Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Being frugal means nothing goes to waste. When you use something up you stop to re-evaluate if there is some other creative way to use it. Can the container be used for something else? Would it make a fun craft project for the kids? Can that bone be boiled down for soup,? Does it have another use? And when you finally think you’ve got every inch of life squeezed out of it, then you toss it. Often times the last stop at our house is the compost bin.
Starting a compost bin is simple to do, doesn’t cost much money and takes very little space but some people may be wondering why bother? For us there are two reasons; it cuts down on our weekly amount of garbage and provides nutrient rich soil for our yard and garden. Did you know that roughly 40% off our garbage could actually be composted? It’s possible to put that waste to good use instead of sending it to the landfill and consuming all that energy to get it there.
So here’s how you can create simple and cost efficient compost for your own home.
First you need something to create your compost in. There are lots of different things you could construct, but to keep it simple a plastic garbage can with a lid will do. Not only is it reasonably inexpensive but it has a handy lid to keep critters out and is easily transportable around your yard when you’re ready to spread your nutrient rich soil around.
Next you need to make several holes in the sides and top of your bin. You can use a drill or even a knife to cut these. This will help air and moisture get in but will keep the neighborhood animals from getting at your garbage goodies. The holes need to be roughly ¼ to ½ inch in diameter and about a foot apart all the way around.
Then pick a place to keep it. You want to choose a place close to your house for easy access but also not too far from where you want to dump your finished compost. You’ll also want your bin to get some sun and rain when it’s available to aid in the decomposition, so don’t keep it in a covered area.
Now you’re ready to start adding to it. You’ll want to put a shallow layer of dirt in the bottom to get it started and then the fun begins. Here are some common everyday things that you can toss into your pile…
vegetable or fruit peelings
Burlap coffee bags
Matches (paper or wood)
Bird cage cleanings
rabbit or chicken manure
Tea bags and grounds
Paper shreds from your office shredder
Q-tips (cotton swabs: cardboard, not plastic sticks)
Expired flower arrangements
Guinea pig cage cleanings
Moss from last year's hanging baskets
Stale breakfast cereal
Brown paper bags
It’s helpful to keep a container in your house to hold your raw materials. I use a recycled Costco dishwasher soap bucket under my sink to collect our kitchen scraps. The smaller the scraps that go in, the quicker the decomposition will happen so chop or crush them before putting them in the bucket. Also, you want to be sure to keep a balance between your brown ingredients (paper scraps, dirt) and your green ingredients (kitchen scraps, grass clippings). Make sure that your compost is damp. Most of they year my wonderfully wet climate takes care of this for me, but during the hotter summer months you want to make sure it is moist. You’ll also need to turn it periodically to keep air flowing and to speed up the decomposition process. The handy thing about the garbage can is that all you have to do is secure the lid and then tip it over and roll it around a couple of times. The other option is to use a pitch fork or shovel and stir it up a bit.
You can expect your pile to give off a little heat. That means it’s doing it’s job to break down into soil. Also you’ll probably see a few bugs and generally that’s not a problem. There shouldn’t be much more than a sweet dirt smell coming from your bin. If it starts to smell strong than your balance of green, brown, and wet ingredients may be off or it’s possible that you’ve thrown something you shouldn’t have into the bins. Never throw meat products in there.
So don’t be afraid to jump right in. Now is as great a time as any to start reducing your landfill waste and nourishing your yard.
For more WFMW ideas, go HERE.