Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Three Part Compost

a couple of weeks ago I started a third compost bin. the main bin was getting too full, and was too heavy on the food scraps. ideally the bin should be equal parts scraps, green clippings and brown matter such as dry leaves, grass or sawdust. I started my compost two springs ago, when we first moved into the apartment. the first season in the garden was glorious- so much learning and even a few successful crops. last summer was a wash with the running of the store. didn't have time to plant much beyond herbs, and the compost got neglected too. so now I'm back with a vengeance and much appreciation for the time to be able to do this.

last year I did separate some of the compost out into a second bin. here is that one, finishing up nicely. I added some more green/brown to it recently and it has a couple of worms to help it along. Compared with the bagged compost I have it's softer and lacking in wood chips. I might add some chips in a few weeks if it needs it.

Here is the bin I started most recently. I separated a much larger portion out of the main bin this time, layering it with green and brown. It's been sitting inside the dark colored bin with a tight fitting lid getting lots of heat from the sun, and man is this compost active! It has many worms, but also lots of fruit flies and fleas. I stirred it well today and let it sit open for a while- the more air, the fewer bugs. I think I will drill some more holes in this one for better ventilation.

See the white spots all along the edge? those are fruit flies flapping their wings.

worms! these guys are hard to photograph- they burrow back into the compost just as soon as you uncover them.

and here is compost #1. the main bin where the fresh food scraps go.

I've been keeping it covered with white plastic mesh. It works well for keeping out excess sun and rain, while providing air flow. its one drawback is that squirrels and raccoons can lift it up or chew straight through it. not that I mind sharing my compost with them.

I have to say that composting is pretty darn easy once you get the hang of it. since we've been living in a garden level apartment, I can't imagine not having a back yard. there are methods for composting indoors, but you do need space. my red worms found their own way to the compost, but they are the same worms you will use if you do an indoor bin. in nyc the lower east side ecology center provides instructions and resources for crafting your own. it's no harder than drilling holes in the giant bins you see above! as for the electric powered composters, we had one for a short period of time. although it broke down the food pretty quickly, it had a tendency to get jammed. I was forever untangling things from the churner, and ultimately I couldn't get the motor to reset itself.

the end!

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