Things I Get Excited About These Days: Compost

Once upon a time, I dreamed of starting a worm farm to be called Early Bird Farms. In my preparation for this new venture, I began collecting food scraps that could one day be given to the worms to turn into compost. But alas, it is but a dream… However, in the process, I stumbled across creating a pretty simple compost bin and system. Here’s how it started…

In the beginning, it was just a tub. An open bin that was collecting fruit and vegetable scraps along with coffee grounds and some grass clippings. I’d stick a shovel or pitchfork in every few days to give it a stir and maybe add some water to keep it moist without being sopping. Little by little, the contents of this tub grew. Pumpkins that had began to rot entered the bin, as well as watermelons that split open while growing on the vine. Disappear they did into the great abyss of Compostville. You can imagine my excitement at this discovery. Well, ok, maybe you can’t, but for reference I’m the type of person that does enjoy watching paint dry and will stand at a sink watching the running water melt ice. Excited, I was. Whole pumpkins, gone. Might as well be magic.

I journeyed on, looking up information on composting to see what I really should be doing. I stumbled upon a two tub system where relatively small holes are drilled plentifully and all around on one tub, including the bottom and the lid. The Holey Tub is then placed into the Unholey Tub and the Holey Lid is placed upon them. In my situation, I added a couple bricks in the bottom of the Unholy Tub to help the Holey Tub sit a little higher in it and create more opportunity for airflow and oxygen.

But the days grew dark and Compostville became a ghost town where not much was happening. Gnats and fruit flies began to make their home there, which the Wizards of Google warned wasn’t good. I added some dirt hoping that would help, but it wasn’t enough. Ponder, I did. Consult the Wizards of Google, I did. Until I came upon the knowledge I was lacking. My green waste needed some brown waste. (And no, I’m not talking about poop. Although, I believe chicken, horse, and cow manure are all okay to add.)

That’s it! I needed cardboard in the form of plain boxes, toilet paper rolls, or paper towel rolls. Coffee filters made of natural fibers. Sawdust from untreated wood. Egg cartons and even egg shells. Branches cut up into small pieces. I alerted the townspeople of my needs and they began collecting the goods little by little daily. I added and added, tossed and toiled, and then I felt it…HEAT! The sign that Compostville was coming back to life! I snapped the lid back on that I was about to raise and giddily smiled at one small victory.

Did you enjoy my slight fairytale spin on compost or are you thinking I’m a weirdo? Actually, don’t answer that. If you’re interested in composting, please give it a go. Maybe you are a gardener or you know a gardener that could use the end result, a little something called black gold. There are many resources out there on the Internet that can help you along the way. I’ve personally enjoyed the trial and error aspect of it myself, but it doesn’t hurt to learn as much as you can. Typically it’s not recommended to add garlic, onions, citrus, or anything spicy to your compost, especially if you do have worms in it. Dog, cat, and human feces are also definitely not to be added to it. When I began, I wasn’t aware that compost needs more brown waste than green waste to do what it needs to do, so I was originally only adding coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable scraps. When adding brown waste, not sure if that’s an actual term for it or not, be as mindful as possible about what’s on it. You don’t want dyes and other harmful chemicals getting into your compost. They can not only upset the balance of your compost, but they can also leak into the soil and affect your plants. When composting, remember that it does need to be turned every few days. I think 5 days is the magic number for mine. Trust me, too, get big enough bins you can actually get a shovel or pitchfork into. It’ll make it easier to mix up the compost. Also, try to keep it somewhat moist. Sorry if you hate that word. I couldn’t help myself. Lastly, I hope you consider starting a compost bin. It’s relatively easy, fairly fascinating, and I’ve been amazed by how much of our daily “trash” can be turned into something beneficial for the plants and soil. Happy composting!

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