I have a confession to make: for the past 19 months we haven’t been composting our kitchen scraps. Yes, I know, it’s shocking. We’ve wanted to. I’ve bemoaned the lost organic matter, but something was always in the way. We didn’t have a good spot for a pile outside. We didn’t have a container for scraps inside. Stupid reasons, yes, but we dump our carrot peels in the trash and say “I’ll get to it tomorrow.”
Well, tomorrow finally came a few days ago. We were browsing a second hand store and I saw a $7 stainless steel ice bucket that Robin agreed would make an acceptable long-term counter-top addition. We brought it home, and when we filled it the first time with scraps I went out with a hoe and cleared new spring growth of Gallium Aparine from part of the former bramble area behind our house. This spot is sheltered from rain by tall Douglas Fir trees, and should make a good location for composting. I added straw and some horse manure as a base, and started layering on the kitchen scraps. Ahh, the guilt is lifting …
Since the weather on Sunday was calling for days of rain, I decided to compost the rest of the horse manure that was still sitting in my truck. I layered it with old straw into a large pile next to the one for kitchen scraps. I’m going to turn this one regularly to keep it hot. We’ll use it in the garden as needed, but even a few weeks of active composting will make a difference. You can see from the photo that I missed a step. It got too dark to work, but I should have covered the pile with a thin layer of soil. Soil dwelling bacteria capture stray ammonia that bleeds off the pile, thus preventing loss of nitrogen value.
Note that if you have the room for it, it’s not necessary to build composting bins. They’re just going to rot eventually. That said, we plan to eventually build bins for three reasons. 1.) This area borders on our back yard area, so a bin will keep the area tidy and prevent dog snacking. 2.) Bins allow you to use a aerating tool to turn the compost without physically moving the whole pile. 3.) When composting animal carcasses and butchering remains, bins allow you to more efficiently use your carbon materials (such as saw dust).