Thursday, August 6, 2009

Roll Your Own Compost

While we started all this with a big compost purchase, I want to minimize the need to buy things like that. I considered all different kinds of compost systems. I used to have a big plastic composter with a door on the bottom, but it took so long to finish, created a habitat for slugs and ants and was constantly falling apart. I gave it up when we last moved. I thought of building a three bin system, but since it gets so dry around here, I didn't want to have to water it all the time and we also were not sure we wanted to commit to a particular location.

I had read about compost tumblers, which claim to give you finished compost in just 3 weeks . I liked the idea, but not the expensive price tag. Also, all the moving parts made me think they might break. And what if you want to stop adding stuff and start a new batch while it's still cooking?

On Craigslist I was able to find food grade barrels. Specifically, I wound up going to Bataeff Salvage (I have to be careful not to buy all kinds of things there) where I found fairly un-offensive "terra cotta" colored plastic barrels that previously contained olives. These barrels are perfect for compost because they have screw on lids for easy access and moisture retention and they are only $15 each. I drilled a bunch of holes in them towards the top and bottom, to facilitate airflow.

Into the compost goes chicken dropping, kitchen scraps and garden waste. We have 2 barrels so we can let one batch finish without adding new materials while we start a new batch. All kinds of exciting compost pictures are available here. I need to start a compost calendar so I can remember when it is ready.

Perhaps in the future we will mount these on stands, but for now, we roll our own compost.



  1. Wow Angelo! All of this sounds amazing!! Congratulations on such a huge yet worthy undertaking. I am very impressed. We live in a condo complex and I so wish there was more opportunity/interest in stuff like this around these parts. It is always so sad to me how expensive being "green' is for the average jo-anne in modern times.
    Nice job on the blog as well. I was trying to maintain a blog for my husband's art biz and found it to be challenging. Good luck and hope you inspire many!!
    -Anya V. Tyngsboro, MA (filthy fluno is my hubby's avatar)

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Anya. Maybe you can find a community garden somewhere nearby if you have time... Hopefully I can keep up the pace on this blog.