11 March 2010

Cooking...something else

Warm weather and the sight of seedlings in the greenhouse prompted me to get making some compost from the detritus in the chicken coop. The chickens are spending most of their time out in the orchard again now, which meant I could get into their corner of the barn this afternoon and remove a barrow-full of shavings and droppings from underneath their roosting area.

We obtained a rotating composter from a County scheme two years ago. I was never very satisfied with it as a means of turning kitchen waste into garden compost. This was my own fault, I think, for failing to supply it with enough moisture to do the job properly. My regular vertical plastic bins do a good job without needing any additional water, so I'd stopped using the rotating one. But it did occur to me recently that it might be a suitable container for turning the chicken waste into compost.

I transferred my barrow-load of material into the composter, adding a fair bit of water as I went. By the time I finished there was an unappetising chicken-poop-coloured drip emanating from the base of the unit, so I hope I've added the right amount.*

I did all this in the greenhouse, thinking this location will help the contents get to the required temperature to kill pathogens (130-150°F/55-65°C according to this article at Seattle Tilth). There is a ready supply of water in there, too, which will help me to keep it at the right level of saturation to encourage decomposition. The 'uncooked' compost mix looks like this:

The article from the Seattle Tilth site suggests that the proportions of brown to green material (i.e. shavings to manure) in the mix should be 1:2, 1:1 or 2:1. I have to admit that I did not carefully measure the proportions (shocking, I know), but I suspect that it is more like 2:1 or even 3:1. I hope that in a month or two it will be in a fit state to add to the garden.

*This is reminding me of one of my grandfather's jokes. Oh dear, can't resist sharing it.
Woman to butcher: "Do you keep dripping?"
Butcher: "No Madam, it's just the way I stand."


Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Interesting post about composting. Ours is the crude open compost pile... It works but the time is long... ~bangchik

Callie Brady said...

Hope the compost works out. Great idea.
Those are terrific planter beds and that is an amazing greenhouse!