Thursday, May 06, 2010

a tale of two composters

Earlier this year, the city of Nacogdoches received a grant, which paid for 180 compost tumblers. These tumblers would be freely available to Nacogdoches residents on a first come, first serve basis, provided they attend a two hour long class about the wonderful world of composting. Nathan and I missed the first round of classes but were able to slip into the last one. On Tuesday night, we headed to the county courthouse and listened as a man with a pleasantly thick East Texas accent enlightened us about dog manure vs. chicken shit, the importance of bacteria, and the correct carbon to nitrogen ratios.

You may remember that Nathan built us a composter last spring. If not, here's a refresher:

While crafty and upcycled from Dr. Pepper syrup barrels, the composter had some design flaws. Once it was full, it became very hard to turn. Also, we did not put the correct ratio of materials into the composter, which means our grass clippings and kitchen waste just kind of... rotted. Not cool. Nathan ended up dismantling this composter and we wrote it off as a lesson learned the smelly way.

The class we took Tuesday night has made us much wiser, and much more confident about our composting abilities. Yesterday, Nathan picked up our free tumbler and assembled it in less than ten minutes. Works like a charm! In a year, we have to report back to the city how many gallons of soil we create. Until then, we will be diligently collecting, composting, tumbling, and keeping all our organic refuse out of the dumpster and returning it back to the earth.

And speaking of organic matter, we got our new composter in the nick of time. I've been on a major fruit kick these last few weeks, eating five servings of apples, bananas, berries and melons every single day. I can't stop and I don't want to. As I have yet to feel any ill effects ("The proof is in the pudding," as Mary T. so delicately put it) I will continue gorging myself on fresh fruit and putting all the scraps into my composter like a good little hippie.

Fresh avocados, two for a dollar - be still my heart! And get in my belly!


  1. Happy composting, very cool. :)

  2. So I'm looking at that pic on the cover of the handbook and thinking can you still do it that way? Because that is what I've been thinking about doing in our huge backyard. Seems like that would just rot, as you described in your first attempt.

    I don't think my husband would be supportive of buying a composter (besides we have way too much yard waste, I mean our yard is HUGE). I just don't know what to do, but I know I want to do more than just putting my plastic and paper out on Wednesdays.

    Maybe I can get involved in my small town (yes, my neighborhood is actually a small town in the middle of Houston) and make them get in on this grant thing.

    Sorry for rambling, but this was a very inspiring post. :)

  3. Catazon - you can definitely do it both ways. We are actually thinking of making a composter like the one pictured, because we create a lot of food waste and would like a starter composter and a finisher. You just have to make sure you rotate the stuff in the yard and balance the carbon and nitrogen, so it doesn't just rot. Also, if you do one on the ground, in an enclosure, you can put earthworms in it, which will speed up the composting process significantly! (If you put them in the tumbler, the tumbling would tumble them to death - sad worms!)

    Let me know how it goes!

  4. Aha, earthworms! The kid would really like that...the worms are eating the trash out back. Cool!

    Thanks for the info!

  5. I am on a commenting tear; forgive me. I read this post awhile back, but I just wanted to comment about the compost class guy. He was very nice and knowledgeable and I noticed his belt buckle said "Whatever High School Rodeo Champ 1999." And a moment of clarity told me he was younger than me. And then I felt strange. Everyone is starting to be younger than me. This is uncompost-related, but maybe you will think back to that dude and imagine how weird a moment that was.

  6. Really? How old was that dude? He seemed not incredibly young to me, but then I guess we aren't either. I think he is from the same town as Amy. Small world/Texas!

  7. I thought he had to be mid to late 30s at least, but based on his belt buckle, he couldn't be more than 29. Maybe I just think that is a big difference because I am 29 and on the cusp of impending oldness, or what I always thought was old.