Completing the Cycle: Our Compost Rules

Compost is decomposed organic material which is returned to the garden beds as nutrients for plants. The composting area is located in the northeast corner of the garden. Our process takes place in two main parts: barrels and bins.

The natural materials break down because of heat, water, and organisms which use the plant material to live. Fungi, bacteria, insects, and worms (along with many other micro and macro organisms) allow the composting process to take place.

Once compost is ready, it is spread evenly on beds or mixed with fresh soil and amenities as a prep for planting. Maintaining the compost offers great on-going science projects for older students.   Classes test compost temperatures, moisture content, and record how long the decomposition process takes.

THE BARRELS

Green compost (green barrel): What goes in ~ nitrogen rich materials such as food scraps, green plant clippings.

Brown compost (brown barrel): What goes in ~ carbon rich materials such as dry leaves, shredded brown (woody) plants and plant parts, straw.

Weeds without seeds (black barrel): What goes in ~ weeds of various sizes.

Weeds with seeds (in brown bags, stored in tool shed): What goes in ~ weeds with seeds, weed roots.

After the barrels are full, the contents are layered in compost bins.

THE BINS

First Stage:

Layer green and brown material from barrels. Each layer should be 15 to 30 cm (6 to 12 inches) deep. Keep pile moist, but not soggy.

Second Stage:

Partially decomposed material from the first stage bin is moved to the finishing bin. Keep moist and turn to aid the decomposition process. Compost is ready to put on the garden beds when it is dark and crumbly.

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