Look at this!!! I think I'm as proud of it as I've ever been...of anything!
We've finally lived somewhere long enough to have seen a compost pile through to its mature stage. Here's our current set-up.
The black bins are both currently accepting greens and browns. The buckets belong to the Compost Coalition. They really deserve their own post. Basically, I can exchange buckets with local businesses willing to set aside coffee grounds and/or kitchen scraps. Right now I pick up a five gallon bucket coffee grounds from the little grocery down the street from my daughter's school once a week, but once in a while someone can't get to their pick up and the call goes out over facebook. So, last week, my black bin received a big infusion - 5 buckets of "future soil" all at once! The hardware cloth corral in the middle is our maturing pile. There's enough room to the side of it to turn the pile weekly to speed up the process.
I never used to turn my pile. First of all, I've never had a pile really get big enough to outgrow its container, so I'd be trying to churn it all around with a shovel at the most awkward angle. I'm not a large person, and my arms are embarrassingly floppy little noodles, so I'd sort of half-heartedly move things around a bit and then give up. After all, it's going to compost eventually, isn't it?
At Master Gardener training this spring, I was inspired to really get serious about our composting operation. It helped that I was running out of room in both black bins. I learned an awesome little trick to make turning the compost a little easier. Really, a more apt description might be flipping the compost.
Here's a close-up of the corral for my maturing compost:
So once my black bin is all filled up, I move everything into this and then, once every week to ten days, I just unlatch the closure, pick up the whole cylinder and move it over a couple of feet. Then I (or, who am I kidding, it's usually "not-noodle-armed" Nate) shovel the pile back into the corral in it's new position. It gets the pile nice and hot and speeds the process up immensely.
So this week my goal was to get my potatoes planted, and I was all set to run down to the nursery to pick up some of their compost, when it occured to me that I might actually have enough ready.
There's still some chunkier stuff, but I sifted that out and had a couple barrows full for my potato bed! I'll admit, I was one part thrilled at all that lovely crumbly good smelling soil, and the little thrifty part of me was all, "Hell yeah, no trip to the nursery!"but there was another part of me muttering, "Awww, no trip to the nursery?"
Soil! My sieve is just the old screen door from the little chicken coop I dissassembled last year. I could definitely use a bigger one, but this was already made and just hanging around. Use what you have! It's a good mantra to have at the ready!