Our August 2016 issue features a guide to homesteading, including hydroponics, foraging, composting, bee keeping, alpaca herding, and a myriad of other ways to get your hands good and dirty.
A happy life is about balance, and so, it turns out, is a happy (and quick-to-decompose) compost pile. The ideal? A three-to-one mix of “browns” for carbon (e.g., dead grass/plants/leaves, egg shells, and cardboard or shredded paper) to “greens” for nitrogen (e.g., fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, and breads/pastas).
1. Layer food waste in the middle of the pile to keep it from smelling (and to keep curious woodland creatures away), and never add any meat, dairy, oils, fats, or bones.
2. Bottomless bins like this one let the scraps interface with the microorganisms in the ground so nature can quite literally take its course.
3. Oxygen is essential to the process (and again, to stopping odors), which is accomplished through a good ventilation system or by turning the pile to aerate.
4. After a month or two—timing depends on moisture and heat, both of which you want—scoop out the dark, crumbly, nutrient-rich soil from the bottom of the bin. Still feeling iffy? The Hamilton County Recycling and Solid Waste District is an absolute wealth of info—they host beginner seminars and even provide a backyard composting guide (hamiltoncounty recycles.org).
Looking for a bin to begin? Try the Good Ideas Compost Wizard Eco Square. It’s a relative steal at $79.95, and requires no tools to assemble. Find it at Park + Vine, (513) 721-7275, parkandvine.com.