Originally published Apr 21, 2011
Last weekend, Kevin and I finally finished putting together our compost tumbler. About 6 weeks ago I found an amazing deal on it at Costco for only $99, very similar to this one. I was so excited, since I’ve been wanting one for years now. I’m going to tell you exactly how to start composting for your own family – it’s so easy!
Isn’t she purty?
There are so many reasons. For one, it’ll save you money by making your own nutrient-rich soil that your plants will love. But more importantly, it’s recycling in its most basic form. You’re taking materials that came from the earth and returning it back. When my daughter doesn’t finish her apple, I almost don’t feel like it’s a total waste since my compost pile will use it. It’s an interesting process, and a great biology project for your kids.
Supplies needed for composting
You can compost without a container. Pile it high in a corner of your yard, or dig a hole – you can even make one out of wooden shipping crates. You need to make sure that wherever it is, that it has proper drainage. If it gathers too much water, you’ll end up with a pile of mucky yuck.
We live in the middle of the Pine Barrens which abounds with animals and critters, so we needed a closed bin to keep them out. I liked the tumbler style because honestly, it’s less work. If you don’t opt for a tumbler-style bin, you’ll need a pitchfork to turn your pile – a great workout.
Materials to add to your compost
The ideal pile is 75% carbon-rich ingredients:
Dead leaves, wood branches/trimmings cut into small pieces, thin, uncoated cardboard. Pine needles and sawdust can also be used but sparingly.
Make sure any sawdust you use is not chemically treated. Pine needles take more time to break down, so though we have tons of them in our back yard, my carbon is constructed of brown leaves mainly.
The other 25% of your pile should include nitrogen-rich ingredients:
Mostly green stuff. Grass clippings, kitchen scraps (banana peels, apple cores, vegetables, coffee, egg shells, etc.), plant trimmings, spent flowers, weed foliage, manure, hay, hair/feathers.
Turning your pile regularly will help all of the parts to break down. Water it regularly so that it maintains the moisture of a squeezed-out sponge.
How does it work?
People say they’re composting, but really it’s not us humans doing all of the work. We’re just creating the conditions needed to help decomposers like bacteria, bugs, worms, etc. to work our leftovers into rich, sweet-smelling crumbly soil.
I’m familiar with composting because my parents did it, but this is my first time attempting it on my own. I’ll be posting my updates and any new tips I learn along the way.
Want more information? I highly recommend this book, Composting For Dummies.
What are you growing in your garden this season?