Composting is a method that takes organic materials and through the process of decomposition, turns them into mulch that conditions soil and fertilizes plants. Gardeners like compost because the nutrients are easily absorbed by plants and unlike commercial fertilizer, won't burn sensitive roots. It is also a free by-product of normal, everyday gardening and life. Trimmings, grass clippings and non-greasy kitchen waste all make ideal material for compost.
There are a number of products on the market to facilitate this process, even though a simple pile in the corner of the yard will work. The Toter Company has graciously sent me their new self-contained composter to review and this is the second article in the three article series. If you've missed the first installment, you can read it here.
Depending on what you have to compost, the make-up of your finished product could vary quite a bit from garden to garden. Grass clippings contain nitrogen. Coffee grounds and tea bags are acidic, leaves and woody material contains carbon. Other materials contain trace elements that make up healthy soil, so try to use a variety. Unlike many of the other composters on the market, the Toter Composter is totally free of BPA's so is completely safe to use the compost in vegetable gardens and on edible plsnts.
When the first article was published, the composter was almost full of material. Over the past weeks, it has compacted and now takes up much less space. I've added kitchen waste and another layer of brown, dry material. we've had a great deal of rain lately, and the Toter Composter prevents waterlogging. The bar is easy to turn and I could hear a bit of material falling into the holding area.
I opened the trap door and a small amount of finished compost had dropped through the wire grid. I think the slow start is because I began this project at the end of a cold and dreary winter and the spring hasn't been much warmer. Starting from square-one with a new compost project takes a bit to get rolling. I'm confident it will start really cooking shortly. And the trap door area was dry, despite the frequent rain showers.
I've been really pleased with the lack of odor and stability of the composter. It is just around the corner from my back door and you don't even know it is there. A slight odor when the lid is opened is all that is noticable. I'm adding several new layers of yard trimmings and kitchen waste.
Lawn trimmings are excellent compost material. I let this batch slightly dry before raking them. Remember, whatever chemicals that are sprayed on your lawn, go into your compost, so if you're using the compost in your organic garden, only use untreated clippings.
I've added another layer of lawn clippings intermixed with the contents of the kitchen bucket, which is a very handy compliment to the composter. Make sure your grass isn't tightly packed, as it will settle naturally and can become a mat that is difficult to move.
I topped the composter off with some weeds and a little watermelon rind. I've not had any wildlife problems with the Toter Composter. It seems critter-proof and the watermelon remains untouched. As most everyone knows, watermelon is like candy for raccoons and the little masked bandits have yet to raid the container. Another big plus is that my lettuce-eating dog doesn't have access. She'll pull a traditional compost pile apart for a shred of lettuce and the Toter keeps it out of her reach.
All things considered, I'm quite pleased with the way the composter is working. I could feel the heat of the cooking compost today when I held my palm to the side of the container. I really like the fact that it is continous-feed and it is a sturdy, well-made tool. Stay tuned in about 6 weeks to see how things are cooking!