Compost Bins

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 24,071
    Master gardener Ed Bruske discusses building compost bins for your garden.

    Ed Bruske

    An award-winning journalist for The Wasington Post in a previous life, Ed Bruske is a Master Gardener and president of D.C. Urban Gardeners, a group dedicated to the greening of the District of Columbia through public education and hands-on volunteer efforts. An accomplished public speaker, Ed focuses his lecture activities on composting and soil ecology. He practices daily organic recycling through composting and vermicomposting at his home about a mile from the White House, where he and his wife are transforming their corner lot into an edible landscape. Ed is a personal chef, caterer and chef-in-residence at The Washington Youth Garden, located at the U.S. National Arboretum in the District of Columbia. He also writes about composting and cooking from the garden on his blog, The Slow Cook, www.theslowcook.blogspot.com.

    Hi, my name is Ed Bruske with D.C. Urban Gardeners. We are here in my garden in the District of Columbia talking about compost. Now, I want to talk to you a little bit about compost bins. We like to say in the composting world that compost happens, it is been happening for eons before humans ever came on the scene because it is a natural thing, but for us, if we want to have a compost in a organized fashion, it is nice to have some sort of a bin to put your scraps in and your grass clippings, your leaves, your kitchen scraps, the debris from your garden. It's nice to have a nice and organized place to put it so that decomposition can take place.

    Actually, there is a good reason to have your compost bin of certain size. As you can see this one is just made of sticks put in the ground with some very simple wire mesh around it, but it is designed to be about three feet wide, three feet tall and three feet deep. That's considered to be about the minimal size to give the mass to that compost heap so, the bacterial action inside can heat up enough to actually encourage the composting process. It can be bigger. Some people just have a big pile in the backyard and they let it happen all on its own. Some farmers have giant composting operations with frame buildings and machines that turn it. You are going to have a composting bin made out of wood from the lumber yard and all enclosed neatly in wire mesh especially, to keep out rats and many rodents you may have in the area, but mine here is just the simplest possible one that gives me the correct size and I also have a system of three compost bins side by side.

    If you are wondering about that, as you can see on this right hand side here, on my right, I have almost finished compost. I started this pile about three months ago and it is just about done. It is looking almost like garden soil. In the middle it is blank and on my left or behind me is a new compost pile I have started. Well, the blank one in the middle is there so that you can turn that compost from one pile to the other and the turning process is pretty essential to composting and then when it is set for a while and composted, turn it back into its original bin and make room for turning a second pile. Next, we are going to be talking about smells and those pests I mentioned before. Doesn't compost attract that? Those kinds of things and is there anything you can do about them when composting for your garden.