I love composting. I mean I really love composting. Every part of the composting process makes me so deeply happy, it’s probably strange to most people. I find composting satisfying on so many levels. I don’t put out all sorts of yard waste, I don’t toss my food scraps in the trash, and I don’t dump all kinds of crap in the garbage disposal. And then, I get this amazing, sweet smelling happy soil amendment for my plants.
But I understand that it isn’t easy or obvious for everybody, so…I’ll dive into some tips.
One of my facebook friends told me she has trouble with her tumbler. Tumblers work best when there’s a good moist (like a wrung-out sponge) mix of “greens” and “browns” that is left alone (nothing new added) for a while, and tumbled from time to time. If you keep adding ingredients to your tumbler, you won’t get good compost, because you’d have to sift out the newer ingredients. A tumbler with only one compartment isn’t enough for an effective year-round compost operation. Some tumblers have two compartments, so one is for adding and the other is for compost-cooking.
The mix of greens and browns isn’t an exact science, though a number of books and web pages suggest a certain mix of each. In my personal garden I ignore that, because composting as waste disposal is only useful to me if I can add whatever I have when I have it. “Greens” are mostly green, but this also includes your food waste. If you only put food waste (and no yard waste) into your tumbler, it’s too green. It won’t decompose well, and will probably smell funny. Add browns, like dried leaves, dried grass clippings, or shredded soy-ink newspaper scraps to the mix. And make sure it isn’t too dry, it should be just damp (not soggy) for best cooking.
As with most horticulture, the best way to maintain compost bins is by looking at them from time to time. Does the compost stink? Add browns. Is it too dry? Add water. It is moist, not stinky, but still not decomposing? Well, it’s either winter or you need more greens.
I heartily welcome any and all questions about composting. How’s your compost bin cooking?