Sunday, January 2, 2011

Composting 101

You know, I saw last week in our local college class offerings a class entitled, "Raising Backyard Chickens"!  Remember my obsession with owning chickens and I said I'll wait until spring 2011 to see if I have the time to keep more beings alive?  For now, the chickens are still on the back burner, I'll keep buying my eggs at the store...and now I'm wondering if they have a class called "Composting 101".  I'm SURE they do!  Especially here in Marin, where it's trendy to be eco-conscious. 

If you know me well at all,  you know that I'm a
 "jump right in" kind of gal
I do a little internet research, consider myself an expert and GO FOR IT!

I don't have time to take a class and I'm too impatient to read an entire book. I'm too impatient to wait for much for that matter. 
Which is why I'm jumping right in to start my first compost pile today!

Hey, I even put away the ornaments & lights and dragged the tree out to the curb this morning so I could justify starting a new project this afternoon. 
{Pat pat on my own back.}

I read the website from the manufacturer of my new compost bin...ecomposter.
Under their "composting" tab I learned that a good compost pile needs a balance of "GREEN WASTE" and "BROWN WASTE". 

Good Greens to compost:
Kitchen waste
Fruit and vegetable scraps
Egg shells
Old spices
Coffee grounds and filters
Tea bags
Dinner leftovers
Yard waste
Green leaves
Lawn clippings

Good Browns to compost:

Stale bread and cereal
Shredded cardboard and newspaper
Wood chips and sawdust
Dry brown leaves

Some things to keep out of your compost pile include:
Chemically treated wood products
Pernicious weeds
Morning glory
Sheep sorrel
Pine needles (DARN! I have a whole Christmas tree to put in.)
Oak leaves
Diseased plants, leaves and stem, especially if the finished compost will be returning to your vegetable garden.

Since our entire back yard is about to float away, we have not a single dry leaf, grass clipping, or plant.  So I raided the neighbor's recycling bin and we started shredding.  The smaller the pieces, the quicker it breaks down. I'm sure at HUGE compost plants, you can put a whole folded newspaper in there and the tractor will mix it up just fine! But for our backyard bin we'll shred.

I even had Sleeping Beauty over to help me shred and fill the bin, lucky me!

Another reason I needed to get this bin filled and out of the house...both my girls could fit in it together. Now at least once it starts to stink, nobody will be inclined to hop in.

I still haven't made it to Cost Plus to p/u my counter top compost bin (you know what else that means? I haven't been to Trader Joe's either and my cupboards are wiped out!)

Too bad there were only 2 bowls 3 kids fought over who got to toss them into the pile!

Seriously, I never knew garbage could be so much fun and interesting...and, of course, cause fights.
Yay! Our compost bin is officially under way.  My 6 year old son passed up each opportunity to place items into the bin as he wanted to be sure he could be the "spinner" and turn the bin.  After he turned it a few times for a couple of minutes, they all wanted to open it to see if it had turned into dirt yet! 

 I guess I'll need to teach them a little something about patience.

And just like the Christmas tree, the compost bin has found a new home- outside.  Smile.  In 4-6 weeks we should have dark, rich soil to start off this year's garden. I'll keep you posted.

Are you composting yet?


  1. We started our bin last year. I have yet to figure out how to pull out of it since you add new things into it every day...except the "tea", which comes out once a month (this is the liquid run-off that is like liquid gold to plants!). Caution...the bin is so heavy that it takes 2 of us to move it, spin it, etc. The best way to finish it up for using in the yard is probably to have 2 you can leave 1 alone, keep it spinning and composting so no new food goes in, making it ready to use as soil. Also, the most important thing to keeping the bugs and smell away seems to be adding the dry browns.

  2. That would have come in handy when I was a kid and looking for some place to stash my uneaten eggplant and liver.

  3. Mavis E. ButterfieldJanuary 4, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Feel free to Facebook my sister. . .she's the Master Gardener and knows all too much about composting. And ol' Cletus has a huge pile right in the yard (with a huge pitchfork living in it)! - no bin necessary.


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