Tech for Backyard Composting at its Best

The weather is slowly diving down into cooler territory, which means soon leaves will be diving down into our yards. Leaves make pretty excellent cushiony piles, but after that they usually get bagged up and hauled off. This year we've decided to use the dead plant matter as part of our first attempt at composting. We've covered small systems that enable you to do it in your apartment and without odor, but we've got some backyard space and lots of leaves so we're thinking a bit bigger. Here's a few things we're looking at getting to make the process easier.

Compost Monitoring System

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Green Mountain Technologies produces hardware and software for all levels of composting. We've been looking at Compost Lab, a program for those that aren't planning on building an integrated composting factory (i.e. Us). Though it's not as extensive as some of their other products it's plenty powerful enough for home use. Compost Lab can give you temperature readings, compost recipe data, and the ratio of carbon to nitrogen in your compost — all key components in successful composting.

Rotating Steel Drum/Biolan

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With our larger amount of leaves and food waste we need a bigger bin to store and compost it. There are some cool looking rotating tumblers that help with aeration, but if we go in with our neighbors we'd like to get the Biolan 220. Like a giant trashcan with a screen on the front, the 220 is billed as a year-round composter for its insulation and ventilation features. You pour compostable trash in the top, turn it every once in a while, and compost comes out the bottom. It also does a good job of keeping out pests.

Composting Calculator App (iOS | Android)

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In compost, food waste and grass clippings provide nitrogen and the newspaper and leaves provide carbon. When used in the right ratio, these two produce a rich and balanced compost. The wrong ratio can lead to issues of pests or slow down the decomposition, and a slow pile can take years to compost properly. Compost for iOS is a simple composting calculator that lets you throw in how much food waste and grass clippings you have and spits out how much newspaper or leaves you need to create an effective compost. Compost Calculator for Android lets you choose between 25 existing materials or add your own to create a balanced mixture.

Of course, if don't have many leaves, you could get a composting toilet, but we're not so sure about those yet.

(Images: Flickr user Scot Nelson under creative commons, People Powered Machines, and the Apple App Store.)

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