And you can too!
I started the process last September, when I bought a Garden Gourmet composter (because, yeah, I'm too lazy and inept to build one). And now I have all the nutrient-rich soil I want for use in my container gardens, around bushes and plants, or just to fill in the holes that Ethan and Oreo are constantly digging in the backyard.
Getting up and running with composting was a daunting task for me. Mostly because I'd never done it before and I was afraid of the unknown. Would it stink? Would it be difficult to maintain? Would the neighbors or HOA have a problem with it?
Well all my worrying was for naught.
It took me all of 10 minutes to set the thing up (it just pops together - no special tools required). I haven't had a single problem with critters getting into it (other than the soldier fly larvae) and there is no nasty odor coming emanating from it.
It sits in the oh-so-neat-and-tidy trash bin alcove between the air conditioning condenser and the "real" trash can on the side of the house. No one would ever even notice it, since HOA rules require us to have all that crap hidden behind a lattice structure anyhow. In fact, the first four months we had it, my husband thought it was a trash can. Very unobtrusive.
It's also easy to use. I keep a tupperware container under the sink into which I dump all my kitchen scraps. When it's full, I dump it the contents into the composter and then cover it all up with a layer of dried leaves (kept from last year or scavenged from nearby woods). Occasionally, I turn it. But not often. Amazingly enough, it is doing it's organic thing all on its own - turning into nutrient-rich, dark soil. Ain't life grand?
The really amazing thing though? This one simple change has accounted for a HUGE decrease in the amount of waste we send to the landfill! Instead of paying someone to haul our food waste away and then paying to buy dirt for my plants, I'm doing all the work here at home. The only cost was the initial investment of the composter!
There are many different options to choose from. Here's the low-down on the top four:
Basic Bin Composters: Usually sit directly on the ground. Easy to install and use, but difficult to turn and harvest. Might want to get two so that you can fill one for a season, then fill another while you "harvest" the first.
Tumbling Composters: Free-standing unit that looks like a barrel suspended on legs. You put in scraps and use brute force to literally tumble the compost (like a rock tumbler). Easy to use on a day-to-day basis, but can get difficult to tumble when they get full and heavy. And, you don't need to have a yard to set it on, a deck, patio or roof would work just fine.Again, might want to consider having two so you can fill one while harvesting from another.
Electric Composters: Plug-in unit, about the size and look of a small trashcan. They work by using electricity to heat and aerate the compost (although once it's up and running it generates most of its own heat). Easy to use, takes up very little space and you can harvest the compost in as little as two weeks, while continuing to fill it. Theoretically you can install it right in your kitchen. Realistically, they're best suited for the garage or deck. The downside? Price. They start at $299.
Worm Bin Composters: Also called vermicomposter, but that's a mouthful. These are small bins that hold layers of wet newspaper and red worms. The worms eat the food scraps and give back their own special pooptastic dirt which is like black gold for plants. Fun for kids, a great learning tool and quick to break down scraps. However, they require constant monitoring of temperature, moisture and other factors to keep from killing the worms.
Of course, the links I've given are all for commercial items you can buy, but with a little handiwork and some online blueprints, you can build any of these (except maybe the electric one!) at home. But don't fear the composter! It's a lot easier and not nearly as skeevy as you think!
So the task, if you haven't guessed already, is to start composting! To quote a huge, multi-national shoe conglomerate: "Just Do It!".
Already composting? Offer to let your neighbor compost their waste with yours, or offer some of your homemade magic soil to someone who gardens or has outdoor plants. (tip: don't use compost on indoor plants -- you may be sorry when little critters start to hatch!)
Questions about composting? Log onto the Going Green Yahoo Group and ask away. I'm sure you'll find many folks who have the knowledge you need to get started or keep going!