I reckon that over the years, we've tried almost every method of composting ever invented. We've tried piles, trenches, single bins, double bins, triple bins, bins with no doors, bins with removable doors, rings of wire fencing, and a homemade compost tumbler. We've turned daily, we've incorporated perforated pipe to provide oxygen, and we've tried the same with corn stalks too (both so-called no turn methods). We've covered our piles and left them open to air. It doesn't matter how you slice it, dice it, or julienne fry it, making compost is work. As in labor. There's no easy way to get it done.
|Beginnings of a new compost pile.|
I have to say that in the end we didn't like the bins, hoops, or tumbler. We found that a simple pile on the ground suited us best. Of all the methods we did try, we discovered that trench composting was the best way to go with kitchen scraps. Simply dig a trench in a unplanted place in the garden, dump in kitchen scraps as you have then, and cover each addition with dirt. Most things decomposed very quickly right in the garden, with the exception of egg shells and hair.
|Covered to keep chickens out,|
and so the rain won't wash it away
|Rows are easier to turn than piles|
Nowadays the recipe for compost is simpler, a ratio actually, of carbon to nitrogen. The ideal is considered around 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen. Since these aren't distinctly measurable in various compostable items, it is often recommended to use 2 parts "green," nitrogen rich ingredients (i.e. manure, kitchen scraps, fresh grass clippings), to 1 part "brown," carbonaceous ingredients, (i.e. dried leaves, straw, hay, sawdust). Of course, you can get as complicated as you want with this. A good detailed explanation can be found here.
|My compost sifter|
Ideally, I'd like to make my compost just from barn cleanings: straw, leaves, and manure. I'd rather feed kitchen and garden scraps to the animals, who can utilize the nutrition as they convert them into that garden gold. Right now we feed a lot of our scraps to the chickens and goats, but there's a lot they won't eat. In thinking about future goals, we'd like to add pigs to help with that, and earthworms for what none of them will eat, things like tea bags, coffee grounds, soggy cardboard, etc. Not sure if we'll add both of these to our goals list for next year, worms for sure. Pigs, we still need to talk about but it's something we definitely need to consider.
How about you? Care to share your experiences and best tips?