June 25, 2009

Composting 101

In mid-May I decided it was high time I started to compost. I've wanted to for awhile now, but thought it would be hard/impossible in an apartment. Until one day I decided to research apartment composting and found out it was possible. After a month, our compost pile is ready to use! It looks and smells amazing (if you're into that kind of thing). Originally my roommate and I would go through at least 2 bags of trash per week, after starting to recycle and turning the majority of our food waste into compost, I'd say we're down to 1 bag of trash every 2 weeks! What a difference! I'm sure all my plants will reap the benefits of composting as well.

Here's how I started:
I bought a 34 gallon trash can (made from 70% post consumer waste) from Lowe's for under 20 beans. I used a hammer & nails to poke about 16 holes in the trash can (this is why I want a drill!). Then I started layering brown & green materials (see chart for reference). Being in an apartment, most of the brown materials that I add are from paper materials that would end up in the recycling bin, dryer lint, and egg cartons. (I think this is a great way to get rid of old financial documents! Take that identity thieves!) I have to admit, I did cheat and brought a bucket of leaves & grass clippings from my parent's compost pile. I continue to add materials to it, water it when necessary, and turn it about 3 times a week. I also rotate leaving the lid on and taking it off to get a balance of letting oxygen in and keeping it warm and moist. A couple weeks ago I noticed a lot of fruit flies attracted to my little project, but they aren't around as much any more... I don't know what to think about that.

I made a little chart to help remind my roommate and I of the composting process, hopefully you'll get some use out of it as well. There are plenty of compost guides online or you can always check out your local Extension office (shamless plug for my papa).

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