While Installment 1 made sense in the 100 Thing Challenge, this is definitely a DIY-er.
I finished up my first try at a compost container today. Since composting is such a long process, I’m going to post as I go, instead of waiting to post after I’ve gotten it “all figured out.” We can solve problems together!
We’ve wanted to compost for a long time, but never got around to it. For one, it’s part of a slow transition to zero landfill contribution at our house. It’s also great for DIY gardeners to use for fertilizer. If you are conscientious about what you put into your compost, you can even use it to fertilize your edibles, which we intend to do (next year).
We have a place in our yard that is perfect. We have a dog, so inside our fence was not an option and it’s pretty difficult to find a place in your front yard that will work. However, we have a little insert in our side fence that is there for absolutely no reason. There is a little, bushy tree in front of it and the previous owners attempted to store their trash and recycling cans here. The Homeowners’ Association did not approve! So, our goal is to use this space, as it is out of the way of our outside animals, pretty well out of sight of the street, and we hope it’s location will go undetected by our neighbors. 😉
We decided to built a little container for the heap in hopes to attract less attention and also to discourage animals from “getting involved.” First, I went in, broke up the ground and did my best to level it out without investing a ton of time and energy. It doesn’t have to look that pretty, after all. Then, as part of our goal to keep this project cheap, we used the bricks we pulled up from our old patio (you can see in the background the lack of patio). Once I started building the container, I realized this sucker was not going to stay up without some sort of stakes. I bought bamboo stakes from the hardware store’s gardening section. They were quite cheap, and I needed a lot of them. They were also thin, which wound up being a blessing. And they are pretty dang strong, but I could could still cut them. They will surely eventually degrade and need to be replaced, but they were less than $2 each, so we still saved money over buying any sort of metal stakes.
The container I made is about 3x3x2 feet. I think this will be a good size, ultimately, but we can always build it up higher later if we need. I think it’s going to be stable enough, but only time will tell. (Eeeek!)
Aaaaaaand…. this is what it looks like from the street. We’ve got our fingers crossed that the HOA will never notice we are composting in our side yard.
Before moving on I do want to say that getting the bamboo down into the ground was not easy. The rubber mallet sucked. A regular hammer worked much better, but I recommend soaking the heck out of the ground before you even try. We were able to get most of the bamboo down at least a foot into the ground, so hopefully that will be sufficient in the long run. This was the most frustrating part of this process. Honestly, I pretty much just outsourced it to the Hubby. My functional strength is negligible.
Alrighty! Next I laid down a layer of straw. I’m not sure this is necessary, but I wanted a buffer between the ground and the compost, especially because there is a tree right by the container. I’m not in a hurry to have the tree roots grow up into my compost – we’ll see if this helps.
Next I added the materials we’d collected recently from our house. For this, I recommend keeping a bowl in your kitchen for food scraps. We are also having issues with flies (it’s that time of year), so we keep our bowl covered. Buuuut a covered bowl also means mold will grow more quickly, so make sure to take it out every day or so. My plan is to take it out every day or so and then at the end of the week to build the next layer over all my scraps! I’ll explain the layering momentarily.
As much as I’d like to compost EVERYTHING, as I mentioned earlier, we are being careful about what goes in, because we ultimately want to use the compost on our edibles. We’re using some guides I found online to help us determine what does in and what goes into the trash. At least, until we get a goat. 😉
So I threw in my food scraps, then covered with a layer of Blood Meal for nitrogen and then covered with a layer of Organic Compost. I purchased the Blood Meal at a local feed store that has pretty much anything you could ever want for organic gardening. This is also where I purchased the bale of straw I used. I purchased the compost at our local hardware store.
It looks so tiny! At this rate, it’s going to take a while to fill up, but I am just going to be patient during this project. I imagine we’re going to have a lot of trouble shooting ahead of us.
Speaking of trouble shooting…. I finished by covering the container with an industrial strength tarp I bought at the hardware store. This is soooooo not going to work for a long list of reasons like unsightliness and catching mosquito-haven pools of rainwater. At this point I was just pooped, so I let it be until (hopefully) this weekend. I’m pretty sure my next post on this topic will be a solution.