Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hello, composting!

For many years I have wanted to build a compost area in our yard, and make our own compost.  I'm not sure if it's the fantasy of the pioneerness of it, or if I have some earth connection, on some 'energy' level.  None the less, I have always harbored the idea of composting, understanding that any composting effort on our behalf can only help Mother Earth and reduce the burden she carries.

(I was also really moved by a piece written by Mike Rowe, about a key note speech he gave to the Future Farmers of America, and his perspective on our separation from our world, and the things that sustain it.  If you haven't read that piece, I encourage you to do so.  You can find it here).

Cliff and I also have another practical reason for composting.  In the high grass growing season, we simply have too many clippings, and the overflow has no place to go.  Composting, it seems, was upon us, whether or not we were ready.

A couple of weeks ago, I got six free pallets for the garden I plan to plant this year.  My pallets are larger than normal.  They are 4' x 5-1/2', and six of them seemed a little much for my first gardening effort.  As I looked at those pallets, I had a thought.  If we stood three of them up on end, fastening them into a u-shape containment area, we could make my composting wish come true...or at least start the process.  We would still have three pallets left, allowing a garden planting area of about 4' x 17', which is plenty, I think, for this year.  If it works, and we find we enjoy growing our own fruits and vegetables, we can expand next year.


On our lot, we have a good sized front yard and back yard, with one side acting as a pass through from front to back.  The other side is totally utilitarian.  The only thing that grows on the utilitarian side of the house are the tufts of grass that won't quite die, and weeds.  It has become a storage area for our agility equipment, and our compost bin has now been added, further establishing that space as one of 'function' vs. 'form'.

At some point we should probably bring in a unit of 3/4 minus gravel, and just commit the utility space to its 'function', but I may decide it has another life down the road, and removing a unit of gravel just doesn't have a lot of appeal, so for now, we kill the weeds that grow in that space, and leave it as is, as the utilitarian corner of our little world.

Okay, back to the point of my post: composting!

With the pallets up on end, and fastened in the corners, I needed to add some kind of barrier to keep the compost in its place as the pile grew.  We first tried some leftover landscape fabric, but it became apparent it would be no match for even a light wind, and after it was in it's place, it quickly took leave.  1" hex chicken wire took its place.  We finished the bin on Monday night.  Tuesday morning, as I had my morning 'Joe', I checked FaceBook.  Well, wouldn't you know it, the girls at Fabulously Frugal had posted a link to a free e-book on composting.  Previously $16.99, free seemed a very good price.

I expected a tutorial on how to build a compost bin, but what I have gotten, thus far, is a rather impressive education on the fine art, and science of composting, as well as a history lessons in waste management.  I love this book.  I highly recommend it, even if you don't ever plan to build your own compost bin, and venture down the composting path, the information in the book is an eye opener, and really shines light on the need to re-purpose our world, and why it's not just smart, but truly critical to support life...all life.

I really don't know if it's still on sale for free, or not, but if it is, and you have an e-reader, it's definitely a must have, in my opinion.  Give it a look-see:

Composting Inside & Out: The comprehensive guide to reusing trash, saving money and enjoying the benefits of organic gardening

Tonight Cliff will mow the lawn, and the first clippings will make their home in the compost bin.  The sprinkling system takes care of watering that space, so we're good to go.  I'm pretty sure I will need a "Green Acres" style pitch fork to complete my composting efforts, as well as some vegetable waste to feed the micro-organisms that will bring their extraordinary 'work force' efforts to my compost, but I think I'm set...for now.

Footnote: probably good we don't have acreage.  I could see myself with chickens, and other 'farm' type creatures.  I really think I must have farmer blood in my veins...or in my spirit!

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