|Liars. That's not a Wiki site. That's a Trojan title. Screengrab from a Google search.|
- I'm not out to save the world or save the whales or anything else through a "green" composting effort. The fact is, gardens and landscaping have to be supplemented with regular infusions of organic compost, and it costs a surprising amount of money - about $12.00 per each small bag of quality material, and you need to apply many bags if you want to treat a landscape properly. Composting puts money in my pocket instead of in my trash dumpster. I estimate that my composting DIY saves me between $50 and $100 per year. Not riches, but it's also not more difficult than hauling trash to the curb, so why not?
- The approach to composting that I'm going to show here is unsophisticated, reflecting my personal love affair with the 80/20 Rule. I want to put in minimum effort and get something substantial out of it, but I'm not interested in spending a lot of time tweaking the process in order to actually maximize returns. If you want to screw around with the details of how you compost, you could probably get more material out of the process in less time than what I'm going to detail below.
- A receptacle on your kitchen counter or under your sink.
- A receptacle in your yard.
|Screengrabbed from The Earth Machine website.|
|Here is the screengrab from this COH newsletter.|
It's not clear whether these sales are supposed to be restricted to City of Houston residents only. I believe you have to give your address when you make your purchase, but I'm not sure they'd actually turn anyone away if they happen to be outside the city limits. Money is money, after all. Contact the organizer if you have questions.
I put my composter in that godawful five-foot setback we have on the west side of our house.
|I tend to leave the lid off, because that way the rain keeps the material moist without any additional effort on my part.|
But I digress. Here is how you do composting in two easy steps.
(1) Throw kitchen scraps and yard waste into the top, observing just these simple rules:
- Do not include any foods that contain protein or fats. EVER. Do not break this rule, or you will have rodents, infestations of flies, and odors. Acceptable composting materials include all fruit scraps, eggshells, tea and coffee grounds, all vegetable scraps, and carbohydrate-based food waste such as breads (no butter), rice, pasta, etc.
- Do not include grass clippings except in very small quantities. They disrupt the biochemistry.
- I have found that you can add all manner of other yard waste (minus grass clippings) although if you want to get rid of big branches and whatnot, you have to chop or grind them up or they'll simply take too long to break down. I'm still searching for an acceptable yard waste grinder. Haven't found one yet.
- Add some brown and some green material. I keep a small container of ordinary yard mulch next to the composter so that, in the event that I end up with too much green stuff and/or too much food material, I have something to cover it up with, and balance it out (I'll illustrate this in photos below). Various internet websites will tell you you have to add this percentage or that percentage of brown and green, but I don't overthink the situation. What's most important is that you have some of each.
Pictures tell a thousand words apiece. Here is a photo series showing the compost harvest I did last weekend (because it's time to begin fall gardening - I usually harvest our compost in the spring and in the fall, as I'm getting the garden beds ready for the next round of planting).
|Here's what it looked like when I first took the side hatch off. You see that very dark material at the bottom? That's called "Gardener's Gold" or "Black Gold".|
|It's a deceptively large amount of material - enough for a wheelbarrow load.|
|So after you get done excavating the Gardener's Gold, you'll be left with a void space at the bottom. You next need to move the non-composted overlying slug of material down into this space.|
|The easiest way I have found to do that is to simply jump in and stomp on it.|
|And then you've got it pushed all the way down...|
|OK, let's divert for a moment and talk about the kitchen compost receptacle. That's mine in the center there, and yes, I admit to being a home decor junkie. Having purchased and tried numerous of the compost crocks that are on the market and then found them to be lacking for various reasons, I recently settled upon one made by Delafield Pottery because the guy makes really good stuff and he's a micro-business owner who lives in Deer Park, I believe, so if you buy from him, you're supporting a creative local micro-business owner instead of simply buying some "Made in China" big-box piece of junk. You'll often find Mr. Delafield at the Clear Lake Shores Farmer's Market but if you want to check out his stuff, you might want to contact him to verify when he's planning to be there.|
|So that nutrient-rich kitchen crock stuff went on top of the newly-stomped upper layer of the existing compost mass.|