Friday, September 28, 2012

Composting

I am by no means an expert on composting, but I would like to share my methods in Zone 2 with the gardening world. These are my bins. An 8th bin has been added where you see the shovel plus two separate bins inside the chicken yard. We originally built with wood pallets, but when my husband was able to recycle these plastic pallets last summer we tore it apart and rebuilt. These are much lighter and more manageable. 

This is where they are located inside the sheep pen.

In the Fall my compost is not completely decomposed and ready, but I add it to my garden beds anyhow. Leaves and straw are still visible, but I find that in our short summer's it would take several years for it to completely break down. Personally, I think the material helps keep the soil from becoming so compact or at least that is my theory. 




It's proven to successfully enhance my soil and the only real issue was the introduction of chickweed into a couple of beds, but when mulched it isn't too much of a problem.

The material for the compost bins comes from the sheep yard where I spread out straw to catch all the "good stuff" and then rake up.

The chickens and their coop contribute to the bins.

 In the Fall I mow the grass one last time gathering the fallen leaves. During the summer some grass clippings are added, but they are mostly eaten by Daisy and the hens.

I also add all the plant material from the flower beds, vegetable beds and greenhouse. These are carnations and this is where a shredder would come in handy, but I can't justify the expense. During the winter I save the ash from the wood stove and that gets added in the Spring. Sometimes I add our kitchen scraps as well, but the truth is I go in cycles of saving it all to saving nothing as it really seems to be more effort than reward.

My "mulching" comes in the form of a tiller. I used to toss the pile once a summer with a pitch fork, but that is truly a lot of work. Now I use the tiller to pull it out, mix it up and then I shovel it back soaking layers with water. Then it's ignored until Fall when it goes into the beds. I'm not very scientific and I never test the compost or my soil, but my plants seem to thrive. One of these days I made add a testing to my routine to get even more out of what I have. Or maybe I shouldn't mess with a good thing.

Finally, three sides of the bins are held together with zip ties and the fronts are held in place by cute little bungee cords. Very easy to remove and enough to keep Daisy from eating it all. 

I would love to hear your experiences with composting especially if you live in a cooler climate, but I find all gardening interesting so please share.

2 comments:

FlowerLady said...

It looks like you are doing a good job as it all looks rich.

Here I Am/Carrie said...

wow that is quiet the system you have going. I love how you turn the compost with the small rototiller. For many years I used a natural method of whatever I harvested I put the remains right back into the soil and added a bit more manure and leaves hay or whatever I had available. Turned it all by hand then cover the whole thing with flakes of hay or leaves. Come spring I would remove the flakes of hay and the worms that were able to work all winter had composted everything except maybe sunflower stalks. This was a very labor intense method as everything was always hand turned in the garden beds. At this point now need to buy on of those little rototillers. I just can't do it all by hand anymore. Any recommendation?