Monday, July 21, 2008

ARRRGGH Stupid Thermometer

Remember me trying to get my compost pile hot.(that was an unfortunate sentence, but I am leaving it). Remember all the work all the worry all the unanswered questions. I tried and tried and tried to get my compost pile to heat up. I babied it. I gave it everything a compost pile could ever desire to become a hot working pile. There was much nashing of teeth. I was determined to dominate the compost pile and I failed over and over again. Or so I thought.
Yesterday I added two bags of frozen food scraps saved for me by my loving Mamala. I cleaned out all the stuff from under the rabbit hutch and added it to the pile. Then I put about a four inch layer of fresh green stuff, mostly some overgrown garlic chives that I weeded out. Then I watered the dooey out of the whole mess. This morning, the pile felt warm. Temp read 90 degrees. Hmmm. Later, I began to smell the slight scent of ammonia, pretty definite sign of a hot pile. Temperature reads 95, really? I pull out the thermometer. I feels hot, really hot. Go inside, get a food thermometer out of the kitchen. Stick it in the pile. It is only about eight inches long. This thermometer zooms up to 140 degrees. The other thermometer, my high dollar compost thermometer, has been wrong all along. Stupid thermometer.
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12 Compost Tips

We are dedicated to composting here at Aunt Debbi's Garden. Everything that can be composted is composted. We even compost some things that we are warned against, such as cooking oil. After a discussion with a cousin-in-law about her stinky compost pile, I came up with a list of suggestions to have a great compost pile to make that wonderful garden black gold.

1. Ask friends and family who do not compost to save their food scraps for you. They can be stored in the freezer until you are able to pick them up. This keeps them from rotting and has the added benefit of breaking down vegetable cell walls, which speeds up the decomposing process.
2. Place your compost pile where you can share it with a neighbor. We have ours on the back fence and the neighbors are welcome to toss things into it.
3. If you are the analytical type and would like to do the math here is your link
4. If you are the more laid back creative type and believe in just "letting compost happen" here is your link.
5. Keep the pile damp. A dry compost pile breaks down slooooww.
6. Consider making a compost screen. Mine is made of 1x3 inch ply wood made into a frame with 1/4 inch screen stapled to it. The screened compost is awesome.
7. Add some red wriggler worms and let them make you compost extra rich and wonderful.
8. Shredded paper can be added to compost. It is also great bedding for a worm bin.
9. If you have a lot of food scraps and very little brown material, simply add a little soil to cover the food scraps. This helps eliminate any possible stink.
10. Used screened compost as a soil amendment and to enrich potting soil.
11. Use rough compost as a nutritious mulch.
12. There will be bugs. Do not be afraid of the bugs. They are there to help make you compost.
13. Remember little boys love to tear stuff up. Let them turn your compost for you. They are good at it.
14. Make compost tea. Add a few cups of compost to a bucket of water. Let it sit and use it to water you plants. They will thank you.

Here is a short list of possible compost ingredients

1. grass clippings.
2. Leaves
3. Vegetable and fruit food scraps.
4. Egg shells
5. Coffee grounds.
6. Tea bags.
7. Shredded paper
8. Paper plates
9. Weeds
10. Dead container plants
11. Any plant material cleaned up from the landscape that is not diseased.
12. Wood chips.
13. Manure. We add rabbit poo, which is the very best poo.
14. Old or spoiled vegetable animal feed such as hay, alfalfa, and rabbit pellets.
15. What every you muck out of a horses stall or barn.

What do you compost?