Monday, July 14, 2014

Compost bin experiment solves a small problem

Chicken word of the day: Cock-and-bull: a fantastic story that is unbelievable.

Months ago, my friend Angie gave me kraft paper bags of leaves and sticks she collected from her yard this spring. Jay and I also drove by a house in our neighborhood that had leaves in these paper bags and we threw them in the back of my car.

I finally got around to emptying and moving my compost pile last week. I tore open the collection of bagged leaves, and chopped them up with the lawnmower. One of the big advantages of chopping up leaves is they compost much faster than had I left them whole. This pile could be done by the end of autumn. However, the small leaf pieces also fall through the large openings in the sides of the compost bin.

Compost is made up of "green" materials which supply nitrogen, and "brown" materials which provide carbon. Paper is a brown material. So I'm looking at these paper bags and think to myself, "Well, this is brown, why not put it in the compost pile?" Then I got a better idea.

I lined the compost bins with the kraft paper bags. My thought is they will keep the small leaf bits in, and may help keep the pile from drying out. On the other hand, I'm hoping the paper will allow the pile to breathe.

The leaf bits didn't fall out of the bin. Shown here is a layer of coffee grounds that I layered between thick layers of leaf matter. In a couple of weeks I'll turn the pile. I also need to add a few scoops of dirt to inoculate the pile with some good bacteria.

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