Composting

October 12, 2010

This weekend, we put together a compost area. It was so exciting! This has been on my mind since June was born, but I hadn’t been able to make it happen. And marking it off my list was the most satisfying feeling. Now, Oscar’s new chore is to run outside everyday and dump the leavings (not meat, of course) in the compost bin. He’s pretty sure it’s the greatest chore ever.

We decided to try the GeoBin composting system that we found at True Value. It’s easy to put together, adjustable in size, and relatively inexpensive. It can be rolled up and stored, and easily moved — which makes sense for renters like us.

I get my composting advice from my friend Tania — she’s tried everything, and she’s even taken composting classes at the world-class Stone Barns in New York. Tania’s favorite method is a 3-bin system. You fill one bin over 4 months, then you let it sit and start filling bin number two for 4 months and let it sit. Then you start filling bin number 3. By the time bin number 3 is ready to sit still, the soil in bin number one is done breaking down and is ready to use.

Now we have a tidy place to put the bushels and bushels of wormy apples from our backyard tree. Want to know more about composting? I asked Tania, and Kelly of Make Grow Gather for book recommendations. They said try Let it Rot! and The Rodale Book of Composting and Garden Anywhere.

This is my 3rd project as a True Value Blog Squad Member. I’m having such a good time getting stuff done around the house. A big thanks to True Value for helping me make it happen. Next project? Some painting in the family room.

What about you? Do you compost? Do you have a favorite method? Did you make your own bin?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 diana October 12, 2010 at 1:41 pm

oh, i hope you keep us posted! i would love to start composting, but we are putting our house on the market soon. i didn’t really think it was a great time to start a pile of garbage in the backyard!

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2 Design Mom October 12, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Hah! I know what you mean, Diana. Our apples were starting to pile up and looked very much like garbage. I feel like a much more responsible neighbor now. : )

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3 Anna October 12, 2010 at 1:59 pm

We are going to build a new composting area soon (did you see the one in this months Martha Stewart?) and I can’t wait. We started composting months ago and I can’t believe how easy it has been. We got a very simple but nice looking bin to keep under our sink from Crate and Barrel and it has worked beautifully!

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4 Design Mom October 12, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Hi Anna! I didn’t see the Martha bin. I need to go look it up. Thanks for the suggestion.

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5 Sarah October 12, 2010 at 2:07 pm

We went to a family camp in VT the past 2 summers and they composted everything from the dining hall including meat & paper! I don’t know what kind of system they used, but it was so efficient & they turned all of the compost over to a neighbor farmer, so it must be good stuff.

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6 Design Mom October 12, 2010 at 2:50 pm

I LOVE hearing that Sarah. Very cool! I need to learn more about it. Wouldn’t it be amazing to compost your paper waste? I recycle ours now but always have this suspicion it’s ending up in a landfill anyway. If I composted it, I would know exactly where it’s ending up. : )

And I’m curious about the meat thing. I keep hearing it’s a no no. I need to learn more…

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7 bdaiss October 13, 2010 at 12:17 pm

If you have a large system, you can compost meat. We do it here at Mt. Rushmore. We use the Earth Tub. But it’ll set you back $10K just for the tub. Not really a home system.

And you can compost paper, but I’d be wary of anything with print – some of the dyes are not good for your plants. If you’re just making “fill dirt”, you’ll be okay. But if you want to add it to your garden/flower beds, I’d stick with napkins/paper towels only. Or paper you know is printed with soy ink.

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8 Tara Anderson October 12, 2010 at 2:21 pm

The hubs got me into composting and I really love it. We keep a small bin on our patio (learned the hard way–fruit fly infestation–to not keep it in the kitchen) and empty it into our community composting pile whenever it’s full. We know how fortunate we are to live in an area where everyone contributes to the composting and because we also take part in a community garden, everyone gets to reap the benefits of the compost!

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9 Design Mom October 12, 2010 at 2:51 pm

A community garden? A community compost pile? It’s like you live in your own little Eden. Love it.

Also. Those darn fruit flies!

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10 julia October 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm

oo – I like the bin you found. We have a large yard and a few fruit trees and I’d love to start composting. Our city also does composting (we have a special yard waste/compost bin in addition to the regular garbage and huge recycle bin).
My only concern are the feral cats. We happen to live right next door to the lady who feeds them (booo!). But I don’t think they can climb up the side of this kind of bin.

