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Garbage bag composting in the desert environment

 
gardener
Posts: 319
Location: Buffalo, NY
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Hello Permies,

I was curious if anyone else in a desert environment does garbage bag composting? I spoke with some of my friends here in Albuquerque and they will often start the composting process of leaves, branches, twigs during the fall in garbage bags. I noticed the incredibly moist and warm micro-climate when I had put some roots, branches and leaves in a bag in a half sun half shade environment. The roots and branches were already moist when I collected them. Two months later most of the roots and branches had a spots of of fungus growing on them. The leaves have blown in and were not there at the start. Temperatures have been between 60 and 20 Fahrenheit and humidity around 5%. See picture below:



This is in stark contrast to branches that I leave lying on the ground. I have one chunk of wood in a partial sun/shade environment 5 feet from this garbage bag. It has still yet to start the decomposition process after 2 years.

If anyone else has been doing this with good/bad results please let me know.
 
Posts: 1444
Location: Fennville MI
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I think it can be a good idea, but watch which bags you use. More than a few are treated withfungicides.
 
gardener
Posts: 6256
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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I remember the first time I was introduced to garbage bag composting. A neighbor down the street (in Sacrament CA) bagged up all his grass clippings and set the bags in the garage next to his 911 Porsche, two days later the bags exploded, burning down the garage and the Porsche. They were in the backyard around their swimming pool. I was driving down the street and their garage door flew out into the street behind my GTO.

Garbage bags work great at creating a hot/humid environment when green cuttings are added. Just be sure to prop the bag end open so the heat doesn't collect to the point of spontaneous combustion.
I have used the technique several times, I still use it to make leaf mold in a hurry. I use the giant Industrial size, really thick black Contractors Bags. These are not treated in anyway. I built a heavy wire triangle and set this into the end of the bag, some clips hold the bag opening to this triangle and away I go filling it up, if I don't have any green stuff to add, I spray in some water. The triangle allows me to fold the opening over to build heat and distribute humidity but still be able to open it up so it won't over heat.
 
master pollinator
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I've used garbage cans. During the driest part of the summer, I returned to my van in the morning to find the windows covered in moisture. It was about 100F inside, on a cool morning of about 65F. The finely chopped hedge clippings had heated over night. I dumped them right away.

Outside, I place cans in full sun to expedite the process during cool weather.
 
Hey, sticks and stones baby. And maybe a wee mention of my stuff:
Dave Burton's Boot Adventures at Wheaton Labs and Basecamp
https://permies.com/t/119676/permaculture-projects/Dave-Burton-Boot-Adventures-Wheaton
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