Tuesday, August 26, 2008

First Compost Complete

Hey! I am so excited. We got to use finished compost for the first time, to start some fall seeds and to replenish our soil in the community garden plot. It was pretty interesting sifting through the lumpy contents of our tumbler so I thought I'd share our successes and failures. We have a tumbler that you can rotate by flipping it over. I will confess that we were erratic about rotating it, and I can vouchsafe that our pile was probably not as piping hot as compost piles get. Still, for a beginner, I'm pretty happy with the results -- we made compost! Compost that we can use! That won't go to the landfill! Wooooo hoooooo!

What did break down?

  • lint
  • bread
  • veggie and fruit scraps galore
  • dog hair
  • leaves
  • bagasse plates and cups from a block party -- I would definitely use these again
  • corrugated cardboard
  • cotton cloth

What didn't break down?

Fascinating to see the process from start to finish, and I am thrilled to be composting our scraps once again. Now, if Worms Eat My Garbage would just come in to my local library -- I actually cleared a couple shelves in my laundry room so I am definitely heading down the wriggler path.


Burbanmom said...

Why the heck don't they make the produce stickers out of biodegradable material? Come on! That's ridiculous!

How did you go about sorting it? I'm ready to pull some out of the bottom of my bin (I opened the hatch door and it looks like compost! I'ts a MIRACLE!) Did you use a fancy screen or just dig on in?

Bobbi said...

I've always wanted one of those tumbler composters - they sound great! I still compost the old-fashion way.

As for worms - I love them! Check out my post on worm farming:

greeen sheeep said...

I'm asking for a Can 'O Worms for Christmas. It was on my list last year, too, but sadly Santa shops last minute at my house. Perhaps if I left him more hints and reminders this year.

Only 120 days until Christmas!

Susannah said...

Headline for me: "cleared a couple shelves in my laundry room" (so jealous).

Also, since I'm just back from 2 weeks of house-sitting in San Francisco, I'm in serious compost withdrawal. Their 3-bin system (compost in green, recyclables in blue, trash in black) showed me that a tiny fraction of our family's waste needs to go to the landfill. Favorite tip from friends: keep smelly food scraps in a cardboard milk container in the fridge until pick-up day.

However, SF is a much cooler climate (weather, not just fashion) and they don't seem to have a vermin problem (at least not as bad as we do here in DC) so I have to ask: Any evidence of rats near your bin?

De in D.C. said...

Awesome!! It's such a one-two punch of good feelings to know that not only did you save a ton of material from going to a landfill, but you're also able to make a bunch of plants really really happy with the output.

If you ever decide to commit to a worm bin, I'd be happy to set you up with some free wigglers. I'm currently researching methods to harvest the compost since my bin is 2/3 full of dark, rich casings. There are a lot of really good resources online.

Latigo Liz said...

Yeah, I would recommend the worm route. I’ll make a post to my blog about how I made our bins and got them going.

One tip in the meantime, make pieces as small as possible before adding to the compost bin or the worm bin. Just that added little boost you might need.

Laura/CenterDownHome said...

Giggle. I do have this urge to congratulate you on your compost and your upcoming worm project.

We have an area, a depression, in our woods where we hurl old fruit and veggies, lawn clippings, leaves. We never turn it, but it does produce some rich, black dirt. Mark was investigating compost containers when we got the word that we are (probably) moving, and the research was put on hold.

Well, now I have compost envy.

MamaBird said...

burbs - I just dug into the compost with a plastic herb pot and a kid's sand shovel - and kept a pile going to the side of things that were large and obviously hadn't broken down. A screen is a good idea, though, although it would have to have pretty big holes.

Susannah - only cleared shelves by piling other shelves dangerously high, but it's a start! no rats for this tumbler - it's up side is that it's impregnable recycled plastic - down side is that there is no hatch door at the bottom for finished compost like burbanmom's -- but since, as you know so very well, there is a large and active rodent population in our fair city, I opted for ratproofing over convenience.

deinDC - so *nice* of you! I may just take you up on the wrigglers!

Latigo Liz - thanks for the chopping up into bits tip - looking fwd to checking out your compost post!

Green Bean said...

Damn metal grapefruit spoons!!! What's the deal?!?!

You remind me though that I should go take a peek at my compost which hasn't been turned since last spring.

MamaBird said...

Holy smokes, Center Down Laura, that's all backwards! Having an open compost pile is the way to go. Maybe pitchfork it now and then but if you don't move? I would never go for an enclosed tumbler if we didn't have city rodents around. Aerating your pile is great for it. Sounds like you have a perfect situation as is. Maybe you can replicate it down south!

MamaBird said...

Can you tell I am going through my email haphazardly?

Bobbi - Thank you! Inspiring post about "the ladies" -- and you're much better off with a compost pile than a tumbler -- aerates better.

greeeeen sheeeep - I hope Santa makes your wish come true! And try freecycle, maybe, cause from what I read at Mrs. Greenhands' (bobbi's blog) wrigglers multiply fast so you could possibly make your own bin with just a plastic tub and some shredded newspaper.

Kellie said...

Thanks for the rec on compostable plates and cups! I've looked at them so many times, but have been hesitant to buy any due to mixed reviews. These are on my list for the next party we have!

Nora Bee said...

Congrats! We had to stop feeding our earth machine because it had rats living in it, so we have been sending our compostables out with the city yard waste service.

The Purloined Letter said...

Try composting regular spoons rather than grapefruit spoons in your worm pile--unless you know if its true that each side of a worm cut in half will grow into a whole...

We've been getting great compost too, although we now know we need to crush our eggshells before we put them in!

MamaBird said...

PL - re: eggshells -- an amazing gardener friend of mine said to just keep them until they are really dried out and then crush them and put them directly underneath your plants to amend the soil - she keeps them for her rosebushes (really like them) but I have been meaning to ask her about other egg loving plants! Tx for the comment and the worm concern!

Jessica Gottlieb said...

I'm watching and waiting, you lead the way and this home will follow.

Chile said...

I have a screen for my compost and can second your "pretty big holes" comment. Mine does not have big enough holes and is a royal PITA to use.

Home Composter Sara said...

I've been composting for about a month with a Worm Factory 360. What's amazing is how quickly you see compost where there was once food. I had never composted at all before and although the worms are not yet eating all the waste that I generate, I'm hoping that in a few months after they've had time to reproduce, that I'll be asking my neighbors for the their food scraps. Besides eating my food waste, I love it that they eat my shredded mail.