Compost Part I

My FIL retired this summer. Since he retired he has been busy with so many projects that I don’t know how he ever had time to work for the past 30 years.

One of the projects he wants to start planning for is a big vegetable garden for next year. He wants to have it at our house because we have a lot more space in our backyard (we live on an acre). My husband and I are all for a garden. We’ve wanted to plant one for awhile but we’ve never had the time. FIL has offered to come over and help take care of it next summer. Since my MIL knows how to can vegetables, this could be a big money-saver for all of us as well as a fun and interesting hobby.

To help with the garden, we talked about starting a compost bin. For those who don’t know what a compost bin is, here is the definition from Wikipedia: Compost is the aerobically decomposed remnants of organic materials. Compost is used in gardening and agriculture as a soil amendment, and commercially by the landscaping and container nursery industries.

Basically you get a big bin and throw a bunch of biodegradable stuff in it, which decomposes, producing this dark, nutrient-rich, soil-looking fertilizer that you spread on your garden.

I’ve never had a compost bin before. I have a vague memory of my Girl Scout troop leader having one in her backyard so we could learn about it. All I remember is going out to her back yard and throwing some vegetable scraps inside. It seems like a great idea. Having a compost bin is very environmentally-friendly in that it is a way to recycle your food scraps from the kitchen thus reducing landfill waste, and it produces organic fertilizer for your garden, eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers.

The first step in this process is research! I’ve been doing some research online lately to see how to start a compost bin in your backyard. I’ve found a couple informative websites. Compost Guide offers a great explanation of pretty much everything you need to know about composting from the decomposition process to things you can put in your compost to compost site selection. How to Compost also offers some great information.

After reading through these websites, I realize that (obviously) the first thing I need for a compost bin is a bin to put everything in. You can purchase a compost bin or you can build one. Click here to see some options of compost bins you can purchase. They seem a little pricy to me to be honest. Knowing my FIL, he will want to build one. Bluegrass Gardens has plans for building compost bins. I like the Wood 3-Bin Compost Unit. Three bins would allow me to have compost going in different stages, ensuring that I always have a supply of compost ready or almost ready. It will also allow me to turn the compost easier, in that I can shovel it from one bin to another empty bin.

Compost Guide says that compost can be passive or actively managed. The more actively you manage the compost, the quicker it will decompose. By having 3 sections to my compost bin, I can have one active pile and one more passive pile.

I’d like to have the compost bin finished within the next couple of weeks so that I can store my leaves in there and use them in the compost in the spring. They would serve as a passive compost through the winter, then I can convert them to a more active compost in the spring. My lawn is currently a SEA of leaves. There are leaves everywhere! According to Compost Guide, I can shred and store these leaves all winter and then use them in the compost in the spring. CG says that some decomposition may occur, but not a significant amount.

Next step is to talk to my FIL and see if he is willing to help me build the Wood 3-Bin Compost Unit. Fingers crossed!


One thought on “Compost Part I

  1. I really hope you’ll keep posting about this! I’ve been telling myself for over a year that I was going to do something better than my current set up (a big bucket that I threw scraps in all summer; it’s now a stinky slog that is beautiful in my eyes). I’m leaning towards a 3-bin system, too. And I’m trying to tell myself it won’t be that hard to make…

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