The Green Cycler From Ecotonix May Have Your Kids Fighting To Grind The Pre-Compost

Designed by gardener Gail Loos, the Green Cycler is a cool idea that could make pre-composting fun. It’s a hand-cranked composting aid that speeds up the process by grinding up your plant waste before you add it to your compost pile and I could definitely use one. The compost in my Sun-Mar drum composter looks like an un-fruit salad with intact apple cores, pineapple skins and orange peels that aren’t breaking down because they’re too big. With the Green Cycler, I have no doubt that my kids would grind our compostables down and they’d even fight to be the one doing the cranking.

As useful as the Green Cycler seems, I’m not ready to shell out $139 to get one. I think the only way I could justify the purchase of a Green Cycler is if I made it a Christmas gift and gave one to my kids. [Treehugger]

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Is Composting Worth The Stink?

composting-landfillAccording to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Loss Project, food waste is approximately 25.9 million tons per year. That translates to a lot of happy seagulls and rats. And if the seagulls and rats could, they would piece together a nice “Thank you” letter out of our garbage and encourage us to keep up the good waste and to avoid composting.

I’d like to think my motivation to start composting in 2006 was noble and not anti rat or seagull. My goal was to compost for simple garden use and to keep organic food waste out of a landfill. But at the time, my garden was not completed and landfills were starting to use the methane created from food waste to generate electricity. So why even bother composting? What I discovered is that composting is like a Jubbling Mason-Dixon line and when it’s crossed, a new found commitment to Jubbling follows. Using clotheslines, searching for locally grown produce and re-discovering mass transit come easier when compared to the daily turning and weekly filling of your plant based Port-a-Potty.

In addition to activating the Jubbling, compost activates your garden as a natural re-generator when it’s mixed in with your soil. From Let it rot! by Stu Campbell:

Nutrient are released at the rate your plants need them. In early spring, as your plants are slowly starting their growth, the micro-organisms in compost are slowly releasing nutrients. As the weather warms up and your plants begin rapid growth, the micro-organisms also work faster, releasing more food for your plants. Isn’t nature wonderful?

Simple Composting Guidelines
Composting is not just about throwing rotting fruits and vegetable in a bin; there are some rules to follow. Most rules are common sense while following others could mean the difference between producing a natural fertilizer or creating a 24/7 turd factory.

  1. No Meat – None. Some sites say it’s ok to add rinsed egg shells but I would avoid them too.
  2. No Animal Waste – Animals eat meat. Also, don’t listen to your kids when they find a dead mouse and want you to put it in the compost bin.
  3. Add Dirt – Dirt allows the contents of your bin to thicken; it’s like flour to gravy.
  4. Green Yard Waste – Grass clippings, leaves etc. Like dirt, green yard waste thickens the mix in your bin
  5. Shredded Paper – Shredded paper does not mat down easily so it’s ideal for letting your compost aerate and decompose quicker.
  6. Spin/Turnover Often – Getting air into the mix is very important. While you are spinning your compost bin or turning over the tray, you’ll be thankful that you stuck to rule #1.

Compost Setup Options
Composting can be started in a variety of ways. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Shovel Method – aka Trench Composting. Definitely the cheapest and easiest way to compost. Bury your compost under 8″ of dirt in your current or future garden and allow 2 months for your plant based kitchen waste to decompose.
  2. Bin Compost System – Imagine 2/3 bins side by side holding plant waste at different stages of decomposition.Composting Options That’s the bin system and in comes in multiple configurations. Side-by-side bins has you moving the contents from bin to bin as the plant material breaks down and becomes compost. Moving the materials in this fashion allows the compost to aerate which aides the composting process. Another bin composter uses gravity to move the compost through the stages.
  3. Tumbler Compost System – Tumblers are top loading composters that you can crank, turn or roll to spin/aerate your compost. Tumbler models are very popular thanks to their ease of use and ability to contain odors.
  4. Vermicompost – Vermicompost utilizes worms, preferably red wigglers, to breakdown food waste and organic materials. The compost is known to be richer in nutrients than other forms of compost but vermicompost is limited by climate and needs to stay in a temperature range of 50 – 86 degrees. That is why vermicompost is ideal for indoor use but good luck pitching that to anyone but your kids.
  5. Indoor Compost Solutions – Some indoor composting solutions go against the rules and allow meat and dairy products to be composted. They do this with the aide of a compost activator that must be added to each batch. Models include the Bokashi Compost Kit ($75) and the Nature Mill Indoor Composter ($399). Both claim to be odor free and the Bokashi system requires you to drain liquid from your batch periodically.

What to do with your compost
You’ve successfully produced your first batch of compost, patted yourself on the back and now what do you do with it? An easy first choice would be to put it in your garden but if you don’t have a garden, use it in a planter or give your compost to a friend/neighbor with a garden. And if you don’t have any friends and can’t stand your neighbors, dig a hole by a tree somewhere and bury the compost. Congratulations – you not only prevented food waste from entering the landfill but you also just made a new friend.

Yes, the landfill rats and seagulls are also feeding on items you can not normally compost like meat and dairy based products but in reality, the vast majority of food waste in our dump is compostable. So with a little effort and commitment, composting could help reduce this waste and hopefully lead to more Jubbling.

Online resources about composting:
How to Compost.org
VegWeb’s Composting Guide
Composter’s Review – includes “kid” friendly RolyPig composter.

Books:
Let it rot! – Stu Campbell

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