YOU CAN SPEND A FORTUNE on a prefabricated compost bin, but why should you? Here at A Garden for House, I rely on wire-mesh bins, which cost less than $10. Here is how I use the bins to turn waste into gorgeous soil:
All during summer, I toss bolted lettuce, spinach, and other green matter into the bins, which are located, for the sake of convenience, at each end of my Kitchen Garden. This saves me the time and trouble of hauling debris to some out-of-the-way compost heap.
To hasten decay, brown matter is sprinkled on top of each layer of green. Brown material includes chopped straw, dried leaves, or the shredded wood chips pictured above. When provided with steady moisture, this nitrogen-and-carbon mixture heats up rapidly, and turns waste into usable soil in a matter of weeks, not months. I use the finished product for topping off my raised veggie beds in the fall.
In autumn, the bins become receptacles for shredded leaves. Kept damp, leaves quickly break down in the open ventilation that wire mesh affords. The rich, crumbly end-product, which we should properly call “leaf mold,” is far superior to peat moss, and ideal for potting African violets and other houseplants. (I no longer buy potting soil.)
Turning the compost is a cinch. Simply lift the bin off, move it a few feet to the side, and then fork the contents back in. This inverts the various components, so that new material goes on the bottom. My compost gets turned twice monthly (if I’m feeling energetic).
Almost anyone can make a 4-foot tall, 3-foot diameter composting bin like mine. Obtain from the hardware store a 9-foot x 4-foot piece of 3-inch galvanized wire mesh, secure the ends with twist-ties, and Voila! you’re done.
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