Some of you may remember our previous DIY compost bin we made right around a year ago at our old house. It consisted of drilling holes throughout a metal trash bin, setting it up atop of some planks and adding/mixing organic matter over time. This was a great bin for getting us started with composting; for anyone interested in the fuller details of how we made it, see here.
Now, let's talk about the new system. Given our recent move to the city, new factors came into play when deciding how to proceed with composting. We needed something compact (preferably vertical) to maintain the efficiency of our small space, and being in the city, we'd need to go ahead and invest in a system that aids in keeping rodents away. Our neighbors have told us to watch out for mice as the weather heats up, so we don't want to take any chances and decided to forgo the drilled bin system we'd been using at our old place.
We've been eyeing a self sufficient system called the Aerobin 400. Sounds fancy, right? After keeping it on the radar, we were able to pounce when a particular promotion came up to make it ours. Shopping tip: For those of you unfamiliar with the site Price Grabber, it basically tracks the lowest of the low prices on any product you are shopping for — so if you have the time to wait and watch, you can hunt down some great deals.
The only thing DIY about this new bin was the initial assembly, which was super easy, and getting the right mixture of carbon/nitrogen organic matter inside as we proceed.
Some of the added benefits of this specific compost bin we are looking forward to are the claims that the contents require no turning or watering — that the "lung" component provides the air the compost needs to thrive and aside from adding the correct "ingredients" that the bin will take care of the rest.
In addition to it being a self service bin, there is a grated draining floor at the bottom of the bin that collects excess moisture. At the bottom of the bin is a spout where we'll be able to access this liquid leachate (also known as compost tea and liquid gold) that can be diluted with water and used as natural plant fertilizer.
For those unfamiliar with composting, it's basically a process of compiling organic matter in the forms of carbon and nitrogen that if mixed together correctly, will decompose into "compost," a dark and rich soil-like substance that is an incredible natural fertilizer for gardening. The benefits of composting for us include the fact that we can contribute less overall waste to the trash system, and put our kitchen scraps to good use as fertilizer for the new food we'll be growing — see how the cycle goes round? The whole process can take anywhere from 3-6 months before seeing any compost.
Organic matter in the case of composting refers to carbon materials (brown and dry) or nitrogen materials (green and moist).
Nitrogen: coffee grounds, flowers, fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, green leaves, and weeds.
Carbon: dry leaves, eggshells, hair, lint, straw, wood shavings.
As a rule of thumb, materials to avoid include: dairy, meat, bones, animal waste, grease or greasy foods, and oils.
To get things going, we tossed in kitchen scraps we've been reserving over the past few weeks. We're hoping they get all cozy and start to do their thang. We've heard it's generally a best practice to mix in a little already active compost when beginning a new compost pile just to get things moving along, so we might try tossing a small amount in when we get the chance. If all goes according to plan, we may have the beginnings of fresh compost to use in early May.
Anyhoo...we're pretty excited about our new system and as usual, we'll keep you (com)posted on how everything shapes up!
Do you compost? We'd love to hear what type of system you use be it a pile in the yard or other contained version. What have you found works best?