by Gilly Brewster
(Sacramento, California, USA)
In today’s world, where the idea of recycling is not an option, but a necessity, having your own compost pile is a great activity and resources in keeping with the mandatory recycle laws. The bonuses of composting heavily outweigh any negative connotations compost piles have had to defend themselves against; mainly, the smell.
Because food waste, when compiled properly and maintained can create rich soil that can be reused on lawns and gardens, it seems the thought of not having one is the poorer choice. We have to eat and there is inevitably an excess and waste, that it seems like a no-brainer to put our scraps and law clippings to good use.
To begin your project you will need a compost bin. Compost bins can be built or purchased. Before putting out any money for this project, check with your town hall to see if they sponsor a program that will provide residents with the bins.
If your town doesn’t provide bins specifically for composting, you should check with local hardware or home improvement stores. These bins can also be found online or via gardening center websites or catalogs.
If none of these options pan out, a compost bin can be built with just a few materials and tools. All that is needed to build your own compost bin would be; some wood, concrete blocks, pallets, wire and maybe even a garbage can with holes poked in the bottom.
The only thing to keep in mind when constructing a compost bin is to remember to incorporate a way for excess moisture to escape and a great way to do that is to be sure there are holes at the bottom of the bin but that they are not so big that little critters can climb into the bin and wreak havoc! It’s best to keep the drainage holes no more than half an inch in diameter.
Placement of the bin should be somewhere shady, where it can drain properly and where it will be fairly easy to access without being too close to become a “smelly” problem inside your home (or the home of your neighbor)!
The first level of compost should allow for air passages as well as drainage. A layer of smooth rock placed loosely on the bottom of the bin will work to do the trick.
When you start to add to your compost you should think in layers; start with the bottom layer of coarse materials to further enable the air and drainage passage, and then layer between “brown” waste and “green” waste.
“Brown” waste may consist of, autumn leaves, wood chips, saw dust, pine needles, paper towels, newspaper and coffee filters and “green” waste consists of, food wastes, fruits and vegetables, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds, grass clippings and weeds. Another tip is to add a layer of soil on top of each layer of waste because that will help speed up the process.
One last maintenance tip is to always fluff your layers as you go by using a hoe or a compost turning tool. You’ll also want to be sure to “toss” the entire pile once in the spring and again in the fall, where you turn the entire pile upside down with the bottom ending up on the top of the pile.
Enjoy your compost pile and know that with every item added it is one less item for the waste that will be left for future generations to contend with.
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