Composting in Phoenix

haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)May 12, 2011

Hi fellow gardeners!

HOA says no composting, so I would like to find a way to process my kitchen waste. Can't do worms inside, but I'm considering the Nature Mill composter and bokashi. Does anyone do either of these or have another method of composting that doesn't involve outdoor piles or indoor worms? If worms would work outside that would be great but I have the impression that it gets too hot for them.


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I remember worms working outside for someone. They had them in an old cast iron tub with a piece of plywood over the top with a few holes in it. The whole thing was also completely covered by a shade structure made out of plywood.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:20PM
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crista(Sunset 13)

Would your HOA allow composting if it didn't smell? Unless you have people that look over your fence it's pretty easy to do clandestine composting with the big plastic garbage cans (50 gal). Keep it with from getting too wet (read stinky) and no one will be any the wiser that you're composting.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 12:20AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

Or use a barrel composter. The 50-gallon cans need to have lots of large holes drilled in them for air flow.

Never seen the Nature Mills composter before. Interesting. Pricey. Lots of working parts.

I use a combination of a barrel composter, this gets things started, and the large garbage can(s). When it's full the compost is not completely finished as I've been adding to it on a daily basis. I dump it out - into the large plastic garbage can with holes, start a new batch in the barrel. The garbage can needs to be 'rearranged' every so often. IE: dump the can, move to a slightly different spot, shovel it all back in. When I'm feeling industrious, I will add dry leaves and coffee grounds from Starbucks in layers as I re-shovel. Misting along the way.

That's it. Like Crista said, unless someone looks over the fence, they'll never know. Put the whole set up behind a large trellis covered in vines. Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 8:31AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I should have mentioned that once the compost is moved to the large garbage can, I cover it with a layer of straw. It's very easy to pitchfork the straw off, then back on, for 'turning' or adding more. This controls pests (like flies) and odor. HTH.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 9:31AM
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I had worms for ten months last year and they died when it hit about 105, although I recently found red wriggler offspring in my garden. So, apparently, they can survive, just not in an above ground container.
The black soldier fly larva took over when it got hot and either ate the worms or chased them off. Not a trace of worms once they were around.
Sure made some awesome dirt while I had worms though, tempted to try again this fall.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 5:31PM
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Does it work to dig a pit to hold garbage and worms?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 10:29PM
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haname(z9 AZ NE Phoenix)

Thanks everyone for your responses!

Tracy, I've been wondering if the black soldier fly lived here. There's an interesting item called a "BioPod" that uses the BSF instead of worms to convert kitchen waste. Yet another pricey option for home composting, though not as expensive as the Naturemill. Looks like a well-designed setup. I also recently came across an interesting idea which involves drilling some holes in a pipe and putting it in the ground, then adding kitchen scraps. Worms in the ground access the scraps through the holes. Cap the top to keep flies out and smells in. That seems like a pretty neat idea too. Then the worms could escape the heat in the soil if they needed to.

The straw is a great idea marymcp. How thick of a layer do you use?

Crista, I think the concern for the no compost rule is probably to reduce the chance of attracting vermin and starting an infestation. There are so many houses too close together and too many things can go wrong with compost piles exposed to the air.

There's got to be something that will work for me. Maybe a combination of bokashi (DIY, not purchased) and an in-ground worm setup?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 11:10PM
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crista(Sunset 13)

You know, haname, if you keep your greens and browns adjusted so the compost doesn't smell (really, it won't!) and you sprinkle borax lightly on the ground under where your composter sits you won't get any kind of bugs - borax keeps the cockroaches at bay. Really. Composting has gotten a bad rap with HOAs from people who just toss their kitchen waste onto a pile -- or pile up all their grass from mowing -- and then don't do anything else. Both ways will be a problem and create bad vibes with neighbors. Good luck finding a strategy that works for you - you're on the right track by asking lots of questions!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 1:27AM
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I bought one of those tumbling composters from Lowes and love it. No smells. Off the ground. No bugs. I had a small trail of ants but took care of them.

3-4 weeks and added the stuff to the garden as mulch. On the second batch now.

Daughter gave me grass clippings. That with garden / kitchen waste, I am in heaven!!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 1:27PM
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I'm building big lasagna gardens with my kitchen waste, garden trimmings and horse manure, now that I don't have the worms. Enough pine straw on top and I never see flies.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 2:18PM
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