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11 Design Mom October 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm

Oh dear! Feral cats? Yikes! I wonder if my neighborhood has some roamers and I don’t even know about it.

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12 FreeRange Pamela October 12, 2010 at 3:37 pm

That’s so great you’re composting! You inspired me to write my long-planned post on composting, as well: http://www.freerange.ws/2010/10/12/making-compost-easy/

Hope it goes well for us both!

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13 artfulife October 12, 2010 at 5:58 pm

We have two compost piles in our huge backyard. My husband was going to build some boxes for them but I’m going to suggest the Geo bin’s instead. Thanks for posting about this :)

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14 Rebecca Robison October 12, 2010 at 7:41 pm

I’m SO EXCITED you posted about this! I think I’m going to try to have my little 2nd graders do this for our school!

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15 pomme foolery October 12, 2010 at 10:15 pm

This couldn’t be a more timely post. My husband and I were just wringing our hands over this issue last night. We have a good-looking stainless compost bucket that sits on the counter breeding fruit flies, but nowhere to actually put the lovely muck that it’s filled with. It’s disgraceful, really.

GeoBins, here we come!

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16 Allison October 13, 2010 at 6:37 am

My husband just built us a three bin system as you described. It has removable slats in the front for shovelling and flipping the waste into the other bins (it also has a hinged lid). We have a lot of space for it so we are lucky, and keep it in our garden area away from the home due to the bugs it attracts. However, I found I need to keep a small scrap bin at the house because I only walk down to the garden ever other day or so, and it will probably be less in the dead of winter. I’d love to hear if anyone had luck with a pail kept in the home that didn’t attract fruit flies.

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17 kelleyn October 13, 2010 at 10:26 am

WOW! I never cease to be amazed my mothers talents and their love for their children. How fantastic!

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18 kelleyn October 13, 2010 at 10:27 am

oops, that last comment was for the ABC party!

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19 Green Bag Lady Teresa October 13, 2010 at 11:42 am

Yay Gabrielle, welcome to the world of composting! I did how to post about it if you need any further info:

http://greenbaglady.blogspot.com/2009/09/heres-dirt-composting-101.html

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20 bdaiss October 13, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I’m a composter as well – on multiple levels. I use a similar, simple, small pile system at home (because I’m lazy like that). But I also operate our large scale system here at Mt. Rushmore. It’s so nice to have fresh lovely compost to add to your garden. My in-laws swear to everyone they talk to that the reason their garden has done so well the last few years is the two loads of compost I’ve unloaded on them. : )

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21 allison October 13, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I’ve been looking to update my compost system right about now, too! Thank you for the suggestion! This looks like a really good one.

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22 Michele October 13, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I’ve read that compost degrade nicely much more quickly if you turn it every few weeks, rather than just leave it for months. Leaving the bin alone for a few months will be fine if you mulch down your bigger bits, though.

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23 Hannah October 13, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Please FedEx Oscar to my house STAT. None of my kids like the compost-dumping chore; in fact they abhor it, and so do I; how wimpy are we? Our compost system is inside our chicken pen, and the chickens love to come running and see what yucky delights we have for them when we arrive with the compost bucket (which doesn’t stink; it has a lid with a carbon filter in it, purchased from Gardener’s Supply Company). When my husband turns over the compost every couple months, the hens LOVE finding all the bugs underneath it!

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24 Jen October 14, 2010 at 2:39 pm

We are lucky enough to live in a city with curbside compost pick-up. Because it is such a large system we can put in everything from meat to bones to paper plates and everything in between. Some our neighbours still compost in their own backyard so they can use the compost for the garden. It’s such a handy system and coupled with curbside recycling has cut waste in our community down more than 50%.

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25 Tanya October 14, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I love this. Everyone should compost!

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26 Meredith October 18, 2010 at 11:53 pm

we also have an apple tree in our backyard with TONS of wormy apples! every day, it is my girls’ job to go out and pick up all the apples that have fallen. i’ve been wanting to start composting (and hopefully start a small garden in the spring since i guess it’s harder to do a year-round garden here in CO) but we don’t have a ton of space. how big is this bin you got?

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27 Sue Glader October 22, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I have gone through a few compost contraptions. Got the big green round one that spins, because I thought it would be so tidy … but it didn’t really work all that well for me. Lack of attention to it, perhaps. It would dry out and then just kinda sit there. So I built one with boards and I just dump everything in there. I feel so righteous, dumping all my food bits in there.

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