We have 12 gallons of kitchen scraps saved up over the winter, in four 3 gallon buckets with lids. Mostly fruit, veggie and coffee grounds. These four buckets have sat outside decomposing in an anaerobic state. We've rotated the buckets, as the scraps settle there is room for more scraps, the buckets are packed full and have a LOT of liquid. We want to do the 18 day compost method directly on site of a planting bed we just made. The native "dirt" in the new bed is sandy and grey, not a rich soil at all, so we want to enrich the bed with the compost.
My question is whether the nasty, sharp smelling, moldy sludge is "good" to use in the compost, or if I've created a mess of waste.
The plan is to make the pile with lots and lots of leaves (mostly big leaf maple including some of the soil with white mold from under the leaves), the buckets of kitchen scraps, hopefully some localchicken manure, some of our finished compost from last year, some worm castings that is finishing up right now, a relativly small amount of biochar inoculated with urine and compost/worm castings tea.
The buckets are nauseating to the extreme, but I suspect it is just well on its way to becoming a rich compost excellent for supplementing our soil and growing our veggies. Are we on the right track or should I avoid adding the anaerobic rotting food scraps to the pile?
You could try an outdoor bin, just to stage the stuff till you're ready to start your in-garden compost in the spring. Just enclose stoutly in hardware cloth or some such to keep rodents and other critters away. Being in closed buckets and anaerobic makes the smell much worse, and you are losing nutrients as well. You could have a bit of high-carbon matter nearby and begin to layer it. If it's still deep winter the stuff will freeze as you place it, but no matter, at least it won't smell as much.....
I think it sounds great! Make sure you've got lots of carbonaceous materials -- like your biochar doesn't need to be already inoculated, for example. I would lay down a humongous pile of leaves, throw the bucket contents on it while holding my nose, and cover it with another humongous pile of leaves. After a few days, when it isn't quite so skanky in there anymore, I'd go in with a shovel or fork and mix it up a bit, add those worm castings and garden soil and whatever else, and then leave it for months. I think it'll do fine for you!
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Thanks Alder, We actually wanted to build the pile tomorrow after going to a friends farm to pick up some chicken and horse manure. I'm just north of Seattle, WA. so not in deep winter here. My small outdoor compost bin has naturally become a thriving worm bin, I didn't want to add the scraps to the bin because it's almost finished and I want to harvest the compost/castings. Good to be aware of the loss of nutrients, we plan to build a larger (and actually intentional) vermicompost bin out of a plastic 55gal barrel cut in half, then join the halves to make one long trough. The new worm bin will take place of the buckets, which will be much more pleasant to deal with.
Good to hear Rebecca, fortunately there are lots of leaves around. We're just gonna go for it! After last years small compost and garden success, we had to scale it up a bit this time around. I'll post some pics of the process as it progresses.
Using bokashi bran composting would be a good way to prep it for the soil faster, some food scraps take awhile to break down ina normal pile, also they might stink up the neighborhood or attract rodents in the meantime. I was in the same position last year trying to feed my worms.
I often get buckets of moldy, liquidity, stinky kitchen garbage given to me to use on my gardens. Since they don't include manures, I skip the compost bins and go directly to the garden soil. I use a shovel to open up a trench, pour the garbage into the trench, then backfill it with the soil I had dug out. The garbage gets covered with about 4-5 inches of soil, so there is no smell afterwards.
It's never too late to start! I retired to homestead on the slopes of Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I relate snippets of my endeavor on my blog : www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
Went to collect manure again. Three more
buckets from the horses, lots more
discarded chicken bedding and just a
little manure right from the source-
Pile is almost full to the brim. The layers
are awfully distinct but it will get mixed
well on the first turn. iCloud callendar
event started, first turn is in 4 days, then
turn every other day. Tomorrow I'll
remove the pipe from the center of the pile
to let air in. The pipe doesn't have any holes
in the sides.
We found an old pile of manure, pumpkins,
garden waste etc. on my friends property
and got almost a full wheel barrow load of this-
We added the load of worms to our little
~2 cu. ft. compost-turned-worm bin to
await their new home. So, after topping
off the pile we began construction on the
new worm bin. Two halves of a plastic
barrel divided by chicken wire. With our
own worms, plus what we just brought
home, one side will be completely filled
with "mostly finished"
While the worms chomp away at what's
left, we will probably start using the other
side immediately, with a bed of shredded
leaves, a few worms, and start adding
kitchen scraps daily.
There are a lot of worms, I hope they make
Really quick work of everything. After the
18 day compost, we want to run the results
through the worm bin, before it finally makes
it into the planting beds... And we're anxious
to get it into the beds, so we'll see. After the
compost is done, the chicken wire cage will be
used as a strict leaf mold pile. At that point we
might be done "composting" and only be doing
worm castings and leaf mold (and some aerobic teas).
Thanks to everyone who contributes their
knowledge and makes this stuff possible for us first timers!
I take all mine outside and cover it with a piece of plastic drop cloth. Mix with any brown material you got.
On days where it gets warm enough to get the 55degree decomposers going, it starts and the cloth keeps any warmth from the sun and decomposition in, so on days where its 35 degrees I can still feel heat coming off.
Live free or die trying.
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