A question of compost

Compost. Everyone’s asking about compost! I want to do it, really I do. So I bought one and I don’t know what I’m doing. I should have taken the free workshop from the dwp or even looked at their instructional videos.

Here’s a bit of advice from a green dolphin, and I know I recognize a few of the mistakes I made. Like I keep on adding to the compost bin every day, when I’m really supposed to wait for one cycle to be done. Man, this whole composting thing is not easy, I guess I’m just not educated enough on it. I’m going to watch some of those videos.

“I haven’t started composting yet, so everything I know is theoretical!  So take everything I’m about to say with a grain of salt.  From what I gather, which type of composting system you pick is somewhat dependent on your personality.For example, my neighbor just has a pile of stuff in his backyard, and he turns it every now and then with a pitchfork.  His wife is not too keen on the smell or the flies, but she is a tolerant newlywed :-)There are tumbling compost bins that are supposed to keep the smell in, keep the pests out and make the turning easier.  However, once you put a load of compostables in, you’re not supposed to keep adding to it.  You need to turn it every few days and in a couple of months, voila – load of compost.  Then you start again to make another load.

By comparison, there are bins which use trays.  Here you start a load at the top, and as it approaches compost nirvana, it gets dumped to a lower tray and you can start another load at the now-empty top tray.  This way, you get a more continuous supply of compost.  I think they usually come with 3-4 trays.  But I also think they are not odor or pest-free.  I’m also not sure how you turn these.  Perhaps the act of dumping to the lower level is enough? Then there are worm systems.  If you just have a pile like my neighbor, the worms will come. However, my understanding is if you use red wigglers, they are more efficient.  Believe it or not, worm systems are also the recommended choice if you live in an apartment and still want to compost.  They are not supposed to smell.  Bins are usually a dark color, like black, in order to raise the temps inside.  If your compost pile is not “hot”, it won’t turn into compost.  Therefore, it is also better to keep the bin somewhere where the sun will reach it. Better bins also have a way to drain out the compost tea, a highly nutritive liquid byproduct of the composting process that is often used both as a fertilizer and fungicide.

Once you have a bin, then you have to read up on the proper mixture of green, brown and moisture, what’s readily compostable, turning frequency, and, if applicable, worm care and/or compost starters.”

So, whoever is reading this, what do you think? Are you ready? I am, really I am. I bought a round one that makes the tea and has a handle and at first it had a lot of flies! But I changed the ratio of wet to dry, and stopped adding to it, and I think I just may have a batch of compost. My question is, what do I do with my daily output of food waste in the meantime? I think I need one of those layered ones. On the plus side, my compost does not smell at all! I think if you are putting the right stuff in there, it’s not supposed to smell. That’s another thing that’s mind boggling to me, what I can and can’t put in there. Like bread, no bread. I have so much bread  waste! And of course no dairy products. I wish I could put eveything in there, and voila! Nice rich soil would come out the very next day. Wishful thinking, huh?

I’d love to know who’s reading this. Feel free to chime in!

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