Upham's Corner Online

The Earth Machine - Adopting a New Way of Life from the Ground Up

Posted: May 7, 2012     Nancy J Conrad

Recycling and caring for the environment has always been part of my life but composting?  No.  And I don't know why.  So even though my recycle bin gets filled faster than the kitchen trash, as a single person, the amount of "trash trash" that goes out (when I remember) is minimal.  That's no excuse for tossing perfectly usable and nutritious composting material into the Sunrise Scavenger trucks on Wednesday morning.

So I bought a composter today and can't wait for the "stuff" to metamorphose into rich dark earth.

This blog will document the journey of adding a new sustainability step to my life - what it's like to compost - in word and photo - and to encourage every plot of land and every resident in Boston to benefit from composting. 

The Boston Building Materials Coop on Terrace St in Roxbury Crossing has recently merged its two operations into one and they now dub themselves Boston Building Resources but their compost bins have not changed.

(Following taken from their website)
Compost BinsBrave New Composter  Earth Machine

Two styles to choose from – Brave New Composter (shown on left) and Earth Machine (shown at right). Composters convert food and yard waste into rich, soil enhancing "humus," or compost, and reduce the amount of material entering the waste stream. (Available to Massachusetts residents only)

Price: $50.00 for either type


Over the phone I made my choice to purchase Brave New Composter since it is 100% recycled plastic, expands and was the store employee's composter of choice.  Once in the store and for purely technical reasons, I purchased the other composter - The Earth Machine - but both composters produce the same excellent results.

The pieces fit neatly into my vehicle:
  • Aerated round bottom with holes for worms
  • Base cylinder with cutout for door
  • Door (Harvest door)
  • Top cylinder that molds over to create seat for lid
  • Lid
  • Four screws
  • Handbook
As I was leaving, the attendant said:  "The instructions are inside" and I could see a lovely user guide that surely fit the description of a "set of instructions."

Despite the attendant's comment, the user guide didn't seem to present itself as a set of instructions - disappointing but not a problem.  The composter wasn't too difficult to assemble.  What I discovered later after assembling the unit with a bit of consternation (and in reverse order) is that most assuredly, the instructions are in the User Guide, just a bit hidden amidst the Spanish and trench languages, all mixed together.   

Better to relax, read the User Guide start to finish, then start the assembly.  The instructions will not only become visible but will also make the assembly faster and simpler.

Step 1:  Decide where to put the Earth Machine - Convenience is the highest factor as the trip from the kitchen to the backyard must not become a "chore."  At the same time, choosing a spot that gets sun and warmth is also important.

Step 2.  Make sure the ground is flat since the bottom is flexible plastic.  If the round base is not perfectly flat under the opening for the door, when the door is slid down, it may leave openings large enough for rodents to get inside. 

Step 3.  Connect the two base pieces first since a whole bunch of interlocking tabs need to lock into narrow slots.  This may be better done upside down.

Step 4.  With the two cylindrical pieces connected and with the unit upside down, locate the round base onto the body and snap in place.  Then lift carefully and place the almost completed unit onto the ground.

Step 5.  Slide the door in place and lock with a screw to keep the door from sliding up.

Step 6.  Attach the lid and turn counter clockwise until the amount of desired vent space is open (depends on how much drying / oxygen is needed).  The unit itself has plenty of openings for air but the venting at the top promotes a chimney effect. 

Step 7.  Secure the unit to the ground with the four plastic screws that fit into holes in the base cylinder (at an angle).

Step 8.  Add a layer of good soil, then add food scraps and yard waste according to directions in the User Guide.

Stay tuned for more updates as we await the arrival of the earth worms (or put them there ourselves).

Assembling the Earth Machine
Checking the selected compost site for size.
Assembling the Earth Machine
Turn the bottom cylinder upside down.
Assembling the Earth Machine
Align the bottom to the cylinder and snap in place.
Assembling the Earth Machine
Before the door is added. (ignore the wood)
Assembling the Earth Machine
After the door is in place and secured.
Assembling the Earth Machine
Adding 2" soil at the bottom.
Assembling the Earth Machine
After adding the available kitchen scraps -
eggshells, green goo and coffee grounds
Assembling the Earth Machine
The Earth Machine at work.

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