Small Space Composting

Reader Contribution by Robyn Dolan
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Meanwhile, back at the urban homestead in Southern California, I am getting really tired of throwing away all the food scraps. But being in close proximity to neighbors necessitates a small scale composting system. I maintain a large compost heap in Arizona. Somehow, city folk don’t appreciate that. Not where they can smell it, anyway.

We eat a lot of fresh food here, and that means lots of veggie clippings and such. Eggshells and coffee grounds are also plentiful. Great soil is made from all this stuff, and we are in dire need of soil amendments here. We planted an orange tree, jasmine, grape vines and several herbs a couple of months ago. The remaining lawn looks pretty sad, but it is too hot to put down grass seed and fertilizer, yet. I got steer manure in the spring of last year and it is now well aged and should be rather neutral. Though I would still prefer composted food scraps for our little gardening efforts. The steer manure can go on the grass seed in the fall.

Enter my small space composting system. It cost a grand total of $2, with components found at a local dollar store. The lid is from a plastic shoebox I got for the trailer fridge, to keep the contents from rolling around when we’re rolling. The mesh-style inner basket lets liquids drain into the larger solid basket. This “compost tea” goes right on the garden. The lid is not tight-fitting, but helps contain the heat necessary to break down the scraps. To cut down on the smell I put brown matter on top of the scraps of food. I am currently using handfuls of the dried out steer manure and also cardboard clippings. Sawdust, shredded paper, dirt, and dried leaves or dried grass clippings are other possibilities.

I am still working out where to empty the partly composted materials as the basket fills up. Possibly a 5 gallon bucket with a tight fitting lid. I’ll get that worked out and let you know. I would love to hear more ideas about small space composting.

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