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Affordable Composting in Small Spaces

I have noticed that some of the plants in my yard really struggle to do well.  I water, we have mulch, but they never look like the plants in my parents’ yard.  My Mom reminded me that they have been composting for years and her plants do well from all of the nutrients.  I decided that I wanted to compost, but space is an issue so I need to find a creative alternative.  This led me to search for a small compost bin.

I was introduced to Sophia Chiang, who has been blogging about her composting experience on Random Rants and Raves http://ophiesay.blogspot.com/.  Her compost bin is small, manageable, and a great place for me to start.  She uses composting worms (also known as red wrigglers).  Chicago’s weather is often too hot or two cold for traditional composting.  Small composting can be done affordably and indoors.

I plan to purchase an inexpensive shallow plastic bin.  I will drill some small holes for ventilation, and buy some worms.  The worms are supposed to multiply quickly, so I shouldn’t need many to get started.  I have the soil, newspapers, and fruit and vegetable scraps will be easy.  The worms are readily available online but I may call around to a few garden shops first.

In my quest to find composting options, I found other options that would work well in small yards or for those of you who would like to ‘test’ the idea of composting before making a larger investment.  Jessica Butcher, registered dietician and nutrition writer for the Examiner in Grand Rapids (http://www.examiner.com/x-14696-Grand-Rapids-Nutrition-Examiner), offers the following suggestions:

•           Within your vegetable garden, section off a small area with simple ‘chicken wire’ and use this space to place and rotate your compost waste. This makes for a wonderfully convenient space as you are simply able to open the wire fence or lift the wire and move your compost over your garden for the winter with ease.

•           Place a wire cage off to the side of your yard and use this to place all of your compost. Rotate as necessary with a stick or pitchfork.

•           Have an old garbage can around that you are no longer using? Poke some decent sized holes for aeration and use this for your compost. The lid is great for locking in the warmth and it is very easy to roll the can around for mixing up the compost!

If you are only starting to consider composting, here is another great reason.  “Tidy, easy and handy in the smallest yard – and they even can help you lose weight!  Composting worms need fruit and vegetable scraps to survive – so if you want to keep your worms healthy, you need to be eating healthy too,” says Mary Ellen Psaltis, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant.

I invite you to join me on this journey.  I plan to write about the realized benefits over time and if nothing else, get my family eating more fruits and vegetables to sustain our new pets!

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