Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Compost bin
We finished this compost bin today. Used Google Sketchup to make a sketch, went to the hardware store and bought 2X4s, screen hooks, nails and chicken-wire. It was slightly more work than I anticipated, but everything went pretty much as planned. I'm feeling all vegan-DIY now. ;-)

Next we have to move my compost from my old bin to its new home.

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Farmer Joi! ;)

I didn't know what one was until a few years ago at my uncle's home. He had one in the back yard and I lived there for a while. I became fascinated with wondering what it was, but didn't ask them for weeks. I noticed my aunt tossing some food or something out in it at one time and finally burst into this spastic fit of questions, scaring the bajeesus out of her! heheh

Finally settled into our new place, and sitting down to read Eat To Live, thanks, I think this may be what I needed!

Hey Jason! Compost ftw. Every little scrap of kitchen foo starts to look like "food of food". It's kind of a cool feeling. I was sweeping the leaves today. It felt like scratching an itch and I knew the leaves would end up in the compost and eventually in my tummy. It make the sweeping feel like meditative fun.

Good luck on the ETL diet Jason!

What does it do actually? BTW, I just reached Osaka. Nice town here. Tokyo folks should cycle more. I just bought a bicycle. Thinking of going healthy diet also.

Have you considered vermiculture? It sounds a bit odd, but adding certain types of worms can really help the entire process.

I used to keep a small worm bin in my file drawer at the office. It was small, not smelly and processed old coffee grounds and lunch bits. About once a month, I would pull the worm castings and add them to various office plants.

There are places that will deliver red worms for fairly reasonable rates. You do not need many worms as they will multiply on their own (if their environment remains habitable).

Wikipedia article on composting:

cceddle: Yes, I've thought about worms. We have some really nice ones in our garden. ;-) I might give them a try later. I'm trying to do this aerated thing because it seems like it is fast and also SHOULD do a good job killing microbes and seeds too. If I could process my weeds (haven't had the guts yet to put them in the compost) my productivity would go up a great deal.

Oh, interesting. I didn't realize there were special worms for Vermiculture.

Interesting design, most people were going with the octogon design, i thought, so to aerate it, you just roll octogon a few sides. The cube and wire might be hard to aerate with a pitchfork too, since the fork will rip the wire.... Of course, i guess it depends on what you are doing with the compost in terms of aeration. Looks solid, i wonder how long it will take to get it half full, is it a cubic meter?

Yes, it's a cubic meter. It is connected on the edges by screen door hooks so I can easily break it down into 4 panels, and then just pitchfork the layers over to the side and build another pile right next to it upside-down. I won't be turning it in place.

I'm slightly worried about the wire. It is just stuck on with a staple gun. I figure I can deal with it when it breaks. I could reinforce it with more wood or use something stronger for the wire.

I have TONS of leaves, clippings, grass, bamboo shoots and other things for the pile that I can put on once I figure out the right balance with the stuff from the kitchen to "get it going"... also wondering how important substantial height is in the process. I see references to insulation to keep the heat in, but I don't see any references to pressure. I wonder if pressure is important?

And yes, it is crooked because the ground is at a slant and the 4 sides are meant to be just loosely joined and easily removable.

you can always just drop a tarp over it to keep in the heat once it gets started. it will make its own pressure as you get it about 1/3 full, but big flat rocks can be set on top too. if you want go back and forth between aeration and compression that is. another easy trick to get some compression is to toss in a shovel of garden soil to hold the leaves down and such. that also introduces the correct microbes.

Thanks Jeremy. I dumped some 3 year old compost from the back on top and put a tarp over it today actually. ;-) Great minds think alike.

I was just wondering if these things let off a bit of a pong - I want one but my wife is worried that the neighbours might complain (although I live in a house, we have a tiny 'garden' and the neighbours are very close on 3 sides. This is Japan, after all...). I've just started to grow my own veggies and would love to produce my own compost. Thanks!

Richard, if it's working right it doesn't smell. But every once in awhile, it gets upset and it might smell. A properly aerated pile should smell more like earth. Also, if you have the space and also have "dirt" you can always cover the pile with dirt and leaves after you turn it and there should be no smell.

Thanks, Joi! I'll give it a try. I'm going to try building one also, as the ones I've seen near my house are enormous.

And yes, it is crooked because the ground is at a slant and the 4 sides are meant to be just loosely joined and easily removable.