I separate composting into 2 categories - active and passive. These can be further subdivided if you like.
Active composting involves turning the compost pile regularly - at least weekly - either with a fork, shovel, or by using a compost tumbler and turning it. The reason for this is that it incorporates air into the mix, and helps the compost pile to stay warmer. By keeping the compost pile at around 160 degrees, it helps the scraps break down faster and also will kill most weed seeds. Don't worry about it getting too hot for the earthworms, though. While it IS too hot for most worms, earthworms will do just fine in a hot compost pile.
Passive composting basically is where you just let the pile sit and leave it to the worms and other soil insects to break the compost down for you. This takes more time, but is less work. Again, you can put your scraps in a regular bin, in a large pile, or even dig a large hole near your garden plants, between rows, or behind and under bushes. Just add the scraps to the hole and cover with a bit of soil each time. Once the hole is filled, cover it with the rest of the soil and dig a new hole to fill with your new scraps. This is great if you don't have a place for a compost bin or pile. Since the soil is frozen in winter (at least where I live), to do this year round you need to pre-dig several holes in the fall to last until the soil warms up again.
Earthworms - these are great for composting. These are the "red wigglers" that are sold as bait. You can buy them in places that sell bait, or you can get them for free if there is a local stable nearby that will allow you to have some of their horse manure. That's what I did. There was a huge pile of well rotted manure, had some mushrooms growing on it, and we were getting loads of it to take to the garden plots we rent from the park district. I noticed that the older the pile, the more it was loaded with earthworms. So I just took a 5 gallon bucket, filled it with the manure/worms, and dumped the whole thing in my compost bin. I am a passive composter, so I just let the worms do all the work for me. I sift the compost when I clean out the bin. The finished compost falls through the holes, and the unfinished gets put back on the top of the bin. When I scoop the finished compost into buckets, I also pick out the worms and throw them back on the top of the pile and tell them to get back to work!
| Pounds lost: 8.0