Friday, September 19, 2008

Composting in a small space

I've always liked the idea of composting ... enriching the soil with plant matter that would otherwise go into the trash can. From a monetary point of view, it makes sense ... reuse the dirt I have rather than buying new bags of top soil each year. But I thought that composting took a lot of space or required a specialized bin, neither of which I have.

What I do have are planters which are no longer being used and dirt that has done it's duty growing herbs and veggies for our table. So I decided to give composting a try.

First I removed most of the dirt from one container, leaving a couple of inches at the bottom. Then I tossed in bits and pieces of vegetables and fruits ... the stuff which normally gets trimmed and tossed when one is preparing a meal. Next I sprinkled the plant matter with powdered plant food which I've been told will aid in decomposition and will give the soil added nutrients. I covered the whole thing up with another inch or so of dirt to help prevent any smell. Compost needs moisture so ... a quick sprinkle of water came next.

The container I'm using is a rectangular box which hangs on our railing ... like a window box. To ensure that it wouldn't smell and to keep bugs from "bugging" us, I covered the box with a plastic trash bag. This also keeps it warm and moist.

Every few days I add plant matter to the box and a little more dirt and water ... and every week or so I give the whole box a good stir. Mostly we ignore it and let it work.

And guess what ... it's working. I am totally amazed at how quickly plant matter decomposes. As for smell and the "icky" factor ... so far, so good. Here's a tip if you should decide to try this: keep an air tight container (coffee cans with lids work well) in your kitchen for the bits and pieces of veggie matter. That way, you won't have to run to the compost bin after preparing each meal and there won't be any smells in your kitchen.

As the weather cools down and the summer plants fade off, I'll have more containers ... and used dirt ... for composting. Hopefully, by spring, I'll have a bounty of fertile soil for next summer's crops.

Stay tuned ... as this is definitely a work in progress.

Do you compost? If so and you have any tips and/or advice ... send them my way.