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5 Tricks that Make Composting Easy as Pie
Look at you, making compost. You go! And why not take the easy road, while you're at it? You're on your way to a free supply of the best fertilizer there is — but before you toss in your next batch of scraps, get in the know about these pearls of composting wisdom.
1. Aim for small chunks, not big hunks.
Chop, shred, rip, tear, pull apart or otherwise downsize your scraps and raw materials, and your compost will "cook" considerably faster.
2. Make fewer trips to the compost bin by using a lidded crock
You can simply use a big bowl or a paper bag to collect your kitchen scraps headed for the composter. But if you're not hip on toting it daily to your outdoor compost bin to empty it, use a compost crock, bucket or canister that has a lid and charcoal odor filter so you can make the trip less often — around twice or even once a week, depending on how much cooking you do. The lid and filter will keep your kitchen habitable and your family relations harmonious while sparing you a daily trek to the big bin.
You can choose from a variety of styles in commercially made countertop compost collection containers that look as "designer" as a kitchen canister — in ceramic, recycled plastic, stainless steel .... The downside of these containers is that they have to be emptied fairly frequently – every few days or so — because they’re not too big. The upside is that they save you constant trips to your outdoor composter — charcoal filters keep stench to a minimum or eliminate it altogether.
Try Bio-Bag compost crock liners, to further minimize odors and keep your crock pristine with less washing.
3. Position your compost bin or pile in a sunny spot.
The composting process goes faster with heat. That's why most compost bins are black or a very dark green — to absorb as much of the sun's heat as possible every day. The higher the temperature in your compost, the better those scraps and clippings will break down and turn into garden gold. If no space in your yard gets much sun, just pick any spot and know that your compost may take a little longer to be done.
4. Try indoor "hot" composting if other methods aren't practical for you.
You can also keep a compost bin in very little outdoor space, even on a small deck at an apartment or condo. But if you're so not that into this scene, or the weather outside is frightful too often to be carting scraps out into it, consider an indoor composting system. These work by using electric power to generate heat, or adding microbes to quickly break down organic matter without making a stink.
5. Don't be a constant composter unless it makes you happy.
Compost happens. Whether you hand-hold it daily, neglect it most of the time, or anything in between, it will "cook" and transform into rich fertilizer as long as you collect both green and brown organic materials in your bin or pile. The big variable is how FAST that happens — and the real question is, what's your agenda?
- If you have your heart set on spreading your finished compost on your garden before this year's growing season is over, and your compost doesn't seem to be cooking fast enough, add compost activator.
- If you're in no particular hurry and don't especially look forward to visitations with your compost every few days, just check it and tend to it on the weekend and cut yourself some slack. Nature will still do its thing in its own time. One coworker of ours has been tossing scraps into her composter for darn near a year without much care as to the size of the scraps she puts in — much less the exact conditions inside the bin on any given peer into its depths. But she is absolutely fine with the fact that parts of it are "done" while other parts still show a practically intact whole apple here and there.
- Many composting veterans recommend having two compost bins: one you're actively adding new materials to, and another you can stop adding to for a month or two while it finishes its job. You'll still need to turn or spin both batches and keep conditions inside amenable to your hard-working microbes, of course. A convenient alternative to the two-bin strategy is a continuous use composter that mechanically separates the "done" compost from the "undone."
It's really up to you.
For more info on how to make compost, see our Complete A to Z Compost Guide