We just bought our place and the super-small garden is currently covered in bricks so come end of frost we're going to take up the brick and have to build up the soil - i.e. lots of mulch. I know it would be ideal to do that now, but we're busy with the inside of the house first.
I'm rather new to permaculture but right now I'm in scavenge-as-much-biomass-as-possible mode.
There's a lovely cafe in town that has agreed to segregate their used coffee grounds, put 'em in a big bucket and but the bucket out the back of their cafe for me to come pick up once a week. In the first week it's about 3 kg (6.6 lbs). There's still a few months to go before I'll be able to put this stuff in the ground, so how best to store it all?
It's winter, this isn't going to work where I am right now.
Any suggestions? Or do you think that for the three or so months I'll be alright in just a bucket? All else fails that's what'll happen anyway and we'll see. Maybe I'm reading too much into it but I'm super excited to build my soil ^^
It will get moldy fast if you don't dry it.
Whether or not that mold is harmful, I have no idea.
You could possibly use pans and cookie sheets to air dry it indoors, or in the oven at a low heat. Once it's dry it should store in the buckets no problem. A thin layer should dry overnight, but it would be an ongoing thing with any quantity.
Compost them. Tumbler or small bin, whatever will work for your space and weather.
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If it's freezing out I doubt the grounds will mold.
If you are still worried,a compost bin lined with weed barrier would allow drainage. Add carbon like paper or leaves to balance the nitrogen and adsorb moisture. Infact a scrapped fridge or freezer and that mix could make a nice insulated worm bin.
I've raked up all teh leaves that have fallen on our property and the surrounding neighbourhood, so I've got three big bin bags full.
Normally it would freeze but this year it's almost christmas and it's above 10 degrees celcius, it's really weird.
It sounds like the best thing to do would be mix the leaves + coffee = worm bin.
Can worms OD on used coffee grounds?
When it comes to putting in the raised bed, could I just use 75% or so of the mixtures of leaves & coffee & some food scraps that worms have worked on as the major part of the soil for the raised bed, with layers of cardboard? Obviously would have to get some soil and hopefully some manure and straw, but trying to work with what I've got here.
If you make a worm compost bin out of the leaves, scrap cardboard, small quantities of kitchen scraps and the coffee grounds, all should be good.
My worry would be about the temperatures for the worms to be active. In winter I usually move worm bins to the shed which isn't heated but it is out of the elements, I have some 1" thick foam boards that wrap the worm bins with to help keep them warmer.
You might find that you too need to put some sort of insulation around and on top for the worms to be able to work your pile, otherwise they may go deep for protection from the winter weather.
Worms can't OD on coffee grounds, they actually feed on the organisms that will be breaking down the coffee grounds and other items in your bin/s.
Another method, which I am using now-a-days is straw bales for raised bed planting. I stand these on edge and then water them till it is seeping out of the bottom of the sides. Next I use a hand spade and stab the tops of the wet bales, next is pouring on the grounds and watering them into the bales. The grounds actually seep in between the straws and the nitrogen in them will start the bales heating from the inside. I repeat this every day for three or four weeks then let them sit till time to plant (spring). I am planting squash, greens, beans, and strawberries in the tops and sides of the bales. You can also inoculate these bales with mushroom spawn, Oyster mushrooms do very well in bales treated this way.
Good luck in your practicing permaculture, everyone here is happy to help.
Thanks Bryant, that's reassuring! Indeed the forum has been a wealthy resource and so many people have been quick to respond with lots of help!
I'll set up the bedding and food tomorrow and let the bacteria grow while I hunt for some worms. Regarding the heat issue, I will probably keep it in the scullery, underneath the boiler. The worm bin is pretty small to start with (knee high plastic trash bin) and let's see how we build up.
The straw bale method sounds great and actually would be perfect for us because of the need to build soil. However the issue is space, we're talking micro-micro garden size. It'll be a project for the backburner when we upgrade in a few years.
Last newbie question -- is it alright if most of the lasagna mulch for building soil is made up of the compost and worm castings that come out of the worm bin with layers of cardboard?