Guest Post: Composting

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Kitchen scraps is one of the weak links in my efforts to reduce what goes out in our trashcan. We recycle everything but the green waste. Time to change that! I’ve been wanting to start a compost system for several months now.

Here Jennifer explains how they do it. After reading her simple tutorial, I think I’m in the market for a few trashcans….

Green living is something my husband and I are very passionate about and something we try to do more of each day. Composting is a big part of that for us. When we were first married, we started a compost pile that was nothing more than a place where we dumped kitchen scraps. This was a good start, but it never really turned into compost. Fast forward a few years and we were determined to try something different and make it work for us.

According to Webster’s online dictionary, compost means “a mixture of decaying vegetation and manure; used as a fertilizer.” You see, it is more than just kitchen scraps. For us kitchen scraps are a large part of it, but your compost pile doesn’t have to include kitchen scraps at all.

A compost pile is a great way to recycle and reuse yard waste and kitchen scraps. It will reduce the amount of trash you put by the curb each week and you get a bonus at the end – wonderful organic compost that you can use in your flower pots or garden.

Our system has two parts. The indoor part is the plastic coffee tub that we put kitchen scraps in each day. We have tried other containers, but they get yucky and/or rust quickly. Plus this coffee tub has a nice handle for carrying. In the winter I fill this tub about twice a week. In the summer it is sometimes every day, but at least 4-5 times a week.

Our outdoor compost bins are actually two large round trashcans. We prefer to have two going so that one pile of compost is maturing for us, while the other we add to for a few months before letting it rest. We used extra trash cans we had, making the project free. My husband drilled ½ inch holes up and down the sides, all around the trash can (avoid the seams) and even on the lid and bottom. You want air to circulate through the pile.

Once we had the trashcans ready, we added some compost from our old pile (just a pile in the yard – this method works well for just yard waste) to get it started. We not only added food scraps, but also grass clippings, leftover hay, chopped up leaves and shredded newspaper. Ideally you want to alternate these layers in the trashcan. I don’t worry about that so much, but just try to make sure that I don’t overload it with one thing only.

One bag of clippings from the mower is all you need for a small compost bin like this. When it starts getting too many food scraps in a row, I add some torn up paper. Every week or so, roll the trash can around to get things moving. When my kids find worms in the yard we add them to the compost pile. You want it to stay moist, so you might have to sprinkle it with water occasionally.

This casual method has worked really well for us for a couple of years now. Composting should be easy, or you won’t want to do it. We have awesome dirt now to use in our garden and it was not only free, but we did our part in reusing things and keeping those items out of our landfills. The only thing I wish is that we generated enough scraps for more compost bins.

Jennifer writes regularly at Getting Ahead – a blog about frugal living, homeschooling, finances and life in general.

Do you compost? Why or why not?

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  1. we just started composting, we bought an Earth Machine composter that our county offices recently sold. We are loving it & can't wait to harvest some black gold!!