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Apr 30 2015

Gardening: A Year In Compost Review

*Pictures to come soon*

 

I have to tell someone, so I will tell you guys. Today, I emptied my compost bin (a 30 gal black trash bin with holes drilled all over the bottom & sides) into a large empty flower bed area.

Compost Notes:

-The last 10 months of composting have served us well, saving us from what I estimate to be 5-10 trash bags (kitchen 13 gal) worth of produce/egg shells & containers/etc. going to the dump.
-I haven’t got current plans to plant anything, veggies or otherwise, besides a very small rectangle container that will likely get flowers. The compost is more for purposes of recycling than providing ground nutrients at this point in our lives.
-This flower bed could be very easily used to grow a nice, small vegetable garden next spring. All it would take is a good rake up with some potting soil and it would serve a great purpose.
-Now that the big compost bin is empty, we can start using it again. It gets hot enough in there that it really does a good quick compost. In the 10 months we’ve used it, we’ve filled it up with “stuff” well over 3 times its volume and it has held it all. I highly recommend this method as long as you will eventually be able to use the compost somewhere. Also I’d suggest trying to “mix” it at each 1/6th full point (no need to measure, just guess.) I did not do this very well so when I dumped it out it was a little bit wet on the bottom and upon spreading it out in the bed I found some dry spots in the lower half center. It mixed up easily though and the smell wasn’t in any way indicative of poor composition.

Egg Shell Composting:

Maybe I should grind them up? Or perhaps just mixing the compost would help. There were whole chunks of egg shells just scattered throughout the entire thing. Not sure what happened there.  I expect either grinding them up will remedy the situation in the next batch or perhaps just making sure my nitrogen rations are a little higher. Both of these are things I will try to see if it helps. We eat plenty of eggs as a main source of protein in our diets and I intend to continue to compost the shells & the cartons.

If anyone has suggestions for dealing with egg shells in their compost besides what I’ve stated, please share.

Additionally I may have had a low Nitrogen to Carbon ratio by adding extra wood chips before it was totally necessary. In the future I’ll likely only using egg cartons for the extra carbon material. Obviously I’ll add what needs to be added if it gets stinky, but I think I used it as a preventative this past year and maybe over-estimated the need.

Overall Thoughts on Compost:

We’ll definitely continue composting with this method. By we, I mostly mean, I. My husband participates by making sure there’s an open egg carton on the counter for us to collect our scraps for a week at a time and he makes sure he puts all his appropriate scraps on it, so it’s great. I am of course responsible for maintaining the overall system.

I’ll likely make the compost experience better by:

– Mixing more frequently
– Making sure the bin gets enough water, I don’t think it suffered in the last year but I could be wrong.
– Ensuring the nitrogen:carbon ratio is more on par for better decomp.

Additional Garden Notes:

Not completely related, we’re now doing our own lawn mowing instead of having a service come in for it. This is great because now we can let clippings sit on the back lawn and be mulch, whereas before the service just hauled everything away in bags. We’ll continue to bag front yard clippings as to not disturb the peace with the HOA. I expect this will lead to a happier, greener lawn in the back.

We also recently had our trees trimmed by the electric company and I expect that the added light to our backyard will allow more sunlight in to keep the plants from getting killed by fungal disease. I still have to wade through the mess back there and remove or rehabilitate plants that are affected. Wish me luck, it’s a LOT of landscaping that was mostly there for decorative purposes by the previous owners and I’d rather remove it all to make space for lawn & kids as well as true gardens.

Hopefully I’ll get another pick- up of energy soon and be able to accomplish more things. Tonight really wore me out. As an update, I’m now 31 weeks pregnant and very, very sore about half of the time, and very tired at least half of the time (and those two halves only occasionally overlap.)

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