Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A New Compost Box

composting leaves

There’s nothing that tells the neighbors “Pay us no mind, we are a normal family” like spending a cold, windy, and wet weekend building a 8' x 4' x 3.5'  timber structure and covering it with chicken wire in an urban setting. Yep, we are average like that. Daniel and I have been outside constructing a huge new compost system and I can scarcely contain my glee. 

Because it is moist here for much of the year and there are literally tons of plant matter everywhere, the art and science of hot composting isn’t very necessary in verdant Delaware unless you want to make dirt fast! People just make little piles of leaves, the earthworms and sow bugs come and eat it, and boom! Beautiful dirt. 
Still, I want to master it. The formation of top soil has to be much more intentional in the southwest where I am from. Heat, drought, and poor soil make growing conditions tough for plants and trees. Trees are what bring the moisture though. Rainforests aren’t just growing in a wetter area, the mist rises from the trees. I dream of composting and creating healthy ecosystems on a massive scale paired with plough-free farming and thoughtful construction to reverse the desertification of the southwest.  

compost box

Um. Anyway, as I said in my last compost entry I needed a new solution to handle all of our leaves and whatnot in one place, so we built a box with 2 bays and covered the frame with chicken wire. I put all of the old compostables into one side of the bay, and I am putting all new leaves and scraps I rescue off the curb in the other side, hence the bags of leaves I haven't put in yet. It didn't take long to see that the compost was active because it quickly reduced volume by half, heated in the middle, and if I dig into it it's looking a lot more like dirt. I can't tell you how exciting it is to dig in past the frozen surface and see steam rising! 
There are 2 great things about the new placement I didn't anticipate but I enjoy: 
You can't see that the new box abuts the back porch, but it is amazingly convenient to lean over the porch railing to put in scraps and stir things up. 
Also, the basement bathroom is frigid this time of year, but with compost now insulating the wall so it's much nicer to visit the loo. Maybe we should build another for the other side of the house? I'm kidding Daniel, I'm kidding. 
Unless you really want to. 
'Cause we totally could.
If you wanted.

Just like that, composting is fun again!

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