Its not dirt it’s soil
This new moon came with a gift: it eclipsed the sun and brought upon us a time of renewal. As our compost guru Farmer Jack says,
“There is never a bad time to make compost,”
but this time was best.
This week we spent five days full of pitchforking, watering and raking, building layer cakes of manure and alfalfa until we knew no other smells. So, without further ado, this week’s newsletter is dedicated to the wonders of composting!
A quick guide to composting at home
The two most important elements that comprise organic matter are carbon and nitrogen. Carbon is important because it produces energy, while nitrogen builds tissue. These can be represented by brown, dead (carbonous) or green, live (nitrogenous) materials.
Where do I get my carbon and nitrogen?
Dry leaves, Dry weeds (C)
Fresh Foliage clippings, weeds (N) Be safe to break down large branches
Animal Manure (Horse, pig, cow, etc..) (N) Very High in nitrogen
Kitchen Scraps (No meat or Dairy). (N) Break down those thick stalks like broccoli
Eggshells and Coffee Grounds (N) Great for soil pH
Sawdust (No treated wood) (C)
Alfalfa Hay (C)
Algae or Seaweed. (N) Great nutrient Source
Cardboard or newspaper (C) Breakdown cardboard thoroughly
The ratio of brown to green materials is very important: the moisture level of the compost should be that of a rung-out sponge. Finesse is important here; if the compost is too dry or too smelly, small amounts of browns or greens can be added to correct the moisture.
The pile (or bin) should be turned every once and awhile to aerate the compost, as the decomposing bacteria is aerobic!
What makes our biodynamic compost special
While all of the above materials can be composted, we keep it simple: dairy cow manure provides our nitrogen while alfalfa hay provides our carbon.
Throughout the process, the pile is thoroughly moistened to ensure that our decomposers have an ideal environment to do their work.
Finally, we use a branch of rosemary (an herb of remembrance) to sprinkle magic (a solution of aged, biodynamic herbal bacteria) over the pile. To farmers, bacteria and microbes are magicians, and when we add them to a pile of undecomposed material, they do marvelous things.
Sounds stinky? It’ll smell sweet like mossy forest in six months. This week we set our windrows of compost to incubate and, like a baby, it will be born in nine months time, ready to feed our plants.
Many thanks to our volunteers this week.
Thanks to the nearly 40 volunteers that came this week to help us build compost! It was truly wonderful to have shared quality time with others who care about regenerative agriculture as much as we do. We hope you learned something new and enjoyed the scenery in the meantime. We look forward to seeing you again.
You have been knighted by compost king Farmer Jack— now go off into the world and amend some soil!