Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why I love my compost bin

I love my compost bin. Well, not the bin itself. That could have been designed better. But the concept of composting is awesome to me. Somewhere between Live Earth and buying my first home, I decided I was green. Not true Kelly green or Forest green or even an Ed Bagley green. More of...well...a teal. I'm green-ish. I'm selfishly green.

One of the first things I bought with one of the house-warming gift cards I received was a compost bin from Target. I bought it there because I could purchase it online and have it delivered. I was great. I snapped it together in two seconds and had all of these grandiose plans of having a garden from which I would can and preserve my little heart out. Well, the garden stuff has been shelved for the time being. But I still use my compost bin religiously.

In my house, we eat a lot of veggies. Cooked, raw, salads, whatever. No, we're not vegetarians. But I do stock up on the salad-in-a-bag when I go grocery shopping. I'm trying to loose weight, OK? (more on that later). So we produce a lot of kitchen waste between the salads and the coffee maker which seems to perk nonstop. And I can either lug that out to the curb every Tuesday night or toss that into my compost bin to turn it into something that I can use later. Which would you choose?

What I toss in my bin:

Leaves from the big-ass tree that dominates my back yard

Grass clippings (those are really great. More on those later)

Coffee grounds and filters

Veggie stuff from the kitchen. I toss the cooked ones out there too, even though you're not supposed to. Just as long as they don't have butter or dressing on them.

lint from the dryer

paper bags, paper towel and toilet paper rolls

Fruit peelings

Shrimp and crap shells


What I don't toss out in my bin:





things with butter or fatty dressings on them

After two years, I still have my Target compost bin. Although I think I need to upgrade to a different multi-bin style. But it dawned on me, that I have tossed hundreds of pounds of kitchen and yard waste out there for two years and then composted and compacted down into a fraction of its former selves. Cool.

In the winter, when the snow is two feet high between my back door and my compost bin, I started this year with a plastic container just outside my back door for all of my waste. I tossed it out there all winter and let it rot and mold when it warmed a bit. That proved to be the best thing I could have ever done. Once the thaw came and I could see grass in my back yard, I started adding in the moldy stuff from the plastic container to my bin. Not all of it, just a couple of shovel-fulls with about the same amount of leaves that I only managed to rake into a giant pile last winter.

After a couple of days, I went out to check on the bin and give it a turn with my pitch fork (another housewarming gift to myself). Boy, was it hot! Steam started rising up from the middle of the pile as I turned it and when I touched the tines of the fork, I almost burned myself. It was perfect. Things got such a good start with that pre-molded kitchen waste that I was able to harvest some finish compost from the bottom of the bin and use it as mulch. Good thing too; I really need the room in the bin.

Even living between two neighbors and in the city, I'm never had a problem with pets or smells. There was some smell when I was adding in the moldy stuff from over the winter. Becuase I didn't poke any holes in the container for it to get air. But the smell wasn't terrible or garbage-y and it subsided very quickly. I do get bugs in the bin over the summer. Sometimes I will go out there and lift the lid and it's crawling with all kinds of bugs. But those are a good thing and I don't have an issue with ants. Thank God for all of that!

The rest of my neighbors on the my street all bag up their garden waste every year and makes the city come and take it. Seems like a shame to me. If I had the room for it, I'd take it.

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