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Composting is a great way to save on gardening costs. If you have ever gardened, you probably already know that it isn’t exactly the cheapest “hobby”. And if you are gardening to cut out some of your food costs (by growing your own food), you can definitely benefit from learning ways to cut costs for the garden as well.
Lately I’ve been in “compost mode”. It’s January, but the unseasonable warm days have gotten me into thinking about the garden. So I’ve been reading all sorts of articles on composting so I can learn how to properly do it. Since we now have our farm, complete with animals (and of course, lots and lots of poop!), composting just makes sense to me. In addition to dealing with the mounds of poop, I can make my own beautiful soil amendment.
Last week I had my son and my son-in-law move 3 large mounds of manure/hay/straw for me. They both looked at me perplexed. I had to explain compost to them and tell them a little about how it works. Basically, compost needs brown materials (carbon based) and green materials (nitrogen based). Then it need moisture and air. In order for the raw materials to break down quicker, the pile needs to be turned regularly. I told the boys they need to help me move these huge (5’X7’ish) piles weekly. Needless to say, they weren’t too happy about it!
Today was a week since the pile has been turned and moved, and I was alone most of the day. This in itself, my friends, is a pretty rare occurrence. I live in a small home with 7 people. We are a 3-generation home. Me and my hubby, our son and our daughter, her husband, his son, and her daughter. Today, though, my son was proposing to his girlfriend, and my daughter and her husband took the kids to the park one last time before the new baby is born! So it was quite the interesting day.
Anyways, I set to work (hard, sweaty work) on moving the piles myself. Honestly if I didn’t need this amount of compost, and if I didn’t have this much poop to deal with, I would definitely invest in one of those fancy compost tumblers. But since I do, we will somewhat unhappily deal with the compost this way.
Another good thing to add to your compost pile is soil. We have several spots on our property that gophers
have dug up. So lots of topsoil sitting around. Don’t get me wrong, I detest gophers, but this is one little “benefit” of having them in our yard. We might have a killer garden in the spring, but I think between the gophers and the free-range chickens, my hopes of a nice lush lawn are probably not going to happen here.
While I was moving the compost piles, I noticed that things were heating up, but not enough. We need more green materials! And since we’ve always got a lot of food waste, I came up with the perfect solution. A kitchen scrap/compost bin! I had some small plastic tubs that I had used for my fodder system that already had holes drilled in the bottom, so I just made more holes. I also drilled holes in the lid to fit a charcoal filter that I took off the kitty litter box. Then I used another lid (without holes) to put under the tub to catch any drippings from the compost. These drippings can be mixed with water and made into compost tea that is great for fertilizing plants.
In the bottom of the tub, I put a layer of newspaper so the compost won’t fall through but it will still let air through the holes. Then I added a thin layer of potting soil, some shredded newspaper, and some kitchen scraps. I put the lid on then put it under my sink. The charcoal filter will keep the smell down and discourage fruit flies from invading my kitchen.
All in all, I’m pleased with how it turned out, but I have a sneaky suspicion that I’m going to need a bigger tub. But we’ll try it for a while to see.
Do you compost? Try my kitchen compost bin idea and let me know in the comments how it turned out!