3 Easy Compost Systems

About two+ CNYs ago, I finally said to myself “What the he!!, I can’t wait anymore. I’ll just start now.” I’m talking about composting.

My first composting experience was way-way back, and since then I have been waiting for the right time to start again. As I work on my 2nd composting project, I realized I needn’t any special equipment or location after all. It has always been there. All I need is to just start and the path will show its way. I’m so grateful that I followed the voice inside me because it has been wonderful so far.

Materials For Compost

Over time, I began experimenting with other composting methods. I didn’t start all at once when I began. It was in stages and unplanned. I just thought it might be good to try other techniques. So far, I’m using 3 compost systems without spending any money!

Here Are 3 Easy Compost Systems (Methods):

Method 1: Piece By Piece Composting
I coined the name. πŸ˜‰ This method was inspired by my grandma and mom. Ever since I was young, they will place leftover flowers, limes and lime leaves (hui chui aka flower bath concoction) on the soil around our plants. After some time, the flowers, etc will decay.

From this idea, I began composting my kitchen scraps, fallen leaves, cuttings, etc using this method. To encourage quick breakdown of materials, I started shredding & cutting the materials to small pieces by hands and scissors. I collected them in a plastic container, and once full I will scatter them around the plants (NOT directly on plants).

Piece By Piece Composting Method

As long as I have a full container of materials, I will scatter them. You can scatter the materials whenever you like. There is no set time or rules. For me, it takes about from few days to 2 weeks period before I scatter them. If I’m hardworking and do more shredding work, the container will fill up faster. About 1-2 months later, I will dig and loosen up the soil and at the same time, the composting materials get to be mixed around more. That’s it. Easy right?

Sometimes when I’m trimming my plants, I will just toss the yellow/dried leaves or small branches directly on the soil. I even toss cobs and mango seeds directly on the soil because I’m too lazy to bury them (see method 2 below). πŸ˜›

The materials I use:
* Don’t use sick/disease/infested materials
Egg shells (I eat tonnes of eggs!!!), fruits skins+tops+ends+seeds, vegetables skins+tops+ends+roots+seeds, charcoal paste & clay (from salted egg & century egg), leaves, twigs, branches, tea leaves, ground coffee (from Starbucks), non-toxic paper, twine string, silk floss, toilet+kitchen paper rolls & coconut husks.

I prefer to dry the materials first before breaking them down because it’s so much easier this way. In Malaysia, the sun is my friend. Just leave the materials outside on the porch (but not too long especially fruits rinds+skin or they’ll get super hard). I have a small station set up for drying and breaking up the materials.

You will most probably think this method is too difficult and labor+time intensive. I’ve never thought of it like that. I always find it therapeutic and it’s my job to bring the unwanted=scraps back to the earth and make black gold out of it. This is your chance to get outside and ditch the screens for a few minutes/hours.

Method 2: Dig & Bury aka Pit Composting
I began experimenting on the pit method when I had to deal with the banana stem. Sure I can cut the stem into pieces for the piece by piece composting. However, I would like to just chuck it somewhere fast and forget about it. Hence comes the idea of pit composting which I’ve seen on TV and online. It’s one of the most traditional composting methods. At first, I was really careful as to where I bury it, but soon gain confidence as I have more experience.

On the side of my porch is a small narrow soil-filled area where I have several plants growing. I will dig a hole/pit with a trowel between the plants/empty area, drop in the banana stem+skin, etc, cover back the hole with soil, and forget about it. Yes, really forget about it! When I have more materials to bury, I will dig a new hole somewhere else and when all the spaces have been filled up, I go back to the first one or near the first one. This is to give the compost enough time to break down. Rotation is key. πŸ™‚ Don’t fret if you don’t have a place to bury on the ground because you can bury them in pots too. Just dig holes surrounding potted plants, but rotate them from one pot to another first.

Dig & Bury Aka Pit Composting Method

How deep and wide should the holes be? I don’t know. I just dig the best I could and wide enough to contain my compost. If your place is famous with rats and the likes, make sure you dig a deeper hole. Don’t use this method if it still attracts small creatures even after you buried it very deep. Another similar method to pit composting is trench composting which is dig and bury compost materials in long narrow trench/ditch/channel.

