Starting Composting is Easy!  All you need are scraps, a pail, a bin and you're on your way to making your own dirt.  To me, it seems magical, I compost scraps and eventually it turns into black dirt.  Compost reduces trash, is great for your gardens and allows you to do your part and make a difference.

Let's get started.
composting - off the grid in the city
Any small pail with a cover would work IF you religiously empty your scraps in the outdoor compost bit every day.  This is too much for my busy schedule so I got on the web and searched "Composting Pails" and found a wide variety of looks and prices. I bought this stainless steal 3 cu. ft pail which Julie says looks nice in the kitchen.  (Very important.)  The pail also included a charcoal filter on the lid so odors can be minimized/reduced to zero.  I usually empty the scraps every 2-3 days which is fine especially during the winter months.  In the summer, as the temperatures rise, both odors develop and fruit flies can hatch and fly out of the pail.  (This didn't bother me much as I told Julie that in high school, I bred fruit flies to see what happens when crossing different strains of fruit flies. Julie did not find it interesting, I think she gagged.)  So try to empty the pail daily or every other day!  (I'm still trying to remember my daily composting chores!)

Next up! Any large, sturdy bin or container with a lid would work.  Our city, Los Angeles, was giving out composting bins (for free) at Griffith Park. I immediately went down and picked one up.  Many cities across the country might have similar programs, so do a little research!  They had a short informative seminar on how to compost which was very helpful since I had never composted before.  The compost bin has a locking top and no bottom, which threw me at first, but of course this process is outside on a dirt area of your yard.

That's it. Your step towards making dirt for your garden or potted plants has begun! It's that easy.
composting - off the grid in the city
Now for the process. What goes into your composter?

This is easy too.  There are really only 2 types of "ingredients" for the compost bin.
GREEN - compost that contains carbon.
BROWN - compost that contains nitrogen.
These should be approximately equal parts of each. Here are some examples:
composting, composting tips, composting 101, off the grid in the city,
Turn the pile and moisten with water about once per week. You will have compost in as little as 4-6 weeks to a year!  (All depends on temperature, container size, and conditions.)

Other Tips!
-  Location with equal sun and shade
- Chop your ingredients to speed up decomposition
- Use a variety of greens and browns.

Dirt Additive:
Fungi and microorganisms are needed to break down the organic material in the bin.  Since our soil is more like sandy/clay, I figured our soil did not have the right beasties to start the decomposition process.  So to avoid complete failure on my first attempt, I added composting soil to my first batch, which can be found at most home and garden stores.

Dirt Additive: Ringer Compost Plus #2 - $6.99
Dr. Earth Compost Started #3 - $16.99
Jobes Organic Compost Starter #4 - $14.62

Total Coast:
Stainless Steel Pail - $20.00
Bin - FREE
Additive Soil - $17.00
TOTAL: $37.00

Of course, once you get the hang of it, you can make your own compost bins and begin more advanced methods to speed up the process and even dirt recipes. YUM!

Coming up next: Let's Add Worms!

- Mike


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