My compost bin arrived yesterday and sadly, it wasn’t what I expected. It was so big, I could get myself inside of it. I measured and everything. There were two bins I was deciding between and I think I ordered the wrong one. My sweet, laid back husband was not thrilled. So, after talking it over, I am returning the bin and going a different route with composting…one that is VERY doable.

I already wrote this post about traditional composting so I am going to share it with you. In a few days, I will share with you the alternative way of composting I am going to try!

1. Get a bin. Here’s the one I bought.

2. Fill your bin with a balanced mix

Green Stuff-(high in nitrogen) to activate the heat process in your compost. Grass cuttings, fruit and vegetables, coffee grounds and tea leaves (including tea bags) vegetable plant remains, plants.

Brown Stuff-(high in carbon) to serve as the “fiber” for your compost. fall leaves, dead plants and weeds, sawdust, cardboard & cardboard tubes, old flowers, old straw and hay.

Air-Be sure if you use an enclosed bin that it has holes for air.

Water-Your pile should be about as damp as a sponge that has been wrung out. Depending on your climate, you can add water directly or rely on the moisture that comes in with “green” items.

Temperature-The temperature of the compost pile is very important and is an indication of the microbial activity of the decomposition process. The simplest way to track the temperature inside the heap is by feeling it with your hand. If it is warm or hot, everything is decomposing as it should, but if it is the same temperature as the surrounding air, the microbial activity has slowed down and you need to add more materials that are high in nitrogen to the bin.

Soil or Starter Compost-This is not strictly necessary, but a light sprinkling of garden soil or recently finished compost between layers can help to introduce the correct bacteria to start the compost cycle a little more quickly. If you are pulling weeds, the soil left on the roots may be sufficient to serve this purpose.

3. Layer and mix the different materials-

  • If possible, start with a layer of lightweight brown material, such as leaves, to help keep enough air near the bottom.
  • Try for a mixture of anywhere from 3 parts brown to 1 part green to half and half, depending on what materials you have on hand.

4. Turn your pile once a week-easily done with a bin that rotates.

What to AVOID in your compost

Slow rotting items such as tough branches, twigs and hedge clippings; wood ash; wood shavings, bread, pasta, nuts, and cooked food. ever compost the following items for reasons of health, hygiene and inability to break down. Meat and meat scraps; bones; fish and fish bones; plastic or synthetic fibers; oil or fat; weeds that have gone to seed; diseased plants; glossy paper or magazines;

5. Now use your compost in your garden.

Helpful Tips:

  • Locate your compost bin somewhere that is easy to access, so that you and family members will be encouraged to use it.
  • Have a mini compost bin indoors that you keep near your meal preparation area. It should be something that is easy to fill up, transport daily to the compost bin, and keep clean. You could consider a small plastic container (there are fun tiny garbage cans with lids) or use something as simple as a glazed terracotta plant saucer – it looks nice, is easy to clean and transports easily.
  • Cut around the top of a plastic milk jug leaving it attached at the handle. Keep it under the kitchen sink to collect your compost.
  • For faster break-down, shred leaves, clippings; and crush egg shells.
  • While it’s not strictly necessary, a compost pile that’s working at its fastest will heat up. If you have created a good mix, you may notice that it’s very warm inside, even steaming on a cold morning. This is a good sign.

Thank you