Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pot Composting: Yesterday, I Buried Something Rotten

You heard it right. Yesterday, I did bury something rotten and no it wasn't my transgressions that I buried but some rotten things that, if thrown in the garbage, will add to the mass and unsightly smell in the city’s landfill.

Lately, I have been obsessed with anything organic and I started to transform a patch of area in the backyard into a vegetable garden. Well, blame it for this Facebook movement called Grow Food, Not Lawns. Unfortunately, the dirt in the backyard is as solid as a rock and devoid of nutrients. It is somewhat clay-ish and retains too much water after a heavy downpour.  

And so for this post, I am going to talk about how to make compost in your backyard. Apparently, not too many people are blessed with spacious backyards (including me) so I decided to make my own compost using the empty clay planters which their fates are yet to be decided. If we all do this, imagine how much space we can spare in our landfills and how much money we can save from buying and using mined fertilizers. And so for this, you need the following materials:

  • Gloves
  • Hand shovel or old spoon
  • Pot
  • Fruit peelings (minced, if possible)
  • Dry leaves
  • Garden refuse
  • Soil
  • Earthworms
  • Water

Safety first! Wear your garden gloves.  Get a pot and fill the bottom thinly with soil. This will serve as the first layer. Fill the second layer with the minced fruit and vegetable peel.  Try to avoid putting onion, garlic and lemon peels to the compost as they contain volatile oils which may kill the earthworms in the compost pot. This is according to the many references found online but I’d like  to see for myself if this is true or not. This calls for  experiments in the future. By the way, don’t put bones or shells on the bin. Common sense tells us that earthworms do not have teeth so they cannot degrade it and, no, pet feces (although may be considered as garden refuse) should not go into your compost for hygiene reasons. Bury it in the ground instead.

Add dry leaves and fresh garden refuse. The brown decaying component is a good source of Carbon while the green components such as the garden refuse is a good source of Nitrogen. Alternate the soil and fruit peeling layers until you have almost reached the brim of the pot.  Water the compost and cover it with a lid or a few leaves.

Let the contents decay in the pot for several weeks or months. Don’t forget to turn the contents of the pot at least once a week to promote aerobic respiration. This also eases the temperature build up in the compost which may likely kill the earthworms. The main goal here is to promote an environment that is suitable for the earthworms to proliferate. The wastes produced by the worms also improve the nutrient content of the compost. Leave the compost for about 45 to 60 days while keeping it constantly moist.  I have yet to see what mine will look like but I am a bit excited. And by the way, the best thing about composting on pots is that they don’t really produce too much foul smell so you don’t need to worry about your neighbors complaining.

The compost produced should look like black loose humus (they look like used coffee grounds) and the earthworms would have multiplied as well. Hey, I might make my own earthworm farm in my backyard but the little kids hate worms. 

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