You can keep track of Lloyd’s composting on his Flickr page here.
Lloyd became interested in composting when we moved to the farm in 1994. In the years since then, he has conducted many composting experiments with varying levels of success.
Here is what we tried so far:
In 1994 Lloyd built two “standard” 3 feet by 3 feet (1m x 1m) compost bins from some old pallets. We composted our kitchen waste, grass clippings, fallen leaves and finished annual plants, including vegetable garden detrius. During the non-freezing months, the bin contents were manually stirred and rotated between the two bins. The resulting compost was used for my landscaping endeavours. There are no photos of these bins.
The Compost Tumbler was built over the winter of 2003/2004. With the enclosed system, we are able to produce weed-seed-free compost. Additionally, because the tumbler can be turned often, the compost is produced in a relatively short time. The tumbler has been a great success.
A screener is in the design stages made out of old bicycle rims, some bogey wheels from an old snowmobile and some 1/4 inch screening.
A large-scale multi-tumbler is in the planning stages now so we can make and utilize the compost other than in the fields. Stay tuned…
We have a large yard site, aproximately 5-acres (2-hectares) so we had far more leaves and glass clippings than our two small bins could handle. Lloyd tried various “large-bin” experiments with old snow fencing and using the “dump and let Mother Nature do her thing” approach.
While moderately successful in producing compost over the long term, the bins were unsightly and the larger farm machinery was required to do the “stirring”. Over the course of the year or two that it took for the waste to turn into compost, many weed seeds were blown into the compost. Lloyd ended up just plowing the results into the wheat fields. There are no photos of these bins.
Mound Composting sounds so much better than “that pile of shredded Christmas Trees”! For any of you wing-nut-composters visiting from LJ’s compost forums, you might as well know the truth: “that pile of christmas trees” only evolved into “mound composting” when it came time to add this compost page to the website.
For 3 or 4 years it was referred to as “that pile” and usually not in a friendly tone of voice. The shredded Christmas trees started as a mulching adventure, as described on our Stuff page, under Experiments in Mulching. After several years of “mound composting”, the Christmas tree chips were moved into the cherry orchard and worked into the soil. There are no photos of that pile.
If you are a family member of a composting wing-nut and have been sent here to read this, here are a few of my thoughts on living with wing-nut composters:
The “Town Yard-Waste Summer-Fallow Composting” adventure began as a possible school fundraiser. “Plan A” was: fund-raising students would come out to the farm to de-bag the town yard waste on our summer fallow field. The town was willing to donate funds in lieu of tipping fees, which would be used in the Band Booster fundraising efforts. Little interest was shown by the students so on to “Plan B”.
Our farm would incorporate the composting into our farm operation and we would hire local students to do the de-bagging. We solicit students first from the Band program and then from the broader student population. We try to employ younger students who otherwise have difficulty finding employment. Our student workers average age 14 and most of them are Band students.
A curing bin was built in Spring ’06 [Inside dimensions approx: 3 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long (1m x 1.2m x 2.4m) ]. It was constructed out of old scaffolding supports and some steel grating from an old grain dryer that had caught on fire. (We try to build these things out of junk (er, “good stuff”) no one else wants anymore). This will be used for curing after the high temperature composting has finished. It is anticipated that the compost will remain in the curing bin until the summer of 2007. A second curing bin will be constructed if this experiment works.
In the fall of 2005, town yard waste was distributed in windrows across a field that was to be summer fallow in 2006. The composting yard waste was cultivated into the fallow field over the summer months.
A one season (April til October 2006) trial began with an agreement with the Town of Stonewall. We would receive all the “yard waste” and sheet compost it into our summer-fallow field. The only problem encountered was the amount of litter that the townsfolk placed into the leave/grass bags. Further education by mail-outs and a local newspaper story enhanced awareness of what should not be in the “yard waste” bags.