Kate's Composting Journey; Episode 5 (Building your compost!)

A DIY heap compost

By Kaitlin Ritchie

Hey there, Kate with you again! Over the past few weeks I’ve had the great privilege of being educated on composting and its impact on the planet as a whole. I couldn’t bare to see anymore of my food scraps going to waste, especially considering how much I love to garden and knowing now that I was missing out on a great opportunity.

I’ve taken what we have been learning and made my own rural compost pile! With the hubby at work and the kids in school, I took my non-existent carpentry skills outdoors and started my process. The previous homeowner was generous in that he left plenty of wood scraps behind so I thought, how can I make this from items I already have? Collecting 7 pallets, odds and ends out of the woodpiles, I scavenged enough to create my masterpiece. With my little helper, I set it all up the way I wanted it to look.

Kate of Bubbles & Balms standing proudly next to hear DIY compost in Norton, New Brunswick
Prior to my experience with this DIY project, I have not much picked up a drill let alone made anything significant with the use of one. Mind you, it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing compost container, but it is sufficient enough to keep my compost contained and accessible to me so that I can stir it as needed. I added my browns, greens and compost and started my pile. Careful to ensure that it won’t be too moist (Add more leaves and straw) or too dry (Less straw and leaves). 
DIY compost ready to make black gold near Norton, New Brunswick

Now to fill it and transfer to side two when it's been decomposed. Come spring my garden will thank me kindly by flourishing with the use of this black gold. I’m excited to see how it fairs in the winter time and am looking forward to more tips and tricks from the experts to keep my compost going. Wish me luck and stay tuned for updates.

An urban living perspective

By Jamylynn McDonald

For many years, I have lived in rental units and have still found ways to compost! In my experience, I have learned that most multi-residential buildings have privatized garbage pick-up, and sadly, do not offer composting options. To get around this, I have had to kindly ask my neighbours (who live in detached homes and have curbside pick-up) if I can put my organic waste in their bin when they have it set out on garbage night. This agreement was easily reached, and since I do not produce a huge amount of compost each week, it works quite well. 

Uptown Saint John New Brunswick

In the situation where I miss garbage night (a common occurrence for me...oops!) or the bin is already full, I store my compost in my freezer. I don’t tend to have a lot of items in my freezer which leaves me plenty of space to stash my organic waste until the next garbage day comes around. I find the freezer keeps the waste from getting smelly and messy, which is a common challenge for storing the bin under the sink.

Placing compost in freezer to eliminate smell between municipal pickup days in Saint John, New Brunswick

Of course, lifestyles are unique and my situation is different from yours. I hope you can take something from my experience and will consider creative solutions to composting in an urban setting!

A tumbler compost

By Justin Sweeney

Somehow, Judith and I had convinced ourselves that composting was a hard process to understand and get right. Like most opinions, we couldn’t quite pinpoint the source of our certainty, but there it was and there it stayed. We separated organics and recycled, but let someone else deal with the chemistry of breaking things down into usable compost!

But when we bought our home, we no longer had residential green bin pickup. So, after a year of smelly garbage and wasted organic material heading to the landfill, we finally buckled down to get started at managing our food waste. We were almost ashamed of how long we had waited. It took about 4 hours to read up, find the right solution, pick it up, assemble it, and get our first mix on the go. We bought a tumbler compost, and we will share this Saturday afternoon solution to a lifetime of organic waste below!

After choosing a tumbler to keep our materials away from pets, children and the surrounding wildlife, we searched and found a unit available at a local hardware store. We loved that the tumbler was a defined system with instructions that would hopefully make it easier for newbies like us! 

However, I was a little surprised at the number of pieces! But they were all there, as were the instructions, so I got started.

Parts for tumbler compost laid out for assembly near Hampton, New Brunswick

I put the steel frame together like a champ, and was feeling good about my switch from a screwdriver to a drill. That confidence was quickly shattered with 45 minutes of trying to balance out and assemble the first pieces of the plastic shell. The mention of a second person in the instructions suddenly made a whole lot of sense!

First panels attached to a tumbler compost near Hampton, New Brunswick

After attaching the first couple panels to the ends of the tumbler, the rest was easily managed as a one-person project. Two people and 90 minutes would make this an easy assembly.

Assembled tumbler compost near Hampton, New Brunswick

Once assembled, we filled one side with a ready mix of 2:1 greens to browns and a handful of garden soil. It has been working perfectly for us ever since and we are excited to till the compost into our new vegetable garden in the spring. We love how our garbage NEVER smells anymore. We also see now just how much of our landfill waste each month is plastic. Thank you for sharing this journey with all of us towards a better future for people and planet.

Tumbler compost initially filled near Hampton, New Brunswick