Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Electric Composting!

I found this link to ** NATURE MILL'S ** 'compost made easy' website which features the new XE series electric kitchen composter, which begs the following question:

What is really wrong with the what you see on this web site?

If you guessed the whole concept of an indoor, electronically-modulated, humidity-controlled, electrical power-activated, fully-automatic home composter, you would be wrong.

What is really wrong is that the following captions were not inserted in the ad, to give the sales pitch a true to life flavour!

What he is saying: "I'm really sorry honey, it was delicious, but we had a big lunch meeting, and I must have overeaten"

What she is saying: "Oh that's ok sweetie, I completely understand, that's why we have our neat little composter here!"

What he is thinking: "She always cooks the crap out of the veggies, I really hope she buys the 'big lunch meeting' excuse, I don't wanna be in the doghouse... I need some nookie!"

What she is thinking: "I am definitely not buying that lame 'big lunch meeting' excuse buster, you're in the doghouse for a week... that means no nookie!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Prize Winning Squash

I just about died laughing when I read my post below (Welcome Weeds). Well that little squash plant growing out of my composter quickly became a very big squash plant growing out of my composter, and actually produced third prize winning squash in the 2009 Tavistock Fall Fair (and not just out of three entries, there were at least six or seven in the category).

Friday, August 14, 2009

Okay, So I Am Crazy!

I love composting so much, that I actually compost at other peoples houses! Yes, I am that crazy! This is a photo of my handywork after visiting my sister in Barry's Bay for dinner this past weekend... Remember, help your compost cook faster by cutting things like corncobs into little pieces! Also notice the fancy little compost bucket provided by the Township of Madawaska Valley as part of their curbside compost pickup program. Sweet!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Welcome Weeds

I guess a weed can be considered any plant growing in a location that is not desired, so having a large gourd plant growing out of my compost container could certainly be considered a weed. However, although it has pretty much taken over residence in the one bin, I will simply use the other three to build compost in, and see what this plant produces by fall...You never know, it could end up being a prize winning gourd at the Tavistock Fall Fair, or better yet, watermelon!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

How To Score A Dozen Bags Of Oak Leaves

Earlier this evening I was showing a Bed and Breakfast guest to her room, when to my surprise there was another knock at the front door! Excusing myself, I headed downstairs, and was pleasantly surprised to see Dennis at the door. Dennis and Katherine attended German school together several years ago, and he is also a 'colleague' of Katherine's as he now supply teaches occasionally. He and his wife MaryAnn drive right through town on their way to their cottage, and often drop in for a visit and a cup of tea.

To make a long story short, after chatting a bit, MaryAnn checked her watch, and I asked if they needed to be anywhere. Turns out they were trying to make the Waterloo landfill by 6pm to dump off about a dozen bags of oak leaves from their cottage, as the local tipping fees were a bit exorbitant, and Waterloo might add them to the compost for free. As it was already after 5:30pm, they wouldn't make Waterloo, so I suggested I would take them all! Dennis at first thought I was a bit crazy, but I persuaded him that I compost just about anything, and would be quite happy finding a suitable home for his bags of leaves. Ten minutes later we had his trailer unloaded, and eleven heavy bags of oak leaves stacked on the boulevard, which I will take later to the backyard.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Raw Materials 4

I have always wanted to find a decent supply of coffee grounds for composting, and finally found the perfect supplier. I have arranged to place a green bin at Morning Glory Cafe's location at Heffner Lexus Toyota in Kitchener. This is the first full bin I collected, weighing about 60 lbs of nothing but used coffee grounds and filters. Morning Glory Cafe is a small cafe run by Ray Of Hope, a local not-for-profit agency.

still working on this, check out links below




Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Finished Product

I am building a new garden bed on the East side of the property, which is currently planted with Day-Lillies, a shade loving grass, and two types of Hostas. In the area that is mostly planted the way I want, I added a top layer of newspaper (to keep weeds down) and some of my rough quality compost that I make in the wooden bins. The picture is of the finished product. This stuff is really more of a slowly biodegradeable mulch, with some completely broken down humus, and plenty of matierials which will continue to decompose in place. As is evident, the Spruce cones and needles take a while to break down, but within two years those seen here will be completely gone.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Raw Materials 3

Still some more raw materials, which are mainly dead grasses and perennial plant matter from some areas of the garden beds. Katherines parents were over for part of the weekend, and Katherine and her mom attacked some of the beds, simply raking this dead crap out onto the lawn, which was then tossed in a wheelbarrow for the final trip to become worm food!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Raw Materials 2

