How NOT To Compost | Green Patches - Mediterranean Gardening

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How NOT To Compost

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Here I illustrate all the mistakes and lessons learnt from my first attempt at indoor composting. 

In my previous post I mentioned that I want to try vermicomposting.  Basically this means getting red worms to do all the work for you, feeding them gradually until you a get nice rich compost.  My first problem was that apparently you cannot find them or even import them to Malta, so that was out of the question. 

Undeterred I bought my plastic boxes and set out to just the samem, succumbing to the normal composting process.  I drilled some holes on the side and the bottom (for drainage) of one box and filled it up with the following:


Soil and compost from previous unfortunate plants which have passed away.
Shredded paper and news papers.

compost bin
My Browns


All the foliage I had collected from my newly pruned Plumbago.

The ratio should be 4 parts brown to 1 part green to kick off the composting process.  I filled it up to about three quarters full of browns and just added some greens thinking I will just add more later as I collect kitchen left overs.  I closed the box and left it as is.

compost bin
My Greens
The next day I had collected some rotting bananas and banana peels, a lemon and some tomatoes.  I put them in as well.

compost bin
More Greens

Needless to say by the evening my yard was infested with fruit flies, and I hadn't even added water.  I went to add some more lemon peels today and I was horrified when they all flew out at me.  I have one section of the wall in my yard covered.  Thankfully I didn't try to do this inside!

I have come to the conclusion that after just a few days I would be better off throwing everything in the bin and start again, here is why:

List of Mistakes and Solutions:

1. You need to actually measure of have a rough estimate of the 4:1 ratio.
2. You need to collect the kitchen left overs until you get enough then you can throw it in the bin.
3. Collect the kitchen left overs in an airtight box in the fridge.
4. Once you get a good ratio give it a good mix and leave it so composting can begin.
5. Mix it up for air occasionally to speed up decomposition.
6. Add water but don't let it settle at the bottom - it needs to be damp not wet.
7. Do not keep adding in greens and browns as the composting process will never finish.

Things I wish I knew:

Fruit flies are especially attracted to banana peels !

So there you have it, my first attempt failed, tomorrow I need to get rid of all those fruit flies and get rid of the contents of the box.  Better luck next time!


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