Over the last week, I tore apart and rebuilt my compost bin. Harvesting compost is nearly as exciting as Christmas for me!
I use the passive/slow method of composting. I generally try to follow the rules of layering carbon and nitrogen when I first rebuild the pile in order to get it to heat up, but then I just leave it to transform itself.
Over the winter, the frost action had toppled one of the cement block walls, so in addition to pulling out the compost and sifting it to harvest the finished compost, I also needed to rebuild that wall. I pounded t-posts in this time, in hopes that they will help to reinforce the side walls next winter.
Once all the material was pulled out and sifted and the cement block structure was rebuilt, I assembled all the material that I wanted to use to create my compost pile. This included the material that was too large to be sifted out as finished compost, a pile of plants that had been pulled up in the garden clean-up process last fall and left there waiting for space in the compost bin, garden scraps that I had stockpiled in my barrel composter and chicken litter from the chicken coop.
I layered these items in the compost bin in hopes that I was coming close to the right proportions of carbon and nitrogen. I had assembled more than would initially fit in the bin, but after a few days, and a little rain, I was able to get everything piled in.
Now I will use the finished compost to nourish my houseplants and side dress tomatoes, etc. in the garden and I have begun the waiting game for a new batch of finished compost. I’ll need to be patient, the next batch can probably be harvested this fall. I won’t take the time to turn the pile this summer. But, if we have a dry spell, I will water it occasionally to try to maintain the ‘wrung out sponge’ moisture level that is recommended by the compost gurus.