Living the green dream – a composter in my backyard

15 Jul 2010

Our composter

Little lie detectors that they are, my children often point out when I am acting hypocritically.  Therefore, for Father’s Day this year, instead of a tie or slippers, I got a composter.  Basically, it’s a black plastic box with a lid and four small plastic doors on each side (and no bottom). After a few minutes of construction and location, I decided to start using the thing.

It came with zero instructions on how to compost but my wife bought me some compost accelerator (smells like manure) which had a little information.  So, here goes.  I know that I’m not supposed to use citrus waste or animal products (I could use animal waste but that complicates the use of the compost and so may be a project for 2011).  There are two different methods of composting – cold and hot. The hot method is more large scale – grinding the vegetable matter into small pieces, turning a compost pile, checking its temperature, ensuring air flow so that it does not go anaerobic.  The cold method is more my speed – it’s not as fast a process (could be 6 months to a year – not much will compost during the dead of winter) but it’s less labor intensive.

So, I’ve used mostly weeds, and some vegetable scraps – a rotten cucumber, some watermelon rind, celery scraps and such. What surprised me was how the material, in the heat of the summer simply shrinks, allowing more to be placed.  Also, I need to buy a long bungee cord as some animal (I suspect raccoons), have figured out how to open the small doors on the side and I do not want them thinking that my composter is an all night diner.  As we have a garbage disposal, I don’t expect the composter to decrease our weekly garbage, but certainly (in the warmth of summer), it feels good to be “putting my money where my mouth is” – I don’t know that I’ll be so keen to tromp outside in sub zero weather to put the past-its-prime salad into the box.  I’ll be reporting periodically on our progress.

Leave a Comment to “Living the green dream – a composter in my backyard”

  1. Nancy Barber 15. Jul, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    I am looking forward to hearing about your progress, if it’s good, I may get one. We tried an electronic “hot version” that we got as a gift. It ended up being a very smelly mess, not to mention it’s electronic so I didn’t really see the point. So I’m looking for “plan b” options that are user friendly.

  2. LibraryGirl62 28. Jul, 2010 at 10:31 pm #

    I might have to give this a try. I have no garbage disposal and this could be convenient.

  3. Susan Tachna 29. Jul, 2010 at 12:05 am #

    We set up a worm composter over a dozen years ago and it quickly become so much more than an eco-friendly way of disposing of food scraps. My (then) toddler immediately bonded with the worms. He considered them pets and endeavored to name each one. We’d go out to the yard together to “feed the worms” from the compost container that we keep on our kitchen counter. He loved to have me scoop a shovelful of not-quite-ready soil from near the bottom and search for worms among the dark, moist organic material, delighting each time he found one. He’d put as many of them in his little hand as he could and study them as they squirmed, asking how they turn food into soil. We’d put the worms back; and come Spring, he’d run to the composter to see what the worms finally made. We’d use the soil when planting our Spring garden; and when our seeds sprouted, together we’d identify the parts of our budding vegetables that we’d eat, and which parts we’d feed to the worms. Our young son learned so much about the cycle of life and his parents’ eco-values, thanks to our worm composter.

    Now, my son is tall enough for me to rest my head on his shoulder, and he can share shoes with his father. Without thinking about it, he scrapes his vegetable scraps into the container on the counter and dumps the container into the composter when it is full; because composting has always been a way of life for him. I hope that you’ll enjoy your Fathers Day gift with your children as much as my family has enjoyed ours.

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