Friday, 8 May 2009

How I Compost.

It is Compost Awareness Week and so I am posting this special photo-blog to show how I do my composting. Regular readers will know that I have an arrangement with a greengrocers to purchase their compostable resources for a penny per sack. This financial transaction keeps us both within the law. They have a duty to do some sorting/recycling, so putting all the biodegradables separately fulfils this, and then as I'm not a registered waste carrier, I buy the resources so they never become waste. So this is how they come home. This load is probably about 60Kg.

So, the load is taken off the bike and trailer, and this is a fairly typical selection, 6 boxes and a sack.

Quite a bit of the stuff which I bring home is not actually mouldy or bad, just unsaleable. Like these pears, about a third of them had a brown core and the skins were a little flaccid after a long sit in a chiller, so presumably customers had either turned their noses up at them, or some might have been returned. So the whole batch was slung out... my way. These got taken in to the house, and over a couple of evenings, washed, halved, cored, peeled and each half cut into 3 slices and put on drying racks over the woodstove. An excellent penny's worth!

This box had cabbage leaves, bits of fruit, a cracked egg, corrugated paper, screwed up envelopes and nothing worth saving. All of this was composted, with the box used as a side to a pallet compost heap.

This box was more promising for a freegan soup-maker, or freegan wife pizza-maker. Delicious tiny tomatoes, some manky and horrible, but a good percentage, enough to fill the saucepan, were perfect. The shop keeper didn't have time or patience to sort them... a large percentage were unsaleable, but I always have time to sort stuff out if it's as delicious as tiny tomatoes! Some of those pears were dried, and some of the mango too.

Oh no! More pears and mango! Plenty for the compost, and plenty to dry or eat fresh. Some of these pears were gently stewed, (on the woodstove of course) and served when cold with vegan ice cream. We sometimes feel we live like royalty...

Not much in this box for re-use, so oranges and Kale leaves for the compost...

That avocado was slightly bruised, and was delicious in a granary sandwich with mayonnaise. The grapes were sorted and washed, blanched and dried into raisins.

Some of my loads are chopped up and put in my 600 litre 'Compostumbler'. I put in shredded hedge, wood-chips, sawdust, straw, cardboard, plus many tens of kilos of fruit and veg, also roadkill and cooked food. Temperatures in the tumbler can reach 7o Celsius, extremely hot. This is a batch composter, with perhaps 1000 litres of material being put in over a few weeks, then turned for a few weeks, and taken out with the fork and placed in a dalek or pallet bin 'sit and wait' heap, for maturing for a year or more.

This is a slightly smaller tumbler, with an ingenious system for putting the material in the top, and taking it out, composted, from a hatch in the end. Made by 'Sun Mar'.

This is a 'GreenCone', supposedly for composting cooked food waste and allegedly rat proof. It has a plastic basket buried in the ground, and double-skinned walls. It isn't rat proof, they can burrow in the soil and chew through the plastic basket. I place a rat trap inside this, and when I get one, I put the dead rat in the hot Compostumbler.

This is a pair of bay-window radiators, being used as a 'sit and wait' compost heap.
Pallet bin. This is wired together, and when it needs turning, un-wired and dug out. Cardboard makes an excellent liner to stop stuff falling out of the slats. This one is atop several other pallets to make it less habitable for rats, which like to be able to access heaps from underground.

This is what is turned out of the pallet bin. It has sat in the cube for several months, and this is it's first turn. Again, I put it in a load of cardboard. This enclosure is lined with some plastic sheeting I found in a skip.
Emptied pallet bin. The black bin bag is there as when I tip stuff in, I take out as much plastic and non-compostable material, for landfill.

My workers.... well the visible ones! Worms. Wondrous worms....

The next time I visit the stuff, it looks like this... very well rotted, but still needing riddling if it's to be used within a potting mix, but it can be used as a top dressing on soil just like this.

Another batch of finished compost in a builders bag supported by pallets.

This is a typical rubbish bag from when I turn the compost. There's assorted plastic, some 'glue-strips' which used to fix cardboard boxes together (and the cardboard has rotted away), and small bits of metal, glass and other non-compostables.

Another special edition will be uploaded sometime showing riddling and use of my compost.


James said...

Hi John

Wow you are organized.

I'm at more of a basic level, with 1 bin. The kitchen waste gets put in a compost croc and transferred outside once a week. I also put cardboard and envelopes in it (windows removed!) My only concern is that we "took over" the bin from the previous owner, so don't know what's in the bottom. Should I be worried?

Tracy said...

Hey ,what you are doing is fantastic. Just been trying to find out info on community composting. Getting a small group of likeminded people together in local area for allotments and maybe a picnic area.Have you any ideas?

bed frame said...

I like reading this kind of blog. You have shown a very nice idea. It is one of the steps to help our planet recover from its damage. We all need to take a good care in our planet before it's too late.