May 23, 2009

Dishing the Dirt

If you have, or have access to one of the following:
  • dirt
  • grass
  • leaves
And you have in your dwelling one of the following:
  • patio
  • balcony
  • deck
  • yard
Then you should be composting.

Why? Reduces trash (which is less hassle for you, and your dear waste collector, and less to go into the landfills for poor Mother Earth), and oh yeah free fertilizer (ca-ching!). It's also fun in a science experiment sort of way. So if you're a nerd like me, this should be up there on your list of good times like a game of charades.

Sure you could buy one, or gather some lumber and make one. But here's an even easier way to do it: find, repurpose or get a decent sized bin with a lid. This was my old 'pantry' bucket that held non-perishable foods while we were cabinetless (bonus points if it's green, for going green).

Next, drill* holes in the bottom because composting requires oxygen, yo! Use whatever size drill bits, and do as many as you want, it is a free country.

Next, fill it with dried leaves, dirt, grass clippings, whatever you got (sorry that the pic is sideways, but just tilt your head, it's good to stretch your neck). I used dead creeping fig leaves because I hate them and want them to rot in... a bucket.

Next, throw in your food scraps and cover with more yard stuff. I threw in 2 dead plants I had, and instantly gained 2 hanging planters! This is already paying off.

Lastly, moisten the contents, cover and drill holes into the lid. Place somewhere outside (I put mine with the trash barrels) and always put a layer of yard stuff on top of your food scraps (no odors this way). Make sure the contents always remain slightly moist (but never soggy), turn with a pitchfork about once a week and in about 6 months (I think, I hope) you'll have some great stuff for your garden.

Things to keep in mind:
  • Composting is a fancy term for stuff rotting, so the smaller the bits the faster it will rot (IOW corn cobs will take a long time to decompose). If you don't care how long it takes, then just toss stuff in whole.
  • Tree branches and twigs seem like they would take a long time to decompose too. I'm just guessing, I don't really know for sure.
  • No dairy, bones, or meat products. It either takes a long time to decompose or doesn't at all, definitely will become stinky, and therefore attract critters.
  • Things like newspaper and cardboard rolls can go in, but it's best to shred them. Nothing glossy, nothing colored because that means finishes and inks and such.
  • No chemically treated greens. So if pesticides were used on your garden or grass, keep those out!
  • No poop. Keep your pet waste out, it carries germs folks. And any other poop, ew I know what you were thinking and if you were considering adding it, you've got issues.
Sidenote: Ryobi drill bits suck. It broke during this process. Totally lame, come on drilling through plastic.

Ok go make some dirt!


  1. That's cool Tran, I'm going to follow your instructions and make one too. Don't really want to pay $200 for a fancy one.

  2. Excellent. Take pics when you are finished!