Monday, October 30, 2017

Three Reasons Werewolves Make Terrible Composters


Werewolves may be able to smell prey from miles away, tear through the forest with impressive speed, and rip their enemies to shreds but, unlike vampires, werewolves do not make great composters. 

1.     They eat only meat. Usually raw, sometimes while it is still alive. As we know, meat does not play well in our backyard compost pile.
2.     They are not civilized. Werewolves are too busy howling at the moon and stalking prey to carry a kitchen pail of food scraps to the bin.
3.     Their strong sense of smell and dog-like behaviors would likely lead to the werewolf rolling around in the compost pile rather than tending to it.

Never fear, though! We can learn a few tips from their legendary lack of domesticity. Like our monster canine friends, composters do have a pack. (I see you driving around town with your I heart compost bumper magnets.) And I would love to borrow those lycanthrope claws and strength to turn my whole compost pile in a matter of seconds.

Maybe we have more in common with werewolves than I originally thought. I may not have bulging hairy muscles ripping apart my flannel shirt or sharp canines dripping with infectious saliva, but I can howl at the moon with the best of them.

Happy Hallooooweeeen!

If you are like me and love Halloween and composting, check out our other posts based on the best holiday of the year:

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Impressive Volunteer-Powered Composting

Do you have 12 free minutes to feel inspired? 

Check out this video from the Red Hook Urban Community Farm composting operation in Brooklyn, NY. An army of volunteers “walk turn” a major windrow compost pile. Seeing so many people working together at a community compost site not only makes you feel good, but it will also make tackling your backyard pile seem like a cake-walk.

Trouble viewing the video? Check out this link

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Composting Chicken Poop

Chicken poop straddles the line between manure you can compost and manure you need to avoid. Since chickens will eat anything (and I do mean anything) they are omnivores so you need to follow special rules if you want to compost the manure of your domestic avian friend.

Cock-A-Doodle Do’s and Don’ts
If you decide to add chicken manure to your compost, follow a few basic precautions to make sure any pathogens in the manure do not make you or your family sick.

  1. Wear gloves when handling manure.
  2. Practice hot composting techniques with manure to ensure the pile heats up enough to kill pathogens.
  3. Only use fully composted manure on your plants (nothing fresh).
  4. Wash all vegetables planted in soil that you amended with compost derived from manure.
  5. If you are susceptible to food borne illness (e.g., very young children, pregnant women) avoid eating raw vegetables planted in soil that you amended with compost derived from manure.
  6. Do not use chicken manure in vermicomposting.

Each chicken will create about two cubic feet of manure in a year. Even with a few chickens, all of that poop and associated bedding really adds up! Of course, like other birds their manure is mixed with urine in a gross weird mess (sorry to get so graphic, but what did you expect?).

If you keep chickens, you know the smell of ammonia all too well and know that you must clean up the fowl droppings often (pun intended).  

Which Comes First?
Fresh chicken manure is way too strong to apply directly to plants or even work into soil as an amendment. It would damage the plant roots and possibly kill the plant. However, chicken manure makes an excellent addition to your compost pile since it has higher levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium than most other domestic animal manures. The organisms in your compost bin will break the manure down into a soil amendment your plants will love.

After the manure has fully composted, give the compost plenty of time to cure (at least two months). Although a little extra work, composting chicken manure creates a beautiful, black crumbly material high in nutrients for your plants.