The baby steps challenge I set for myself a year ago last July was to start composting. It had become more necessary when we started receiving a CSA delivery and there were a lot more food scraps.
I'm happy to report that this challenge has become such a habit that I can't imagine throwing things like potato peels, tea bags, or eggshells in the trash anymore. I've even managed to get my husband to go along with the program most of the time, although he still sometimes gets confused about what can be composted. He found a container that we put right outside the back door to throw scraps on their way to the bin, which is very helpful. And it took me almost a year, but I finally put the Pillsbury doughboy to rest (sold for $5!) and purchased a beautiful crock on ebay that sits on the counter.
One of the unintentional byproducts of composting that I love is that we're producing much less trash, and it's much less smelly. My husband likes this too, since he's now only taking the trash out to the curb once every three weeks or so. It's hard to imagine we ever took it out nearly every week. We used to have to plan who would take it out for us if we were out of town, what a waste of effort.
So I give myself high marks for tackling something that initially seemed very foreign to me, not to mention having a high "ick" factor (worms), and making it a habit. And if you're thinking about composting, if I can do it, so can you.
However, having done so well with throwing all that stuff in bins, I've now got two bins the size of the one in the picture and one twice that size filled to the brim with various stages of compost. I didn't do as well with turning it, and in fact hardly ever did it. So now I'm not sure what's the best way to go about turning this into compost that can actually be used. And I'm not a big gardener, so I don't know when/if I'll use it, but I can give it away.
Incidentally, I didn't need to buy any worms. They did indeed find their way into my bins, even in the hard dry soil of Southern California.
I used this tutorial from The Frugal Girl to get started. If you're ready to start composting, I encourage you to read it and you'll see how easy it is to save food scraps from the landfill and create your own compost to grow plants and flowers. All you need is a container, a drill, and about fifteen minutes of your time.
Composting experts, I still have a few questions. How do you know when you have the right combination of green and brown materials? I think I might have used too many leaves in an effort to make sure the food didn't smell or attract bugs, and the little bit I tried to use seemed too dry. But maybe that was because I didn't turn it enough. How often do you turn it, and if it hasn't been turned for many months, is it too late to start? Can you ruin compost? Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section.
Do you compost? Give us your best tips! Thanks again to all my readers who helped me through the process last summer with your excellent advice. Check out my original post on the subject and this update to read all the helpful user comments.