My first composting method was a disaster but this second generation
improved method seems to be working well enough to tell you what
it is and to ask about suggestions for improvement.
1. A closeable container sits in the kitchen corner
2. Foodstuffs go into the container instead of in the trash
3. After about a week, we dump the food onto a fenced-in area
4. We chop the food into the soil for about a minute or so
5. This breaks large chunks into small pieces for faster breakdown
6. And it thoroughly 'infects' the foodstuff with soil bacteria
7. After a minute of chopping, the food is barely noticeable
8. Then we shovel a thin layer of soil on top to keep away birds
9. The fence & soil, we found, keeps cyotes & vultures away
10. We spray with water, often daily, to aid bacterial growth
11. We wash the plastic (and sometimes disinfect with chlorine)
12. And the cycle starts anew, with foodstuffs in the kitchen
We've found that we can't even find the food after just a few
weeks, although before we fenced it in, the cyotes, vultures,
or whatever would dig up the chicken bones, fish skins, etc.
Any ideas or suggestions or comments are welcome.
Reading that, I seem to be missing the mixing in a barrel.
Also I seem to not be aiming for that 30:1 carbon:nitrogen mix.
None of the composting ideas in that article appeared to be
simply placed in the ground. I wonder why?
I'm certainly no expert on composting, but it seems to me that the soil
in Manhattan before the white man came was fertile because the bacteria
in the ground digested dead grasses, fallen leaves, and the occasional
dead tree. That is, the things that normally grew in that area died and
decomposed, thereby providing nutrients in the soil for new growth.
And, it was the bacteria and tiny fungii in that soil that did the
decomposing. Undoubtedly, it's the same types of bacteria and fungii in
that soil today.
I can't help thinking that giving those bacteria and fungii egg shells,
fish skins and orange peels to digest is like feeding pizza and beer to
a bird. You would undoubtedly have better success with the bacteria in
your soil by composting grass clippings, leaves and similar vegetable
matter from your kitchen table; like corn cobs for example.
I know that in some of the landfill sites in the world, they use pigs
and goats to eliminate the rotting food in the garbage that's discarded.
I'm wondering if it wouldn't be better to feed what you're discarding
to a pig or goat and let the bacteria inside it's stomach do the
composting for you. Then, it's just a matter of collecting what comes
out the other end to use as a fertilizer for your soil.
Depending on where you live, there may be some laws concerning keeping
farm animals like this in your yard.
On Wed, 08 May 2013 17:49:34 +0200, nestork wrote:
Interesting way to say it.
I did read not to put chicken, pork, beef, shells, etc. in the compost,
but, for the life of me, I can't figure out why.
I understand your analogy - but I wonder if it applies. I mean, what
are eggshells anyway? They're just calcium carbonate, right? Must dissolve
in the soil, right?
And, what are fish skins? They're just scales (keratin?) and slippery
fat. Why wouldn't bacteria love eating that stuff?
Same with orange peels. They fall on the ground all the time from
a wild orange tree, right? They must go somewhere or they would just
pile up until they covered the tree (since they don't blow away
in the wind).
In summary, I have heard these admonitions - but I've never seen a
decent believable explanation of why it would be bad for compost.
one word... pathogens, some say the reason for the human population
explosion is due more to sanitation than anything else.. but that's
like saying what was the most important factor in winning a war.
keep googling, energy cycle, nitrogen cycle, food chain, food cycle..
when you get all done, dig a hole and bury it and run the kitchen water
out in the yard. There is a reason the grass is greener over the
lateral lines of a septic tank system.
On Wed, 08 May 2013 21:20:51 -0400, Dan Espen wrote:
Googling, all I can find is that it's a "pest magnet", which is no big
deal since I live in the mountains anyway and since it's fenced in.
Before I fenced it in, something (probably a coyote) dug up the ham bones,
but nothing has been digging there other than the vultures and other
birds since I fenced it in.
Seems to me pests are no big deal; they're part of nature, which is what
composting is all about.
BTW, while googling for why meats are deprecated, I found this article:
Which insists the 'secret' is the aeration which can come about if I
build air spaces into the pile by heaping straw or other course material.
So that's one improvement on my technique that I will attempt as I won't
be physically 'turning' the compost anytime soon ...
