By now, we’ve decided on our bins and materials (Week 1), and hopefully gotten our bins and materials ready (Week 2).
This week it’s time to put everything together.
As this is a hot compost which will be turned weekly, it doesn’t really matter how we start our layering. It’s probably marginally best to start with some carbons (browns) which have a lower moisture content and will probably benefit from being topped off with some greens.
Put down a thin layer. I define a thin layer as one which is easy for me to wet thoroughly. Getting a layer wet isn’t as easy as it would seem. Dousing it from above with a nice shower or misty spray setting on the hose nozzle seems to get it wet–until I give it a stir, which reveals a completely dry layer beneath. So it’s wet and stir, wet and stir, until when you stir, no more dry patches pop up.
Then add your next layer. If your first was browns, add a layer of greens. This probably won’t require as much moisture, but probably needs some wetting down and stirring. The classic test is the squeeze test. Take a handful of your compost materials and try to squeeze out a drop of water. One drop or almost a drop is perfect. More than one drop is too soggy. Lay off with the hose and add in a little more dry material. Think wrung-out sponge.
Continue to alternate greens and browns until you’ve reached the end of your stash of compost materials. If you decided to use some activating agents like we talked about last week (alfalfa meal, blood or bone meal, cottonseed meal, fish emulsion, comfrey, stale dog food, seaweed, and urine), put that in as you layer, too.
If you’re like me, a suburbanite and not a farm person, you may reflect with a bit of disappointment that the pile isn’t as big as you hoped it would be. Everything seemed bigger outside of the pile, those bags collected roadside, the collection from your own yard. If you think your pile isn’t big enough, take heart. It’s within the scope of the -Along to continue to add to your pile for the next couple of weeks. Keep your eyes open before curbside pick-up day and you’re sure to find some treasures. Aim for at least three feet high, if you can, but if you can’t, don’t sweat it. Do what you can and it will be good, too.
I’d love to hear what you’ve collected and what, if any, activators you’ve decided on. Tell us how things are going, and if you’ve got any photos, please share them on our Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/groups/littlehouse/discuss/72157629954731472/
Let’s layer it!