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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Compost Making

Started first by collecting a few ingredients. Fresh cow pats from the nearby paddock and some mulch hay from the Hayshed.

Bags of manure

Very fresh

A few bales

Our kitchen compost was full of product from the recent weeding of the vegetable beds. The material was sorted and only the softer green material was selected for immediate use. The coarser woody material was set aside to be run through the Chipper/Mulcher to thoroughly bruise before using.

Another source of green material was some pruned branches run through the Chipper/Mulcher. Jean had just pruned the Elderflower which suppled a few barrow loads. About one barrow load constituted a layer.

Pruning time is the ideal moment to make a big compost or two. By combining the tasks fresh, moist green, material is readily available. When all this is used, grass clippings will be substituted. It was a good excuse not to mow the lawn for a few weeks.

The layers were as follows:

Layer 1 Mulch hay. About 3-4 biscuits gave a good covering i.e. about a quarter of the bale.
Layer 2 Green material. 50 or so MM felt about right.
Layer 3 Sprinkling of Bio Char. Just a 2-3 cups.
Layer 4 Sprinkling of Dolomite. 1-2 cups.
Layer 5 Watered in well.
Layer 6 Mulch hay
Layer 7 Green material
Layer 8 Sprinkling of Bio Char
Layer 9 Sprinkling of Dolomite
Layer 10 Some Cow manure or light sprinkling of Blood & Bone - a cup or two. After spreading manure use the Jet setting on the hose nozzle to break up and liquefy the manure.
Layer 11 A thin sprinkling of soil. Just a few millimetres. We always keep aside planter pots that are finished with and use the soil from them. Another source was a garden bed that needed removing. The task was left until the compost was being made and the tasks combined.

Now start all over again and keep going until the bin is full. We use a 90 mm plastic pipe in the centre to make an air hole. The pipe is held upright with a star picket and both are removed when the pile is finished giving a neat hole. The alternative is to ram a star picket or steel bar into the centre after the compost is finished and make a hole about 2/3 rds. of the way through.

Because it takes 2-3 days to fill, the pile compacts and settles overnight providing more space.

Mulch hay

Elderflower chipped and mulched

Bio Char


Fresh Manure well watered

Rather than spend all day working on this we just allow a couple of hours every afternoon to work on the compost bin assembly. That way the other farm chores can be done and material collected. It finishes the day with a positive feeling.

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