We’ve told you about options for composting in the city, now learn how to make your own!
What do you do with your leftovers? We have the faithful dog who wants to act as the pre-rinse cycle- but he doesn’t work for veggie scraps and the like! Just kidding. Well, sort of. After moving into the Shirlington community, and finally getting settled in, we’ve decided to get started on our “blank slate” that is our back yard. We set aside the far back corner of our yard for a spot for a compost bin.
For the compost bin we are going to build in our back yard, we decided on the easy corral style- but there are many other options aside from this simple compost bin.
What you will need:
You can start a compost bin by finding some recycled wooden pallets, and clearing the ground and laying some weed barrier. Sometimes old newspaper will work as a good base. Next, set the pallets along their sides and use some “L” brackets to screw them together. Pre-drill the screw holes at the top and bottom of the pallets and then align the “L” brackets and screw them in. Repeat this for both sides. Position the newly constructed bins over the cleared and prepped ground. Congratulations, you have constructed a double bin compost pile in a corral style.
Another even more simple option that I learned about after we’d already built our little beauty is the trenching method for composting. You can find a plot of garden where you haven’t planted anything yet, and dig a foot deep trench. Pour the contents of your kitchen compost pale into the trench and cover it. Then, the next time you have compost, you go outside and add on to your trench. I started a little teial area, and I have found that I like to dig my next section right after I cover up the first. I feel like I’m being proactive if I do it that way…
Now you will make compost out of the organic scraps from your unused rinds, soggy lettuce, egg shells and more. Definitely look up items that you should not put into the compost such as animal products and seeds. You don’t want your compost to start sprouting when you mix it into the soil as an amendment. What do you do with the two sides of the compost bin? Use one to keep new soil to mix into the organic materials you collect and use the other to toss those scraps from inside. Remember not to put any sticks or wood into the pile, unless you have ground it, otherwise, it will be hard to mix up. Every couple of weeks, take a pitchfork or shovel and turn your organic scraps with some of the soil from the other side. When you have enough compost, and are ready to use it in your next planting, dig a hole, pour scoop some of your compost up, mix it in with fresh soil, and then plant your happy new green thing!
There are a number of options for creating a compost bin. Research which one is going to be the best for your needs. Remember that you can also compost on your own kitchen counter! Some people even opt to save their scraps and use a service such as Arlington’s own Compost Cab.
Happy planting! Remember that if you don’t have your own space for a garden, look into getting a plot at a community garden. There are plenty of community gardens around Northern Virginia. It is a great way to relieve stress, grow some veggies and meet your neighbors.