Rotten garbage, how I love thee

I finished my compost screener Thursday night and took it for a test run. Josh tried to take a video but it was too dark, so you’ll have to make do with this:

Whee!!!

It worked pretty darn well, except for those durn swiveling wheels (Lowe’s didn’t sell any small rigid casters) which were annoying but not that much.

I wish I’d used wider gauge mesh – 1″ perhaps – because I’m not that picky about the final texture (I just wanted the biggest chunks out) and compost with a lot of leaves in it, like mine, tends to be on the clumpy side. So I would give the sifter a few big yanks, which would get most of the stuff, and then still have to smooth and rub out the rest out with my (gloved!) hands.

Still, I can clearly state that I have never ever personally made such beautiful compost as I did today.

I am going to get less than I thought; half the bin only nearly filled one wheelbarrow.

Clearly, we need to give less scraps to the chickens. Or get a cow. (I’m leaning towards the latter.)

Or here’s a thought: add in all the loads of dirty chicken straw. Normally, when I clean the chicken coop I simply deposit my wheelbarrowload directly into the garden beds that most need to be built up, and content myself with knowing that next year that particular bed should have awesome growing powers. But… if I mixed it in with all the rest of our household compostables, the ultra-powerful chicken doo would go further; and it would decompose faster in our compost bin than spread on top of the dirt in the garden; and all the nutrients would be maintained till I was ready to use them, rather than leaching gradually out of the soil. Except for the potentially powerful, er, off-gassing being so near the house, it should work… I might just give that a shot.

2 Responses to “Rotten garbage, how I love thee”

  1. Ayse Says:

    You should put the chicken bedding in the compost. It speeds the process up and then you can use the beds where you’ve been spreading it now, rather than having to wait for it to sheet compost (which always takes longer).

    You might also consider trying some of the principles of terre preta in your compost. We have a little covered fire pit where we burn scrap wood and dried weeds, and the ash from that we put in the compost pile or on the tomato beds. The little cavities in the charcoals hold onto nutrients. Mixed in with the compost it makes a longer-lasting rich soil.

    Also, remember that to get good plants you make good soil and ignore the plants. So don’t worry about nutrients leaching away — they’re leaching deeper into your soil, not out into the air. Your plants will use that when they are bigger. You want to make nice, deep, rich soil, and that’s going to take time, and it’s going to involve some of those nutrients getting down deep where you don’t see them at first, but they’re feeding the whole soil food web and building better soil.

  2. diana Says:

    Hey Ayse, good to hear from you! I have been putting the ashes from last year’s wood fires into the compost because of its sweetening properties and also the potash it contains; but I didn’t know that it was good for holding on to nutrients and making better soil in general. That’s great to know!

    It’s so hard to be patient when you’ve got soil this poor. I mean I just look at my straggling plants and feel so sad; even all that manure worked in wasn’t enough. It is going to take SO LONG and I am just NOT a patient person. I know in five years I will be able to look around with pride at what I’ve done – but until then I’m so impatient!

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