WARNING: This post may contain pictures that may be disturbing to some viewers. If you are squeamish, look away.
Ok. So if you didn't look away, I'll tell you about my compost bin for food scraps. I've always wanted to compost because it seems like such a waste to just throw your food scraps into the garbage when it can make such wonderful soil! And just to prove that you don't have to spend a lot (or any) money to start composting, here's my bin...
Yes, it's ghetto. But guess what? That's ok! I simply used an old recycling bin, but you can use a plastic tote box and just drill some holes in the bottom. If your box has a lid, then great. Use it. If not, you can just use a large plastic garbage bag and something to hold it down. I just use the shovel that I stir my compost with and a stick. It ain't pretty, but neither is what's inside.
To start composting, tear up some old paper scraps or newspaper to line the bottom of your container. Just a thin layer will do. Now add a layer of soil from your yard or potting soil (about 6 inches worth) on top of the paper. Now you're ready to start adding your scraps. But wait, you can't add just anything. Here's some do's and don'ts...
- fruit peels
- over-ripe fruits and vegetables
- used coffee (along with filter)
- used tea bags
- egg shells
- bread and rice (sparingly)
- dairy products
- any meat or fish
- inorganic materials (such as plastic)
Here's what mine looks like on the inside. I've got some watermelon rinds and a coffee filter in there. When you put your scraps in, stir them around to help the decomposition process get going. Once in a while, add a cup of water. Your bin will need to be a bit moist.
So on to the gross part of my post. A few weeks ago, I noticed something new in my bin. Maggots. That's right (I tried to warn you). Big, nasty, freakin gross maggots. I was not at all pleased. My first thought was that this can't be good. But, upon further research, it's actually about the best thing that could happen to your compost bin. These little buggers will eat ANYTHING and eat it fast. They basically neutralize anything bad that might be in the food. I saw several articles that said it was ok to put meat and cheese into a bin with maggots, but I'm not going to press my luck with that. Apparently I have the perfect conditions to harbor maggots in my bin. It's warm (or hot), I keep it moist, and I keep the sunlight out of it. So as much as it freaks me out, I'm going to let the maggots do their job.
Composting is a great way to get nice, rich soil for planting food or flowers. And the best part is that you're using things you would be throwing away anyways. It doesn't take any more effort, but the benefits are great!