Composting Part 1 — You’re Going to Do What?

This series of posts is about the process of composting from the perspective of someone who would not be considered a “natural” for it.

Initially, my mother was skeptical about my idea to purchase a compost bin 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 am kind of squeamish and I do not like handling food that is past its prime. Moreover I really, really do not like creepy crawlies and they are the denizens of a compost bin.

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 do fill up a bucket.

Food Scrap Collection Pail

I am a planning sort of gal, so I researched composting on the Internet to learn what equipment I needed, what could be composted, and how to do it.

Stainless Steel Compost PailI searched for a food scrap pail. This is the item you use to collect and temporarily store produce scraps before they go to the compost bin.

A stainless steel gallon bucket seemed like a good choice.  It was small enough that it would 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 you are trying to minimize those things. Second, if you regularly empty the compost pail then it will not 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 compost bin.

Compost Bin

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 did not want the one that used worms and the cylindrical one seemed small so I purchased a rectangular model.

Some compost bins are open and you just throw stuff in and occasionally stir it. I live in a forest and did not want to attract rodents so an enclosed unit with a bottom (or screen) was essential.

Once I got the bin 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.

Making Compost

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 you pour 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…

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