Saturday, April 30, 2011

Composting Black Gold

Rain, rain go away!  It seems that it has rained just about everyday during the month of April, so I haven't been able to do much gardening or yard work.  The weather is suppose to be great this week-end, so I plan to spend the week-end cutting back shrubs, edging the borders around my house, removing dead shrubs and clearing the fence line.  I'll also be starting my first compost bin. 

I did a little research and found this baby on eBay for $50.00 including shipping.  The compost bin that I was looking at initially was at SAMs.  It was a little larger 170 gallons, but almost $70.00 more.  The bin shown is 115 gallons, but I believe will do the job.  As soon as it stops raining, I'll move it from the deck to its permanent spot behind my workshop.  I love the fact that it has 4 doors at the bottom.  Each door lifts, so I'll be able to reach my black gold from all sides.  We put this bin together in about 15 minutes.  It snaps together fairly easily, and for the price, it's study and I believe it will serve the purpose.  We didn't believe that we could build one for $50.00 if you consider materials and time. 

Since I'm a beginner, I did a little research on what I should compost.  Depending on what site you go to will depend on what you should or should not compost.  The only things that all sites were consistent on were dairy and meat products,  dog and cat waste, and human waste. 

Since I want black gold quickly, I decided to play it safe and use the following greens and browns:


  • grass clippings
  • kitchen scraps (vegetables & fruits)
  • weeds from the flower beds
  • fresh clipping from shrubs

  • leaves
  • dried shrub clippings
  • shredded  newspaper
  • toilet tissue and paper towel rolls
  • dead flowers from the house
  • brown paper bags
I have lawn service so my grass is mulched and and spread over the lawn, but my neighbor has graciously offered her grass clippings and fall leaves.  Friends have agreed to save their newspapers, so I believe that I can come up with enough items to decompose.  Once I get this bin filled, I've decided to purchase another.  I'm hoping to have 2 nice piles by the end of the summer.  One I will use for my fall garden preparation, and the other will be ready for spring planting. 

I separated my piles so I can ensure I get a good mixture.  The first layer is suppose to be a layer of brown, twigs, leaves etc. to ensure the mixture gets air.  I used the dead flowers from my deck pots and twigs and leaves from my shrubbery bed.  I than added more browns, shredded newspaper, shredded brown paper bags, and shredded rolls from paper towels and toilet tissue.  Next a layer of freshly cut grass, pulled weeds, and shrub cuttings, which I topped with my kitchen scraps.  The final layer was more grass and soil from edging my borders.  I sprinkled each layer with a little water before closing the lid. 

I need to get a compost bin for my kitchen scraps.  For now, I'm using my stock pot, which can hold a nice pile of scraps.  I throw in cucumber peelings, tomatoes, lemons, potato peelings, carrots, and egg shells.  I decided not to compost bread or styrofoam.  Most posts on composting say not to include it.   

This is shredded newspaper and recycled copier paper from my office.  I shred the paper in my office shredder.  It's heavy duty, so it does a great job. 

This is a mixture of fresh grass  and clippings from my shubbery beds.  My neighbor deposited 4 bags of bagged grass on my lawn.  It's amazing how many weeds, grass and leaves one can accumulate, lol.   I filled the bin in no time. 
I'm going to continue adding to this bin until it's full, so I will have to turn it weekly.  I'll keep you posted on the progress of my black gold!  I would love to hear what and how you compost.  Please leave me a comment. 


  1. Excellent post on composting. I hope it is going well for you. I like the idea of that shredded newspaper.

  2. @Tina - The composting is going great. I just purchased another bin and filled it already. The shredded newspaper actually decomposes faster than if I shred it by hand.

  3. Regina, I have a compost bin just like yours. I started my first one last summer. On July 1, I'll add a second bin, and on July 1 of NEXT year, I'll start my third bin. So I'll always have a ready bin, a cooking bin, and the third bin will be the one we add materials to. It's going to take me two full years to get all that to break down. So in July of 2012, the pile I started in 2010 will be ready. I don't know if you can get two bins ready by the end of the summer unless you plan to turn it daily. Compost takes time but it's so worth it!

  4. @Wendy, My first bin is breaking down nicely. The second is coming along, but neither are heating up as I thought they would. I think I'm going to put fall leaves in the garden in the fall and till them under along with the some of the compost next spring.