26 May 2010


Technically, I have a compost bin. Earlier this month I decided to use a brand-new trash bin as my compost bin. I started filling the bin with an onion my wife kept in the bedroom to ward off bugs but has gone bad, a SunChips bag, some vines covering the fence in my backyard, then some weeds pulled from the cracks in the front yard, plus many leaves fallen from the huge tree on the street. I know, I know, some purist compost masters would say weeds in compost bin is a no-no but it's such a waste to throw them out. There seems to be a limitless supply of weeds around my house, and my house is not that big. Over time I added teabags from the tea I consumed at work. I save the bags in a plastic bag and brought them home. In the beginning, I threw the whole thing in but lately I rip off the top to prevent the tiny staples from entering the bin. This week I also added fruit peels and such from oranges, mangoes, and rambutans.

I used the word "technical" to describe my compost bin because it is not the ideal bin. I let rain water get into it once or twice then drain the excess water by tipping it over, careful not to spill the content, but otherwise it is not as damp as it should be. Today I sprinkled some water on the bin because it was a hot day. I tried to turn over the bin's content using a hoe and an icebreaker, unsuccessfully. I do plan to switch my current trash bin with this compost bin so that will give it a nice upside down flip, but until I get the proper tool, the bin will not be turning over as often as it needs to be.

Composting should be simple but it is not. Years ago when I did not think of composting the City of New York would sell them at cost, $20 or so, at Compost Give-Back Events. Too bad I did not buy any, even though I dropped off truckload of electronic equipments for recycling at the same location. For me it is not possible to walk into a store and buy a bin to take home. My local Home Depot did not carry any before but on a recent visit there was one model, a 6-gallon rotating drum that goes for $50 or so. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden has some other model that cost $60. $50 or $60 sounds like a lot to pay to hold things that decompose. If you go online to buy them, there are models that go up to $100s of dollars. These things are usually heavy, too, so shipping adds significantly to the total cost when you buy online. It just does not make economical sense. Too bad in these economic hard times the government no longer subsidize the sale of compost bins. Even leaf-collection for composting was suspended a few years ago.

I probably end up buying the one and only model available at my local Home Depot. The big tree in front of my house keep dropping leaves, barks, and branches, not just in autumn but year round. I might as well make the most of these "free" materials.


  1. It rains earlier today with thunderstorm but the evening is just hot and humid. We expect sunny and really hot weekend. Already in the high 90 and it is only late May/early June. We will be spending a lot of time in the basement.
    I will have to find out if it cost less for compose bins here. Metropolitan Sewer District of St. Louis sells rainwater barrel for $65 each. I thought of Grandparents in Viet Nam and how they collected rainwater as ways of life and not as political statement!
    Stay cool and have a good weekend.

  2. I used to drink such rainwater right off the lu, too! Our stomachs were stronger than the urbanized ones we now have.