Monday, August 20, 2012

Compost Pile

Happy compost pile
I started composting a bit over a year ago.  It was in response to the amount of wood shavings used to bed three guinea pigs and the fact that my town's trash pickup has a pay-by-the-bag policy.  The effort of bagging wood chips in plastic bags and then having to pay for it to be hauled away was wrong in so many ways.

The end of our back yard is woodded and overgrown.  Not necessarily the most ligocial or convenient place to put a compost pile.  My dad's compost pile was always in the sun, so it surprised me that one in the shade would work at all.  But it was away from the house, wouldn't be an eye sore for the neighbors and I hauled the used shavings out there only once a week, so it proved to be a good location.  I discovered the shade keeps the pile moist, which helps with the decomposition.

Pre-turned compost
Initially my goal was to compost the wood chips and hay.  I soon added a small bucket in the kitchen for vegetable trimmings the pigs don't eat, and those go into the compost as well.

I'm not particularly diligent about my compost pile.  My aim was just to stop bagging it on the curb.  I turn it a few times in the warmer months because I read that this would make it rot faster.  Beyond that, I just let it sit.  It's not that I'm anxious to get finished compost; I don't want it to grow too big.  I added quite a bit to it over the winter.  So far, so good.  The pile no longer seems to be growing, so it must be decaying about the same rate I'm adding to it.  Perfect!

Three peas and a bean plant?
I just turned it this weekend.  On inspection I was amused to find a number of volunteer plants:  a trio of pea shoots and several sprouts that I believe are beans (could be sunflowers, I guess).  I transplanted the peas before turning the pile, in hopes they'll grow enough to produce.  If nothing else, Pinni and Bertie will love eating the leaves and the stems.

As I worked on the compost pile, I was pleased to find the middle was warm, becoming black and had lots of worms.  The signs of a happy compost pile!

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