Tag Archives: compost pile

Huge compost bin sighting!

I was walking around the other day and found these massive 5′ x 5′ x 5′ compost bins.

I hope they don’t always look this inactive!  There’s a lot of potential here.

The “death” of a compost bin is when branches are tossed in… while they are organic and will break down, they will take forever to do so in that form and just take up space.

To the left of these bins is a nice pile of wood chips, and it was good to see that the wood chips were not present in the bins… sawdust yes, wood shavings not really, wood chips no way.

If the nature area wanted to (and maybe they do on a scheduled basis), there was plenty of material in the immediate vicinity of which to get both bins full of ready-to-compost material.

I’ll definitely be checking this out over time to see how it’s getting used.  I’m guessing the trickier component is finding the right green materials…definitely the opposite of my situation!

 

Ants in the Compost

I spent some time away from the compost pile to spend more time and attention on the Worm Inn Mega in the basement.  My weekly food scrap deposit went to the worms, and it hasn’t rained in week or two.

Here come the ants!

The presence of ants indicate a dry compost pile, or uncovered food deposits, or both.  In my situation, I simply haven’t had rain in a while and I haven’t added any fresh material.

Ants aren’t necessarily bad for the pile though- they help break it down along with all the other critters working in there.

Keep your pile moist, and you should be good to go here.  Although I recommend making the least effort, I’ve been told that turning the pile will make them leave as well… although that would require a lot of energy and end up relieving all the built up heat from inside the pile.

Either way, don’t freak out if you see ants this time of year, just thank them for telling you the compost pile needs more moisture!

My Compost Pile is Sinking!

Just the other week, I had filled the bin up to the edge with new material…and I look out there today after forgetting about it and it’s dropped nearly a foot!

This is what I love about compost piles- I’ve been adding material to this thing on a weekly basis and it’s just a bottomless pit of degradation.

With the summertime coming on, I can only imagine this process will kick up a few more notches still.

Advanced Aerobic Composting – 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Turns!

Advanced Aerobic Composting – 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Turns!

That’s cool that Rick uses hair in the video… hair is a pretty long-term decomposition item, but in a massive pile like this, chances are good he can diminish it pretty quickly.

Hey Rick, don’t flip that pile!  Let the process do what it does and it’ll build up all the heat you can imagine.  Turning it is just letting out all the heat.

 

Advanced Aerobic Composting

Advanced Aerobic Composting

Lucky Rick!  He managed to rake up leaves that are already a relatively smaller size…no need to shred!

He’s also got a killer blend of several types of manures, so right there with those two ingredients, technically he doesn’t need anything else.  Both manure and leaves will naturally break down on their own, so just by combining them he’s got himself one heck of a great soil coming.

MIgardener Update Marathon – Compost Pile (video)

MIgardener Update Marathon – Compost Pile

Great video of a super simple compost pile doing what it does…love it!

Based on such a huge volume of leaves and grass (I’m jealous), that alone is enough to get hot composting in action.  I have a feeling his pile was hotter than the guesstimate of 90 degrees.

If he was right, however, he could definitely help out his pile temperature by adding humanure to it… 🙂

Anaerobic Composting – Is It Worth It?

Anaerobic Composting – Is It Worth It?

Anaerobic composting is a simple and fun alternative to the usual ways of composting, which include using a compost bin, a tumbler, or worms. While it may be the easiest method, it takes a really long time to finish and it has different environmental consequences…more on that in a moment.

A popular method I’ve read about is to use two thick black garbage bags, a bucket to measure out the contents and some water. Add equal parts shredded food scraps (no meat/dairy/seafood), soil+some finished compost, and “brown” materials (shredded leaves, shredded paper). Add some water to get the material damp, but not completely soaked. Tie off the bag, then put it inside the other garbage bag and tie that off, too. All done!

This process is often said to finish within 6-8 weeks, but based on my findings, I’m willing to bet that’s unusually fast. I gave it another six months to sit…how does it look? The results are really nice! Was it worth it? Yes and no.

If you’re composting, that means you’re avoiding throwing away perfectly good material to the landfill, which is always a good thing. Speaking of landfills, they spew out one third of our methane output (along with nearly 100 non-methane organic compounds that are severely toxic such as dioxins and furans), which has a global warming potential 23 times greater than carbon dioxide (results from aerobic composting).

While only a small amount is emitted when opening the bag, every little bit counts and aerobic home composting is the best method.

Maybe I’m being a bit over the top…your home composting effort is obviously not composed of the same materials as a landfill and therefore has drastically different emissions. Regardless, I want you to think about it… compost as much as you can!

The easily avoidable negative aspect is that I’m creating garbage bag waste, so this will be the last time I try anaerobic composting using this method. At least I can hold onto this garbage bag and fill it up over time with my non-compostable/non-recyclables, which is a pretty small amount of our waste if you think about it.

A commenter on my previous anaerobic composting video stated that I should try using a 5 gallon bucket with lid so I avoid the plastic bag waste. While the standard lid wouldn’t be airtight enough, there are definitely airtight lids out there such as the Gamma Lid brand that has locking lids.

So there you have it- not the best possible method, and I always suggest aerobic composting over anaerobic, but if this method works better for you (try buckets!) and keeps you from sending stuff to the landfill, go for it.

If you’d like to learn more about landfill gas and their emissions, check here: http://www.energyjustice.net/lfg#2

Anaerobic Composting Update

Ahhhh, the weather broke… kind of.  I went out on the balcony for the first time since the Fall and checked out the garbage bag, it was stuck to the deck a little bit.

Back in November, I opened this bag the first time around and the material was definitely breaking down in there, but it wasn’t finished.  I wanted to give it another six months and take a peek, so when May comes around we’ll see how it went through the winter months, and if the cold had a serious effect on the process.

An aside: I was collecting the last of the leaves off my street yesterday to use for my next compost pile, and I decided to try a biodegradable garbage bag since I had some different ones lying around.  What a disaster!  I was only able to fill it halfway before the bottom fell out.  While I would love to support using bioplastics in some applications, they don’t make sense if you’re performing a heavy duty task…like filling a bag halfway with dry leaves.  Maybe the bag was really old.

Anyway, garbage bag opening ceremony in another 6 weeks…