We have known for some time that we wanted to start composting. Initially gardening is what spiked our interest in it but the more we took out the trash the more aware we became that we were contributing to a very large problem.
Landfills release methane gas, which has molecules that can trap up to 30 times more heat than the typical carbon dioxide fossil fuel.
Starting a compost bin or pile is a huge step in reducing your own personal impact on our climate’s current condition. And that’s where we started.
We knew that we wanted a tumbler-style composting system. We have limited space and liked the idea of being able to turn the tumbler to mix the compost rather than using a pitch-fork or shovel to mix it.
We already had our frame that we wanted to use, which was free, and we purchased a 55-gallon plastic drum for $15 from someone nearby.
We did quite a bit of research before actually constructing the tumbler itself. We decided to center the door in the middle of the unit and have the tumbler sit horizontally rather than vertically.
Earl cut the door and placed wooden pieces to frame it out. The next step was to add the hinges for better functionality.
He then cut the wheels out of a block of pine, so that the tumbler can easily spin while on the frame. The wooden wheels are wrapped in duct tape, which works really well. We aren’t going for glamorous!
The final step was to paint the entire unit black. After the paint dried we filled her up!
Our prior research showed us that the recommended nitrogen to carbon ratio is 3:1 or 2:1 – meaning for every 2-3 parts carbon you will use 1 equal part nitrogen. We used three gallon buckets to keep our ratio equal.
When you think of Carbon think Brown. Dried leaves, livestock manure, shredded cardboard, newspaper, coffee filters, etc.
Nitrogen is your organic material, or your greens. Kitchen scraps and food scraps are mostly of what makes up the nitrogen content. Ours mostly contained egg shells, banana peels, apple cores, coffee grounds, etc.
Before we began construction on the compost unit, we shredded cardboard and mixed it with straw and put it in the chicken coops as the bedding. This ended up being most of our carbon source when we filled the bin.
We also added some water (approx. 1.5 gal) and 1 cup of organic composting starter. The purpose of the composting starter is to add beneficial microbes to the compost to give it the kick it needs to start the break down.
After all of our material was added, we gave the bin a few good spins to mix it together and now we’re letting nature do its thing! In a few months we should have rich, healthy compost for our garden beds and plants!
Composting is not and should not be limited to gardeners or those that grow plants of any kind. It’s something that we can all do, regardless of where we live. If you feel interested in composting but aren’t sure what you’ll do with it? Offer it up to someone you know that farms or gardens. If you’re nearby us, we’ll gladly take yours! Join us in saying No to landfills and yes to bringing as much back to nature as we can!
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