Saturday, March 31, 2007

We've Got Steam!

We try to make sure our Mantis composter gets at least a couple of turns every day. This helps the bacteria inside breathe. In the morning I check to see what's happening with our compost and guess what? Yesterday it was steaming!

I didn't have my compost thermometer with me, so I couldn't check the temperature. But steam is a very good sign. It indicates that the bacteria are happy and are eating away, making heat in the process. I placed my hand over the compost and it was plenty warm. This means our work is paying off.

We are trying to pay greater attention to our compost this year, making sure we have enough carbonaceous or brown material along with our nitrogenous or green ingredients. Nitrogen gives our microscopic decomposers quick fuel, while the carbon supplies a real meal. These ingredients need to be kept in balance, along with the right amount of water and oxygen.

During our recent garden cleanup, we made sure to cut all the garden debris into small pieces before placing it in the composter. Also, Mama Jenny has started bringing bags of old produce from the food co-op where she works. That needs to be sorted through and cut into pieces as well. Ideally, the old leaves from last fall that we've stored also should be shredded before going into the composte. All this work to break things into smaller pieces helps the decomposers do their job. And Baba Oron has started collecting coffee grounds from our local Starbucks. Coffee grounds add nitrogen to our compost.

Now we just have to keep turning and checking and watering until we have compost we can use in our garden. I'm guessing it won't be more than a month or two.

No comments: