Hot and Steamy…. Compost

So, I head down to Bovine Bakery a couple of times a week for a little treat or a loaf of organic bread. I pick up two or three five-gallon buckets of kitchen waste each time. The buckets contains fruit and veggie scrapes, egg shells and lots of coffee grounds. I layer the contents of the buckets with used straw and shavings and grass and weeds from the chicken and duck coops as well as the contents of our pet rabbit’s litter box.

First kitchen scraps, then weeds/grass/straw/shavings/bunny box. Each layer gets watered in with duck pond water to get that “wrung out sponge” moisture level all those composting books talk about. Within 24 hours it heats up. The goal is to keep it hot for as long a possible. That kills any seeds or pathogens that may be lurking. Doug Gosling at Occidental Arts and Ecology Center sets a goal of 140-160 degrees for their giant compost piles. I’m lucky to to get my compost that hot. Usually it’s between 120 and 130 degrees.

I’ve got two separate composters and as each one fills I empty the older one into some open bottomed packing crates until I need the finished compost for the garden. Since it’s cooled off by then the worms automatically move in. I never imported any they just showed up to work. They finish off the composting process, contribute worm castings to the finished product and provide a great source of protein for the ducks! Win, win, win….

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