Friday, March 04, 2005

Build Your Own Compost Bin

I am now in receipt of Mike McGroarty’s monthly newsletter. In my internet wanderings, I somehow stumbled upon his gardening website. Although the site often reads like an overzealous infomercial, it is full of great advice and I recommend it to anyone interested in gardening or landscaping. The website is also useful if you want to make “$1,148 in One Day with Plants”! However, I’m not writing to pimp Mike’s get-rich scheme. Instead, I want to share the compost bin idea found in the February newsletter.

Ah, compost. It is the stuff gardening dreams are made of, or so I’ve read. I have never composted. Perhaps you can count the bramble pile behind a house I rented in college. We “composted” by throwing food waste off our back porch into the blackberry bushes. I’m sure the blackberries thrived, but I never recovered the compost for use around the yard.

Now that we have a yard that we must maintain (the landlord mowed the lawn at the rental), we have a surfeit of yard waste: grass, sticks, leaves, and dead plants. Currently, all the cut grass is sitting in the mower (since November), the sticks and leaves carpet the lawn, and the expired plants mark the flower beds. One of these days, when it warms up to at least the 50s (oh, darn, that will be Sunday), I’ll attack the yard with a rake, clippers, and a wheelbarrow. The question is: what do I do with the yard waste?

In Cincinnati, yard waste can be placed with the trash, in containers marked “yard waste,” and the trashman will take it away. However, the city does ask its good citizens to “compost yard waste at home whenever possible.” Add to the argument that composting will benefit both the environment and my yard and I’m sold!

You may have noticed that I make an enormous production out of everything. Composting is no different. I worried myself to death with the question of whether I should buy an expensive composting bin or just start a pile in a hidden corner of the yard. Mike McGroarty came to my rescue with his instructions for building your own compost bin. The structure is simply composed of garden posts and lumber. I’ll need a saw and a shovel (or a fence-post digger?), but I needed to add those to my tool collection anyhow. My husband can handle the labor. After all, he did grow up on a farm, building fences and all. I’ll sit back, drink my iced tea, and watch my plans take shape.


Blogger Brit said...

There is a book on how to build your own compost? The plastic buckets I have scatter around the yard are not sufficient? I should plan? hmmm.

9:30 AM  
Blogger merideth said...

take my word for it...get the rotating compost bin and be done with it...we have it and it's awesome (here it is: first time you have to get out there with a pitchfork or a shovel and mix your compost you'll wonder what the f you were thinking...with the rolly one, you just give it a spin every time you add stuff and end up with great compost and compost tea

12:58 PM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

I don't know if I'm ready to shell out the bucks for the rolling composter. Although, it was recommended by Consumer Reports and it's an investment because I can take it with us when we move! Just don't know where to buy it...

1:19 PM  
Blogger Scott in Washington said...

Well, I had a decidedly more rural upbringing I suppose, even though three of the four of us grew up in Longview, my parents lived a bit further out and had more space and composted throughout my childhood. We always built a rude bin out of scrap lumber or logs and just heaped our compost onto a pile. After two to three years we'd switch to another compost heap and about the time we switched to the third heap the first would be done without any turning or special care. Now my parents have two 200 gallon compost bins they got free from the city on two subsequent years during Compost Madness!! or whatever the city calls their compost kit give away program. They do pretty much the same program now, with the two bins, as they did before. About the time one fills up, the other is ready for spreading. That is until this year (heh heh), both bins are getting spaded into bed #7.

In the short time that we lived in a space confined rental where I had a little garden and a micro compost I learned that, for our climate, dryness and security from animals were the two main ingredients to speedy and successful composting. Faced again with the same situation, I'd get a sixty gallon trash can with a screw on lid, poke a few holes in the side close to the top for ventilation and put it into service. I suppose I might even suceede in turning the compost by rolling the closed container about the backyard every other month or so.


8:21 PM  

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