Sometimes I think you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at my current homestead that I’ve actually done most of this stuff before.  I’ve got several years of gardening experience, I’ve kept food producing animals (well, just bees), and I’ve been around the composting block a few times before too.  But everything is different in this home, and I feel like I’m learning it all from scratch.

None of it is worse than with my compost pile.  Before Jeremy and I got married, Elijah and I lived with my mother, in a house with a large, beautiful back yard where I was able to keep an 8×40 foot garden, and honey bees, and a large, unruly, functioning compost pile.  I started the compost pile one winter, by walking out to the back corner of my garden and dumping a bag of compostables.  And from that day forward, I just threw compostables in the pile, and slowly, slowly, I got compost.

Here, we didn’t have the space for a pile of that nature, and tidy Jeremy does not like the idea of such a wild and free compost pile, so we got a compost bin.  It wasn’t a fancy or expensive one, it’s just a single, black, plastic box.  I started throwing compost in it, thinking that in a years time we would be able to scoop compost out of the opening in the bottom.  Everything was compacting so quickly, I thought that the extra heat generated from the compost bin must be speeding up the composting process, I was thrilled!

Until I opened up the bottom the next spring and had no compost.  Just really compacted, uncomposted fruit peels, egg shells, grass clippings, and leaves.

I know what the problem is, of course.  The stuff in that bin gets so compacted, it does not get any oxygen or water, things needed for the bugs, microbes, and funguses that do the miracle of composting to live and thrive.  I need to turn the compost, keep it fluffed, but it’s become so compacted it there it’s really a bitch to turn.  I’ve made it a point to go out and do my best to turn it every nice day, and I have some serious hope that maybe with enough turning (turning speeds things up) I can have some compost this spring.  And by spring, I mean when it’s safe to plant outdoors in Denver, which is Mother’s Day weekend.

The problem is that I’m tearing the damn compost bin apart getting the leverage I need to dig into the really compacted stuff.  And I haven’t been putting new compost in because I want to loosen it up and adding more volume is going to make that more difficult, not less.  It feels bad putting my compostables down the disposal, but Ask Umbra says it’s better than the trash, right?  It’s really just a big mess.  But I think I’m making progress.  I hope.  Because if not, we’re going to have to buy compost this year, and that just doesn’t fit into the budget.

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Since first writing this post, I’ve seen great improvement in my compost pile!  I was even able to get a tiny amount of usable compost out of it the other day.  Turning it has helped tremendously, and it has gotten looser and easier each time I go out.  I even feel safe starting to add things to it again!  Some things I’ve figured out is that it’s best to keep the lid open, and that those compostable bags they make for you to line your counter top compost bin suck.  They do not compost.  Every time I stab into one with my pitch fork, I try to shake as much out as I can, and then I throw the bag in the garbage can.  I will no longer be using those in the future.

I wish I had taken before photos, so you could see the progress, but here’s what my compost looks like now.

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These bags just don't work for me.  I've spoken to a few other people who say the same thing.  What is your experience with them?

These bags just don’t work for me. I’ve spoken to a few other people who say the same thing. What is your experience with them?

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