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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Compost Area

 What an excellent day! It was a balmy 70 degrees most of the day and a little overcast now and again but not too windy and all the beautiful flowers are budding right and left. A perfect day to work outside.

I'd neglected the compost area of my garden for over a year and it was full of junk, barrels of straw, dirt, rocks, and mulch that I'd planned on putting into the garden last year. So I distributed all the straw in the walkways between the garden bins. I don't know if it'll prevent weeds but it makes an earthy smelling ground cover and when it breaks down I can fork it into the bins to help keep the soil loose. The bark chips I'd lain down had broken down and packed till they weren't serving much purpose in the walkways.

One thing I'm finally recognizing is that it's easier to mow weeds than it is to weed through rock piles. I'd piled rocks on the outside of the garden fence thinking with enough rocks it would prevent weeds but they just grew up through them and are even harder to pull out with the rocks. So the first thing was to rake those away and pile them on the hillside away from where they'll mess up the mower.

I have two compost piles, one from 2009 that has finally broken down to an almost usable base and the other from last fall. It's huge, about 14' x 4' x 3' tall and is almost too big to turn easily. I want to build a compost bin with some fencing stakes and chain link and pallets so that I can turn the piles easier. That's the next big project.

When I get the bins built I am hoping to keep them in various stages of decay so that I can always have some well de-composed loam to use in pots or various projects. I wish I had a bobcat to level the whole area but I'm just going to have to dig each section out and work out the lumps a bit at a time. SOOOoo many rocks!

Here's some ideas I found on the net for compost bins.

  I've seen several barrel type compost tumblers that have different scaffolding to hold them up but they seem like they only hold a small bit of compost and wouldn't serve the volume of debris my yard produces. This would be great for kitchen compost though and I may make one or two just to see how they work. I've got about sixteen more plastic barrels that I was going to cut in half to use as container bins but I can spare a couple for this experiment. I'll post photos when I get it figured out.

This is a pallet bin and made a bit more casually than I plan to build. It would let plenty of air in the layers and be economical to build. Maybe I'll combine the fencing and pallets to create the separate bins.

These corner kits look simple and efficient but I don't think I can afford to invest in as many of these as I'll need for the amount of compost I'll be producing. They sure would be easy and quick though. I already have the fencing posts and old chain link so I'm going to have to go with
the products I have on hand. In my next life I'll be a princess and can afford store bought well engineered compost stakes. Of course most Princesses aren't terribly interested in compost, but IF I were a princess, I'm make compost my cause du jour'. (that's a kind of soup, usually potato cheese).

With the help of my sweet husband BABB (Bad Ass Brave Bill) I was able to clear the compost area while he pounded the stakes for the new bins. then I wired some old chain link fencing to the sides and back of the stakes and wired salvaged wooden pallets to the dividing stakes and fronts. Then I filled the bins in with the compost from the newest pile. They should get plenty of air and moisture and be much easier to turn this way.

Compost bins made with salvaged fence stakes, chain link, and wooden pallets. The lawn mower carriage is my rock hauler that is low to the ground and makes it easier to roll the big rocks onto the carriage and drag/roll them where I need them.

Today I'll finish raking out the area in front of them and plant some grass so that it doesn't fill with weeds and stickers. I have enough white plastic barrels left that BABB is going to make two tumbler style composters with some steel frames for the base that will sit at the end of the compost bins and can finish off the last little bit of decomposition for potting soil. I have room for three more bins if needed but hopefully these three will be enough to keep me in nice compost year round. We get a lot of debris and leaves each fall.

Holly and Dahli raking fall leaves for the compost/mulch piles.

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