Compost: A Day in the Life

Recently, I’ve been improving my compost game – in my backyard, that is. Checking on the pile, turning the material with my shovel, and identifying the bits that don’t seem to break down as quickly – it’s fun, educational, and not too malodorous. It is one of the most beneficial things to do for raised bed soil!

While I’m not the most scrupulous composter, I do take care to not add anything that attract pests. That means, nothing meaty or greasy, and generally I don’t add large seed pits. During the week, I continually fill up a repurposed yogurt container (32 oz) with organic waste like eggshells, veggie discards, teabags after removing string and little staples, coffee grounds, etc..

It’s important to have good airflow, so the pile should not be compacted or too wet. However it should have some moisture to facilitate microbial and fungal activity.

Step 1: Before Adding to the Pile

Sometimes I keep the containers in the freezer to avoid any odors. Since they stay capped, they don’t stink if left out in colder months. If you have a sizeable household or tend to add a lot of organic material, you might need a proper bin to store the discards before adding to your pile.

Step 2: Adding to or Starting the Pile

Once your discards container is full, take it out and mix the contents into your “compost stash”. Turn existing soil or bulky carbon material (like newspaper shreds or leaf litter) into it with previously discarded material. Turn some leaves and coffee grounds into it if you have them.

Here is an area where I started composting my fava plant cover crop to prepare for spring planting. You can see it is covered with a burlap sac – you can get these at your local roaster, like I did at Naked Coffee.

Composting Fava Plants

Doesn’t it smell? No – it’s just plant matter and egg shells, plus there’s nowhere for the stench to accumulate once mixed into the earth. Importantly, it doesn’t attract pests if well-kept or enclosed. During the week, I add and turn the material about 2 to 4 times. Sure, you can turn it daily, according to your setup or needs. Careful not to hurt your back! Wash your hands after working your compost, observe the process over time, and enjoy!

Written by Alex A.

Note from the editor (Cat X.): I use a vermicompost bin, which is a stackable set of bins with added composting materials, some soil material, and worms! I got my worms from some friends that had a vermicomposting bin already and I have never needed to get more (they reproduce on their own). I keep my vermicompost in my living room, which freaks some people out, but it doesn’t bother me – the worms are like little pets (and just like Alex’s compost, it doesn’t smell! It just smells like soil if you open it). I don’t do very much gardening anymore… I mostly just like to feed the worms and reduce my trash pile a bit!

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