Today, I have to admit, I failed. At what? Compost.
When we moved to this place, my sister suggested, since I wanted a container garden on the patio, that I start a small compost bin. Fertilizer for my garden and no chemicals, in a word: perfect.
“How hard could it be?” I said.
“It’ll be fun.” I said.
I grabbed a bucket, stuck it just outside my door, happily chucked my compostables in, and sat down to wait for my fertilizer.
Apparently, composting is slightly more work than that.
First, it can’t become a puddle. According to my brother-in-law-to-be (BILTB), if there’s standing water in compost, the bacteria you get is anaerobic, which means that it doesn’t need oxygen. Unfortunately, the anaerobic bacteria is the kind that turns your food into moonshine. It’s the aerobic (or needing oxygen) kind that turns your food into fertilizer. That, of course, was not something I knew, and my bucket collected 6″ of rainwater. At some point, I thought maybe it would evaporate, and stopped throwing stuff in it, just to be on the safe side. Thankfully, my BILTB noticed, and asked how long it had been like that. (Oops… 4 months). Once he found out my story, and stopped laughing at me, he explained the aforementioned concept. Apparently all that effort was for some very poorly brewed “Mommy Juice”.
#2: You have to turn it. I did not, meaning it smelled like the world’s worst stomach flu times 10. It also left the bottom saucy, and the top complete food particles.
Anyway, my sister came for coffee this morning, and I finally got the nerve to empty the bucket. The fact that I could no longer enjoy my patio without the constant wafting had nothing to do with it, I swear. I brought it inside, and even with the lid closed, I could smell it across the living room. Since my bucket was massive and massively heavy, I propositioned my sister to help me get rid of it. In exchange for coffee, she agreed. It took both of us to haul the bucket to the toilet and drain it. During which, we went from breathing to turning blue from holding our breath. I should note that this was a terrible time for our bathroom fan to be broken. Somehow we made it (gasping) out of the bathroom, and took the bucket and the garbage can outside for disposal of the solid matter, leaving a trail of stench times 10 in our wake. Bravely, we emptied it, gasping the whole way. It was at this point that I realized why turning was a good idea, meaning that the bottom was the worst mush, and the top was unfortunately distinctive, albeit a lot smellier than when I transferred it from my fridge. Once we were done, still reeling from the smell, I hauled my butt and the whole garbage can down to the dumpster. Don’t worry, I didn’t throw my can out, I just didn’t want to risk the leftover juices dripping on the way down the stairs, as I’m pretty sure my landlady would have a problem with that. I came back in to reel at the smell.
I can’t even tell you people how bad it smelled. What I can tell you is that I’m tremendously thankful that my husband was sleeping with our bedroom door closed, and with all the remaining windows open, the patio door open, and both fans (even the almost broken bathroom one) going full blast, it still took 2 hours to settle down to the “I did something terrible in the bathroom” level of stench. Even as I type now, I’m still getting mild wafts.
Oh yeah, after my husband asked what the heck happened in the bathroom, and braved his way through a shower, he very politely told me, once I optimistically told him my plans for restarting the bin, that he would happily get me a proper system, if I could wait a short bit. I stoically accepted.
Apparently the promise of grass clippings and a garbage bag to cover the cracks in the lid fell a bit short.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go see if I have anything that will work as a deodorizer because I can’t take the smell anymore.