Ok, composting is next in my effort to adopt a greener lifestyle at home. I read about composting, and as a child we composted all of our organic kitchen waste, although we never used the compost for anything. We had a serious amount of material when I finally left home and I never really found out what happened to it. My guess is that things really grow well in that spot. The idea is to put all that organic kitchen waste to good use instead of throwing it away. This is all true, but what I am focusing on is that in my home we never did throw it away in the trash, we ground it up and ran it down the sink. God knows where it went, but there was a lot of it going somewhere. Old sandwiches, egg shells, coffee grounds, broccoli, all the stuff after meals would simply go down the sink. We would also use a lot of water to get it there, but nothing I have read really talks about that.
We started this project by ordering a bottomless compost bin like the one in this picture (above). It was large and looked pretty cool. It assembled easily and I set it up in the back yard. The neighborhood bunnies and squirrels were watching, too, with interest. After we got about 6 inches of material in this bin, the urban woodland creatures would up end it and scatter to contents. I didn’t know compost was that fascinating to these mammals, but it was! I rolled up that bin and disposed of it. My next stop was Lowes where I got the largest rubber garbage can I could buy. I got the kind that Iowa City won’t let you use because it’s too big for street side pick up, but it looked about right for backyard composting. I took a hole saw and cut rows of one inch holes around the sides and on the bottom. This gives enough holes for air circulation, and drainage, but also enough closure so the thing heats up and does unspeakable things to the organic material that was once our dinner.
We began filling it with table scraps, coffee grounds, egg shells, but avoided dairy and chicken bones and things like that. I was surprised at the amount we would accumulate. We keep a bin (without the holes) under the kitchen sink and with a lid and empty it into the compost bin when full. We send it out twice or three times a week! I read that worms were good in a compost bin, too. I took my 4-year old son and went off to Fin and Feather and bought 4 tins of fishing worms, gave them a reprieve and dumped them in the middle of this mess. I have never seen them again, but I move this bin once a week to mow and there are the largest worms I have ever seen living under it. I am surprised at how quickly this mixture turns into mush and how the volume keeps diminishing in the bin. I have been composting now for about two and a half months and the bin is just half full.
I know that you are suppose to turn the contents to mix it up, and to mix soil in with it. I am not doing that. We’ll see what happens when it is full, but I expect to find that I should have been following directions from the start. The thing smells pretty bad and there are swarms of flies, fruit flies and loads of maggots thriving in there. I just don’t want to stir it up and make trouble if I don’t have to. I am hopeful that when this bin is full, I can just dump it out in my flower beds, mix it up with the clay stuff that passes as soil, and grow beautiful rose bushes. I will let you know how this goes in a couple of months. Until then I feel like I am at least being responsible for some of my own waste and am not plugging up the sewage treatment plant with my half eaten tomatoes and carrots. In time I may yet have beautiful rose bushes, too!