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Let it Rot - Keys to Effective Composting

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Leave it alone long enough, and it will surely decompose. But will it nourish your plants like you want it to? This class, which provides tips for several composting approaches (including pile and ...

Leave it alone long enough, and it will surely decompose. But will it nourish your plants like you want it to? This class, which provides tips for several composting approaches (including pile and sheet/lasagna methods), will cover how and why compost works, and how to make it work for you.

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    Let it Rot - Keys to Effective Composting Let it Rot - Keys to Effective Composting Presentation Transcript

    • January 2012 © Independence Gardens LLC Download the handout that goes along with this slideshow! h p://bit.ly/AyRFHp Effective Composting Independence Gardens Portland, ORTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • What We’ll Cover Today Preview Topics We’ll Cover • What is composting? Got Questions? Please ask as we go along. • Why compost? • Composting methods • How to make compost… effectively • Harvesting/using compost • Vermi- intro • Questions and hands-on practiceTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • And Some Other Today What We’ll Skip Options What is composting? • e process by which organic materials such as grass clippings, leaves, and food waste are broken down and decomposed • A strategy for recycling organic (living/no longer living) ma er into a useful and necessary soil ingredientTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Why Compost? Why compost? • Food & paper are the two largest contributors to land lls - More than 1/2 of all land ll waste - More than all plastics, diapers, styrofoam, and tires COMBINED • Food is the #1 least recycled waste product - NOT taking into account the food that goes down sink disposals • But composting food waste and paper is easy, and FUN!Tuesday, January 31, 2012
    • When stuff goes “away”… e Metro region land lls 270,500 tons of food and non-recoverable paper per year: 21% of the waste stream Columbia Ridge Land ll 137 milesTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • What does compost do? • It does not (have to) - Involve chemicals, huge amounts of power, or transportation • It does… - Offer “closed loop” sustainability • From table to compost to garden to table - Reduce land ll waste & runoff - Help your plants survive drought - Discourage pests - Encourage microbial life in soil - Act as a healthy soil amendment • Improve tilth • Offer steady release of nutrientsTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Backyard composting methods • Hot/fast • Cold/slow • Pile • Trench • Pit • Container - Ex: 3-bin systems - Ex: Earth Machines (a.k.a. Darth Vader hats)Tuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Other composting methods • Sheet mulching - a.k.a. “lasagna gardening” - Slow; use to prep beds for later planting • Vermicomposting - Red wriggler WORMS! - Slow method that breaks food waste down into “black gold” • Commercial - Hot/fast: don’t try this at home - Can break down a wider variety of materials than backyard scaleTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Compost considerations • Ingredients/recipe - 3 parts “brown” - 1 part “green” GREEN (N) BROWN (C) 1 1 • Particle size • Moisture • Air • Temperature BROWN (C) BROWN (C) 1 1 • Turning the pile • DurationTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Ingredients/recipe • “Browns” (Carbon) • “Greens” (Nitrogen) – Examples: – Examples: • Brown leaves • Food Waste • Dry grass • Manures • Straw – From herbivores! • Small sticks • Green grass Remember the Recipe….3 parts brown to 1 part greenTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Compost: YES GREENS BROWNS - fruit & vegetable scraps - coffee lters - coffee grounds - stale bread - rice & pasta - houseplant cu ings - eggshells - paper napkins & towels - tea bags - dryer lint (mostly co on) - owers - hair (yours/your pets’) - plant trimmings - clean cardboard/paper - hedge clippings and other - wood ash (NOT Dura ame/ fresh yard debris Presto logs!) - fresh grass (small - leaves amounts) - straw or hay - animal manures (e.g. - small twigs/chips chicken, rabbit, goat, - dried grass & weeds horse, cow, alpaca) - co on rags - seaweed/kelp - animal bedding (sawdust)Tuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Compost: NO MEAT PLASTIC - chicken, beef, sh - bags - bones - straws - juice boxes - fat METAL DAIRY - wrappers - milk - aluminum foil - yogurt - cheeseTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Particle size • Smaller is be er! • Chop it up! • Bury food in pile!Tuesday, January 31, 2012
    • The Monsoon Moisture Continues! • Damp enough to leave hands Best Practice: moist (like a wrung-out sponge) TARP IT! – O en becomes not the case in the fall / winter/ spring Covering your pile retains... • When squeezed, water should not drip out • Heat • Appropriate nutrients • Moisture contentTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Air • Aerobic microbes are good – Breathe in oxygen – Release CO2 • Anaerobic microbes are smelly! – Release methaneTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Temperature • Hot pile = good pile – 140°F for 3 days to kill pathogens and weed seeds Best Practice: USE A COMPOST THERMOMETER • Allows you to measure temps accuratelyTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Turning the pile • Makes food more available for microbes • Aerates the pile • Keeps the pile hot • Make sure you turn all of the pile • Yes, you can turn in all seasonsTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Duration • Turn until pile stops warming up… - Food is gone, so microbes dead/dormant/less active • Average backyard compost pile is nished in 4-6 months • Other methods can be faster or slowerTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Sheet mulching basics • Much slower composting method than pile or trench - Give yourself 6 months to 1 year for a whole area to be plantable • But it’s more exible - You can compost in place around existing plants • Step-by-step…Tuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Sheet mulching how-to 1. Mow down existing grass/plants and remove invasives 2. Add a 2” N layer (grass clippings, manure, kelp, co onseed meal, sh product, urine, coffee grounds, kitchen scraps) 3. Aerate soil with a digging fork & water 4. Lay down a C weed barrier (cardboard or 10ish layers off newspaper) 5. Add ~ ½” N layer 6. Repeat steps 4 (with any C source) & 5 to desired thickness 7. Water well 8. Add a 12” blanket C layer (straw, leaves, wood chips, shredded paper)Tuesday, January 31, 2012
    • HarvestingHarvesting Compost • When pile is cooled, compost is ready to use - Can be tarped and stored for 6-12 months • Screening - Use chicken wire or hardware cloth in wooden frame - “Overs” can be used to start new compost pile • Curing - Le ing nished compost sit for 2-3 months will make it darker, more stable nutrientsTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Recipes • Fertilizer • Topsoil - Mix compost into soil - 1 Shovel compost around plants - 1 Shovel sand • Po ing Soil - 1 Shovel compost - 1 Shovel good black soil - ½ Shovel perlite - 1 Shovel sandTuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Recipes • Compost “halo” - Good fertilization method - Lay a ring of compost on ground around plant stems - Cover with soil • Planting with compost - Mix with dark surface soil - Put at bo om of planting hole - Plant!Tuesday, January 31, 2012
    • And then there is you... • Know your habits - How much kitchen/yard waste do you produce? - How will you collect scraps? (countertop unit, fridge or freezer...) - How much time/desire do you have to tend? - Do you have household/ neighborhood buy-in? - Could you share the work?Tuesday, January 31, 2012
    • Got Questions?Tuesday, January 31, 2012