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.