Well, I finally got my behind in gear and officially set up to officially start composting. This is something that I have been taking real lazy attempts at over the years (always with the idea that I could definitely do better), but after reading Chris McLaughlin’s book, Vertical Vegetable Gardening, (buy this book, people, it’s got the best small-space gardening tips and is getting rave reviews beyond just mine), my composting fire was lit.
I don’t have a lot of extra space around here on this little suburban lot, and I really have gone around and around as to where I wanted to locate the compost. Ultimately, there was really only one spot that I could make it work, for better or for worse, and that was this one tiny stretch of planter area along our driveway. Which is painfully out in plain sight. So first, and foremost, I knew that, whatever composting method I chose, it needed to be inside some sort of container….furthermore, I needed to come up with a way to make this, what is essentially a trash site, cute. Priorities, you know?
The other thing I don’t have much extra of is funds. There are all these fancy compost containers out there (which are ugly, btw), but I could not fathom spending any more money on this thing than was absolutely necessary. So, because I happened to have two 30-gallon galvanized trash cans that were sitting around twiddling their thumbs, they got the job. I had space for three, so I did wind up going out and buying a third one, but hey, it was still my cheapest option.
After I had selected my location, and the girls had assessed and approved it, I proceeded to dig holes in the dirt roughly the size of each of my compost cans.
I’ve read it’s a potentially beneficial thing to have the cans slightly submerged in the soil with holes drilled across the bottom and bottom sides that not only allow for drainage and aeration, but also for beneficial microorganisms to come and go. So I wanted to submerge my cans (that came out wrong) as much as I could. Which, as it turned out, wasn’t very much….this is a pretty shallow planter, and I could only get them submerged about four or five inches. So I drilled holes across the bottom of each can, and up only a couple of inches on the sides.
Once everything was drilled, I fit the cans into each of their spots, and back-filled so that they were as buried as possible. I had already set aside a mound of composting materials to start my first batch, so my #1 bin is almost full. The idea, here, is that once one is full, you move on to the next, and hopefully, by the time #3 is full, #1 might be ready to use.
From some scrap lumber that was sitting around the yard, I made a fun sign to hang on the fence (see how in a tutorial coming soon), that hopefully will not turn out to be false advertising. In addition, I made some little scrap-lumber number plaques for each can….because there are just so many of them that I might lose track.
Allegedly, the ground around compost bins is supposed to get really good and fertile, so I intend to take advantage of that and keep things planted around the cans. Despite the best efforts of the poultry.
Oh, yes, and off to the side, of course, there is this:
So is this the best composting system in the world? Nope. I can assure you, it is not. Will it be good enough? Maybe. I’ll have to let you know. One major thing I took away from Vertical Vegetable Gardening is that I shouldn’t stress over the compost–I should just let it do it’s thing with minimal fuss (hopefully). If I stick to an approximate 50/50 mix of brown and green ingredients, theoretically, the compost magic should happen. Theoretically. For an easy break-down of how composting works, as well as a straightforward list of acceptable brown and green materials, pick up a copy of Chris’ book. Because I’m not sharing mine.