Friday, June 5, 2009

Confessions of a Composting Newbie


So what's going on here? Is this becoming compost or some unholy mix of mud and unreconstituted vegetable scraps? I know it's nowhere close to being ready to go on my garden, but does this look like composting is actually taking place?

This is my first concerted attempt at composting, so I'm not sure if it's going well or just becoming a smelly, buggy pile of gunk. As I mentioned in my June Muse Day post, I've focused on monitoring the moisture in my pseudo-compost bin, but I'm concerned that it's not retaining enough heat. The bin is just a Rubbermaid container that's about 2'x2'x2'. I was too cheap to invest in an actual quality compost bin. Has anyone had success with small compost piles or bins? I have usually seen recommendations to have a compost bin be closer to 3' or 4'. I figured the experiment was worth a shot, and if I fail I'll suck it up and get a real bin.


The mud here is from sod that I threw in there a while back when I was digging the rain garden. There are plenty of bugs flying around it (and crawling in it), but is composting happening here? Should I just get the real bin?

7 comments:

GinaD said...

It kind of looks like it's getting there, but the lack of heat could be the biggest culprit for the delay - I've got my fancy-schmancy rotating bin and it still took a while to get going because it was so cool and cloudy for a long time. Are you turning the contents peridocially? The aeration is another important factor. I'm just about ready to get my first batch out of the "compost hockey puck" and it's been cooking since like March, so it may be the weather that's really inhibiting your progres.

rambleonrose said...

Well, that makes me feel better if it took 3 months for the hockey puck to make compost! And I am hoping that if it stays consistently warm here things will really get going. I am turning it periodically and I think that's been helping. We'll see...

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I really can't say if that will work or not, but then my compost pile has started to have the nasty anaerobic action going on, so I'm not one to emulate. Maybe a dark brown container would got hotter faster. Then again, once temperatures get into the 80s & 90s, the stuff will rot, no matter what.

Gail said...

Hi Rose, I have a compost pile in my yard...but am thinking of trying the dig a hole, add the compost cover with a rock that MMD wrote about after visiting the Trudi Temple garden! Seriously. Good luck! gail

rambleonrose said...

MMD--I'm living for those hot midsummer days! (Although they will present other problems, but in terms of the compost they'll be helpful.) In retrospect, choosing such a light-colored container was a mistake. Live and learn, I suppose!

Gail--I also was very intrigued by MMD's post about Trudi's composting method! If you do it, please let me know how it goes!

Rose said...

Rose, Because I live on a farm with a very large yard, I don't have to worry about compost piles that might offend the neighbors with the smell or appearance. But it means I'm a lazy composter--I dump everything in a pile behind a shed and once in a great while I think about stirring it up a little:) My son brings over his grass clippings when he mows the lawn and that adds to the mix, too. Unless you have one of those fancy-schmancy composters, it does take a long time to turn into the "black gold" that everyone talks about. I read a composting blog last year that suggested a Rubbermaid trash can with holes poked in it, so I think yours should work just as well.

By the way, guess what I found at a local nursery this past weekend--a baptisia! I'm still trying to decide where to plant it.

rambleonrose said...

Rose--I should be more patient, and this is one of the fundamental lessons I learn from gardening every year! My "bin" is in fact a Rubbermaid container with holes poked in it, so I will stick it out through the summer, which will hopefully get consistently warm, and maybe in a few months I'll have the black gold too!

That's great about the baptisia! Which species is it? Any certain cultivar? For a good garden location just make sure it's got full sun. They seem to tolerate just about anything you can throw at them as long as it's sunny!

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