I got a call from someone at church the other day asking if I knew anyone that wanted some free produce. Turns out that they got a donation of a bunch of free produce but they can’t use it all up before it goes bad.
Well, I didn’t know anyone that wanted a bunch of free produce but I told them not to throw it away if they can’t find anyone to take it..what I couldn’t eat myself or feed to the rabbits and quail I could throw in the compost pile. I figured it was a good deal and heck, a few extra vegetables added to the compost pile never hurt anything.
I failed to ask exactly how much of this there was though. A day or two later I get home from work to see 7 cases of iceberg lettuce. That’s not vegetables to add to the compost pile, that is a compost pile. But its the correct time of the year to build a compost pile so you have to say that God is good in his timing and provides for us if we pay attention.
The only bad part, and it is a pretty bad part, is that they were all individually wrapped and packaged for sale. What this means is that I couldn’t just dump the crate out on the ground but had to individually open each bag….an there are a lot of bags. I don’t know how many exactly but this job took about 2 hours to complete. Sometimes God’s blessings can feel a little like work. We shouldn’t be afraid of that. 😉
So, on to the compost pile build. I had the leftovers of a pile I built last fall and used up this year so I started there. I pretty much just laid down a row of lettuce and topped it with a row of wood chips. I snapped a few pictures when I was almost done.
The cardboard you see is from the boxes. I broke them open and laid them around the base of the compost pile. My thought is that they will act as a bottom carbon layer as the compost pile flattens out. They will also pull double duty as a weed suppressor when spring comes (if they last that long).
I used the last two boxes as a cover to keep it out of the elements just a little. This should help keep it from drying out as badly but still allows for ventilation. I just threw a few sticks on top to keep the cardboard in place until it rains real good.
I should have a pretty good mix of carbon and nitrogen but if it doesn’t get hot after a week or two I can add some rabbit manure to the mix and turn it to get it kicked off.
I will also have to turn it a few times at least to keep it from going anaerobic. Contrary to popular opinion a compost pile that has gone anaerobic is not a terrible thing in my book. It is usually pretty easy to get them going again (add some carbon and turn it) and it still produces compost. There are really only two downsides to it.
First of all, an anaerobic compost pile will stink. If you have neighbors close buy or have it outside your kitchen window that may be a problem. My compost pile is way out on the back property line so it won’t bother anyone there.
Secondly, an anaerobic compost pile is slow. It can take up to 12 months or more for things to break down in an anaerobic compost pile. If you keep your compost pile turned and have the ratios of carbon and nitrogen correct you can make compost much faster (in as little as 3 weeks but plan on more like 90 days).
Another note about making compost. Get a large quantity of material if you can and build it all at once. It is not very productive to continually add to a compost pile. Sometimes that is hard to do but you can pile everything up and let it sit somewhere until you have enough to justify building a pile.
I will post updates of progress on this compost pile if anyone is interested in seeing them.
Thanks for reading and as always, God Bless