December 27, 2011

compost bin gets a carbon boost from the Grid.

The microbes responsible for breaking down the compost pile need a balanced diet of nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from green materials such as food scraps, manure, and grass clippings. Carbon comes from brown materials such as dead leaves, hay, wood chips and shredded newspaper. A ratio that contains equal portions by weight (not volume) of both works best, and since most of what we've got up top is green plant material, this layer of abandoned weeklies helped to balance things out.
The cage was 6 plastic ties and 3$ worth of chicken wire I picked up at a Parkdale garage sale. It's 3 feet across - small enough to turn and keep air flow going, but large enough to retain the heat necessary to "cook" the compost. We started this pile mid-summer, and as of two weeks ago, it was half broken down into black black soil. Last week we cut the cage and turned the pile into a six by two foot, "compost burrito," that is wrapped in a dark tarp. It was a precaution against over-weighting any one point on the roof overwinter. We will see if the burrito is wide enough to keep the worms alive this winter.

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