A couple weeks ago Garden Supermarket sent me a Algreen Products 45 Gallon Terra Composter to try out. The composter arrived in the mail and I was happy to see that it had the bare minimum packaging on it, I like it when companies do this. Why waste all that paper and plastic when it is just going to be thrown away?
Composting is a pretty simple operation, you throw organic stuff into a pile, introduce a bit of bacteria, some worms, maybe a couple bugs, a dash of water and Whala! compost. However in our urban society most people do not find it convenient or desirable to have a pile of rotting stuff in the yard (although when done correctly a compost pile will not smell, and basically looks like a pile of dirt). So the Terra Composter with it’s pleasing lines, and Terracotta-esq appearance (it is plastic), make it an attractive addition to the yard.
I have composted before, serious business composting with big piles of yard and food waste, the kind of composting where you need shovels, and wheel barrows, and pitch forks…the Terra Composter is not that kind of compost bin. The Terra is suited for a single family city home, it is simply not big enough to handle bags and bags of yard waste and the results of a restaurant kitchen, and that’s OK. I live in a tiny urban home, with a tiny urban home lawn, and have a roomate, this compost bin is perfect for us.
My roommate and I are both vegetarians, so we produce a fair amount of plant food waste. With the Terra, and our normal recycling we are now down to one garbage bag of actual “throw away” garbage every three weeks. It feels good to create such a small amount of waste, and it has been nice getting back into composting again. Overall I have been really happy with the look feel and ease of use of this product. I do have a couple of small things I don’t like about it (it’s hard to get the compost out when it is ‘done’, it can get a bit top heavy when you have it full) but for the most part I really like it and would recommend it to someone who has a smallish amount of yard and food waste to compost.
So if you are looking to get into composting here are a couple quick tips.
You don’t need to buy anything! You can make a compost bin out of anything, you can even just throw stuff in a pile in the back if you have the space and don’t mind the mess, old wood pallets work well for this.
You need to keep a healthy mix of “green” and “brown” in your compost pile. Green things are stuff like coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit and veggie peels, grass clippings, fresh leaves, fresh weeds, etc. Brown things are stuff like, corncob stalks, paper, pine needles, sawdust or wood shavings, straw, dry leaves, etc. You need to keep a good mix of both to keep your bacteria happy too much greens and it will get stinky, too much brown and it will compost very slowly.
You will need to water your compost once in a while, if the compost gets dry toss a little water in with it, if you have a lot of green stuff you wont need to do this as much.
Keep your compost warm, put it in the sun, it will help it break down faster.
Don’t be afraid of bugs and worms! They help break down stuff faster.
Your bacteria need oxygen, be sure to turn or rotate your compost once in a while, the Terra compost comes with little holes on the side that they encourage you to poke a stick into and wiggle, this will keep the bacteria happy.