Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kitchen Composting

For any kitchen composting program to work, you must have a secure non-stinky holding bin for the kitchen. The best one I found is metal with a filter in the top. The metal is heavy so less likely to tip. It is also attractive enough to leave sitting about the kitchen. If you do not have such a holding bin, you will be tempted to run compostable stuff down sink disposer. Or you will put in many layers of plastic bag and in the garbage can headed for the landfill. If you try to use something not designed for the propose, it will stink or spill or leak and your motivation will dry up.
The second step is the outdoor composting bin. If it has contact with soil, all the better. The best design allows for turn over in some non-labor intensive way. Tumblers work well for this but can be pricey and not that attractive in the garden. Bins that you add material on top with openings at the bottom can work, but unless conditions are perfect, it will be some work to reach in there with tools and dig out the compost from the side door.
I designed a bin made of leftover lumber from our deck. There were scraps of 2x6 and 2x8 so I made a square layered tower. First I cut the planks into 2 foot long pieces. Then I formed then into square frames by screwing the corners to a 2x2 scrap with deck screws. (One pound of 7x2) The frames are stacked to make a square tower for a bin. A lid is make of 2 foot long pieces of the wood, attached together with small strap hinges. The top stays on because it is heavy, but I added a hook and eye to hold it shut and I added some scraps of wood to make handles. Either side of the lid can be opened for access.
To install the bin in the landscape, I placed the first layer on the ground. Then I dig the center of it out and settled a bit into the soil, making it level. If it were less muddy out there, I would try to bury the bottom layer a bit deeper. Then I set the next layer on top, followed by the other layers. I added the lid is added and the bin is now ready to use. I dumped in the brewing stew of contents of the metal kitchen bin. Looks like some moldy cauliflower, eggshells, a wrapper from something that was made of biodegradable cornstarch, wood skewers from grilling, soggy caramel corn, and some other stuff that had already turned to moldy slime inside the holding bin. Yep, it stank to high heaven, attesting to the effectiveness of the filter in the lid, but once it was closed inside the wood bin outdoors, and a bit of a breeze picked up, all was well. Now I can clean my refrigerator!
When compost is needed for use, or the bin is full, the lid will be removed, and laid aside. The top layer of the bin will be removed and placed on the ground next to where the bin is now, and dug in as before. Then the uncomposted contents of the top of the bin will be forked into the now-bottom layer in its new location. The next layer will be removed from the old bin and place on the new bin. If there is still undecomposed matter in that layer, I will fork it into the new bin. Otherwise, I will spread it where needed. I will continue until all layers are moved to the new bin, flipping the bottom layer of the old bin so that the hooks are up to become the top layer of the new bin. I'll place the lid on the new bin to start a new batch!


Chuckles said...

I forwarded to several friends. Okay, one friend and my son. I think they will find it "veeeeeeeeeeeeeely inteeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelesting".

goprairie said...

okay, i looked at it from the road when i was planting out there and it sticks out like a sore thumb - i put it on the exact HIGHEST point of the side of the yard and it is that bright unweathered color of treated lumber - my first job when i retun monday will be to plant something to hide it - yikes - unintended consequences!

goprairie said...

the layers are heavy. i think you could mke it out of thinner deck flooring and have it be sturdy enough and the lid could be thinner planks for sure. i used this cuz the builders left if after the decks - we paid for it already!