they have enough air by aerating the
compost heap (turning it over with a rake). Another way to ensure there is good air
circulation is to add a material such as wood chips or hay both are bulky and are not
easily compressed. This makes sure the air can get in and do its job.

The other kind of microbes that can convert your waste are anaerobic (they do not need
oxygen to survive). This may sound like a great alternative not having to worry if
enough air is available. But the unpleasant side effect of having anaerobic microbes in
your compost bin is the smell. Without enough air, there will be a distinct rotting
garbage smell emanating from your bin.

Another way to compost is to use red worms to help decompose the organic waste. This
form of composting is known as vermicomposting. The red earthworms can quickly turn
your table scraps into compost. To help the process along it is recommended that you
chop or cut the organic material you add to the composter first. This is an optional step
but will yield faster results. Only food scraps, paper or yard waste is recommended for
this type of composting. You can purchase the red worms at your local pet or fishing
supply store – these are not the same worms that you find crawling in your backyard.

How to Choose a Composting Container

There are many sizes, shapes, and styles of composting bins to choose from. You can
make one yourself or opt for not using one at all and create a compost pile or heap.

A compost tumbler is a cylindrical shape much like a drum laid on its side. It can be
turned on a base that is supported on the flat ends. By turning the drum you are rotating
and aerating the materials at the same time. It is an easy and effective way to rotate your
compost.

A bio-orb container is shaped like a round ball and comes in various sizes. The benefits
of this type of container are the ease of getting it around (you can roll it over to your yard
waste and roll it back to its base), and the act of rolling it also aerates and rotates the
contents. There are many small round holes in the container to let air in too.

A wooden box with slats or a wooden framed box with mesh sides can be purchased or
easily made at home. If you can find four wooden pallets, you can nail them together to
create a compost bin very inexpensively or you can find a roll of wire mesh at your local
hardware store. Both of these options allow air to circulate as long as the contents are not
too compacted.

If you do not want to use a bin, start with a pile of glass clippings or leaves and start to
layer your food scraps on top. As time goes by and your pile continues to grow make
sure you rotate and stir it frequently. Be warned though, it is not as easy to turn a pile
that is not contained. They tend to grow in circumference over time as the pile spreads
out after rotating.