I was lucky the child of progressive (non-native) Californian parents and grew up composting. It wasn’t until my teen years when we left a house with a yard that I put banana peels and coffee grounds in the trash. Recycling food waste back into the ground and eventually back into our plants was all a part of the game. It’s a lifestyle choice (is that the thing to call it?) that suits me and my ample compostable kitchen waste, and with a garden of my own I’m ready to return to it.
While I’ve maintained and turned many existing compost piles, I’ve never begun one. Do I go with the barrel drum method in which scraps pile inside a black plastic vessel and can be turned with a crank-like feature? No, one of the great pleasures of composting is turning the pile and witnessing the decomposition process and all its players (fingers crossed for ample wormage). Do I build a bin with stacked boxes like a beehive? Maybe, but the construction is a bit laborious. Perhaps I should turn to fermentation with the Bokashi system. Too expensive?
The method I’m most familiar with, as my father has employed it for some thirty years, simply involves three wooden pallets, placed vertically on a perpendicular angle against a solid wall. It allows for a pile of fresh scraps, which then move to the next section of rot, and then the final stage of break down where the compost is ready to use. This requires space, dirt, and a non-chalant attitude toward pests (especially rodents). As I have neither excessive space, dirt, or any tolerance for pests the box will have to be impenetrable and possibly raised.
I’ve really enjoyed Alys Fowler’s Garden Anywhere and accompanying BBC show for ideas, but nothing fits exactly right. In any case I need to decide soon, because every melon rind and onion skin that goes into plastic for the landfill adds weight to the pit feeling in my stomach.
Do you or have you composted? Have you thought of using a worm bin if you’re short on outdoor space?