We picked up a huge composter for $45 this past weekend at a recycling event after outgrowing our $4 homemade composters. What excites me – other than rotting food waste in my kitchen – is the tip booklet that came with it. A complete guide to composting!
Making rich soil saves me a ton of money on dirt and shortens my grocery list – I’m growing my food! So don’t pay attention to compost rumors.
Convenience is the number one factor in locating your composter. If it’s too far away, you won’t use it, especially if you get nasty winter weather. One solution is to keep a smaller homemade composter near your kitchen door. When it fills up, make one big trip to your main composter.
A kitchen pail with lid is crucial. Fill it up with food waste during the day, then dump it into your composter as part of dinner cleanup. A lid keeps fruit flies away. We got bugs last summer so I’m dumping it after lunch, too.
Hair, dryer lint, and paper napkins
CAN be composted. Who knew? Other items perfect for compost are coffee filters, stale bread, towels, leaves, straw, hay, twigs, small wood chips, and dried grass. These items are considered “brown” and need to be balanced with “green” items, including fruit and vegetable scraps, houseplant cuttings, coffee grounds, rice, pasta, egg shells broken into very small pieces, tea bags, flowers, vegetables, plant trimmings, hedge clippings, small amounts of grass.
Meat, fish, and bones CANNOT be composted. Other no-nos include dairy, oils, fats, sauces, ashes, pet waste, diseased plants, and mature weeds with seeds, which will grow *very* well in your fertile compost.
A moist sponge that has been rung out. That’s about how moist you want to keep the contents of your composter. If your soil-in-the-making looks dry, add water or coffee. If it’s too wet, add dry leaves or leave the lid off on sunny days.
Speed up the composting process by chopping larger items like watermelon rings, corn cobs, and large vegetable pieces. Break egg shells into as many pieces as you can. One friend of mine pulverizes them! After dumping your kitchen pail into your composter, stir the new arrivals into the mix and cover with soil, yard waste, or old leaves to reduce odor and flies. I need a stirring stick for my composter, pictured above.
Heat helps the composting process along, so sunshine is good for your composter. Expect things to slow down in winter. Snuggle your composter with bags of leaves in the winter to keep the process going.
Dig compost leftovers into your garden in the fall. Clean your soil machine and set aside leaves or yard waste to add during spring and summer.
How soon is your compost ready? Anywhere from six weeks to three months. Take out a few shovels full or empty the entire mess of dirt. Toss back items that are not fully composted.
Use it in your flower or vegetable garden, spread a thin layer over grass, and unload it at the base of trees and shrubs. Plants love the nutrients in compost.
If my compster smells or gets bugs, what should I do? Stir it well and add more “browns.” Avoid adding a lot of grass clippings all at once or you will get an ammonia-like smell. Meat and dairy will stink up your composter in no time.
Eeek, animals! If your composter attracts rats, dogs, racoons, and squirrels, you can add dog hair to the compost, line the bottom with chicken wire, fasten your compost door with a stick, or line the base with stones or brick. Remember to cover “greens” with “browns.”
Too many scraps! If you have too many “greens,” consider getting a second composter or save money by making your own composter.
We bought an Earth Machine composter, which sells their machines through retailers across the country.