Tag Archives: how to compost

Home is Where the Cover Material Is

I envy the cover material at this place!

Leaves, pine needles (don’t need a lot), dead grass, etc…

I was asked to build up a fresh pile, so I added a good 12″ of base material, then added the food scraps followed by another 6″ of cover materials.

While I doubt it will start up since it’s 20 degrees out, as soon as it’s ready it’ll take off.  In the meantime, there’s a few months’ room for weekly contributions until the temperature stays above freezing for a few days.

I’m sure we’ll get our January burst of 70 degree weather for a day out of nowhere, anyway…

Compost king: Paul Sellew at TEDxBoston

While TED talks mostly make me cringe, this one explains composting pretty well.

To be clear, he owns an anaerobic digester and that puts his presentation in a light I don’t fully agree with, but if you put that aside it’s worth watching.

The initial pitch is spot on up until about 6 minutes when he goes pro-burn while taking a dig at solar and wind…super lame.

It’s best to view composting as avoiding the landfill, cutting emission, and replenishing soil- the energy talk is nice, but it’s not the job for anaerobic digestion.

That being said, the reality is that this model is expanding, and I’m not opposed to it entirely- outdoor aerobic piles can be difficult to manage when their daily allowance is several hundred tons per day and the inputs aren’t being screened properly.

Our efforts must focus on everyone composting at home for the best results- no trucks, no burning, and immediate use of the finished compost at home and in the community.

Don’t get me wrong- whatever it takes to get organics out of the landfill is great…but I encourage everyone to learn how to compost at home and leave anaerobic digestion facilities for the large quantity generators.

How to Build a Trash Can Composter with a Door

I made another trash can composter today- this time with a nice door upgrade.  What for?

Now that my first composter is filled up, it’s going to be tedious to empty out the finished compost 6 months from now.  With the door at the bottom, I hope to remove the finished material much easier.

All in all, the project cost me less than $30 and about an hour of work… better yet, it was a cinch to make.

I picked a trash can that had a relatively flat side so it would be easier to attach hinges flush to the surface.

Here’s a close-up of the door at the bottom:

To build the door, I drilled the holes for all three hinges and screwed them in place first (don’t mount the washers and nuts yet).

Second, I used a boxcutter to cut out the door…I made it a good 10″ tall to give my hand some clearance to fish around and remove finished compost.

Next, I threaded the nuts on the screws on each of the hinges and tightened them down.

Finally, I used a 3/16″ bit to drill aeration holes on all sides of the bin plus the lid.

Clean up and dispose all of the plastic shavings from the inside and the outside.

That’s it!

Now you’re ready to divert organic materials from the landfill-  Feels good, doesn’t it?

Equipment List:

-Phillips head screwdriver
-Drill
-3/16″ drill bit for ventilation holes
-Socket wrench (or adjustable wrench)
-2 hinges
-1 latch
-Nylon insert lock nuts
-Lock washers
-Stainless steel screws

Here’s a video I made to show you how to add materials to the bin:

Cheers!

Collecting Worm Castings…and the Other Stuff, Too.

Emptying the Worm Inn vermicomposting system is a breeze- check out the gorgeous castings!  I don’t miss my old worm bin at all.

The contaminants are pretty funny, too- a few fruit labels, a shredded envelope window, and some uncrushed eggshells didn’t make it.

Sifting out the extras is easy when using a basket with 1/4″ to 1/2″ spacing.

Are you getting the results you’d like with your worm bin or outdoor composting system?

Lots and Lots of Worm Poop – Now What?

worm inn castings 1

It’s been six months since I’ve emptied the Worm Inn system– I admit I forgot about the worms for a bit, but now I have a ton of castings.

Every time I empty the Worm Inn, I’m always so impressed with the quality of the castings compared to the results from a standard worm bin.

When looking at the outlying “contaminants”, it’s like looking back in time at mistakes that were made- as you can see, I have a few!

worm inn castings + contaminants 2

  1. I’m such a stickler about removing labels from fruit, but I guess I wasn’t on a few occasions.  Luckily, these are easy to spot.

2. All those plastic shreds were clearly from an envelope that has a plastic window.  I like to shred my paper, but I must have shredded a whole junk mail envelope without looking inside to remove a return envelope.  Whoops!

3. I read everywhere that worms like crushed egg shells… clearly I haven’t tried that yet.  I’m going to crush these egg shells as fine as I can and then throw them back in.

The screening process is pretty easy- Empty the castings until some unprocessed food or worms pop up, then throw them back in the top of the system and zip up the bottom.

I have a wire basket that I dump the castings through, which removes the larger pieces.

The resulting materials are those excellent castings we all yearn for… if you’re having any challenges with vermicomposting, the Worm Inn really makes the whole process pretty easy.

Video to come shortly.  🙂

The Right Ingredients For a Chicken Compost

I love watching the steam come off his pile while he turns it…funny how he thinks it’s too hot- it isn’t.

Watching him turn the pile makes my back hurt!

Interesting observation about straw and hay being difficult for his chickens to rummage through.  I’d still take those materials over wood chips, but I’ve seen wood chips work a few times, even in videos I just previously posted.

I’m long overdue for some sawdust dumpster diving… time to make a video?  🙂