Monday, February 16, 2009

Compost, anyone?

We are currently composting on a larger scale than I have attempted previous, and I find that composting is a continual learning experience. We do not have trash service pick-up. We compost every possible thing that can be composted. I upcycle and repurpose packaging, bags, plastic, and any other items that can be used again for any reason. We also Freecycle and donate to Goodwill. Two times a year, we make a trip to the local landfill to drop items that we could not compost or otherwise dispose of in any other manner. This five-gallon bucket has been equipped with a lovely knob on the lid for ease of use, and lives on the dryer in the laundry room near the back door. All food items that can be composted are put into this bucket daily, and then taken to the compost area in the yard. What can be composted?

♥ raw foods such as fruits, vegetables, and their peelings (spoiled fruits and veggies included)

♥ egg shells (crunch them up so they will break down faster)

♥ paper products (if they are unbleached with no inks or dyes in them) such as paper towels, non-glossy paper plates, white tissue, cardboard, and paper towel and bathroom tissue rolls

☼ Some people also compost mail and junkmail that they have shredded in a home shredder, as well as newspaper. I do not compost these items because of the inks and dyes that are on these papers. I do not want that chemical content going back into my soil. ☼

♥ coffee grounds and unbleached coffee filters

♥ loose tea, tea bags (if unbleached, and all staples are removed)

♥ natural fibers such as wool and cotton, as long as they are not blended with synthetic fibers

♥ dryer lint (it is just fiber fuzz, after all!)

♥ yard waste such as raked leaves, grass clippings, tree trimmings if they are very small or have been sent through a wood chipper (we do not compost large twigs/branches, rose bush trimmings, or any plants that are poisonous to humans)

NOT to compost: any yard waste that has been treated with any chemicals, cat litter, pet waste, meat, bones, oil, grease, cooked foods, or glossy paper. Also, as stated above, we do not include anything that has inks, dyes, or is poisonous.

We have 9 compost "stations" that are in various stages of decomposition. The key ingredient is water. The piles have to be kept moist at all times. This allows the whole thing to do its natural heating and breakdown process. There are commercial composting systems that one can purchase that say you will have completed, ready-t0-use compost in 30 days. We follow an open air process that takes more like 3-6 months to complete. In the winter, we don't really do any watering of the piles, either, since there is so much moisture and precipitation already.

We have two "active" piles that we are putting content into daily. The others are all in various stages of breakdown, and a couple are ready to be emptied and shoveled onto the spring garden beds. We use square wire "cages" that are open on the top and bottom. They have lids that can be closed to keep out any critters, and because they lack bottoms, are easy to lift off the completed compost once it is finished. Shovel the compost away, replace the cage to its former position, and the rotation can begin again.

We have a lot of room in which to complete this process, and our compost system is out of the way of any direct line of vision. If you have less space, composting can easily be done on a much smaller scale. It is really very easy, and is very good for yor soil and plants!

Happy Composting!

1 comment:

Margaret said...

I never thought about composting dryer lint!