I’ve written before about our apartment composter. I wish my family had one when I was young, because watching the accelerated process of decay would have delighted the eight-year-old Darren. I’m still a little amazed that I can dump, say, some old lettuce into the thing and, 24 hours later, it’s magically turned into dirt.
The device hasn’t worked perfectly. The first one pretty much gave up the ghost after a year–the motor appeared to have rusted out. After some hemming and hawing, the manufacturer sent us a replacement, though, and that one’s been working like a charm for six months or so.
I have learned a few things about optimized composting, though:
- The composter is sensitive to humidity. It rains in Vancouver nearly twice as much as it does in Victoria. We keep our composter on our deck, though out of the rain. Still, the additional humidity means the composting material can get too wet. When this happens, we just chuck in a cup or two of sawdust. Top tip: get free sawdust at Home Depot.
- Compost can get smelly. This is only a problem when you open the bin to add material, and it doesn’t matter since it’s on the deck. If you’re keeping your composter inside, you can add some baking soda to reduce the odor. Besides, I kind of like this smell. It’s very loamy.
- It helps to poke at the dirt every few days with a spade. That way it doesn’t stick the walls of the bin, or gunge up the churning arm.
- To my dismay (per Lauren’s comment in this earlier post), the composter won’t break down so-called compostable containers made of corn resin.
- In Victoria, we didn’t have a garden, so I would, oddly, illegally dump the compost in a local park or something. In Vancouver, we’re hopefully going to have one of the community garden plots associated with our building. In the meantime, on moonless nights, I’ve been stealthily dumping dirt into a couple of the garden plots.