Starting a compost bin in Houston, Texas
When I was a kid in Wisconsin, we would just throw our food and yard waste in a big pile and turn it once a year. But that strategy would not be well suited for my now small yard in the city of Houston. The hot temperatures, small space, rats, and cockroaches all made an old fashioned pile impossible, so we had to turn to other methods.
I came across compost tumblers and immediately knew that this would be a great way to get our compost started! A compost tumbler is a barrel made of thick recycled plastic that contains the kitchen and yard scraps while they compost. Turning by spinning or cranking keeps the pile fired up by allowing more oxygen to reach the decomposing materials. If done correctly, a tumbler will not smell or invite pests, and can speed up the compost process to as little as three weeks.
I got this dual chamber one so I can have two batches going at once. After assembling your tumbler composter you can get started with turning your trash into treasure.
I’m not going to lie, getting that first batch started was a little bit scary for me. I was so worried that I wouldn’t get the right balance of carbon and nitrogen and it would end up being stinky, but I am happy to announce that our first batch has been a success!
This is exactly what we put in it:
5 gallons yard waste
After mowing the lawn, I sweep up grass clippings and weeds into a 5 gallon bucket. I let them dry out a day or two before adding them to the tumbler.
1 gallon kitchen scraps
I keep my kitchen scraps in the freezer until I put them in the compost tumbler, but if you have the counter space, this bin is one gallon and is designed to limit odors indoors.
10 cups garden soil
Garden soil is an optional starter, but has useful microbes in it that can help get your compost going faster.
A good soak
Add water to the bin so that everything is damp, not dripping. Because it is extremely hot in Houston (and even so much hotter in your compost bin!) you need to cool the compost down, and will have to monitor to add more water when needed.
Stir it up!
When all of the ingredients are added, give the tumbler a spin! Rotate the bin 2-3 times every couple of days! With all of those ingredients and super simple mixing instructions, you should have beautiful compost ready to use in about a month!