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Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring duty

Bedding straw, with poultry manure, leaving the barn. This three-tine fork, our best one for the purpose, was found in the blackberry patch seventeen years ago, where it had languished for who knows how many years. We shortened and oiled the broken handle and it has worked steadily in the barn ever since.

Stage one: into the barrel. We could never afford such a gizmo; this one is a gift from my father-in-law. It works as advertised in warmer weather. Mix straw with fresh, damp grass clippings, add kitchen compost and fish waste, tumble every day for two weeks. Longer (much longer) in winter.

Stage two: dump the barrel underneath itself and refill. throw some straw on the pile to reduce odor.

Stage three: after three dumps, shift pile to compost bin. This gives you exercise, aerates the pile, and holds off putting poultry manure on the garden while the pathogens and "burn factor" fade to a kinder, gentler minimum. I'm not sure we always wait ninety days, but we try. The bin is low at this point because the winter compost has been hauled to all points of the garden for spring duty.

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