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I have gotten into composting! The occurrence came from the fact I now have more space to garden and I had a lot of food waste. Thus composting! I have propagated African violets from space (no, really), succulents, lavender, moonflowers, green onions, viburnum and morning glories. I’m eventually getting black dahlias, strawberries, cherry tomatoes and climbing roses. Given these plants are from different parts of the world (and galaxy), they have different needs. But when propagating them, nutrient rich soils are pretty useful. That and it’s nice to have healthy soil laying about for future use.
My composting system is pretty small because I did not want to deal with a huge compost pile, I don’t have a farm. I wanted to keep everything super simple…because it should be super simple. All compost is, is organic rot. It can be manure, spent food, dirt, whatever. If it’s biodegradable, it can be compost. Couldn’t be more simpler than that. Also, composting should not break the bank. I was not interested in buying a bunch of things for something that happens naturally in nature. All you need is a container that can be opened and closed (and seal scent in because it will smell a little bad). I use a small cat food bag I had recently emptied. I noticed that the bag had a seal to keep the food fresh and scent contained so that was good for me. I also got a kitchen trash bag to line it with so I can put in new refuse and not have to touch the pile. That and it double seals in the bad smell. It concerned me that when summer would come about, the stench would be at the worst because of the heat. The bag is in a shady spot but rot is odoriferous, nonetheless.
Once I got the kitchen bag – which is bigger than the kitty food bag so there’s a long neck outside the bag when in use – inside the cat food bag, I lined the bottom of the bag with planting soil a couple inches. Afterwards, I just cleaned out my fridge of any overdue food waste (soups, sandwich, etc) and dumped them in the bag. And that was it. I closed up the neck of the kitchen bag, squeezed out some of the air, piled it into the cat food bag and closed it up. That was the start of the compost bag.
As time went on, I would add general food waste, like egg shells, tea leaves and green onion waste. I usually would gather everything in a paper towel napkin, gather the napkin corners and put it in the bag like a secondary trashcan. When I would have spare soil from working with my propagated plants, I would throw the dirt into the compost bag. This makes the compost soil really rich. That and it helps make things not smell so bad when you first open the bag. After one particular rainy day, I noticed there were a ton of worms flooded out from the ground onto the concrete. I picked several up and put them in the bag. This is a good idea because worms help break down rot and enrich soil, especially when they have plenty to eat. I don’t plan on turning the compost so I think worms suit for a satisfactory alternative. Plus, they live in soil and in darkness they won’t be harmed being in the bag. Not to mention, if a couple worms are in the bit of compost used for my plants, it’s harmless to the plant. It’s not like having slugs or ants, which can harm the foliage. Like I said, I want to keep things as easy as possible.
It’s important to note that I’m only doing food waste and soil. I’m not putting manure or anything else in the bag because it’s not needed. There are plenty of nutrients in food and soil and I wanted to keep everything as clean and neat as possible. I know that some folks go as far as have compost toilets buuuuut that’s a bit much for me. I just didn’t want to throw away perfectly good soil and chuck out food when I can combine the two and save money on buying more planting soil. So far, I am not throwing away anything with bones in them and definitely nothing plastic or aluminum. Bones take a while to break down and my bag is pretty small so it’s going to be a while before I think about chucking out the leftover turkey carcass after Thanksgiving. Aluminum can break down because it does contain a natural element. However, it isn’t anything that really benefits plants like paper and food does. Think about it like a human: while it is useful to use aluminum, it wouldn’t be very useful or good to eat it. Ditto with plants. Plastic is a no-brainer, remove all plastic from the food item before putting it in the compost bag.
There really isn’t much to composting like this, the bag should stay in a spot it won’t be disturbed for a long period of time because once you’re done putting things in the bag, you just leave it alone. Check on it six months later. If you want to mix it around then, use a shovel to shift things about. If the bag feels like it is procuring heat, then definitely turn the pile. The decomposition is just causing a lot of heat from breaking down so much. To prevent melting the bag, turn the pile to make it cooler.
And that’s the basics of composting for newbs! It’s pretty simple and easy to do. Doesn’t take a lot of space (my bag hardly takes up a corner), nor does it take a lot of effort.