Monday, April 11, 2011

Compost Sunday!

When I first moved to California, I had two composters.  One was my closed composter, which was designated for kitchen greens, light green yard waste, garden yard waste, and of course random leaves added to balance green and brown.

The second composter was an 2.5' x 2.5' x 3.5' plastic container.  The plastic was molded to look like slats to provide air to the composter.  At the bottom was a door which slid up and down where one could theoretically removed wonderful brown, crumbly, earthy compost.  I designated this composter for yard waste only.  Nothing food-like in this composter to attrack scavengers looking for food; grass, leaves, and a few small, woody branches only.

One day I lifted off the lid to add to the compost and like a lightening strike, a huge (don't be offended, we live at the top of a canyon) RAT shot out of the composter like nothing I had ever seen.  He was spring loaded.  Let me say if I could do a standing jump as far as this rat did, I would be the uncontested Olympic jumper for the next century.  Both of us were a little unhappy that day.  In hindsight, I realized that what I had created was the most inviting of rat condominiums.  Twigs, dry leaves, warm decomposing grass, what would a rat not love about this abode?  While I try to live in harmony with the critters of my environment, I try not to purposely create habitats for the unseemly.  The composter had to come out.

So now, I just have my completely enclosed composter which I sit with the bottom edge a few inches below dirt level to discourage anything trying to enter from the bottom.  Its design makes turning next to impossible, so a few times a year, I dump the whole thing out, remove any compost ready to the garden and return the rest back to the composter.

Result:  I didn't find any compost ready to add back to the garden. However, I did find hundreds of wonderful, wriggling worms which were ready to add to the garden.  As I shoveled the compost back in, I would come upon a colony of worms--more like a worm-pile--and placed them on the garden soil.  By the time I had finished my compost turning, the worms had worked their way into the garden soil.

With the warmer months of summer approaching, the composter should be hotter and by the end of summer, I should have compost ready to add to the garden. 

Note to composter novices:  Don't let this rat story discourage you from composting.  I have composted all over the U.S. and only in California have I had problems like this.


Anonymous said...

Did you build that green composter? If so, what did you use? Which composters do you recommend?

earlysnowdrop said...

The green composter was a store purchase. I love my green composter because if is completely enclosed. I did try one of those rotating composters a few years ago. I didn't have much luck with it.

Someday I would like to try vermicomposting.


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