Now, while I always enjoy reading all the terrific postings in response to the calls, I've seldom participated, not because I'm anti-social (though a case could probably be made for that), but because I don't often have anything all that interesting to offer. For example, the most famous of these challenges, Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, which was Carol's brilliant idea and occurs on the 15th of each month, always mysteriously falls right before or right after anything is actually blooming in my tiny, nearly flowerless garden. I swear, it's the truth. I mean, it's not that I don't like flowers; they just aren't the main emphasis in my xeric garden. Interesting foliage, yes. Rock, yes. Landscape design, yes. Veggies, yes.
Any flowers that actually appear are almost a side effect. Shocking, I know. Please don't hate me.
But with compost bins, we're talking garden structure, my friends, and if there's anything I can talk about ad infinitum, it's building stuff. Plus, this concerns issues of sustainability and self-sufficiency, both of which are also subjects near and dear to me. So Dee and Carol, here we go:
The two bins, awaiting instruction from the gardener.
A little shot showing part of the construction.
My homemade compost aerator. This is simply a ground auger, available at most hardware stores for a minimal amount of money. I've stuck a wooden handle to it to make it easy to turn, but all you really need is a stick to slip through the loop on top and you're in business. Here is an older post about it. All that said, you don't have to aerate compost bins in order to get compost. If you throw a bunch of leaves, grass clippings, kitchen waste, dryer lint--heck, just about anything that is organic--in a tall mound, compost will eventually happen, given enough time. The only thing you shouldn't throw in there is meat, cheese (or other dairy products), and pet waste. Aerating may speed up the process (as will keeping the matter a little damp and adding a bit of garden soil to introduce the decomposer microbes to the mix), but it's really just something gardeners do because they like poking sticks into big steaming piles of rot.
The wood is cedar (oh, and as an aside, this is definitely one place I wouldn't use pressure treated materials). I've had these going on a decade now, and given the excellent condition they're in, I'd say they're probably good for another score of years before they disintegrate completely. So I'd vote for cedar in the next election, too. And yes, I plan still to be gardening and building stuff then.
In the vignette above, I am preparing to dump two bags of horse manure into the pile. Again, manure is not necessary for composting, but it's kind of nifty to see what happens when you do add it, which is shown in the next photo:
Yes, that is steam, rising from the decomposing pile. Really, really cool. Or, um, hot.
Excuse me for just a minute, I need to go find a stick to poke in that.
This is the compost sieve I use--an old metal garden gate with some hardware wire stretched across it. As it happens, it fits perfectly over my wheelbarrow.
And the finished product.
It's as easy as pie--you don't even need fancy bins like mine, since a big ole' pile of leaves in a corner of the garden, left for a few months, will take care of the action all by itself. If you want to mix in kitchen scraps, then you might want more of a container. Even better would be to build a worm-bin, which is on my own next-to-do project list.
Truthfully, I just like building things. And poking sticks in things.
Anyway, if you aren't already composting, there's no good reason not to start. So get on out there, rake some leaves, toss in some kitchen scraps, season with a dash of local soil, and cook up some rot.