This series of posts is about the process of composting from the perspective of someone who wouldn’t be considered a “natural” for it. There are many good websites and blog posts that cover the what and how to of composting (a few are listed below).
Initially, my mother was skeptical about my idea to purchase a composter with the money my parents had given me for my birthday. Birthday money is for “treating yourself” and a compost bin seemed an odd “treat.” Besides, why would I even want a one? It was highly questionable. I’m kind of squeamish and don’t like handling food that is past its prime. Moreover I really, really don’t like creepy crawlies and they are the denizens of a composter.
Produce scraps put down a garbage disposal require water and energy to process them at the water treatment plant. Or put in the garbage consume energy to move them to a new location to rot. Composting seemed like a green thing to do and I wanted to do my part. It appealed to me on another level. Composting was way outside my comfort zone and would not be easy for me to do. I would be challenged. Compared to what needs to be done in the world this would be a drop in the bucket, but it was a start, and eventually drops in a bucket do fill it up.
I’m a planning sort of gal, so I researched composting on the Internet: equipment needed, what could be composted, how to do it, etc.
I searched the Internet for a compost pail. This is the item one uses to collect and temporarily store produce scraps before they go to the composter. A stainless steel gallon bucket seemed a good choice, small enough so that it wouldn’t need to be emptied frequently and thus large quantities of rotting produce would not be stored in the kitchen. Some offered compostable liners with an odor-reducing feature. To me, that seemed counterintuitive. First, why purchase a liner that required resources and energy for production when one is trying to minimize those things. Second if one regularly empties the compost pail then it won’t smell and something to reduce odor is not needed. I passed on the liners. A pair of rubber gloves would solve the issue of transporting compost material to the pail and later to the composter.
Off we went to the home improvement store to buy a compost bin. There were a few models to choose from. I knew I definitely didn’t want the one that used worms, the cylindrical one seemed small, so I purchased a rectangular model. Some compost bins are open and one just throws stuff in and occasionally stirs it. I live in a forest and didn’t want to attract rodents so an enclosed unit with a bottom (or screen) was essential. Once I got it home, even though it said it was easy to assemble, it was not. I am what you would call “mechanically challenged” so my spouse helped me with assembly. We selected a location up the hill from our house that was fenced in for the previous owner’s dog. The fence seemed like a good deterrent against larger uninvited guests. We lugged the compost bin up the hill and placed it on a flat area.
Since I wanted to make sure my composting got off to a good start, I had purchased a composting starter kit which is a bag of granules that one pours in to get things started off. For future batches, I dispensed with the starter as it also takes resources and energy to produce and transport to the store.
After creating a bottom layer of brown, dry vegetation from the yard, and pouring in the composting starter, I excitedly collected produce scraps in my compost pail and then dumped it in my new compost bin. I was on my way…
- Composting Can Change Our Culture
- Composting Made Easy – Tips from an Unlikely Composter
- Composting Part 2 – Doing It
- Composting Part 3 – Lessons Learned
- Garbology – Book Review