I love composting, but have hated all of the steps that have traditionally gone with it. I did not want to shovel or sift or spin or even think about which composter was currently in use.
So, I put together a composting system that works really well. I thought I would share it here, as it epitomizes how I like to think about the world.
|A schematic of the no-maintenance compost system we put together and currently use|
I stacked cinder-blocks into two walls, about three feet apart. I put two pieces of Closetmaid shelving (but any coated shelving would work) between them (err on the side of too big spacing, rather than too small spacing). Then I put a traditional composter (but a garbage can with some air holes and no bottom would work just as well) on top of that.
I put a few small holes in the top of the composter, to let some rain flow through (and optionally invert the lids to gather more rain).
Then I put a catch bucket underneath the composter. In the catch bucket I made four 2" holes directly on the bottom. This facilitates the ability of little bugs and worms to go up from the earth into the compost and any water to seep out and not pool.
Now, all I have to do is throw in food scraps (no meat, no dairy, as with all composters) in the top. In about six weeks, the food at the bottom begins turning to compost and sprinkling down into the bucket below.
This system models the human body. It allows for the long term development of microbes in the middle that never get flushed out. Also, because the entire bottom of the compost is exposed, there is plenty of air in the system.
Rain and gravity do the work of moving the compost, and only when it is ready. I never get the uncomposted squash or corn cobs mixed in with finished compost as I used to - the bigger pieces stay higher up until they break down.
And there is never a "walking away" from a composter to let it work. This model allows for use when working. Even the volume is self regulating within the composter - the more weight there is at the top of the composter, the more finished compost is pushed through at the bottom.
One can create two or even three gravity composters to increase capacity (we have three ). Obviously, these can be made from scraps of materials and require no building skills (which is good, because I have none!). These composters are zero maintenance. You can take the perfect compost out of the bucket below whenever you need it.
Some friends have suggested I try and patent this, but I prefer open-source here! So let me know if you have any questions, or better yet, improvements.