Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Composting at the Nursery School

Julia has started to tend to portions of the garden at the nursery school our son attends. This weekend the whole family went to take care of some maintenance. My job was to try to get the compost going again. The picture above is how we found it. The first thing I did was knock it over.

The bin had been left alone for a long time and was filled to the gills with dry, cold compost. There was a section in the back that had decomposed but for the most part it was practically mummified.

There were some weeds and grass growing in a nearby culvert so we harvested mostly weeds which consisted of mallow, mustard, sow thistle, spurge and duckweed. I took whatever grass came with the weeds but tried to focus on the leafier stuff.

I've found that smaller pieces work better so I broke up small fists full of the weeds and scattered them on top of a layer of dry material alternating back and forth - about 1 inches deep dry material to 2 inches deep green.

You have to be careful with using weeds to feed the compost because the seeds are very tough and often survive the process. These weeds were still young enough that none had gone to seed yet. A couple of the mallow plants had just started to flower but no seeds were forming.

I made 3 layers dry and 2 of green starting with dry on the bottom. We need more nitrogen rich material to get the pile really hot. Luckily, the school has rabbits so we'll try to get some of their droppings to add to the mix. As we do we'll add back some of the dry stuff that didn't make it back in the bin this time.

We were able to harvest enough compost and dirt from the forgotten bin to fill these three strawberry pots.
Right now it is a little less than half full. Either Julia or I will check again on Thursday, fingers crossed, to see if it is heating up at all.


  1. I'm afraid our compost bin looks rather like the 'before' picture....I have a bucketful of peelings to put in but it's not going to fit. Think I will have to follow your example and re-structure with another bin added into the equation!

  2. At home, we don't even bother using a bin. We just make mounds, which makes it easier to manage. The added benefit is that the bin is never full.


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