Friday, June 11, 2010

Compost happens.

Soil quality appears to be one of the key factors in our struggle to become successful organic gardeners, and it seems as though the chickens are a big help in this area. I added last year's 'droppings' to the soil in some of our raised bed gardens and covered it with fresh topsoil before planting this spring and the results are looking great. Spinach has never flourished here- it usually comes up 'stalky' and goes to seed before the leaves have a chance to develop into anything substantial. But we both love spinach and so we keep trying. This year, our first crop is looking better than ever: ...and the kale has already grown tall enough to push against the lid of the cold frame:
To speed up the composting process, I've been tossing our weeds and clippings directly into the chicken pen- they go after it like a school of piranhas, and can devour a wheelbarrow-full of stuff in a day. This fall, I can shovel out their handiwork and turn it into the gardens. We also got got four more little 'composters' this week- Buff Orpington pullets. Here they are spending their days eating, sleeping and pooping in a little pen we set up in our office.
And since we haven't had much success with our compost bins, I decided to try building a tumbler to speed up the process. After perusing some examples of DIY compost tumblers at the Instructables site, I made one using an extra plastic barrel leftover from the rainwater project and a support frame built from barn timbers. The barrel turns on little plastic casters mounted to the frame. I made the frame open on the front side, and high enough so that the contents could be dumped directly into a wheelbarrow.
I cut out a door in the side of the barrel with a jigsaw, and secured it to the barrel with a piano hinge and some bolt latches.

Here it is after filling with some partially-composted scraps from our bins, weeds, grass clippings, etc.

If it works as planned, we should have usable compost in a few weeks...I'll believe it when I see it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We are hoping to start our own compost bin soon. We are considering a tumbler like yours and were wondering if seeing made a believer out of you.