Composting I: Building Your Bin

Gardening has always been a hobby of mine but until recently I haven't had much time or space to dedicate to it. My maternal great-grandmother had a green thumb and I was lucky enough to inherit her same love of plants and flowers through the years. I bought a house back in the mid '90s that had established flower beds but then later moved into a condo for several years with no outdoor space and then the conditions in that other not-to-be-mentioned place where I lived weren't right for gardening at all ~ too shady, too many deer and a spouse who didn't want me to make "a mess" in his yard. Now that I am the woman of the house, I can make as big of a mess in my yard as I want to!

Last year was my first attempt at vegetable gardening after a long absence and this year I've also added alot of flowers and herbs to the beds in the back of my house.  During the winter I started adding my fruit and vegetable scraps to my garden area in the hopes of enriching the soil and when I saw that my local library was offering a free one-hour workshop on composting, I decided to check it out and see what I could learn.  The workshop focused on vermicomposting, which is the process by which worms are used to break down food scraps and other items such as grass and leaves that are added to their territory.  The result is a rich earthy matter that can be added to soil.  With the exception of one or two items, I had everything already on hand to put together a composting bin so I was eager to get started.  I will attempt to share my composting experiences with you through a series of blog posts, and today we'll focus on building a bin.

The idea behind this method of composting is that you can do it anywhere so if you are limited on space the bin can be kept on a patio, in a garage, or in a laundry/mudroom room inside your house.  Keep in mind that there are worms involved and supposedly they won't leave the confines of the bin, but I'm not sure how comfortable I am knowing there would be hundreds of worms in my laundry room ~ sounds to me like a possible remake of the movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes ~ so my bin is going to be kept in the far corner of my back yard.



 Items you will need:

A container with a lid  (I used a Rubbermaid plastic tote)
Bungee cord (to secure lid), optional
Drill with drill bit (I used 3/4" bit)
Styrofoam packing peanuts
Landscape fabric (the stuff you put down to keep weeds from growing)
Plastic garden fencing
Shredded newspaper
A couple scoops of potting soil or garden dirt
  


Use the drill to drill holes in the lid and around the container, about 1" or 2" below the rim. You can also drill them in the bottom if you plan to put the container outside. (It may be helpful to know at this point that there is a "forward" and a "reverse" on the drill.  It works much better if you have it in "foward" as I found out about halfway around the tub.)



Fill the tub with a couple of inches of packing peanuts. Cut the plastic fencing to fit and lay over the peanuts and then cover the fencing with a piece of landscaping fabric. This creates a false floor for your bin and allows an area for any drainage that may occur.  If you need to remove the contents of your bin at any time, you can just pick up the fencing and pull it out of the bin easier.

At this point you're ready to use the newspapers and potting soil to make bedding for the worms, add the worms and start feeding them scraps.  I will continue with these steps in the next post.

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