Friday, April 20, 2007

Hot compost experiment.

Ive been doing an experiment in the past few weeks. It's just lately been starting to be the time when I can mow the lawn, and I decided to do a little experiment with the lawn clippings and some shredded paper.

Last season, I had started a compost pile with some leaves and small branches and things, but I never got hot until I added some grass clippings from my friend's lawn. I didn't have a bagging mower at the time, so I couldn't add clippings from my own lawn. Also last fall, I had layed out a bunch of shredded paper as mulch to kill off the sod in my back yard with the intention of starting a garden this year. Now that I am moving, I've begun pulling all that mulch up and stacking it on the compost pile, and it seems to warm up, but just a little.

As a side note, the soil over which the paper sat is so full of worms that you can't dig in it without a massacre. It's so soft and dark now where it was hard and dry before.

Last fall, I obtained a bagging mower and this year, I have used it to collect the grass clippings. I had some more shredded paper in the garage, so I decided to use it and the clippings to make a very hot compost pile. I also had a piece of wire fencing laying around, so I decided to use that to make a bin instead of just a regular pile.

I have discovered this works very well, especially when watered a little bit. The first time I mowed the lawn, the clippings and paper, alternately layered, filled it up to the top. Within a week, it was down to half full. I did a second batch, and piled it above the top, and now less than a week later, the first batch is down to 1/4 its original size, and the new batch is down to half its original size. To be honest, I also have used the pile to compost some sludge from my worm composter when it failed last winter (it got too cold, rotted, and most of the worms bailed, I'm keeping it warm from now on.) I also have been composting food scraps, and by coincidence, a dead squirrel. The temperatures created just a few inches under the surface are amazing. It is almost enough to burn me.

I started this little experiment as a result of reading "the Humanure Handbook" which I have reviewed below. I think it is important to know how to maintain a good hot compost pile to be able to compost anything you need to, including food, non vegetarian manure, and even dead bodies.

Will the cops look in a compost pile?

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