For all of us who lug their kitchen scraps outside in the cold and dark....who scour their home looking for brown material (carbon) to match the easier to find green matter...who layer their compost bin precisely as outlined in the textbooks...who turn their pile daily to ensure the proper aerobic bacterial population....good for you. For those of us who simply throw anything we can find into the pile and manage to turn it when the inspiration or energy seems to strike (once a week)....good for us too! For this week HMG has finally produced some really nice compost following the lazy plan.
Compost when finished is a nice sight. Money savings becomes real, a forty pound bag of compost can cost between 5-12 dollars depending on where you get it, plus you have to take time to transport it as well as carry it everywhere.
Using a three bin system, HMG has produced what appears to be about 6-8 forty pound bags worth this season. Adding kitchen scraps, brown vegetable plant branches, occasional leaves (not too many) and a sprinkle of fireplace ash, we have made some pretty respectable looking compost.
We have found with minimal attention compost is really not difficult to make. The most important aspects are to make sure you get some brown matter in there as well as to periodically turn the pile so as to prevent anaerobic bacteria from kicking in. You will know if this happens as your compost pile will begin to smell like takeout fish that was left in the car overnight. If this happens, simply turning the pile over a few times instantly cures the problem. We have found a small pitchfork the best for doing this.
Applying the compost to needy beds is definitely a great feeling. For those of us who do this without the benefit of high heat compost, which is usually done with machine turned piles or piles which have air blown into them, we will see a nice seedling bed soon of every vegetable we have eaten for the past 6 months as those seeds have not died in the pile. Obviously this is not desired, although seeing 200 tomato seedlings in a 10 x 4 foot raised bed is interesting, simply raking them in or pulling the seedlings seems to be the best management option....and is there anything more sustainable then making your own compost? I don’t think so!