The materials I use:
* Don’t use sick/disease/infested materials
Banana stem, fruits cores+seeds, soft bones from making bone broth (of course it’s better to feed the animals with this) & cobs. You can use the materials I mentioned in the first method too.

In dig & bury composting method, it doesn’t matter if the materials are fresh (wet) or dried but I usually use it as it which is fresh.

Method 3: Bottle Composting
I saw a composting video that uses plastic bottles on Facebook over a year ago, and that got me started with my own, though not immediately as I was procrastinating a bit. What made me shift into first gear was the ants that I’ve been inviting to my garden+compost station especially when I have fruits scraps. Tsk, rinsing fruits scraps will not invite ants usually but I’m lazy sometimes.

This is my version of bottle composting construction. There are many others out there.

Bottle Composting Method

I picked up unwanted plastic bottles from my home’s recycling bag for this project. First, slice off the top part with a sharp blade (must be careful!). Then cut the top off, which when turned upside down and place back into the bottle hole will act as the cover and stomper. Next, make 8 holes (4 holes on each level for a total of 2 levels) or more around the side and about 4 holes at the bottom using a twist gimlet. This is because oxygen is needed for decomposing.

Bottle Composting Method

I first fill the bottle with a thin layer of soil. Then I add kitchen scraps and finally cover everything with soil. Many times I didn’t use soil to cover back (lazy!) instead I use dried leaves. Next, I will pour in a little water to moisten the materials and cover the top with the plastic upside down cut off top and leave it until I have new materials to compost. With the new materials, I add kitchen scraps first and dried leaves last. As time goes by, the compost materials will decrease in size, and if I have previously filled the bottle to the brim, now I have space to add new materials to it. During this time, give the materials a few turns every week or two. I stopped doing this due to laziness but am going to start again. It’s preferable to turn the materials as it will aid in decomposing.

Stop adding materials to the bottle once it’s almost full (after you have filled it a few times), leave it and let mother nature do its thing. This stage is called curing (allow 1 month or longer). You don’t add new materials and thus allow the compost to finish its decomposing process and then it begins to cooled. If you want to check whether the materials are composting, touch the bottle. If it’s warm/hot, you know it’s doing its job.

I place the compost bottles at the porch. I also make the scraps smaller if they are too big to fit into the bottle and sometimes I shred the scraps into smaller pieces so they breakdown faster.

Bottle Composting Method

To harvest, just till over the bottle and use a branch or stick to dig out the black gold into a sheet (eg. newspaper, magazine) or container. You can take some out to check its condition first. To use the finished nutrient-dense compost, sprinkle them around the plants or mix it with current soil.

I have harvested compost from this bottle composting method once last year. I’m not sure mine took how long to be ready for use as I did not take note, but usually, it’s from a few weeks to a month(s). It’s ready when the compost looks dark (black/dark brown), crumbly and smells like earth because it’s soil! Make sure there is no sight of the materials you used except maybe branches or cobs which took longer.

The materials I use:
* Don’t use sick/disease/infested materials
Egg shells, fruits skins+cores+tops+ends+seeds+stem, vegetables skins+tops+ends+roots+seeds, charcoal paste & clay (from salted egg & century egg), leaves, twigs, branches, tea leaves, ground coffee (from Starbucks), non-toxic paper, twine string, silk floss, toilet+kitchen paper rolls & coconut husks.

Just like dig & bury composting method, bottle composting method accepts fresh (wet) and dried materials.

Bottle Composting Method

If you look closely at the above photo, the bottle on the right looks different. For that one, I experimented with making a hole at the bottom. However, I’m not fond of this construction hence I went back to the top hole one. Currently, I am using 3 bottles for composting but I only added the two; left and right recently.

Here’s the post where I share with you how to harvest & use finished compost in garden.

While compost is not the same thing as fertilizer, I personally haven’t use fertilizer for nearly two years. Whenever I walk past shelves of fertilizers in the shop, I will notice the strong horrible smell of chemicals, chemicals that I don’t want to have anything to do with me or my plants. This is one of the big reasons why I started composting. I’ll share in another post what other food that I feed to my soils+plants. Here are the types of vitamins that I feed my soils and plants.

I hope you find this post useful and let me know if you tried any of the above or have any questions.

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