How We Compost

On the garden tour, one of the most frequent questions was, "How do you compost?"

I talked about our compost bins when we built them, but I haven't talked about how we use them.

At first, we tried keeping a special compost bucket under the sink, however--based on the infrequency with which we remembered to empty it--we concluded that we are not adult enough to compost in that manner.  Now we just keep a bowl on the counter when we're cooking dinner.  Having it in plain sight reminds us to empty it after the dinner dishes are finished each night.

We add everything except for meat and dairy scraps, although those do make it into the bowl in very small quantities.  For example, we had salads with steak mixed in for dinner this evening, and didn't pick out the leftover bits of meat before scraping the lettuce and tomatoes into the compost bowl.

Once the compost gets outside, we have three separate bins to put it in.  

At any given time, one bin is "active", meaning that we are adding kitchen scraps and soiled chicken coop wood chips to it.  

The other two are typically in the decomposing stage.  This means that we are turning them (with a pitchfork) about once a month, but otherwise just letting the contents break down.  Compost typically needs to age for six months in order for all the potential pathogens to die before it can be added to a garden.  We typically add it to our garden in large doses in the spring and fall.  That--along with the dark, rich appearance of fully cooked compost--makes it easy to keep track of which compost is ready and which is not.

While you can make composting as complicated as you want to, we like to keep it simple.  To break it down, 1) put your food and garden scraps in the compost bin, 2) wait six months, 3) put the compost on the garden.  Easy peasy!