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The Cheapo Easy Way to Compost in the City

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Posted on : 12:10 PM | By : Nic | In :

Our current composting method is nothing like what I would like to do, but fortunately compost is not rocket science. There is such a thing, however, as a compost pile that doesn't stink. For now we are using two of those tall skinny black plastic bins like this one:


We use someone's old Neopolitan ice cream plastic bucket in the kitchen, and we have to empty it at least every other day. As long as we keep the lid on it doesn't stink or get flies, and the same goes for the outside bin.  These big bins were bought on sale... normally about $100, I think they were about $30.

BUT, if you want to do compost in a big way, build a wooden crate at least 8 x 4 x 4, which will hold enough for a family of four.  An average person makes 2 pounds of garbage per week, so if you need more, make a second bin next to it.  The wooden slats should be one inch apart to allow air flow.  

Then start throwing in food scraps, except for animal products.  The exception to this is eggshells, which are very good for the soil.  I have to confess I've thrown whole eggs in there but you're not supposed to do that.  You can also throw your garden waste in except for weeds with seeds, and diseased plants.  If you do add grass, add straw to help it decompose.

In order to make your compost go faster and stink less, you can do some routine care.  Every now and then, maybe every few weeks, stir it up, mixing in manure and even some rich dirt if you have it.  You could also introduce worms to the bin, as long as you have a steady supply of dry material to throw on top of the pile.  In dry weather it's a good idea to water the pile and cover it, although as you can see, the black plastic bin is covered all the time so it stays extremely moist inside.  A big pile is open to the elements unless you tarp it, so it doesn't stay a constant temperature.  It takes about three months to make something that is composted enough to throw in the garden.  

Troubleshooting:
My pile is cool and dry!  Add water until the center is evenly moist, and if it's going to be dry weather cover it.

My pile is cool and wet! For optimum composting, it needs to be warm in there.  The pile needs to be 3 feet square and 4 feet tall at least.

My pile is big, but it's still cool and wet! Add alfalfa meal, manure, or fresh grass clippings and stir.

My pile stinks really bad and is really wet! Add shredded newspaper or straw and stir it up.  Cover it to keep off the rain.

As you can see, you can really get technical with the composting process, but like I said, if you want a low maintenance, low stink way to compost then the plastic bin above is the best.  Right now our compost is a horrible stinky soup with fruit flies the explode out if you open the lid, but as long as that lid is shut, we are fine.  The one thing I hate about this bin is that it's made of plastic.  It's nice that it's black because it holds heat, but we live a very plastic-free life.  If you live in an apartment this would still be a great solution, but in a backyard a wood or wire mesh bin is much better.

Comments (1)

I use a Worm Factory to compost!