March 2, 2010
With these spring months sneaking up on us, I thought I’d entertain myself with the backyard this year. It’s better than staying inside and doing nothing. And then I thought, why not recycle while I’m at it? So I built me a little compost bin in preparation for a larger one I plan to construct when the weather wants to not be a jerk. So my mission here is to see what kind of material makes for the best compost. You could read about all that stuff, but that takes all the fun out of it, don’t you think? I think so. But anyways, it’s a simple little bin made out of treated 2 by 4’s and some chicken wire. There is a solid bottom so that none of that compost juice gets on the beloved deck. Dear Jeebus forbid some beautiful nature puree gets on the deck!! I digress, my apologies, back to the topic of composting. How does it work? Well let me break it down (pun). Little critters live in the soil (who knew?). These little microbials feed on the delicious stuff that goes into the bin. But in order to do so, they need some heat, air, and water. Well here’s a simple solution: install some chicken wire on the sides. That way all those components get to where they need to be and no bigger critters can get to the num nums inside. Now if you ask me for the design plans, I’ll give you an honest answer. I got some wood and some chicken wire, got a hammer, a screwdriver, some screws/nails, and a pair of needlenose pliers and went to town. If you can’t tell by the picture, it was pretty much an improv project. And it’s not like I’m building a fine chair for the Queen’s dining room, I’m building a bin to throw trash in. But if you do have questions, leave a comment in the box below.
The bin’s been built. Great. Now what? What the heck do I put in it so that maybe in 4-6 months I find a bunch of high-quality dirt? Fancy-pants agronomists say that there needs to be a healthy ratio of carbon and nitrogen present in the pile for good results. The carbon supplies fuel for those bacteria I was talking about earlier, and the nitrogen-based material is what’s being eaten. In order to achieve this, a “compost lasagna” needs to be made. One layer can be “brown” material with dried out plant matter, paper, and dead leaves. Then comes a thin layer of soil. To top it off is a big layer of “green” material like lawn clippings, freshly clipped hedge trimmings, and dinner scraps. So as you can see, I’ve begun the pile with some brown stuff, pistachio shells to be exact, and some green stuff. When everything starts growing again, I’ll get some soil and fill it in some, eventually. I’ll get some more pics of how we’re doing in a few weeks. Until then, my friends, stay frosty, stay edgy, stay alert; you never know what’s around that corner. Seize the day, for it is ripe for the taking.