Composting in Utah
Saturday I went to a composting class hosted by the Master Gardener's club.
I found out something VERY interesting that I wanted to share with all the other composters in this forum.
You know how all the compost books say to watch that the piles do not get too wet... thus drowning the good microbes... well Utah is the 2nd driest state, we have an average of 7-13 percent humidity in the winter(of course that is when it is not snowing)
In the summer it is higher, but still VERY dry.
So what are we doing wrong?
A few things, but the # 1 thing is we are NOT watering it enough... it shuts down if it gets to dry, and guess what... that is why our piles never seem to do what we think they should be doing.
The guy that gave the class gave a great solution. He gets a big pipe, about 15cm round. Then he drills holes all in it where it will be inside the compost pile.
He then runs his hose in there and "soaks the snot out of it"
He does this a couple times a week.
Here are some notes I took there... sorry if they are scattered sounding...
Another thing that I figured out on my own and was brought up in there....
put smaller pieces in your compost pile... small always breaks down faster than big... my kids can tell you that one! LOL
I take my banana peels and put them in the blender with a bunch of water and pour it ontop of the compost pile,
Put a bagger on your mower and mow over your leaves and small branches to break them up smaller.
Egg shells are NOT good for our soil because we already have enough calcium in the ground.
Wood ashes make the ground more alkaline, not good.
Pine needles lower the Ph... good stuff!
Our soil is alkaline here in Utah, so we need to find ways to bring the Ph down.
Coffee grinds are great. They gave us a great idea for those who do not drink coffee... Starbucks... think about all the coffee grounds they go through in a week!
I am sure that they would gladly give you a ton if you just ask.
Most of the Java huts and places like that would.
I know a guy who is willing to haul a huge dump truck of aged (1-2 yrs)steer manure to your home for a nominal fee.
I am getting the first truck full!
One thig to watch out for is weeds introduced from seed in questionable compost sources. I think as long as something has had a chance to heat up for an extended period of time, it should kill off all weed seed.
I have been composting my entire life, I feel like the queen of compost. With the chickens and the cat, I give them any scraps from the kitchen that does not go in pile, ie; meats, anything made or cooked with with fat, oil(like bread or peanut butter), dairy products, and now they get their shells back!
Keys to success...
Good ratio of leaves, grass clipping and kitchen matter.
Newpapers are good too.
You know office shredders? they now make a great garden tool!
Just shred you bills and stuff(everything but glossy ads).... sprinkle in your pile, add something over it to weigh it down and voila....
your bills are recycled into rich compost!
Remember... small is good
And Water, water, water!
Keep the piles wet, no matter what you read!~