About a year ago I was really getting into compost. I’ve got heavy clay soil and compost does an excellent job of loosening up the soil for my vegetable garden.
Mother nature will compost pretty much anything if you give her enough time. Well, I’m pretty impatient so I’m doing all I can to speed up the process. In the backyard I went to our leaf pile where we’ve been dumping leaves for years. Under about a foot of leaves is some stuff that looks like it is completely composted.
Well, with the addition of our new chickens we’ve not only got egg machines, but poopin’ machines too! I’ve rekindled my obsession with a nice hot cooking compost pile. Below is a picture of our pooping machines and out bio-stack compost bins (two of them).
I also created a compost sifter to help me make perfect compost. Click here for the whole story:
A few weeks ago I took the pine shavings and chicken poo / manure from the bottom of my chicken coop and mixed it with a bag of freshly mown lawn clippings. I mixed them together really well and added some water (from our flooded basement). After a few hours the pile was cooking at about 130 degrees.
Well, I waited until my grass / pine shavings / chicken poo pile had cooled down and then I turned it. Boy did I turn it good! While turning it I noticed that much of the grass was still green and that there were still many shavings so I was good on greens and browns. Moisture still looked good too. I figured all it needed was some more air and a little mixing and it would heat up again, but 24 hours later I’m still at 70 degrees?
So, what am I missing?
Some friends suggested that I add some more “greens” to the pile. I had just mowed the lawn, but decided to not catch the clippings, but let them mulch / compost back into the grass. Many people also praise the magic of used coffee grounds as an excellent source of nitrogen and it really gets the pile cooking. I called up the neighborhood StarBucks (they have a program for giving out bags of grounds for composting) and went and picked some up. They gave it to me in a plastic bag that was inside a plastic crate. I went to my cooled down pile and mixed in the coffee grounds. I stuck the thermometer in and am waiting for the results…
I went out to check the next day and found a PLETHORA of new little bugs. Turns out they are mites. I was originally very worried about these little guys for my chickens sake, but learned that these ones only feast on dead plant matter or other little bugs. The temp had gone up, but just by a little. So far I’m not amazed at the results, but I’ll keep playing with them and maybe get a bag or two to do more testing.
When the pile of compost isn’t cooking the worms come in to do their job:
Hopefully there will be some good hints from the garden forum.