Using a compost bin

If you can smell it, it's working

| December 2008

  • Composting
    Kitchen scraps make great composting material.

  • Composting

Recycling is a noble effort in which everyone should participate. Sadly, the inconveniences sometimes faced by potential recyclers are enough to dissuade them from actively taking part in the green movement. What better alternative than to easily dispose of trash and recycle at the same time? With a compost bin, that becomes a possibility. The days of painstakingly separating paper and plastic will be over with the acquisition of a compost bin. Composting relies on trash and food scraps, and the process is as simple as dumping those things into a bin and letting nature do the rest of the work. As the refuse decomposes, a valuable fertilizer is produced. Not only has trash been reused, but it’s actually useful!

Minor separation is a necessity, though. Basically, biodegradable items like vegetable peelings and uneaten food are ideal fodder for a compost bin. The bin itself is (usually) placed outdoors, while scraps are steadily fed into it. The sun and oxygen take care of the science, breaking down the materials into usable fertilizer. The organic substances provide ideal nutrition for plants, and it all comes from your home! Compost is fairly simple to produce and saves money and time that may have been spent at the hardware store lugging around heavy bags of manure. That is definitely something to consider the next time you are at the grocery store, as eggs and coffee will do the same work with much less effort.

Compost bins come in a number of styles. The bins are usually simple, and will not take up an excessive amount of space. One thing to consider, though, is that the smell may be something you will want to keep away from nearby doors and windows. A quiet corner of the backyard is a perfect place for a compost bin. Many bins are designed to be placed either on grass or concrete. This guarantees that no matter what sort of landscaping your home has, you will be able to place a bin nearly anywhere. Bear in mind, though, that the typical bin is open-bottomed. Any compost contained therein will come into contact with the ground.

The bin should be placed in an area that will receive a fair amount of sunlight and minimal wind. Wind blowing through the slats will dry out the compost. Sunlight is very necessary as it raises the temperature of the compost inside the bin to proper levels for successful decomposition. Excessive dampness should also be avoided, as it will adversely affect the decomposition. Despite the fact that compost is essentially decomposing organic material, there should not be an overly offensive odor coming from the bin. If this occurs, then it may be due to the placement of the bin in an area that is too damp. A level of moisture that is too high will lead to a smell that won’t be too pleasant. The normal smell emanating from a bin that indicates all is going well is something similar to dirt or earth. Think of a forest after rainfall.

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