So on Saturday I went with my mom to the annual Composting Fair put on by the Spokane Master Composters. We’re both very interested in becoming master composters ourselves and might do the program next year. It’s not really compatible with my current schedule although I was just thinking… I bet I could trade shifts for those days. Who knows, maybe I’ll even be on an earlier shift next year. It won’t be until next spring anyway.
So anyway it was really cool! It was an overcast drizzly day so we dressed a bit warmer than we have been and headed up to the Finch Arboretum. We found a fabulous front-row parking spot and went up to the displays. They were also having an arbor day festival and so there were lots of displays and people there.
The sad truth is, almost nothing they taught me was new to me. It sure was fun to go though! They had displays on what are greens & browns, how to build a pile, the different types of bins, composting with worms, making compost tea, etc. They also had a cool video that I thought was pretty informative. That’s where I saw one thing I need to start doing. Actually 2 things, but I’ll go over that in a bit.
My pile at home is pretty much a cold pile. I built it with kitchen waste and cardboard shreds but it was too far for the hose to really reach so it never got moist enough. I also didn’t really mix anything in, I pretty much just dump the kitchen scraps on top and throw my browns on, either cardboard or now, leaves. The video showed the people actually sort of burying the scraps in the pile and just covering them up using a handheld garden cultivator, not adding any new browns or anything. I realized that it was probably a lot more efficient to do it that way and resolved to begin adding my waste that way. Also, they had pitchforks that they were mixing and turning the compost with, which I don’t have.
I had a small pile of leftover manure that I’d been wanting to combine with my existing pile. At the fair they gave me a black plastic (or hard rubber?) compost bin. It’s a sheet that you put together in a circle, much like my existing bin that’s made of a circle of hardware cloth. So on Sunday, Mr. Hot Stuff went to Big R for some more grass seed (I’ll post on that later) and picked me up a pitchfork. After dinner we went outside and I put together the new bin (it turned out quite a bit bigger than the existing one), dumped my compost pile over and started redoing it into the big bin.
For one, it was pretty funny to watch the mice scurry out of my pile. I know birds come a lot and eat the stuff from my pile (sandwich crusts, etc) but I didn’t realize how many mice had nests in it. At least one of them actually ended up in the new bin and unless it can manage to dig or chew it’s way out, the holes aren’t big enough so it will most likely become compost itself.
I set it up where the hose could reach, and Mr. Hot Stuff helped me dampen everything while I forked the old compost pile (it was stinky!), the manure, and mix it together. It was fun! The manure, leaves, cardboard, and some (composted) kitchen stuff all went in together nicely. I think it’s a pretty good blend, if a bit low on greens but we’ll have to see. Hopefully it will heat up a bit and then I’ll know it’s a good pile.
The other thing I didn’t realize itself was a good visual assessment of the proper mix and ratio. At the fair they actually had piles that they’d started earlier in the week and they were already heating up and in the process of being turned as we went by. It was a great way to really look and see what a good balanced pile looks like.
After we were done, we went home and had some nice hot taco soup. It was a really nice day 🙂 I really hope I can find a way to do the master composter program next year.