Today I’d like to share with you the composting system that is working for me. I dream of a fancy composter, which will turn waste into gold in a few weeks, but to be honest, I’d rather spend my money on shoes! So I am patient and it takes a year for my compost to be ready. But, I keep a pile in the works at all times, so after that first year, I have a pile of compost to use, while I have a 2nd pile in the works.
I have this really cute kitchen counter composter. The idea behind it, is that you can keep your kitchen scraps in it for a few days until you get time to take them out to the compost pile. Because of that whole “out of sight, out of mind” thing, I tend to leave scraps in it for too long and they begin to smell. So. I don’t use it much any more. I am sure it works great for some people but not really for me.
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I just gather my kitchen scraps in one of the throw away containers from the grocery store, that held my fresh produce.
You don’t want to put meat or bones, but any and all vegetable scraps. Here I have turnips, cabbage, zucchini, eggplant, and asparagus scraps. I also usually have onions, potato skins, banana peel, egg shells, etc. You can also add coffee grounds, but I don’t drink coffee and Mr. Menace just drinks it at the office. I try to get these scraps taken outside every other day to avoid fruit flies, gnats, and smells.
This is my current compost pile. It is nothing fancy. I had extra fence panels, like are around my garden, so I used them to box in my pile. Leaves tend to fall out of it but not enough to bother me. I just put them back in when I need more leaves.
It is mostly leaves and kitchen scraps. You can put grass clippings, but since my grassclippings usually have so many grass seeds in it, I don’t. If you get your grass mowed more frequently than I do so there aren’t seeds, grass clippings are great additions to the compost.
You need to alternate brown ingredients and green ingredients. My last layer was leaves, a brown ingredient. So today’s kitchen scraps are perfect for the next layer of green ingredients.
After I dump all my kitchen scraps on the pile, I spread them out to make a layer, and then top the scraps with a layer of dried leaves. I like to always leave it with a top layer of leaves. This helps hide the fresh produce from animals and frankly the leaves just look better.
I never have a problem with smell. You won’t if you layer your ingredients, and don’t add any meat, bones, or grease. Those items will also attract animals and bugs.
Several things will make your compost pile “cure” faster: adding water once in a while, adding dirt, and turning the pile. Turning it is rather like stirring it up or mixing it up. By doing these things, they say you can complete your compost in a couple of months. I don’t do any of those things and therefore mine takes longer. It gets rained on but that’s the only time it get wet. I will also on an occasion dump potting soil into my compost pile. Whenever I am reusing a flower pot, but am going to use new potting soil, I will dump the old soil out of the pot and onto the pile.
I keep adding to my pile for about a year. Then I stop, let that pile sit, and start a new pile. The next spring, when I am getting my garden ready to plant, I will use the older pile to add to my garden soil. We have clay soil here and the finished compost makes it so much nicer.
Thats my “new” pile in the back which is contained in the little fence. My old pile, that I am now using in my garden, is in front and almost gone. The edges have some leaves that have not decomposed, so those I am throwing into my new pile, but when I dig into the old pile, this is the fabulous dirt I find:
If you don’t want a pile in your yard, or if you don’t have room for one, you can still compost your kitchen scraps by digging a hole directly in your garden and burying your scraps.
Composting doesn’t really save me much money. Only the cost of a few bags of compost that I would otherwise have to buy. I have a ton of leaves each fall and this is how I get rid of them. So I just save all my vegetable scraps which is easy to do. I enjoy doing it and its kind of fun to “make” good dirt! And the quality is far superior to the bagged dirt that you can buy.
There are other ways to compost that you can read about in this post about Composting. You can also get a free printable download composting guide by signing up for my newsletter at the bottom of this post.