Feeding our bin
1. The Joys of Compost

2. Materials needed

3. Building the bins

4. Starting our compost

5. Feeding our bin

6. Why two bins

7. Storing the compost

8. Using the compost

 

Kohn's Corner

 

Composting experts say to keep putting vegetable scraps in the bin for a few days. Then, when the peels extend over the whole bin to a depth of 4 to six inches, to cover it all with a layer of dirt. 

That's not what I do. It results in hordes of fruit flies.

My method is to put the scraps into the bin (as in the photo at left), chop them up with the sharpened shovel blade, then immediately cover them with earth (as in the photo at right). Not a lot of earth, just enough to cover the veggies.  

"Sharpened shovel blade" needs emphasis. A few seconds with a file sharpens the front of the shovel to where it lets us cut larger pieces into smaller ones. Makes a big difference.

Covering the scraps right away looks better. Most important, it keeps flies and odor at bay.

Now where will we get the earth to cover those veggies? Eventually Ė in only one summer - weíll have plenty of our own, created by our composting, but until then, we have to use bags of topsoil or composted manure from the big-box stores.

We just stack the bags of dirt near our compost bins. I keep an old broken knife out there to cut open the plastic bags.

Some experts say to always ensure our bins have a natural depression in the middle to catch rain water. Am not saying that's wrong, but the natural tendency is for the bin to be higher in the center, and it's hard to win that fight. I just throw the new veggies wherever's lowest.

Keeping our compost moist is important when it's not raining. Keep a hose or watering can handy.

Something to try is a 4-ft length of 2Ē PVC pipe (in the plumbing section). Drill large holes throughout the length of the pipe. With a hacksaw, cut one end at a sharp angle to make it easier to pound into the ground. Pound the pipe down the middle of the bin when the pile is starting to be formed. The opening at the top of the pipe lets some rain and a lot of oxygen down into the center of the pile. At least thatís the theory. I donít know if it really works, but I usually use it. When I donít, the compost turns out pretty well anyway.  

Some experts say to add ordinary 10-10-10 fertilizer to the bin to help the bacterial action, but this is something else I never do. Likewise, the compost additives we see at the stores are also optional, and I've never used them.  

If we put leaves in our compost bin, they should - maybe must - be shredded first. Otherwise they take forever to decompose. (Don't ask me how I know this.)

We might also want to put red wriggler worms in our bins. I would except that my dear wife is phobic about worms, so I don't. But it's sure something for you to consider.

Now this is important: we don't want to put into our bins anything not in the vegetable or fruit families. No meat, no bones, no dairy products, no cooking oils. I've put in ashes from the barbecue, but that was for the lime, and that was stretching it. Compost bins are for plants and veggies only.

next: Why two bins