We have a new composting effort. Our new compost steward is Elaine (plot #26). If you do not see Elaine often (she comes to the garden very early), you can comment here or send questions to me, since Elaine does not have email.
Here is what you need to know:
- Compost no longer goes into the compost bins (nor the trash for that matter).
- We will be trying to re-purpose the original bins to receive and hold the finished compost from Allied Waste.
- Next to the big gate you have probably seen some straw bales lined up, creating a boundary. Inside that boundary is our new compost area. Eventually that boundary will extend the length of the wall and will be planted with a Citrus Grove.
- We will be ‘sheet composting’ in this area. Sheet composting is also called ‘composting in place’ or ‘lasagna composting’. As the name implies, we will not be harvesting compost from this area, but letting it build up into new soil. In the winter that area is kind of wet and by composting ‘in place’ over the sogginess, we will create a rich well-drained area for the future Citrus Grove.
- So how does the new composting work? Just like the guidelines Travis has given us in the past, ‘lasagna composting’ is fairly simple. Just truck in any green waste, spread it in a thin layer and cover with a thin layer of clay soil. This is the recipe:
- ‘Lasagna Composting’ Layers:
- Green waste layer
Green waste layer
Green waste layer
- Coffee grounds
- Wood chips
- Water regularly
- No need to turn it or dig it out. Just cook ‘in place’. Easy.
- Do try to keep plant tags, plastic pots, plastic netting and any other trash out of the compost.
We do need coffee grounds. A small garbage can has been designated for this purpose. All Star Bucks are supposed to have a ‘Grounds for Gardeners’ program and will be happy to give you bags and bags of coffee grounds if they have them. The Star Bucks at the corner of Sylvan and Auburn Boulevard will hold coffee grounds for us if someone agrees to pick them up regularly. This could be a great resource. Worms love their morning coffee grounds and newspaper.
We also need newspaper. Not the shiny advertising pages, but all the other newsprint pages are great. We will need newspaper for composting and for weed abatement elsewhere. There are designated bins for newspaper, but we may need more.
Are we putting weeds into the compost?
Yes we are. And yes usually noxious weeds like the Bermuda and star thistle and bind weed would not go into compost, but we are confident that a heavy layer of newspaper on top, followed by wood-chips, will prevent these weeds from spreading.
Why don’t we ‘turn’ the compost?
We could. Turning compost does speed up decomposition, but it is hard work. The ‘Lasagna method’ more resembles Mother Nature: just thin layers and layers of organic matter, slowly breaking down into rich humus with the aide of soil micro-organisms and worms. Gotta love those worms.
What if I am not strong enough to pile on some clay soil?
Do the best you can. Elaine will be monitoring the situation. Remember, just a thin layer of clay soil is enough.
What can I do to help the composting effort?
- Compost everything you can. Bring green waste from home if you do not have a composting effort at home. You can collect vegetable trimmings in a 5 gallon bucket (with a lid). Putting a piece of newsprint on top of each layer of green waste in your bucket, will reduce odor and speed decomposition. Carrie (plot #13) is an expert worm composter. You may want to start worm composting at home and add those worm castings to your plot and the compost effort.
- Help spread that thin layer of clay soil when you get a chance.
- Help Elaine empty the old compost bins into the new compost area so that we can try to re-purpose those bins.
- Help Elaine with watering the compost 2x/week.
Will we ever produce compost for the beds?
I believe that unless we truck in huge amounts of green matter (and who knows, maybe that will happen) we will always be dependent on Allied Waste for compost. We simply are not generating enough volume of compost on our own.