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Posts Tagged ‘Compost’

DIY Nature: Starting Your Own Compost By Accident

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

For a long time I yearned to start making my own compost, but there was always something standing in the way. There was the lack of immediate gratification, the choice between designs: one bin, two bin, three bin, rack and tumbler systems. Once I’d bought or built my bin, I’d need to “turn” all that compost. Turning sounded easy enough, save for the rake breakdown I had while gathering leaves. Needless to say, the whole business of composting seemed a little daunting, and if it weren’t for forces unseen, I might’ve missed out on the good life altogether. Luckily nature had a plan of its own.

Here are the basic steps I took to inadvertently start my own compost–they’ll probably work for you too:

  1. Go outside and look for a good place to build your compost bin.
  2. Realize there are a lot of good places, get indecisive, and instead, take the leaves, grass clippings, and handful of rotten lettuce that you were going to put in the bin and just toss them in a pile until you settle on the right spot later.
  3. Get distracted, do something unrelated, and forget you ever wanted to compost.
  4. After about a month, remember that you wanted to start composting and go reassess the situation.
  5. Grin as you realize that, together, you, time, and nature somehow already started a compost pile–all without nailing anything together!
  6. Enjoy the benefits (less trash, healthier plants, deeper satisfaction).

Composting is so easy, it can happen by accident. As you grow in the art, however, you might want to refine your operation a little. Here are a few helpful tips:

  1. Stirring, or “turning,” the heap every few days keeps the aerobic bacteria happy, healthy, and hot (composter’s lingo for more intense decomposition).
  2. Kitchen waste (veggies, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.) is usually high in nitrogen; plants love nitrogen, so don’t be shy with it.
  3. Keep it vegetarian; no meat, bones, or plastic. Also, no chemically treated wood or diseased plants.

With a little time and almost zero work, you’ll have dark, rich compost crawling with earthworms and creatures of every variety waiting to decompose your waste and tend to your garden.

(Pictured below: slug on a mission–great decomposer, terrible gardener).

Brian is an aspiring writer, musician, artist, and photographer with a fondness for woodworking (although he doesn't get to it as often as he'd like). Some of his sound can be found here.