Another source of ingredients for the composters is a combination of shredded White Spruce cones and lawn clippings. With the new Craftsman lawnmower (I never had a mower with a rear bag attachment) I set the wheel height low, and simply mow up all the cones and whatever early grass has come up. The material pictured was from our next door neighbor, who I found raking up all the cones, so I offered to go over and 'vacuum' them up with my mower, and take the proceeds. In the case of these clippings, there wasn't much grass to come up, compared to the cuttings when I did my lawn, which were about 1/3 grass by volume.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Compost Factories

Here is a shot of the four compost factories I have in the back part of the driveway area. There are two large hand made wooden compost bins for creating larger volumes of fair quaility compost from generally less than ideal sources. There are also two "Black Earth" machines which are reserved for producing top quality compost from premium raw ingredients. The bins are located behind the house, and receive direct sun for at least 6 hours a day, from about 11 AM to about 5 PM or so from late spring onward. I used to have them located in a shady corner of the garden, and since relocating them have found that the black plastic bins have increased production at least two or three times faster.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Raw Materials 1

As mentioned earlier, just about everything organic and non-animal in composition (so anything vegetable and mineral) I tend to compost. As far as mineral raw materials goes, there is not much except for recycled soil material from the lawn or garden, with the only notable exception being the crap I collect from the roadway at the front of the house every spring. After the snow clears, I have a habit of tidying up this area at the front of the property. This involves raking up the crap from the 'boulevard' (the grass between the sidewalk and curb) onto the roadway, and then shovelling up along the curb to remove any weeds, and collect all the fine sand and gravel that collects there over the winter. Generally I fill about 3 or 4 wheeelbarrow loads of needles, cones, grass, weed, some earth (from where I cut the grass back neatly over the curb) and a bunch of sand ranging from very fine dust to coars, and some fine gravel also. I have no idea what the chemical composition is of the sand, and if it contains a lot of road salt, but it seems not to matter, as it represents only a small percentage of my total compost stream.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why I Do What I Do

There are a couple of reasons I compost. First is just simple economics. In trying to create more gardens at the Field House, I need more dirt, and dirt, surprisingly, costs quite a bit of coin, which I would rather spend on food, shelter, clothing, books, tools, beer, treehouse construction supplies, loomex electrical wire, Registered Education Saving Plan contributions for Rudi and Alexander, and a new stove for the cottage, among other things. And I need a lot of earth, probably in the range of 20 cubic yards by the time I am done most of my garden building. That's about two grand worth of dirt. So my solution has been to collect just about all the vegetable organic matter, and turn it into some kind of compost dirt substitute.

The second reason has to do with laziness...er, efficiency. I find it far easier to rake the crap dropped by all the dirty trees straight into the wheelbarrow, trundle it to the backyard, and dump it in a compost bin, rather than bag it, take it to the curb, and get it landfilled.

And finally, I guess I am doing my part to help save the environment...not that diverting a few hundred kilograms a year out of the solid waste stream makes a difference, but I guess every little bit helps.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How I Do What I Do

Because of my attempts to compost virtually all organic vegetable matter at the Field House, I treat my raw materials in different manners, depending on whether they are easy or difficult to break down, and where and for what purpose the end use material may be used.

I have four composting bins in total, two black plastic earth machines, which are used for producing higher quality compost fairly quickly. I also have two hand built wooden composting bins, made of pressure treat 2x4 with fence slats for walls, each about 1 cubic yard (3 x 3 x 3 feet). In addition two these four composting units, I also do limited burning in a fire pit to reduce cones and branches to ash, before adding to various composters, and I also pile and shred leaves over garden areas to produce leaf mulch in-situ.

The earth machines are fed a higher quality diet of clean leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen food waste. In the summer they can easily produce beautiful crumbly black compost within six to eight weeks.

The larger wooden bins are used more to break down some things considered uncompostable, like spruce cones and needles, in addition to larger volumes of fairly good raw materials, ending with a decent compost suitable for using as a base for locating new beds. Due to the nature and quality of the raw materials, these bins generally take at least three of four months to turn out anything decent in the summer, and require a bit more effort in terms of hand turning and chopping to break everything down nicely.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

If It Looks Like Crap, It's Probably Compost

What is dark brown, a bit smelly, and looks like crap? Well, compost of course, silly! At the Field House, we collect an abundance of organic matter, from Spruce and Pine needles and cones, leaves, branches and other garden trimming, a whole variety of food scraps, and lawn cuttings also.

This blog will let you know how we are able to magically transform all this organic waste into beautiful, nutrient-rich organic matter, suitable for adding to any gardent to improve the health of plants growing in it. Actually I am exaggerating. Some of the stuff we compost does turn into nutrient rich organic matter, and makes a wonderful compost material. A lot of the stuff we compost eventually turns into some kind of passable organic matter, suitable for building garden beds where there were none before, and helping plants grow as well as basic topsoil found at your garden centre.