Confession time: despite my best intentions, it took me over 6 months to get my compost system up and running in this house. We were busy adjusting to our new life, I guess, and it just kept getting pushed aside.
That is, until my godfather upgraded his own composting system (he built a beautiful wood and wire bin system – maybe I’ll photograph it some time) and offered me his old bins.
Yes! I was in business.
I’ve been composting for a little over a year now, which means I’m churning out batches of black-gold-plant-power at pretty regular intervals. It’s gold, I tell you! Garden gold.
After my recent gardening posts (one and two), readers began asking about easy composting systems. And guys, it doesn’t get much easier (and cheaper!) than this. Bin composting.
The idea behind bin composting is simple. You move your compost through a series of containers, slowly over time, thereby mixing it and aerating it along the way. Compost needs to turn over in order to break down into dirt (as opposed to just rotting), and transferring a batch from one bin to another is a perfect way to achieve this effect.
So it goes like this, when bin 1 (far left) is full and ready to transfer, remove all the finished product — now fully composted pure garden gold — from bin 4 (far right). I put my finished compost in a 5-gallon bucket so I can carry it around my yard, feeding my plants along the way.
With bin 4 now empty, you can transfer the contents of bin 3 (second from right) into bin 4. Use a shovel or pitchfork and make sure you get it good and tossed.
Now bin 3 will be empty, so move the contents of bin 2 (second from left) to bin 3, using the same “toss and aerate” technique. You’ll also want to add “browns” here. In the diagram above I said hay because that’s what I use, but any “browns” (dry matter – see my comprehensive composting article for more on that) will do. You need to add in “browns” along the way in order to keep the correct ratio of nitrogen (“greens”, ie kitchen scraps) to carbon (“browns”, ie hay, dried leaves, etc). Make sense?
With bin 2 empty you can now transfer the contents of bin 1 over to bin 2. Don’t forget to add in some “browns”!
And finally, that leaves an empty bin 1, ready to start collecting all of your kitchen scraps and yard waste, once again.
And that’s all there is to it. Setting yourself up with a bin composting system is incredibly cheap, especially if you can find the bins secondhand like I did (check garage sales and resale sites like Craigslist for some super scores). Oh, and make sure you poke some holes along the bottoms of the bins, so the wormies can get in. Worms and bugs are your compost pals!
If you’re concerned about composting in plastic (obviously I’m not, but I understand if you are), you can achieve the same effect with wood or metal. Like I said, my godfather built some wood and wire bins that are quite lovely, and some day I hope to do the same.
And that, my friends, is that.
So, do you compost at home? Do you use a bin composting system, or something else entirely? Let’s talk compost down below!