Composting

Composting

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Composting can be a daunting task, but we’re going to try our hand with it. We’ve recycled the soil from our green planter to use for fall/winter harvest.

Composting: Gathering Materials

 

Previously, we had old soil inside of a green planter originally used for flowers. To get the soil ready for compost, we aerated the soil by turning and removing large clumps to make the soil lighter. Next, we added cinnamon, mixed, and stored in used potting soil bags.

We used a small number of food scrapings (no meat or dairy) mixed with some newspaper clippings and added it to a large container halfway full of recycled soil. Next, we added a layer of soil (about 1-2 inches). Lastly, we ended with a small watering of soil activator/liquid fertilizer.

Now we wait!

As beginners, trying innovative techniques is intriguing. Most sources say that a large bin is recommended to start. However, we just used an empty container pot for this small batch. Starting small to experiment how well this compost turns out will be easier to manage.

We plan to plant ginger and potatoes in grow bags and reattempt kale. Hopefully this little compost pile to thrive and to use as fertilizer for future plants!

 

Hello, fellow composting gardeners!!!

If you’ve been waiting to hear about the compost update, here it is!! Our original compost blog started with food scraps (no meat or dairy), recycled soil, soil activator, and love! That was about two weeks ago…

Composting: Update #1

Now, it is clearly visible how well the food scraps degraded into the soil. It looks alive again! Also, some of the wood chips have degraded as well. The wood chips are considered “brown” components. Brown components are carbon-rich materials. We need to focus on balancing a good mix of “green” and “brown” components in the soil. Green components are nitrogen-rich materials such as food scraps and grass clippings. We filtered the soil to take out the large items that did not fully degrade into the soil.

We were so excited that we added the new and improved soil to the plants; basil, mint, and sage.

Sage Before

Sage After

Basil Before

Basil After

Mint Before

Mint After

Composting: Notes

We stored the remaining of the soil in a used potting soil bag with plenty of ventilation. We believe the main takeaways for starting compost for beginners and or small apartments are…

  1. Start small: for a 12-18 gallon container, we used half soil and half food scraps
  2. Not adding a lot of food scraps because it will attract pests and take longer to degrade into soil
  3. Turn or aerate at least once a week so that the bacteria can move evenly throughout the soil
  4. Have fun and experiment: the worst that can happen is the length of time it takes to turn into compost but it is so worth it, don’t give up!

Since the first batch, we started saving our food scraps in a bucket or container with a lid. We added soil every time we added food so that it can take down the smelly process of decay. Also, we think that adding dry leaves will make the soil more fluffy and lighter.

We decided to make a short video showing the process of starting a new batch of compost to put the whole experience into one viewing (please see video at the end of the post). This batch will be added to our new compost tumbler. The more compost we make will be easier to manage with this device. Check our next compost blog post to see how we use it and if we really enjoy it!

 

Compost Update #2- Batch #2

Time to show off the compost that was started in the post, compost update! We bought a small compost tumbler to make it easier to mix materials and allow the compost to breathe. Mixed with leaves, soil, and food waste, the compost is full of nutrients. The soil appears to be a very dark brown. This batch took about a month and a half to break down the food scraps.

Conditions

The weather was really hot and humid when we started the second batch. The highs reached between low 80 F and low 90 F. We were traveling quite a bit when the weather transitioned to highs of low 70 F. The second batch was cooler in temperature which is not necessarily great. Compost should be warmer than the outside temperature. A good indicator is steam rising from the compost pile. Our second batch was unattended and perhaps did not thrive as best as it could have.

A few surprises…

Nonetheless, it looks good for using the tumbler for the first time! We wanted to get a closer look at the compost. The compost was transferred into a large pot to get a closer inspection. Towards the end of the pot, we found some maggots. This is very frustrating because we made sure to not use food waste containing dairy or meat. The maggots were not alive due to the cool temperatures (as we’re writing this post it is about 50 F). Our unwanted guests were found in an avocado pit…

However, after some refreshing research we found out that these maggots are not a bad thing after all. The maggots we observed were large, grey, and brown. Some sites say that they are soldier fly larvae which is not surprising to find in compost piles. We were able to exhale after finding the good news.

So now it is time to start the third batch. Until next time!!

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