Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reduce, recycle, reuse

We'd been talking about buying a stand up covered trash can to use as another composter, we already have one and it does so well we wanted to add another because we're eat up with leaves on our little plot of land here in the city. We'd planned to go to one of the big box hardware stores to look for a suitable unit but I saved us the time and money because I remembered we had a covered trash can under our deck and this past Sunday when it got warm I decided to pull it out and have a look at it.
As you can see it's in fine shape, I have no idea how old it is, the previous owner left it after she sold the place to us. There's no cracks or any other damage to the unit so I decided to plow ahead and remake it in to our newest compost unit.

The first thing I did was flip it over and drill a bunch of hole in the bottom for drainage and to allow worms and bugs to crawl inside it. The worms and bugs help break down the organic vegetable matter and their waste helps break down the leaves as well. Actually, worm waste is one of the best, if not the best natural fertilizer for gardens.

After drilling I turned the can back up and I locked the handles in place. They were sturdy enough but just to be safe and to make sure no critter could knock off the lid and spill out our contents, I put a bungee cord over top of the lid and it keeps the top on nice and tight with no worries.Because the can has wheels I wanted to make sure I could roll it around to mix the vegetable and brown matter up together nicely, so I laid the can down and I rolled it around in the back yard.
The end verdict is that it rolled around just fine with no problems.
So I put in a couple of handfuls of leaves from our leaf bin and I added some vegetable scraps and I rolled it around again. Then I moved it around to a couple of different places in the back yard.
I ended up putting it next to the heat pump unit because the sun hit there pretty much all the day long, which will help cook contents together and make some rich black soil in a few months. The chief advantage of using this trash can on wheels is I can wheel it around to different place sin the yard to make sure it gets plenty of sun all the time, even in the winter months. Our old composter, which I have dubbed R2D2, sits in one place, a partially shaded part of the back yard and therefore it will take longer for the stuff inside it to break down, which by the way it does great because I've gotten three wheelbarrows full of rich black dirt out of it and we've had it for almost a year.

Anyhoo, by using this trash can that was already here I saved us money, screwed a shifty corporation out of a sale, and am helping save our planet by keeping our vegetable scraps out of a land fill. It's a win/win/win all the way around.

Just in case any of you want to try this and are new to composting, the thing to remember is that you can compost things like vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and paper. Do not ever put any meat, dairy, or seeds in your composter because the meat and dairy will draw rats and other vermin and the seed will sprout in the dirt. The vegetable scraps are what is referred to as 'green' compost matter. You mix that with 'brown' compost matter, which consists of dead leaves, small sticks (no bigger around than your pinkie finger), and other dead plants like cut flowers, weeds you pulled, or the plants you cut down from your garden at the end of their growing season. The ideal mixture ratio is three parts brown to one part green. I also like to add water to my compost mix from time to time so as to help the leaf mold grow which helps break down the leaves and organic vegetable matter, which ultimately makes your new soil.


Anonymous said...

Good way to start the gardening season!!!

Bob said...

Also wanted to add that the all-important worms can be bought at many nurseries... but I don't think big box stores (bummer, 'cause I know we all love to enrich the coffers of soulless corporations).

Not for you, Dr., but for others who might wish to try their hands at composting.

Mommy Lisa said...

My cousin has a whole section of his yard set aside for his compost heap - and he is buying a hive this year.

I need to do this with the cans our previous owner left - trouble is my yard is really shady.

Kal said...

Look at you Mr Wizard. You are all over this compost thing. I would have never thought of the features you added. Nice work.

Anonymous said...

I love this idea.