When I first tried composting 12 years ago, I was under the impression that it needed a lot of maintenance. I was quickly overwhelmed with talk of layering and turning and building bins and various composting contraptions. When we moved to a larger house with a larger yard and had to buy dirt for a raised bed, I wanted to try again. You can read more about my no maintenance composting method here.
So what does no maintenance mean? It means I bought the black thing for $30 on Amazon so I didn’t have to build anything. I don’t layer it – we throw yard waste and food scraps in indiscriminately. And the only time I do anything to it is at all is when I want to “harvest” dirt, which is usually once a year in the spring when my mom starts buying plants and bringing them home where they sit by the garage and look sad until we dig out some compost and plant them in it.
This is the majestic, wind-whipped compost bin. It’s next to where we keep our garbage for easy food scrap delivery. It has a nice view of the pond though.
The Geobin Compost Bin has these little knob things that you turn and then the black part slips off and there stands your compost pile – like a bold monument to all things ecological. Bold because your suburban neighbors might be out mowing their lawns thinking you’re weird.
Btw, when I say no maintenance, I do mean that we throw the egg cartons in there whole with eggs shells in them. And yes, that’s also a toilet paper tube and some flowers and maybe even some junk mail. The compost pile is not a place I devote a lot of time to. Taking pictures of it is probably the most time the compost pile and I have really spent together.
The really fun part is jabbing a shovel into all of that decomposing goodness. Believe it or not, it doesn’t smell very much, and with a good shove of the foot is not very difficult either (and I don’t have a great back and am usually quick to call in the husband for such tasks). My strategy is usually to move the Geobin to its new location, shovel the top layer of compost that hasn’t decomposed yet back into the Geobin, and then “harvest” the better-than-garden-store-topsoil underneath.
The pile does kind of fall apart once you start messing with it, but this process didn’t take more than an hour (with a lot of distractions).
We got the equivalent of about three or four bags of dirt for our vegetable garden, which needed to be topped off. I’m always surprised it’s not more after putting 100% of our food scraps (except for meat) into the pile. Dr. Chemical Engineer gave some explanation about how the water from the food is absorbed into the ground but I still think that it should be a 1:1 ratio of food scraps to dirt. I’ll rewrite the laws of thermodynamics later.
In any case, there you have it – the results of no maintenance composting.