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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Compost Experiment

Ever since Cris, posted about compost, I've been thinking more about composting. Since she posted, I've been taking kitchen scraps and putting them in an empty potting container. Lauren went ahead and posted useful information about compost today and I am thinking about it even more. My little pot would get full and then in the initial decay process it would all shrink down into almost nothing. After a while I started filling another pot. The first one looks good now. Nothing is recognizable. I'll need to take a photo of it tomorrow and add it to ths post. Seeing that I am in a routine of taking the scraps out, I went to the brand new Lowe's on opening day to search for a big compost bin. They looked at me like I was green with horns. She had no idea what I was asking for. So our Lowe's didn't have it. I go to Home Depot and ask for a compost bin. He pointed to the organic potting soil. On clarification, he still had never heard of what I was asking. Just use a garbage can, he suggested.

I can't believe that no one in our metropolonized communty of closely packed homes seeks compost bins and employees in the stores didn't have a clue what I was talking about. Also, it seems that a compost bin should be made out of re-used material. Being in a deed restricted community, I need to be very careful what I leave outside because I'm not allowed to leave anything outside. I am thinking I can get away with a bin hidden by some bushes and a little white fence.

I am concerned about attracting rodents. The homeowners is concerned about the same thing. Having a closed container designed for the job would be helpful. I am not a craftsman; I wouldn't be able to make something that would work.

Since I have been putting some scraps and cardboard in the pot, even though I only have a small amout of "compost" after decay, we have noticably much less trash! it's been a great experiment. I might have enough to repot the new herbs!


Addendum with photos. This photo with the watermelon was topped of this morning with the grinds. I should take a photo of it in a few days to show how much decay takes place. I have put many watermelon grinds in it before today. It is filled and goes above the top.

"This" empty looking one, was the pot I started filling after Chris posted. It was overflowing also and I decided to start filling another pot because I couldn't cram it down anymore. I should probably plant my new herbs in here and top it off with the organic soil I have. In the first photo if you click on it and enlarge it you can see the fruit flies on the fruit. There are no fruit flies in this one.

This white kitchen pail also reached the top just a few days ago. As you can see I can start filling it again.
Now another problem living where we are at--the mosquito spray truck came around this evening. It goes up and down the street spewing poison in the air. If you are outside it will just spray it on you without any consideration. I am real curious to see if any of the fruit flies are alive tomorrow.


Danette said...

I would love to get off my rump and start this. My friend Dotty has got her going already and I applaud her.

Composting takes recycling to a whole new level. And witha ll the veggies we eat, this ought to go over real well. Good luck!

Becky R said...

try freecycle, that is where I got my compost bin for free. I do not attract any rodents. Just don't put fat, meat, or oils. These attracts rodents. I put any fruit or veggie scraps, paper towels, grass, small cardboard, and a little water from time to time. I have so much less garbage, it really is nice.

crispy said...

Oh...I am so pleased that you have started a compost pile. It is fascinating to watch and I love using my dirt.

I have no rodents either. Not a problem. I water it every day or so (now when I am out there watering my garden). And it breaks down really fast.

I just cut up a big watermelon and took the rind out the compost pile and tossed it it. It was huge. I filled 2 big popcorn bowls to get it out there (imagine how much room in the trash bag it would take). With in a few days it was almost gone in the compost pile. It broke down really fast.

To get some ideas of compost bins, I googled it under images to inspire me.

Do post a picture please. =)


turtlewomyn said...

We just got our second compost bin. Every year around Earthday either the city of Tallahassee or Leon County sell the Earth Machine for $30 a piece (normally they are $80). We got one last year, and it has been kept full, so we got another this year. People line up for hours for them.
You most likely won't attract rodents if you only put the right stuff in there (no meat, bones, etc. If you put in eggshells make sure you rinse them first, keep everything covered with a nice layer of leaves).
You could probably make a compost bin by taking an old garbage can, cutting off the bottom, and drilling some holes in it for ventilation.
In grad school I had a worm bin. I took an opaque tupperware storage container (don't remember how many gallons it was) and drilled holes down the side. I used shredded paper from the office, or shredded up newspaper myself. Wet it down. I ordered the "red wigglers" online. I put all my kitchen scraps in there and they turned it to worm castings. My rommate opened it once though thinking it was storage and was unpleasantly surprised. You have to keep them cool though, not too hot. A good resource: "Worms Eat my Garbage"

Permission to Mother said...

Thanks for all the great info! I did post photos, so come back and look at them.

I googled compost bins and saw many styles. Are the bins like earth machine bottomless?

Do you guys get fruit flies?

turtlewomyn said...

The Earth Machine is bottomless. We do get fruit flies, and we have been working on those. Chris is a member of the North Florida's Brewers League and apparently the members were discussing compost at one meeting (as they put their spent grains in their compost bins) and said that topping it off with a layer of dirt will prevent flies. It didn't work for us. For a while we had some nasty black flies and the compost was filled with maggots. I think we have a better green/brown mix now. Do you mind the fruit flies? Doesn't sound like you do if you are worried about the mosquito sprayers killing them?
Another couple of book recommendations: "Lasagna Gardening" by Lanza - not about growing ingredients for lasagna, but rather building raised beds (or do it in pots) that are layers of organic food (compost, peat moss, grass clippings, etc.) for your garden. This is over a layer of newspaper or cardboard. No tilling involved, very little problems with weeds.
The Frugal Gardener by Tudor Erler has lots of good compost tips as well.
Oh, here is a "problem" we have been having. We used compost to amend the soil when putting in our blueberry bushes and some native azaleas (we also amend our other relatively new plantings). Now I have tomato plants growing up next to my blueberry bushes from the seeds in the compost, and we just found a couple more by the azaleas. Should I be cooking the compost longer or hotter? I am interested to see what I will get from them.
We do have a cottontail that hangs out in the yard, and one morning I startled three deer sleeping on the lawn when I went out for a run at 5am. I really should fence in my raised bed.

Permission to Mother said...

Another compost bin question-
What to do with a bin if we have to removie everything outside for a hurracaine?

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