In my adventuring with gardening, I keep coming across how wonderful compost is. ("If your tomatoes don't turn out great, try adding compost and next season they'll be wonderful!") One webpage leads to another and soon I'm reading about how all-around awesome composting is.
You reduce the amount of waste you produce. You create organic compost, which is great for the garden and super expensive at the store. It's a great learning experiment for kids. Plus, I just think it's really neat, you know? Science!
Then I saw a site about how you can create your own compost bin at home for much less than it would cost to buy one. (The cool rotating ones on Amazon do look amazing, but they have a smaller capacity and cost $100 plus shipping.)
To to Home Depot I went and bought one of those giant plastic storage bins for $15. I decided to get a 35 gallon one, which seems humungous but most folks who went this homemade route said they ended up buying a second one because they filled theirs so quickly!
So I took 'er home and drilled 10-or-so holes in the top and bottom. (Bennett was my assistant. He's always sleeping on the job.)
Then I filled her up! (Not really. She's probably only 1/6th full right now, and that's with all of the materials fluffed up to take up maximum space.)
In this beginning run, I put in newspaper, shredded paper, coffee grounds, coffee filters, laundry lint, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, used paper towels, grapes-gone-bad and the stalks of broccoli that we didn't use from dinner last night.
As you can see, the stuff you can compost is varied. There is supposed to be a balance of nitrogen-based items ('green' matter, like grass clippings and fruit and veggie waste) and carbon-based items ('brown,' like paper and dead leaves), but there are plenty of guides online to help you determine what falls into which category and what is outright prohibited.
For example, you don't want to put any meat or dairy products because then scavengers would be attracted to the pile. Also, without these items, the trash-y smell you might predict is avoided. Instead, a well-made compost pile just smells a little earthy, like wet soil.
I piled a little bit of our soil on top (to introduce the native soil organisms), sprayed it with a little water and then gave it a little stir.
I'm going to keep my biggest tupperware container under the kitchen sink for me to put new compostable items into, then take it out to the bin when it gets full.
I'll stir up the bin as often as I can to encourage the decomposition process.
Hopefully within the next 3 months I might have usable compost. How quickly it is ready will depend on keeping the ratios right, how often I turn/aerate it, moisture and how much new material is added.
So here we are, my mini composter and I, demonstrating the bin's resting place with the garbage bins behind the storage shed.
Wish us luck with our 'black gold' as it's called in the business!