My hope is that by sharing our experiences you'll try composting yourself.
1. Unwanted Guests.
I'll be honest, I had a number of concerns before starting composting. One that was most worrisome was the unwanted guests. I imagined my compost pile becoming the nightly buffet for the neighborhood critters. The last thing I wanted was to let the dogs out at night to have them encounter raccoons, possums and such. I was also worried about the smaller critters as well and that their presence would entice cats, owls or even snakes to take up residence.
In the 3+ years we have been composting I have never run into this problem. The main culprits raiding our compost were our own dogs. By following the rules of what to include in your compost pile and more importantly what not to include takes care of this problem for the most part. The "treat" that seemed to entice our dogs more than anything else was egg shells. (I'll share how we handled that below)
Composting by definition is the decaying of organic matter that is used to improve soil. The word that makes my nose itch is decaying, as it probably does yours. Chances are we have all opened a container from the fridge and have been hit by the nasty smell of something decaying, rather spoiling. When it comes to composting there is a difference. First off it is important to follow the rules of what can and can't be composted. Meat, dairy and cooked foods are a no for a number of reasons and let's face it we all know they stink to high heaven when decaying. If you tend to your compost pile you shouldn't have any issues. We have had ours located next to a fence and our neighbor has never complained.
No one should be considering having a compost pile in the middle of their front lawn, I don't care how organic your landscaping design is. Most people tend to keep their piles in a back corner or out of the way spot in their yard. We have tried three different types of composting.
- First we did the "pile". Basically it is just what it sounds like, we piled all of our materials in an area and we did have some success. This was also when we had problems with the dogs stealing the egg shells.
- Next using recycled pallets we created a bin. Most people are very successful with this. The problem for us with this style (and with the pile) is that where we have our compost is under pine trees. Pine straw takes longer to break down due to the wax on it. While some is fine in your compost the amount we were naturally accumulating was offsetting the balance needed for composting to occur.
- Currently we are using Soil Saver composting bins. Normally we would be too cheap to buy composting bins however Sam's had this model on clearance last fall for $25. I wish I had bought more than 2. Our compost does seem to be working faster now that it is confined, and I love the access doors on the bottom.
If you're like us you create most of your composting kitchen waste at night while making dinner. No one wants to head out to the compost pile at night. We tried having a bowl inside that we would add to but that really didn't work. We tired various containers and the consistent downside was that anything left for more than a day attracted flies (GROSS). What we now have is a small metal bucket from IKEA that has a lid. It is just outside our backyard door and no four-legged critter has bothered it.
Composting is growing in popularity. It was surprising to learn how many communities are actually offering composting bins as part of their Waste Services, wish ours did. Many farmer's markets are including stalls with not only information on composting but supplies as well. With the restaurant community's focus on local produce many have partnered with farms and send them their compostable kitchen waste. Composting isn't just for those with a yard. Patio gardening has become quite popular and there are many sites with all the information you need to compost your waste too. Another option is worm composting which I would really like to try.