Science & Nature

Creating compost II

My backyard compost is now 6 weeks old. It’s dead of winter right now, so the bin doesn’t reach the very hot internal temperatures that accelerate composting. Something proper, however, is happening because the waste is breaking down at a surprisingly rapid rate. My guess is that it’s still 6-8 weeks away from rich, sweet compost.

I got some bonus content for the bin when my next-door neighbor had a tree torn down and the remaining stump shredded to very tiny chips. He was going to just throw it all away, but I asked him if I could have a couple of bucketfuls for the bin. Small wood chips are the perfect foil for the amount of lawn clippings I add (which collapse and become anaerobic).

Today, I noticed three things upon opening the bin. First, the whitefly and budding fruitfly presence had subsided nearly to nothing. Second, the compost’s surface had lowered by several centimeters. This could be a sign of anaerobic compaction or of efficient deterioration. Upon mixing the compost, I realized that it was actual deterioration. Third, there is a healthy presence of earthworms (yay!).

So, I added a layer of crumpled newspaper and about a liter of kitchen waste (coffee grounds, a dead lemon basil plant, tomatoes, cabbage, etc.). On top of that I added about a centimeter or two of the wood chips from my neighbor’s yard.

Now, I leave it alone for a couple of weeks.

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