“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl
Can you guess where my most unlikely place of magical secrets was found this week? In the dirt at the bottom of a plastic bin!
Lady Nature continues to impress and inspire. It’s been 28 days since the birth of the mini compost container and I’m happy to report that a tiny miracle has occurred. When I last wrote of this project it was the beginning… two bowls of kitchen scraps, two bowls of yard materials and one leftover 3lb. plastic container.
A few shakes, 1/4 cup of water and four weeks later we now have compost…
Well… almost! Since it has been up and down spring weather this past month with lots of rain and cooler temperatures, our compost needs maybe about another week or two of good hot sunny weather to fully break down and then it will be ready to feed the potted plants on the patio. Right now my compost looks like this…dark, moist but still a little chunky…
You’ll know when your compost is ready because you won’t be able to identify the original elements in the mixture. I can still see a little bit of egg shells and sticks in my mix, so there is still a some cooking left to be done.
If you remember from the previous post, I cut down all the elements that originally went into the compost in fairly small pieces, which helps break things down faster. I did leave some of the sticks in bigger chunks however for a little aeration but I think in my next batch they’ll get broken up into tiny pieces too. The smaller the better in this case!
You can see the size difference in the bulk of the contents from Day 1 to Day 28 to understand just how much material was magically broken down…
The bin went from being 3/4 full to now being about 1/4 full – all entirely tended to by nature. Isn’t that amazing? The only help I offered in this month long experiment was to turn the mixture with an old camping spoon once a week which took about five seconds total. Lady Nature and her team of helpers did all the rest.
One of these helpers was a healthy batch of fruit flies (aka vinegar flies). These guys were naturally attracted to the compost bin through the air holes in the lid and made themselves at home within the first week. Tiny and fast flyers, they are tricky to photograph but the arrows point to a few here…
Like anyone finding out about a cool new place to hang out, the fruit flies called all their friends, threw a bunch of parties and settled in for the month, which was very wonderful of them because they helped break down material too. As the bin keeps cooking they will eventually leave when it gets too hot – a signal that the compost is ready at last. But for now they are conscientious little cleaner uppers, quiet merrymakers and very good neighbors. You’d never even know they were there. I’d take a fruit fly over a snake ANY day!
Smelling like the forest after a good, clean rain the compost mixture is earthy and rich and lies somewhere along the aromatic scale between a damp basement and a dusty book (which is what you want) not like old food or strong ammonia (which is what you don’t want). If a particular odor smells too persistent or too strong than your bin is out of balance. But if you stick with the 50/50 method suggested in the original post then everything should be nicely evened out and pleasantly scented when it comes to kitchen and yard waste.
The forecast is scheduled to be hot and dry over the holiday weekend so that should give the bin some extra energy to breakdown the last of the chunkies. Then our compost will be ready to spread. I’ll check back in next week with an update on the final consistency. Then it is onto batch two and batch three and batch four and a regular routine of composting by bin and balcony.
If you missed the post on instagram, the nasturtiums started blooming this week in pretty shades of yellow and red. It’s beginning to feel a lot like like summer around here!
Cheers to finding hidden magic!