Friday, August 9, 2013

Let's Talk About Dirt

{alternate title of "let's talk dirty" may have landed the wrong people on this blog...}

I bought a couple raised garden beds yesterday. As I was researching how to plant in them for next spring, I came across information on composting.

Let me first start by saying that when I had a certain fourteen friends come visit back in June that many of them were proving they were more hippie than me. I was getting a lot of flack for not being a composter and when it was encouraged to use compost in vegetable gardens (of which I just committed myself), I dug deeper. Get it? Dig... as in dirt? Ha. 

I consulted a few of those hippie friends I was talking about above and asked for their input. Just for fun, let's create a list of things that constitute one as a hippie (but not limited to):

- vegetarians and especially vegans
- driving a Prius or anything made by Volkswagon before 2000.
- piercings or tattoos (sometimes associated)
- breastfeeding mamas
- cloth diapering mamas
- attachment parenting parents
- babywearers
- owning Birkenstocks
- people with dreadlocks
- people who have their own veggie gardens
- Whole Foods shoppers
- wearing or consuming anything with hemp
- pot smokers
- most people in the states of Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and about 1/2 the state of California
- people who compost

I realize the list could be much longer, but let's consider the purpose of this post. Dirt.

I was all sold and ready to purchase this compost bin last night but my husband encouraged me to sleep on it.

So I did. And I'm still about 80% sold today. The other 20% of me is lazy and that concerns me slightly. Let's also brief what my husband had to say about the whole idea:

"We are not becoming those people!"
"I repeat, if I had any say in this, the answer would be no. Also, do you have any idea how big 52 gallons is?"
"Meanwhile, the neighbors are going to know we're freaking composters. That's like being a Beetle driver. Put a little flower right in the console. Are you kidding me."

Ah, but we all know he has no say in the matter. And honestly, he's fine with it as long as I really want it.

So for those of you out there who compost, here are questions I'd like answered that I could probably consult Google for instead... but what fun is that?

- Will rodents be attracted despite having a sealed (yet airated) container?
- What if I have too much compost? What will I do with all. that. dirt?
- How does composting work in sub-zero temps like we get for about 6 months of the year in Chicagoland?
- Any other recommendations or reasons the 20% of me should be talked down from the hippie pedestal?

Thank you, from the bottom of my veggie-loving heart.
p.s. I thought I would note that after 9 months sans nosering, I stuck it back in with no effort. I'm looking the part now again, too.

13 comments:

AshleaD said... [Reply to comment]

Oh Brandy, You've officially made me a hippie. Between the hubs and I we hit the top 3 on your list! Give us a few years and we will probably be nailing a bunch of the other ones too! haha

Mama Bear said... [Reply to comment]

We have that exact composter and it isn't really that big. Because you eat lots of yummy hippie food that could go in it, I bet anything smaller would be too small. In full disclosure, I have to admit, I have not been using it this year but I'm just lazy. It is only a little stinky when opened, but not at all when closed and no rodents could get into it. It could go pretty unnoticed next to your deck, behind the garage or wherever. It rolls easily which is nice for mixing it all around. The little canister you need in the kitchen is more of a pain to me and requires more thorough cleanings to not get stinky. In the winter, everything just freezes so not much compost is being made, but no big deal. You'll have to figure out how much brown versus green stuff to put in because the first year, we made a mistake and put too many small sticks and twigs and yard waste and it didn't like to break down quickly. Good luck!

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

We compost, and by we I mean I add moldy food and my FiL takes care of the rest. However, my recommendation is to get one that has 2 compartments. The trouble we have is you need to be able to cook your compost without adding to it for a certain amount of time and if you don't have 2 compartments you're screwed on where to put your new composting. This blog post helped with my questions
http://www.girlsgonechild.net/2013/05/eat-well-compost-with-most.html
However, we do not use pellets because the suggestion made my FiL laugh hardily, though having our compost too wet has been an issue. We now put in all our paper towels and he adds cut up cardboard boxes. I hope you have fun!

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

*laugh heartily

Laura McCannell said... [Reply to comment]

I don't know why you neglected to include the photo of a certain creature I sent you last night.

that would have MADE this post. Just saying. hahahahha

Jessica said... [Reply to comment]

Dang...didn't realize I was that much of a hippie! (Although mostly a wanna-be on most of your qualifications.)

We have a different spinning composter and it is super easy. If you keep a good balance of veg and dry matter in the bin and turn it regularly there should be no foul order or unwanted critters. There are a couple of great resources online and a book (I think it's called Eat More Dirt) that were especially helpful on how to compost.

My first year I added a shovel or two of soil that happened to contain earth worms...they were helpful in speeding things along. I rarely add to the bin during the winter because things don't break down quite as quickly. Plus it's cold and I get get much lazier when it's cold!

I doubt you'll have too much compost. You can always spread it on flower beds and even your lawn. Since I am impatient I made a sifter out of 2x4s and wire screen to filter out the larger debris pieces that still need to break down to go back in to the composter.

Happy composting!

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

Julie T composts?! I knew I liked that one. And sounds like you should definitely get the bin. Man, maybe we can do this in a rental? I'm super jealous.

Mama Bear said... [Reply to comment]

@Caroline

Ha ha Okay, you are inspiring me to stop being lazy and not use the canister, but just have a bowl that goes in the dishwasher (they come in handy! :) at the end of every day when it's emptied.

I definitely would not want a composter that you have to manually stir up. Ick.

Like Amelia said, it is better to have two. My brother-in-law who is way more hard core than us has two huge ones--one to add to each day and one that is farther along and is actually resembling dirt. But that is a lot of work and takes up a 5x10ft section of their yard!

Easy enough for a rental and to move this composter if you are already getting a moving truck for the rest of the house. The mess is pretty self contained.

Becky said... [Reply to comment]

I have considered composting before but don't know if I will ever actually do it. And like others have said I think according to your list I am half way to being a full blown hippie. HA!

Kristi said... [Reply to comment]

HA. I've thought about composting (or getting a rabbit) because I don't like throwing away veggie scraps. However, now I have even more concerns that I didn't even know I needed to have before! Let me know if you get this and want/need extra veggie scraps.

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

My best advice? Don't overthink it. Seriously. Composting is not hard. Just throw your stuff in a bin, swirl it around, and eventually you'll have some good dirt (it does take a while). Rodents aren't going to be attracted to a sealed plastic container full of dirt. You put enough grass clippings in there and your food won't stink. Food breakdown creates its own heat, but will probably still freeze in Chicago winter. That's fine. Even less stink/attraction for critters. Seriously, I'm very lazy and if I can handle it, so can you.

I agree that the bin in the house is the grosser part. I'd rather carry a bowl straight outside each time then have a bin of scraps and eggshells sitting on my counter or in my cabinet.

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

What a chuckle! Hippie is a state of mind, not just external classification. ;-)

Because you probably enjoy hard facts, here you go, from my favorite gardening experts. The container doesn't matter so much; a well-maintained compost pile will not attract rodents. It's too hot or too soggy most of the time. Stir in new additions well.

http://www.chicagolandgardening.com/CGMPages/QandA/Techniques.htm#Compost

http://web.extension.illinois.edu/homecompost/

http://web.extension.illinois.edu/mg/events/
Note their webinar on composting.

http://www.thegrowingplace.com/classes.html
Check back in March for classes.

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

Forgot to add that the Extension office can connect you to soil testing labs (good idea for Oct-Jan months). This article explains why, where, and how:

https://web.extension.illinois.edu/state/newsdetail.cfm?NewsID=28130