Continuing our fall cleanup, I decided to prepare another compost pile. We had an Earth Machine composter that was almost to capacity and needed time to work. So a second one was needed.
Building out of some leftover lumber from a skid I tore apart and some old chicken wire, I had a functioning 3×4′ composter within an hour.
Spent vegetables from our garden, piled leaves from autumn raking, kitchen vegetable scraps and wood debris will be used for the carbon nitrogen recipe. Because our backyard has sufficient locations to create these compost system pocket piles, I decided to build and treat this compost site as a passive planning method (cold composting). This means that I probably won’t be turning this as often to stimulate the decomposition breakdown vs an active turning method (hot composting) which would result in finished composting sooner.
So, how to cold compost?
1. I started with a pile of wood debris such as branches and sticks, creating the building blocks of carbon, this will also aid in heating the compost pile and provide air pockets for oxygen for bacterial decomposition, helping it from totally becoming anaerobic.
2. Next I applied the leaves and grass clippings(another carbon amendment) then introduced a sprinkle of water to those layers.
Note: Leaves can also be composted alone with a small amount of nitrogen amendment such as bloodmeal. Composted leaves are referred to as leaf mould which can be slightly acidic, however along with other feed stocks I will be using, this is not usually a concern.
3. Next I will start to add my nitrogen food stocks introducing spent garden vegetables that were cleaned up.
4. Soil and compost along with some coffee grounds will add micro-organisms to the pile providing structure and habitat supporting vermiculture (worm) activity.
5. More layered nitrogen food scraps and spent vegetable stalks from the garden clean up along with a carbon layer of straw and leaves and a little wood ash from the wood stove and another sprinkle of water is needed.
6. Another topping of leaves and finished compost completes the structure. Mother Nature will do the rest.
7. For passive planning results, let the pile sit over winter (up to 3 months) then turn weekly to allow oxygen to quicken the decomposition. The compost will be ready in 4 – 6 months.
And there you have it: a proven method for composting in your garden that doesn’t require active turning through the winter months!