On Thu, 09 May 2013 11:18:39 +0000, Danny D wrote:
Actually, there are three supposed problems with composting cooked meat:
1. It reputedly attracts pests
2. It purportedly stinks
3. It supposedly changes the chemical balance
Reading on, I find all compost attracts pests and mine certainly doesn't
stink, and ground up bones and blood is often used in commercial
fertilizer, so, all three reputed reasons can be argued either way.
For me, I'll continue to compost everything from the kitchen, until,
and unless a real problem actually arises from doing so ...
First the background. our town encourages everyone to compost:)
Last year the neighborhood had a rat problem:(
I was contacted by allegheny county because I have a compost pile. I
was ordered to remove it.
Now my compost pile is strictly 100% yard waste only!!!
grass, twigs branches leaves etc etc.....
I got very upset and refered the county gal who was nice, to our
community and asked WHY one encourages composting while the other
orders they be removed?
the pest management guy at allegheny county was abusive and obnixious.
I suggested to the county gal her boss should watch his attitude, lest
the media get involved. How that jerk treated me would get him
I locked out my caller ID and left a message for the jerk, Your
treatment of people who call you looking for help is terrible, and
abusive. the media has been informed you are being monitored. You have
a good job dont get fired!!
You should have found mention of anaerobic bacteria and bad smells.
If you really think you need to compost meat, you should be burying
deeper. You may not have pests yet, but rats are going to be attracted
and digging a foot down should be no problem for a rat.
For above ground compost, I throw leaves and other plant waste on the
pile, wait a year, then sift the result. Sometimes I wait 2 years.
A far cry from your daily watering routine.
I can't imagine spending that kind of time on compost.
I admire your energy but don't see the point.
On Thu, 09 May 2013 10:48:54 -0400, Dan Espen wrote:
In a later post, I did mention the three reputed issues with meat
that I had found by googling:
1. Pests <== it attracts them (but I live in the scrub anyway)
2. Smells <== it stinks (but mine doesn't but it's a dry environment here)
3. Chemistry <== unstated problems (but I'd have no obvious way to tell)
For some reason, I'm not sure what the fuss is about a bunch of
animals who are already running wild every day in the chaparral.
A coyote can easily dig a foot down - and this place is teaming
with them, as evidenced by the howls at night and the scat droppings
at their latrines, which existed long before I arrived, and which will
be here long after I'm gone. If I attract coyotes or rats, I don't
really see the problem since they live here anyway and they must be
eating something day in and day out - as my puny compost wouldn't keep
these animals alive all by itself.
So, I'll keep the meat proscription in mind; but for now, I'll
continue on the path of all table scraps, until/unless something
Note: The last compost method had daily doses of urine dumped in it
and *that* stunk like a bathroom in NYC; so I discontinued that
particular practice of adding nitrogen.
On Thu, 09 May 2013 13:20:49 -0400, Dan Espen wrote:
I do appreciate the admonition, as experience trumps guessing.
I do have rats, although I just did a check of my traps for
you just now, and the only thing I found was a live lizard in
the furnace closet that I had to shoo out to keep it away from
the peanut butter in the otherwise empty traps.
BTW, if my lessons learned are of any use, these traps that
I inherited from the previous owner are nearly useless:
That yellow plastic trigger has far too many false snaps,
especially while setting them (I've caught my finger more
than once in the damn things).
These all-steel trap mechanisms are much better (IMHO):
They have a much more securely held trigger that is much
easier to set. If I ever buy new rat traps (the previous owner
had dozens of them around the house), it's gonna be no plastic
for me! Lesson learned.
Here's an easy way to turn and aerate your compost:
Whomever made that appears to have just drilled holes in the side of the
barrel and cut between those holes on three sides to make a crude
If I was doing it, I would have drilled smaller holes, marked between
the holes by snapping short chaulk lines, and then before making any
cuts with a jig saw, I would have marked and drilled holes for mounting
a hinge and hasp.
I'd drill the hinge and hasp holes and cut the lines between the
corners. Then I'd mount the hinge and hasp with stainless steel rivens
and stainless steel flat washers.
That way, you could pad lock the hasp closed to prevent animals from
getting at the rotting meat inside. (But, I expect a grizzly would just
consider that a challenge and knock that barrel around all day long
trying to get at what's inside, cuz it smells edible.)
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