Thursday, October 6, 2011

I Compost, Therefore I Am

A couple of months back, when I wasn't blogging which we shall refer to as the "dark ages" for obvious reasons, we picked up a compost bin at our local big box store that you have to pay to be a member of.  I don't pay, it's a gift membership, but anyway...

We picked up this beauty.  Why, you gardener types ask?  Well, a couple of reasons.  First, it was $40, about 75% off.  And, I'm cheap, so right off the bat, we're a match made in heaven.

The second reason takes a little more explanation.  We have been pondering this for a while.  Now, most people would ask, "why ponder, it's just dirt?", well it's not that simple.  I wanted to create a very simple chicken wire structure from lumber and chicken wire we already have.  I have read about composting and had come to the conclusion that it would be a cheap way of creating the black gold for the garden.  My lovely wife has not read about composting and was of the opinion that it would be a stinking pile of shit that attracts rats.  So, this is our compromise.  I get the compost, and if it is a stinking pile of shit (because I did it wrong, which is not out of the realm of possibility) it would be contained.

I'm glad to report that every time we open the bin to put in scraps, clippings, etc. it smells just like...dirt.  I have been vindicated.  For now.

The innards.  Not bad, people, it's not like I opened up a deer or anything.  So, we currently put our table scraps of veggies (no meat, dairy, etc), yard clippings, newspaper, egg cartons and the like into the bin.  We keep a smaller old Folger's can on the counter to put them in while cooking.  From what I understand, it takes roughly 273 years for this to break down, so my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson Turling X will post it's completed compost.  Granted in 273 years we won't have computers, and he'll just e-mail it directly to your brain.  So, be sure to sign up for updates!  In reality, I think it's closer to a few months, so we'll see.

Lastly, I have one question I am pondering, that I need to research.  I've read that I should have a 50/50 mix of "brown" stuff to "green" stuff.  The green stuff being obvious, but the brown along the lines of newspaper, fallen leaves and the like.  My question is if I let the green stuff, such as grass clippings, dry out and turn brown before composting does it count as brown stuff?  The reason being this is California and we don't have things around such as fallen leaves and the like.  Just green stuff.  Once I find the answer, I'll be sure to post that.


  1. Most compost piles I've encountered have smelled like shit, that's why I don't compost.

    And they seem like a lot of work.

    Except yours. Yours looks like a lottery ball machine.

  2. The secret to composting is to wait until someone else has found the right mix, then steal it from their heap. Who is going to ring the police and say, 'Some scoundrel has made off with my rotting food waste'?

    Then, just make a pile of shit in your garden to attract the rats.

    Happy days!

  3. Kyna, it spins, too!! Thinking of dunking the kids in it every now and then for a spin when they're bad. Or, just because.

    IG. Grand plan and one I thought of. Problem is, none of my neighbors come outside. Honest. Took three year's to realize the neighbor to my right had three kids. Had no idea. Needless to say, a stinking pile of shit is not something they would choose to endeavor upon.

  4. That 50:50 thing is a very loose guide. I remember the first compost class I took years ago. When the instructor was asked about 50:50 green and browns, his response was 'compost, just like shit, happens'. It's doesn't matter too much. If you have a lot of greens, don't add as much water to the pile. If you have a lot of greens, the pile may need turning more frequently to aerate it, and prevent it from becoming anaerobic. Is the anaerobic bacteria that make it smell more like crap than dirt. You can dry your grass clippings first, if you're desperate for the brown stuff, or add some straw if you can find it. If you have a stable nearby, they may offer you some free compost amendments too, which often have a high amount of browns in the form of bedding straw or shavings. Either way, compost will happen.

    One other thing to consider if you have a lot of greens, is a worm bin. You know the compost bin is the gateway soil amendment device. Worm bins after that are inevitable :P

  5. I've never worried about the green/brown ratio. Sometimes, it gets to wet so I stop putting stuff in while it dries. I have a tumbler too. My questions are...does the paper really break down in there. I tried a little and it didn't change much and does your compost have lumps? It seems like my tumbler gathers stuff into balls as it spins. May be the ratio being off. I'm interested to see how well yours works.