Organic gardening and composting go hand and hand. With more families making the commitment to create their own organic gardens, thanks to the White House initiatives started by first lady Michelle Obama, the desire to learn more about composting is growing rapidly. The compost barrel is a valuable asset to any gardener and, when properly used, can provide nutrient rich soil and bright, vibrant crops.
Choosing the proper compost barrel can depend on your needs. A small, 30 gallon compost bin can provide adequate space for a small family and yield enough compost for a backyard garden. For those with larger needs and small farms, custom built compost barrels or large compost bins can provide enough compost to fertilize crops.
There are many manufacturers that make compost barrels that are ventilated and easy to mix and turn. These commercially made compost bins are practical for the home composter and are rather affordable. For a larger compost bin, there are designs and plans for building your own with materials that are often found lying around a residential property or farm.
Composting is the process of disposing of organic materials so that they biodegrade into rich, nutrient packed soil. With the proper ingredients, and a few turns or stirs to help aerate the composting material, you should have nutrient rich soil with very little time or effort.
Once your compost bin is placed in a sunny spot outdoors, it can be filled with organic material, like vegetable and fruit matter, egg shells and whole, unprocessed grains. As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid putting meat, bones and fats, treated wood products and human and pet waste in your compost barrel.
Compost barrels need four key elements to produce composted soil efficiently. Proper ventilation allows air to reach the microbes that facilitate decomposition. Water provides adequate moisture and putting your compost barrel in a well lit area will provide the heat necessary for healthy compost production. The combination of food for the microbes should contain an equal amount of brown, or dried and dead, matter and green, or fresh, matter. For organic gardening, it’s important to consider that all material placed in the compost barrel should be organic in origin. Non-organic materials will produce non-organic compost, which would not be suitable for your organic garden.
Composting can be a great way to utilize and repurpose waste from the kitchen and from our gardens. By recycling our waste and turning it into a valuable resource to facilitate the growth of new vegetation, we can begin to take steps to reduce our contribution to landfills. A compost barrel is one of the ultimate green accessories found around a home or garden.