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Re: Black bins

  • Subject: [cg] Re: Black bins
  • From: Don Boekelheide <dboekelheide@yahoo.com>
  • Date: Sun, 8 Feb 2004 11:47:44 -0800 (PST)

Hi, Connie (and all),

Thanks for sharing your compost story, Connie. I have
two observations and a question.

I too like those plastic roll composters you use. I
use the 'Covered Bridge' composter, a version of what
you are using with slots instead of big holes and 2
postitions for the bolts, so you can make a 'big' or a
'medium' compost container from the same roll. I use
the medium setting with the optional lid as my outdoor
worm bin. Works absolutely great in Zone 7B.

You say:

>I can now produce a very respectable product in 2 1/2
to 3 weeks with 
weekly turning.  Would be faster if I did it daily,
but I DO have a 
life; somebody has to pull those pesky weeds.<

That's much faster than we see here, even in
mid-summer. Our typical time from making a batch
(that's also a useful trick, to pile up enough
material to make a full bin each time you start. You
can then 'feed' kitchen scraps to the pile for several
weeks. For materials that come in in little bursts
(kitchen scraps, for instance) again worms do maybe
the best job imho).

Anyway my questions are:

What is your feedstock (what do you put in the piles)?

Do you use a compost recipe? Especially, do you add a
specific source of nitrogen (fertilizer, manure,
alfalfa, whatever...)?

Do you go for pretty much 'unfinished' compost (you
can still see chunks of feedstock and tell what they
used to be, still pretty warm in spots though not
steaming hot) or are you talking about 'finished'
compost (black, completely broken down, looks like
rich soil, can't tell parent material, pretty much,
pretty much cool in temp)?

And, after the initial 2-3 weeks, do you let your
compost 'cure' (let it sit around in a pile) before
applying it to the garden? If you do, how long?

We go for 'finished' here, though 'unfinished' has
plenty of uses. The science behind this is that
bacterial action predominates in the first 2 or 3
weeks of composting, when the microbes chow down on
readily available sugars. After that phase,
actinomycetes and fungi take over, tackling the
tougher stuff like cellulose and lignins. Typically
for us, using mostly fallen leaves and spoiled straw,
plus whatever else is around (scraps, non-seedy
weedtops, horse poop, coffee grounds, anything free,
convenient and organic pretty much), the process takes
about 10 weeks here under prime conditions
(mid-summer) and 6-7 months over the winter. We do use
a 'recipe' adding some readily available nitrogen in
the form of alfalfa (and the cheapest way to get that
here is big bags of cheap rabbit food).

You also say:

>The compost has produced incredible blooms and herbs
that don't 
seem to understand the word winter. 
Without the compost this would not be possible.  I
couldn't afford the 
remediation necessary, plus I'm way too impatient for
it to produce results. <

Amen! Compost works wonders!

Don Boekelheide
Charlotte, NC

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