25 May 2016

Results of three years of composting

We started composting our food leftovers before we even begun thinking about going zero-waste.

After all, because I am an amateur gardener composting is simply a logical thing to do.
It makes even more sense for gardens such as mine: covered with a poor quality soil and in constant need of plant-food.

We have bought a 120-litre compost bin in 2013 and have been gradually filling it with food, small garden waste and even our cats' catches. The latest might seem a bit extreme to some, but remember this is organic matter, binning it is not allowed and since these poor animals were already dead, it only felt like a natural thing, and in some primal way "a thank you" for their ultimate sacrifice.

120 litre seems like a lot, but it is not. The bin fits nicely in a corner of our fence, and on occasion seems too small!

It is made of plastic sadly, and I wasn't able to find any information about its toxicity, other than it's made of "safe" material. Just to be on the safe side, I'm using compost made in it for decorative plants only, not the ones we eat. I am bugging producer for information too.

It doesn't need aerating as it's bottom is open, and worms migrate freely out and into it. Also, plastic, even though quite thick is soft enough, so that the cover never sits tightly on top of it and so some air always gets inside. It is dark, so it also accumulates the sunshine and retains heat quite well.

As you can see from the photo, it is the classic design, which assumes that non-degraded materials are added at the top, and you take ready compost through the opening at the bottom.

Fun fact: My cats love sleeping on it in the cooler months because the cover gets several degrees warmer than the ground.

  • We do not have to turn over its contents; it is too small for it.
  • We don't put worms inside. They come on their own.
  • We rely on nature to take its course and it works great!

What goes into it:

And what comes out:

That second photo looks pretty rough and unprocessed but, in reality, it is perfect. It is already an excellent compost, and various half-biodegraded pieces of wood and twigs are providing a longer-term sustenance to any plants which will be planted into it. 

And it couldn't be easier! Frankly, the only things I have to do are:
  1. Cut bigger branches into smaller pieces when inserting into it, which really is a no-brainer and a must, because large stuff wouldn't fit into the opening,
  2. Add contents horizontally, so that they take their time "going down", 
  3. Don't add stuff that might kill worms, such as vinegar, alcohol and such,
  4. Empty the lower compartment now and then and enjoy "the spoils" :)
Feel free to ask me any questions if you are interested in my methods.