Sunday, November 24, 2013

Mission Accomplished!

If you garden, it's nice to have your own compost pile.  It's good for your garden, good for the environment, and probably good for your soul.  There's a lovely sense of accomplishment when you "make dirt" and then use it to enrich your own plants.  You avoid filling your municipal landfill with recyclable materials, and you have a place to put all the cleaned-up stuff that comes out of your beds - without filling your weekly trash cans!

At the top of my garden "To Do" list for the past two [probably three] years has been "turn the compost pile".  It's one of those things that is ultimately satisfying, but in the moment ... not so much.
 Before:  all sticks and branches on the left; one the right there's good dirt on the bottom with this season's "new" stuff on top.  This was in September.
There is a convenient corner in the back of our yard - behind the sheds - where I built a compost pile that is 4 x 8.  It's "constructed" of four metal fence supports and the back property-line fence and is actually two 4 x 4 "bins".  The idea is that there would be "old" ready-to-use stuff on one side,  and "new" work-in-progress on the other.  That worked great for the first few years, until we got the chipper/shredder.  

It's one of those "role" things.  Deep in his heart Mitchell thinks that he should operate the shredder, but he doesn't get around to it often.  Recently, I have discovered that it's easy to do, so without discussing it, I just took over doing it.
With the last two weeks of mild temperatures and sunny afternoons, I dragged out the shreader/chipper and then took pitchfork in hand and finally got it done.  It took me three afternoons to get the limbs and sticks shredded and down to small twigs that could be left to decompose.
 This is November.  See how the right side has grown in two months!  It was over my head.
The chips.  About the equivalent of one bag of mulch.
Under the right hand pile was nearly three FEET of good composted soil.

 Chips spread on top of the piles and the left one stomped down ... we're ready to add leaves (on the left) and use the good dirt in the spring to replenish the beds.
And like so many other things that we put off in life, I'm now asking myself why I wasted so much time finding reasons not to just do it!


  1. Making stuff smaller makes such a huge difference! It creates more room and decomposes faster. Cleaning up is not glamorous, but ultimately satisfying.

    Mom does an amazing job even when you pile stuff, as (sigh) we do here. We do "turn" occasionally, with a tractor.

  2. NICE!! I could never get the ratio right on composting. I always had too much of one many coffee grounds...too many fruit peels...too many dead leaves. When we sold our house, I sold the compost pile right along with it. I can't believe they didn't ask to knock about $5K off of the price for the hot mess that it was. I would like full instructions on operating a chipper the next time I'm in town. I feel like it would be a great way to dispose of a mean a branch. :)

    1. This pile is totally mom's work - no added kitchen stuff at all. We do keep a much smaller bin in the summer for kitchen (veggie scraps) and Mitchell adds all the bone meal and stuff to that one. We dump the "product" into this pile to help speed this one along.

      Come soon!

  3. That's a lot of work turning all of that material. It will pay off though.

    Being a guy and seeing your shredder made me think I need one of those.

    1. This small shredder was remarkably inexpensive and works really well. will take branches up to 1.5 inches thick and is easy to do. With a new lot, you probably need (wink, wink) one!