Lulu Dubin
Lulu Dubin
  • Hometalker
  • Cedarhurst, NY
Asked on Jan 29, 2012

Home-made Compost?

Sherrie SCassandra NDouglas Hunt
+10

Answered

I've decided that I want to start recycling more. We accumulate a lot of trash and I've been thinking about starting a compost bag. My next-door neighbor (in an apt building) and I have decided to start a community garden (we have adjoining porches). I thought it would be great if we could use our own compost to plant all sorts of vegetables and herbs.
Do any of you compost? Has anyone grown plants from soil they've made at home?
I'm a little nervous about smell, but I'm hoping it should be okay if we keep everything outside. Any ideas???
13 answers
  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jan 29, 2012

    Lulu, while composting is a great idea, the result should be considered a soil amendment, that is, something you add to soil to condition it, not something you would directly plant vegetables and herbs in. Also, I would not think of it as a way to get rid of trash. While you may be able to put some paper in the mix, it should mostly be non-meat kitchen trimmings and other organic matter. Check out this recent post for lots of pointers on starting a compost pile: http://www.hometalk.com/activity/131892

  • Well said Douglass!

  • Lulu Dubin
    on Jan 29, 2012

    Douglas, I realize that it isn't actually soil that you create but must be added to soil. As I posted this in haste, because I'm eager for suggestions, I sort of combined many ideas into one nonsensical post, so please forgive me... In the post you've linked, the girl says she bought a compost bin. My husband and I were looking into creating something on our own. Obviously I don't expect it to significantly reduce the amount of trash we create, but I expect it will help a bit. I was under the impression that you could use fruit/vegetable scraps, egg shells and some paper towels etc.

  • Designs by BSB
    on Jan 29, 2012

    Kudos to you LuLu! How fantastic you get to be a part of a community garden too! I am envious.. I only have room for herbs, hehe Making your own compost bucket may be a little challenging due to the odors. Everyone one I have seen and researched has a REALLY good seal for the lid. Check out this one by BLANCO that can be cut into your counter top (sacrificing some storage space) https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150103708786690&set=a.10150103708766690.309911.108953626689&type=3&theater

  • Rule4 Building Group
    on Jan 29, 2012

    We have a compost system in our yard which we built ourselves using some old fence panels and other pieces of wood and 2 large old tree trunks. It is a distance from the house, but it doesn't smell unpleasant. We compost raw vegetable and fruit waste, raw egg shells and egg boxes. Even with the egg shells rats have not been a problem. We also compost a proportion of our leaves each fall and grass cuttings during the summer. The compost is rich and nutritious and we use it for soil conditioning just as Douglas says. I also use very little mulch these days, I find the broken down leaves which are still not fully composted make a great substitute (these are composted in a separate bin).

  • Anna K
    on Jan 29, 2012

    if you live in an apartment, and are planning to make your compost on the back porch you will NEED a barrel of some sort that seals tight and turns to speed up the process of the composting-along with purchasing some microorganisms to further speed the process. honestly composting in an apartment is quite a challenge, as you do not have the typical yard waste that makes up most of the composting-kitchen scraps should not be the main percentage... many cities have begun to collect yard waste and turn it into a sellable compost. while not actually making your own, this would be a good way to keep the green trash from going to the landfill. also if you are growing your garden in containers, you will have better luck using soil-less mixes that are lighter weight and drain better than regular soil.

  • Ricardo B
    on Jan 30, 2012

    I say go for it Lulu. I've been composting for years and I don't use anything fancy. In our kitchen, I keep a covered one-gallon re-purposed plastic ice cream container and put anything that was once alive but doesn't have a face or teeth (that's how I explained it to my grandkids who sometimes couldn't decide what to stick in there as opposed to the trash can). Be sure to take the "compost bucket" out to a main receptacle about every six days so it "stinketh not in the kitchen". Collect anything from peelings, coffee grounds, egg shells, cooked and uncooked veggies (even unused oatmeal, grits or french fries). I place mine under a tarp and turn it (for aeration and for accelerating composting). Keep it moist but not wet. You're doing it right if all you have is an earthy smell. If you start the process by getting equal amounts of a friend's garden soil... you'll have the proper bacterias that will work on your fresh stuff. Don't forget that you can also toss in leaves and grasses but be careful about using too much of that which may have weed seeds. Here's my compost cookbook in a few words: Toss in your goodies, then sprinkle some dirt/soil/sand/ or whatever amendments that would add weight. Remember you're making garden soil, not potting soil. The more you turn it, the more it turns to usable garden soil. Now go out there and have fun. To accelerate the process, toss in as many "green" things in there. The bacteria work harder and faster when they have nitrogen to help then. I've even found that tossing in a few sprinkles of rabbit food made from alfalfa help in the breakdown.

  • Lulu Dubin
    on Jan 30, 2012

    Wow. Thanks so much for all of the answers and enthusiasm. @Ricardo, thanks for the cookbook. I'm going to try that. @Rule 4building & Anna, it's true that I don't have typical outdoor plants/green access, but I can use wilted flowers, right? I always feel bad when my husband buys me flowers because even though they're so beautiful, they end up dying :( . Perhaps this will be a great way to put them to good use and 'bring them back to life'.

  • Rule4 Building Group
    on Jan 30, 2012

    @Lulu D wilted flowers are fine, I also compost my old bedding plants from the garden. Just remember not to compost weeds - you just spread them around your garden or patio pots. Have fun!

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Jan 30, 2012

    Lulu, you can certainly use wilted plants. If you don't have the space to set up a compost bin or tumbler outside, you may want to check out a worm bin. Check out this link: http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/easywormbin.htm You may also want to look into a community composting program. There may be one connected with your local farmer's market.

  • Cassandra N
    on Feb 11, 2012

    There's a great book about growing in the city called :Urban Homestead. I picked it up because of a canning chapter, but there are 3-4 chapters about growing in a city environment, finding unique places to grow, how to re-use what we throw out. It was pretty interesting: http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=urban+homestead+book&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=2Ib&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=imvns&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&biw=1280&bih=654&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=14967416778286479915&sa=X&ei=F5M2T5fcJ8qjiAKm7omnCA&ved=0CFkQ8wIwAA

  • Sherrie S
    on Feb 12, 2012

    I agree with everyone here. Ricardo has a great posting so the only thing I add to his posting is I have a composter so I don't have to manually turn it (for aeration and for accelerating composting). But I do have to turn it by spinning it. Either way it is a great idea.

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