Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cooking with green and brown

It might be because I'm on a diet but whenever I read about composting and they talk about "cooking" it makes me hungry. And perhaps to divert my attention from eating I decided to make a new, easier to manage composting method. Composting has always felt a little like "too much" for me. If you don't have one of those handy-dandy rotating drum things and the composting "formula" correct will it work?

I read somewhere about using bales of straw and composting in the center of those. Adding the green and brown matter and removing a bale to go in and stir it up with a pitchfork on occasion. Part of the theory being the straw would disintegate as well over time and turn into compost so the whole compost pile would, in essence, bit an efficient compost-churning mechanism.

Ummm... not so much. Not only did I forget to stir it but all kinds of weeds and things grew out of the straw bales and it looked....well....decidedly not-efficient AND ugly on top of it. So I decided composting was going to be too difficult and abandoned the whole idea.

BUT then I read an article somewhere on an easier method of composting and cut it out and saved it somewhere safe so I could try composting again. Someone must have come into my house and stolen that valuable article (which is, of course, the only reason I couldn't find it to read the instructions) so I hope I'm remembering this right. Come along on this little experiment and we'll see what happens.

I conveniently found a $20 bill just laying around in my husbands wallet so I took it to Home Depot with me and bought a sturdy black trash-bin with a cover for 14 bucks. Woo hoo. Change left for Starbucks. I got a smaller one so that I can handle it easily by myself. If this works I will make several more.

Here's what I did. The first part is fun and involves power tools. Yee haw! Take your biggest drill bit and drill holes all over your trash can. Drill a few in the bottom and don't forget to drill holes in the lid too. You want good air circulation and some drainage.
Wow, look at all the holes. They look suspiciously like polka dots which are one of my favorite things in the world.

OK, now we need to use some brown stuff, some green stuff and some moisture. So I'm using some leaves.

And then some green stuff I thinned out of my garden. Cut up the woodier greens (such as sunflower stalks) to help break them down quicker. Don't throw weeds in there.

If you don't have a lot of dead leaves you can use shredded paper (which is made from trees and thus organic - but only use the black and white pages). I threw in some coffee grounds and some banana peels as well.

Put your little recycling project up on a cement block so it gets circulation all around.

Moisten the whole thing whenever you think about it. I am going to roll it around on the ground whenever I remember to mix everything up well.

I made this on April 25. I marked on my calendar to show you a picture again on May 2.

And yes, I truly might need to get a life.

I can't help it. I am a garden geek.

Oh, and if my husband asks you about the 20 bucks...it's our little secret.


  1. Wow, I'm going to check back to see how this works out. My composting skills stop short of dumping kitchen waste into a big pile out back; not entirely clear what to do with it after that! If the can works, it would be a lot easier to dump kitchen scraps in that than it is to walk out to the end of the yard every day. Why can't you throw weeds in? Also, I have read that to make this composting thing work you have to also add dirt....

  2. I'll be really interested to see how this turns out! I bought a big compost bin (not the lovely crank-and-turn kind) last fall and got it cooking over the winter, but, it's kind of an all-at-one-time arrangement. The part where there has to be a spot for newly-added material vs. the "cooked" material eluded me at the time of purchase. Right now, all my stuff's cooked, but I can't add anything new to it because I'm going to be starting planting this weekend, so I need the cooked stuff ... but there's no place to sneak in new stuff. I like the idea of the smaller containers - but more of them - rather than one big kahuna. I even like it better than the crank-y bin, because, in the end, it suffers from the same problem.

  3. I was thinking of doing the same thing with an extra trash can I have! Mine isn't round so I think I'm going to have a hard time mixing. I was thinking of securing it with bungee cords to keep the critters out.

    Let me know how it works!

  4. i like it! your irrigation post was very helpful. we're moving to an irrigated lot in mesa next month and i think we accidentally stole water when we stopped by to service the pool last weekend. oops we won't let it happen again.