When we moved to our new home in December, my sweet husband built a stacking compost bin into which we had been happily discarding our kitchen scraps and yard clippings. Our compost was coming along nicely and was getting quite full when the flood hit! We live in Nashville and were hit by a record breaking flood at the beginning of May. Though our home suffered very little damage (we are so very grateful!), our compost bin was almost completely washed away. Only the bottom tier remained after a river flowed over our entire back yard for 24 hours. Discouraged by our loss of 3/4 of our compost, we stopped our usual collection of kitchen scraps in order to wait until a new compost bin could be built. Weeds began to pop up in the bin and as they grew we realized they were mostly not weeds but rather tomatoes, potatoes, and a vine we think is a squash plant. I had started my garden from seed weeks before the flood, but the plants coming out of the compost bin were healthier and much bigger than my seedlings that had been given far more care and had more time to grow. I was amazed at how much the richness of the soil impacted the plants.
Now I am more passionate about our composting than ever! I am always looking for things to add to the pile. I hope to have lots of mature compost to spread over our entire garden next year. Composting is so easy! If you have the space there is no reason to not do it. I always thought it would smell and attract undesirable animals or bugs but this has not been our experience. There is no odor whatsoever (unless you are turning the pile, then you will notice the smell of things breaking down). And other than the cost of the bin, the collection container and tool used to turn the pile it is absolutely free. I have been using a composting pailwith a charcoal filter in our kitchen to collect scraps each day. I am so happy with it! It has no odor and it a convenient way to transport things to the compost pile.
Tips for composting successfully:
- compost plant material and egg shells only, avoid meat, dairy and bones as these will attract unwanted critters
- keep a pile of grass clippings or other yard waste beside the bin and cover each addition of food scraps with it in order to cut down on flies
- pile can be in a bin or standing alone, make sure it gets plenty of sun and stays slightly moist. Turn the pile every few weeks to allow air to circulate
- the smaller the pieces added to the pile, the quicker they will break down. Smashing egg shells and cutting up citrus rinds will help them to decompose more quickly.
- I found a good resource with more detailed info here.