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Food scrap chute from kitchen to outdoor pile  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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So I have this idea.

My kitchen has a wall that faces the outside. I hate my compost bucket, it always gets so gross, right? And then there's the unsightliness of it all, especially since all I have is folding tables for a kitchen (or, in other words, no cabinets to hide it in!).

I am going to at some point this coming summer, cut a hole in the outside wall and build a chute for my compost. So then when I have compostable things, I will just throw them directly outside and rinse them down with a cup or two of water. I'll have a bin set up outside with a small access hole for the chickens, and will periodically throw sawdust or some kind of browns on the pile.

Has anybody done this? Is it a dumb idea? I think as long as it could be properly insulated and sealed (so no bad things happen when it is closed) I don't see anything bad happening here. And a lot less work and less unsightliness.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1703
Location: Western Washington
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I've never done this, but I have though a lot about doing this. I am in the extensive planning and speculation phase of a kitchen remodel and this is totally one of the functions I want to have stacked into my design. So no. Totally not a dumb Idea. I mean, I'm sure there are a million stupid ways to do it which will rot out walls or attract yellow jackets or otherwise be a pain in the butt but I think most of these are avoidable with some preparation and care in execution.

 
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What about the smell and bugs that the compost pile will have are you sure you want it that close to the kitchen and or house?
 
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Location: Florissant, CO
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With the proper amount of browns you won't have any problem with smell or bugs on the outside. I think one of the key elements would be a container of sawdust on the inside that you can throw down the chute to absorb the potential odor of food chunks that stick to the sides. Unless you have enough water pressure/access to spray the chute down regularly.

To increase the production of the pile, you might look into the "Chicken Tractor on Steroids" video by geoff lawton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emgCIB7aL9Q

Depending on the amount of chickens you have and the amount of residual scraps you produce, you could combine this concept with your chute. You could put a layer of straw and manure down and then let the chickens nail the chute scraps that pile on top for a week. After a week you could turn the pile, move it slightly and start a new one under the shoot. Ultimately you would have several piles of compost at different stages, and each pile then has a different interest level for the chickens. You would end up with some happy chickens and great compost.

But of course this all depends on your setup, but if nothing else it hopefully gives you some ideas. I think it's a solid concept and I think the bucket of scraps in the kitchen is one of the big reasons many people don't compost.
 
Bethany Dutch
pollinator
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Location: Colville, WA Zone 5b
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Okay that seals it, I'm gonna do this. I don't think bugs, etc will be a problem, since the chickens will be going through it. They are free range and pretty aggressive about foraging, though I suppose if they aren't as good about going through the pile I can always move one of my coops closer, since they are movable. I'll put browns on it on a regular basis, but probably not every time I dump scraps. That is one thing I may end up playing by ear though, it might be necessary. That also, I suppose, depends on how aggressive the chickens are about foraging the pile! Right now I bring the chickeny scraps to them, but I think if they get used to knowing where a new "dump site" is, they will go check it out every day even if it isn't nearby the coop. They are pretty smart in that sense - just takes a couple times of them finding food in a particular spot and they will keep checking back for more on a regular basis.
 
gardener
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Please keep photographic records and keep us posted on how it works out! I've thought of doing this, but I thought that too much of the food scraps / onion skins / coffee grounds would just stick to the chute. It might be good to look for a chute with a very slippery inner surface.
 
gardener
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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I have done a similar thing with a simple open window from the kitchen to the chicken yard. Even with only 3 hens I was able to throw all scraps out there without a smell or other effects building up. I don't see why making a chute wouldn't be an improvement. Just need some flaps to keep outside air from coming in.
 
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I'm considering doing this.  For those that have tried it, what material did you use?  Any problems?  Any tips/tricks?

Thanks!
 
pollinator
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I am hesitant to punch holes through the building membrane. In some climates, this would require an airlock of sorts for more than half the year around, translating to more possibilities for something to go pear-shaped. I am much more sanguine with having a window that opens to the chicken coop area.

As to smell, I would worry much more about the residues sticking to the sides of the chute than I would about the compost pile being so close to the house. After all, if you're doing it right, it doesn't smell, and if it's too far away, you won't know that something's wrong until it's all wrong.

How are you going to keep an eye (and nose) on the compost pile if it's not on your regular path out of the kitchen?

-CK
 
Kent Thompson
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Thanks for the reply CK.  I am also wary of a hole in my building envelope.  I'm considering the window to chute/slide idea mentioned previously.  The reason in my mind for some sort of chute is to get the food scraps farther away from the exterior wall, mostly so it's not a consistently damp place.  My compost bucket often contains water from rinsing out my coffee apparatus.  Without a chute, I'm not sure I could throw the bucket contents well enough not to just have a sloppy wall.  Maybe a better solution is a small compost bucket on a broom handle.    Only half joking.

My compost pile does pretty well for what I want from it with limited interaction.  I imagine this routine would involve periodic raking of whatever the chickens pass over into a more conventional pile, so it would get an occasional inspection.

Very interested to hear from someone that's tried it to see if they gave up after dealing with a residue-y chute like you point out being a potential problem.  I should probably just give it a shot and report back. 
 
