Small Space Composting, Part 2
By Robyn Dolan
Update on my small-space composting system. In my last post, I was wondering what to do with the contents of the small compost basket as it filled up. I think I have hit on a solution. When the mesh basket fills up, I empty it into a 5-gallon bucket with a tight fitting lid. I drilled 1/4” holes at regular intervals all around the sides of the bucket.
I had to relocate both the small composter and the 5-gallon bucket a couple of times due to the smell, but I seem to have that worked out now. The small composter sits in the garage, which is conveniently close to the kitchen for dumping scraps. Every few days, I empty it into the larger bucket.
When the large bucket fills up, I lay it down on its side in the side yard to compost. Every few days, I nudge it over with my foot. After 3 weeks, the full bucket is down to about half-filled and nearly composted. It is still a bit sour smelling, though, so I’m letting it continue to sit. The eggshells are the main things that are still not broken down, but they can just get crushed a bit more and put in the garden like that. Now I need to make a second 5-gallon composter to rotate off with the first one. I think two will be enough for now, but I might need three as the weather cools and composting takes longer.
I’m also going to put the 5-gallon bucket inside a solid bucket, so that I can keep it in the back of the truck. The winter sun coming through the window of my camper shell may help the composting continue at a reasonable pace. The bottom bucket can catch the compost tea, which can go on whatever garden I happen to be at. The inner bucket will be the compost.
Some sources state that this type of compost system should yield compost in as little as 2 weeks. My results look to be taking about 2 months, but that’s alright with me. It’s better than 6 months to a year or so.
The urban garden is doing well. The grass is starting to come back, the jasmine and grapes are climbing the walls, and the orange tree is starting to shoot up. I have been able to use fresh oregano and rosemary in my cooking already. I’ve made a large jug of mint tea with the peppermint and spearmint. The lavender is holding steady, but the strawberries didn’t make it. I put in some radishes and lettuce, but they don’t seem too happy right now. Maybe it’s just too hot. I will be heading back to the Arizona homestead soon, so I hope everything survives until my next visit.
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