For any stellar garden, you need to produce some compost.
Compost is like top soil. It is decayed, organic materiel to be used as fertilizer. It’s an amazing supplement to potting soil which for most gardeners is a huge cost for growing their own food.
There are a lot of different ways to get your compost some of your waste – I’m trying to find the best system for my life. Currently, It is just my hubby and I in our household, we have a very large yard which doesn’t need constant “tending” so we do not produce a TON of compost. For veggie kitchen scraps it takes us a week to fill the pitcher contain we use for compost… seems kind of slow huh?
First I thought doing plastic bin composting would be good – it’s a small yield and I do not like how my yard looks with a bunch of Tupperware tubs thrown about. There’s a way to even compost with large plastic containers and worms. That speeds it up a bit – but, still a small yield,
Then I thought about the 3 bin composting method. You have 3 bin – once the fist decreases in 1/2 you move it to the second, and fill the first – then move the second to the third, first to the second, and start filling the first again. It says that your need 3 3×3 bins(open) to do this, because it takes that temperature to compost efficiently. It would take me so long to fill those bin, unless I recruited the whole neighborhood to add to my compost.
This is my solution. I will keep this updated to let you know if it’s successful and the time it takes – but I’m very hopeful.
I am composting in 3 bins – 2 alternating compost and the third with worms. The compost bins are built with doors and a little breathing room, but no where near as open as the 3 bin composting method. I will fill one compost bin and then move onto the other. Once the second is full I will move compost #1 to the “worms” bin and add some red wiggles? to the mix to finish the composting process. I will then continue to cycle bins 1 and 2 into the “worms” bin and come out with good compost in 3 month. As I said before – trial and error, but I think this should work.
To build this 3 Bin compost “station” I was able to utilize a work table in our backyard shed. I need to fix the floor in there, so that made the table not useable in it’s current position. It was just an added bonus to our house by using it as the base for our compost station. Another beauty of using the table is being able to use the tabletop as a potting station – functional space. The majority of the wood was from our back deck. Last year we tore up the back deck we purchased the house with and put in a larger, more sound Green Back Deck. We’ve had the old wood in piles on the side of the house for a year now. Now, some of that wood is part of the compost station.
To divide it into three sections, I initially created 2 dividing segments. The front and back boards are 41″ tall. I then nailed 5 pieces 18.75 inches long in between them. Those two segments fit right into the base of the table, dividing it into 3 22″ wide sections.
I then nailed boards onto the sides and back to create the space. I used 6 boards tall to cover the sides so there was less distance between the boards. I want to harbor a warm enclosed space to raise the temperature of the organic material decomposing inside of the containers.
On the front I used 2 large boards on the bottom, then created 3 doors out of plywood, using hinges attached them to the base. It is important that you can easily move the material in the bins, to aerate it and to move it between phases. I cut the doors 20×22 out of scrap plywood I had laying around since the over the mantel chalkboard project. 3 cheap hinges and now the sections are fully enclosed. Even without compost you can put your hand inside and it feels warmer.
I also painted parts along the way – cause when you are playing with dirt, it could always be prettier.
As of now Compost #1 is 1/4 of the way full… I will keep this post abreast of how quickly this method is working.
Tips for Composting:
Temperature: You need your compost bin to heat up for it to compost efficiently. The heat comes from more then the sun, it comes from the energy used to decompose the material. That’s why suggested bins are larger – the amount causes the heat. The other way to compost is a small, really enclosed space which heats up quicker – this is a medium between the two. The ideal temperature range for effective composting is 130 to 150 degrees F , you can purchase a compost thermometer to test and see hose your are doing.
Carbon & Nitrogen: Decomposition of organic materials in your compost pile is greatly increased when you create the proper balance between the carbonaceous materials (called BROWN because they are dry) and the nitrogen-rich materials (called GREEN because they are more fresh and moist). Check out the free composting guide printable for a list of things for your compost pile, the list is color-coded BROWN and GREEN.
The ideal composting ration is 25:1; C:N.
Moisture: You will want to keep you compost pile moist, but not too moist. You will be able to tell if there’s too much moisture if it overly smells. Mix your compost and add some water. If you compost is too wet, add more dry brown materials. Alternate you layers of Green and Brown components when adding compost to your bin. Adding a layer of brown to the top should aid in eliminating the odor.
I just added my first material to the bin, and I will keep you updated over the course of the year on the time frame and production of my composting station. Please, PLEASE share any tips you have here on composting – I would love to have them!