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I am thinking of doing this same thing.  I realize this thread is a little older and hoping that someone has gone through with it.

My idea: a PVC pipe about 6” or so run at a 45 degree through the wall and about a foot out the other end. (I would prefer stainless but I don’t want to spend that much money on this project). Considering some kind of damper on the outside to prevent winter wind blowing into my kitchen. Also thinking I would either install a “pot filler” type faucet near the inside end of the chute, or put a faucet directly in the chute.  This way I can make a habit of running some water down after whatever I dump out.  I would like to place the inside door recessed into my countertop, but may have to make it wall mounted due to the angle/ height requirements to make it 45 degrees.

I am thinking this plan would allow me to 100% seal the home walls around the pipe, preventing any issues with the structure, and allow easy cleaning and low mess. I am actually looking to do this for my home as well as my mother’s home.

I am interested to hear any input on my idea and especially anyone who has done anything like this. 
 
Chris Kott
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Hi Paul.

I think if I were trying this idea, I would look at one of those garbage disposal units for sink drains. I don't think I would ever want one of these in my sink, to be clear. Too many possibilities for injury. But if the largest livestock you have to work with are worms, or if your goal is a hot compost, then breaking down your contributions into tiny pieces would make things go even faster.

It, and perhaps a water flush system for after each contribution, would greatly improve the passage of your compost through the 6" pipe you're considering. Incidentally, if there were a way to divert sink grey water to that end, that would be a bonus.

I think a water flush or spray would be critical to hygiene for a chute that connects your food preparation area to your compost pile. Anyone who's ever happened upon the ass-end of an apartment or condo building's organics chute will be able to attest to that.

As to the doors, you could spring-load the bottom door of the chute such that it remains closed as its default position, and is released by the inner door in the kitchen being closed. So the tube would be constantly closed, save for when the inner door was opened to add a contribution to the pile, during which process the outer door would remain closed. Scraps would be flushed with a small amount of water to the bottom of the tube, then the "flush" would rinse any residue to the bottom, where the door would remain closed until the inner door was latched inside, at which point the contributions get washed out of the pipe, the water leaving nary a coffee grind on the walls of the tube, the door, or the wall of the building.

Let us know how it goes, and good luck.

-CK
 
Posts: 1945
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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"my bin for collecting compost bits gets yucky, so I'm going to make a permanent hole in my house to tip the compost through"

Your compost bin is too big. Get a smaller one, empty it frequently, and wash it up frequently. My parents have a huge compost bin. It takes about a week to fill up, and by that time the bottom layer is a putrid mess and really unpleasant to clean up, and to cart out to the heap to empty. Their bin lives in a cupboard under the sink. The whole cupboard area becomes rather nasty - the odd splash of coffee grounds, scraps of food that miss the bin. All rather grim.

A chute system has many of the same problems that their system has - fixed surfaces that need to be kept clean, food waste that "misses" sits around for ages etc...


My ideal system is really simple. A smaller container that sits on the kitchen surface, in full view. If it starts looking nasty you empty it - rather than ignore it under the sink.  If you miss with food scraps you can wipe down the surface in a matter of moments. And when you have emptied it, you just wash the pot up when you do the dishes. Nothing stays in it long enough to go nasty
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
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Location: Toronto, Ontario
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I rather like that idea, Michael. I have one of those under-the-sink bins, and mine regularly starts growing things, or actively hot composting, before I get it full; I have taken to emptying it at half, and due to the coffee-grounds-and-veggie-scraps makeup of my contributions, along with regular additions of bunny poop, the bin still sits collecting for far too long.

Well, better to say, I suppose, that my under-the-sink compost collector does excellent double-duty as a compost starter.

I like either the glazed ceramic or the stainless steel countertop buckets/containers. I like the simple ones, to be honest, and if you can empty regularly, you have no need of complicated charcoal filter vents in the lids.

I was about to state how it is unlikely that I will change my habits to empty the bin more often, but I realised there really isn't a reason I couldn't. My composter is beside the garage where I keep the car I drive to work every morning. It would take me literally half a minute, tops, to either empty the bin and leave it there for me to pick up upon my return, or to leave it for emptying later, should I be wary of getting something on my clothes on the way to work.

What about raising insects, either to eat or to feed livestock/specialty pets? I saw a setup here in Toronto with an under-the-counter-scale cricket farm, wherein food scraps were placed in an airlock-type drawer that, when closed, would introduce the food scraps to the crickets without the possibility of the crickets escaping. There was a similar drawer in which the adult crickets were encouraged to congregate after mating, which would be removed, still closed, from the unit to be placed in the freezer to harvest them.

Vermiculture is usually more aligned with people's ick factor, though. And most people would consider breeding cockroaches for animal feed right out, but that is a most efficient option as well.

Honestly, I don't really have a horse in this. I stated my objections to the chute idea in my first post, and then made some mention in my second about how I would probably make it work, myself. These are some other ideas that could work in more specialised circumstances, but the small countertop container solution is probably more practical for most people.

-CK
 
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