Thursday, October 16, 2008

Compost Bin Extraordinaire

The garden in NY had a wonderful compost bin system that I want to share with you. I think it is brilliant. If you have any specific questions, be sure to let me know so I can add more details on this description I didn't think of!
Paul built the system into the standard three bins, but what is new to me is the idea of covering the final dirt so that the nutrients do not leech into the soil when it rains. Some other neat ideas that might be difficult to see are:

1. On the right hand side of the first stage of compost bin, there is a shelf for people to gather around to learn, talk, and add material, as well as a small foot shelf so that people can easily see into the bin.

2. The bin height is completely adjustable. Paul designed and marked boards to slide into the main posts. They are clearly labeled with A, B, C, etc so that all of the A boards go in one section, etc. You can see Ds if you look closely. This really helps for adding material, moving the pile, and making the process efficient. It only took two weeks for straight grass and leaves to turn into compost.

Here is a close up of the boards. As you can see, they have some room for air to get into the pile, even though they keep the material secure.

Paul covers the bin contents with carpet remnants. I have seen this material used in gardens in between rows, as well. It works great for keeping moisture and heat within the pile. We measured the heat in the pile at 180 degrees, and we could easily see the steam rising off of it in the middle of a warm day!

Paul seperates out his leaves and grass and stores them in a "cellar." Storing the material so that you can add it together keeping the ratio 1:1 is essential for efficient composting. In my own garden, I just added things to my compost bin as they came (so manly grass in the summer, leaves in the fall) and because I couldn't get into the full bin to really mix stuff around, it takes a very very very long time to make compost.

Paul also really chops things up before they go into the bin. He has this table out in the garden to process the material. The orange handle is to a big cleaver! Very theraputic!

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