Composting is a great way to turn your everyday food scraps into (free) rich organic matter for your garden. All it takes is a bit of time and a place for your composter. If you know anything about me at all, it’s that I jump right into something, often without reading up on the subject. Composting was no different. After all, how difficult could it be, you take some food scraps, toss them in a container of some sort and let them decompose? Little did I know that there is all kinds of science around composting, but I won’t bore you with that..
A search of google will yield dozens of results on the topic. Howtocompost.org is a great site for beginners, it’s loaded with tips on how to get started. We’ve been composting for about 3 years, and while I’m by no means an expert, composting really isn’t that difficult.
The girls originally wanted a worm farm, so I took and old plastic tote, drilled some holes, added dirt, worms (dug up from the yard) and some kitchen scraps. We kept adding more scraps to the tote and the worms seemed to love it. Keep in mind a worm farm is created by composting, but not all composting is suitable for a worm farm. I didn’t know it when we first started, but worms produce castings (or worm poop) that is a great natural fertilizer. There are things that aren’t good for worms, so I’d suggest reading up on that. Here are a couple of good sites, Modern Farmer and Working Worms.
You’d be amazed by the amount of food scraps a family of four can generate in a week. I’m talking pounds and pounds. We keep a plastic bag on the counter and put all of our fruit/vegetable scraps in there. I empty a 3 or 4 pound bag a couple of times a week. Until I decided we needed something bigger.
Our new composter was made using a 55 gallon barrel and some cheap hinges. After cutting a rectangular opening in the side, I drilled inch holes all the way around and a few on the bottom. Mine is sitting in a little trench that I dug out, but you could always build a cradle of some sort.
We keep feeding and feeding it, but it never seems to fill up. If you have a problem with fruit flies, add some newspaper. I go out and stir the compost or turn it with a shovel at least once or twice a week which seems to help with the decomposition. Unfortunately, there’s no way to use what’s in this barrel since we keep adding scraps, so I need a way to finish the compost. Chances are I’ll have to either let this one sit with out adding anything, or get a second barrel. Decisions, decisions…
55 gallon drum composter
There are certainly different levels of composting, ours is limited to the basics. We don’t compost any meat or dairy products, but if you’re interested in giving that a try, there is a great book on Composting Everything. I don’t have the book myself, but it’s gotten excellent reviews and the author knows his stuff when it comes to all things gardening..
If you don’t want to build your own composter, you can always order one from Amazon. There are all different types of tumble styles ranging from $100 on up…So, put those food scraps to use in your garden or flower bed, your plants will thank you..