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.