Pot Composting, How to Layer Greens and Browns

I have been going explaining what I think is an improved way to compost using small pots. In my first post on Small Pot Composting, I explain what I like and do not like about composting in general.

I also provided a link to Pot Composting that started me on Pot Composting. One of the main drawbacks for small family composting, is lack of materials and abundance of problems. I hoped when I started Pot Composting would solve most of the issues for small scale composting.

Pot Composting is a way around the problems small families face using traditional composting methods. One problem with the video method is, you may notice that the compost does not look too much like compost as we think of compost.

In my second post on Pot Composting,  I write about collection, storage, and proper sizing of your kitchen waste for more effective results. When the amount of material to compost and the size of  a compost bin of choice are small, adjustments must be made.

As these compost bins, in this case, small clay pots, not a lot of heat is generated, and little high energy composting takes places. Being realistic about what the end product will be, and the process changes from large scale composting.

I left off with having enough scraps to add another layer to the compost pot. I started with a new pot, as the second pot is full and I am done with it for now. The first item to do is ready the kitchen waste. If you jumped in here, you may want to read the first two posts which I linked above.

I use both scissors and masher to make the scraps small. Use what you have handy. A cutting board and knife will do the job as long as you ensure the pieces are less than 1/2 inch around. The smaller the better. Ensuring whatever you are going to add to your compost pot is free of pesticides and weed killer is important.

If you are not careful and you add some of your neighbors grass clippings for example, they may be coated with both fertilizer and weed killer. The fertilizer is good for your compost. Weed Killer on the other hand does not generally discriminate between your flowers, vegetables and weeds.

Adding to your pot is easy. Starting with an empty pot follow the steps below layering as you go. Always finish with a layer of brown material. This helps deter pests such as flies that would enjoy to snacking on your green waste.

Place 1/2 sheet of newspaper folded to the size of your pot in the bottom of your pot. Ensure the newspaper covers the drain hold in the bottom of the pot.

Add a layer of soil, weeds that are not in seed, or any other green or brown waste on top of the newspaper 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Spread it out evenly. Try to keep the layer closer to 1/4 inch thick seems to work better.

Layering Compost

Brown and Green with a newspaper bottom is all you need to do

Spoon out the collected and chopped kitchen waste on top of the soil. Be gentle and try not to stir up the bottom layer.

Smooth out the kitchen waste, and cover with another layer of of soil, weeds that are not in seed, or brown waste such as leaves, or small twigs mixed with soil.

Cover your pot as you do not want flies hanging around your small compost bins. I use another pot, with a layer of leaves and twigs in the bottom as a house fly deterrent.

You are all set, repeat these steps until your pot is full. In the next post, I will explain how I modified Pot Composting to make everything work faster.

Pot Composting Made Simpler and Easier

I am very excited about this composting system modification I have developed for easier home composting! I have been composting for a long time now with varying results. Most composting in the high desert is slow composting. In dry areas, composting takes a long time for anyone who follows traditional composting techniques, especially at home.

Home composting in general is problematic in the Southwest. There is difficulty finding enough free material to compost in the proper proportions at the same time, if you have a full size composting bin. I find generally there is a lot of brown material available, and a shortage of green material for composting.  A small family does not generate enough kitchen scraps to balance with any real amount of brown material.

I have been using a large barrel for composting. The barrel is cracked on the bottom. With an open bottom barrel, by placing kitchen scraps in it, the barrel becomes several  cockroach’s favorite buffet.

Going outside after dark with a flashlight, seeing several well fed roaches, moon bathing near the barrel is not a pretty site. The number of roaches is not quite as bad as the cockroach mulberry diners I write about here, but they do run a close second. Seeing a small number of cockroaches is seeing too many for me.

I started looking on the web for a solution a few months back. How can a city dweller compost on a small scale, without a large investment in time or money? Secondly, how do you keep cockroaches out of the compost bin? I found this youtube video named, “How to make organic compost at home“. The video is only a few minutes, and provides a basis for what follows.

Small Space Composting

Home Composting made easy

After seeing the video, I appreciate the concept of the system. Four clay pots are manageable. I appreciate the way one pot is filled, moved to the bottom of the stack, then a second pot is started. Pot stacking saves space. The system works as is. To me the created compost tends to look more like dried kitchen waste and not compost as I think of compost. I wanted to make this system better.

I like the idea of using small quantity of kitchen waste. Unless several people are in a household, kitchen scraps suitable for composting are always small quantities. If you are looking for a simple, and inexpensive small scale way to compost, this is a good composting system. This system if how it looks is not an issue could be inexpensive to set up.  This is a simple compost system to use made easier with a a few changes.

I tinkered with this system, using ideas being used in and around composting to achieve better results. In later posts, I will explain improvements I have made to this system that make it easier and more fool proof. More to come in future posts.