My Experience with Backyard Composting
I use a store bought composter called the Soil Saver. It's made out of plastic and is fairly easy to set up and quite sturdy. The black plastic serves a dual puprose - it retains heat and hides the unsightly contents of the bin. It also has a lockable lid, which is useful for windy days with storms. There are hatches at the bottom for extracting the fully decomposed compost, but I find it easier just to dig it up.
Using the bin is straightforward. Starting it requires pouring in some soil and with at least a shovelful or two of soil from a natural wooded area to help with starting the bacterial and fungal cultures, which will be the primary decomposers. Collected uncooked vegetable and fruit food scraps are dumped into the bin every day or two. The contents of the bin are aerated using a spade every two or three days. Occassionally, some water is added to keep the contents moist. Every month or two, I add some soil to the bin. I normally mulch grass clippings, so I do not add those to the bin.
One of the major unexpected benefits of maintaining a compost bin was a significant decrease in the amount of waste generated by the household. The trash bin felt much lighter after we started composting. Interestingly, the compost bin was not filling up very quickly. I think that this is because a sizable amount of the mass of organic waste is composed of water , which is drained out during the decomposition process.
Contrary to my fears that a keeping a pile of rotting food in the backyard would would attract animals and annoy neighbors, I found that animals are largely not bothered with the bin, and keeping it well aerated ensures that no pungent odors were generated. I am largely impressed by how painless the operation of the bin is.
We found that a single compost bin was more than enough to handle all of our food scraps and assorted yard trimmings. The amount of compost generated is less than I initially expected. The quality of the compost itself looks quite good, with the source material having decayed fully. I have not yet had the opportunity to see how well the plants in the garden take to it as fertilizer. Overall, I have been very pleased with composting and would highly recommend it.
This is not meant to be comprehensive. Refer to a composting guide for more details. ↩︎