Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Compost Time

I finally got my butt in gear yesterday and started to turn the compost pile. Well it isn't just one compost pile. First I had to play musical chairs with the other bins and sift out the finished compost along the way. Typically bin 1 (pallet bins numbered from the left to the right) has the most recent garden waste in it. Bin 2 has older garden waste that was turned over from bin 2. Bins 3 and 4 are leaf holding bins. Some Years I can wait until I need compost to turn over the piles but bin 1 was bursting at the seams and needed to be turned.

Since Bin 3 still had some leaves in it I moved them to bin 4 sifting out any finished leaf mold as I went. Since Bin 2 was a mix of finished compost and things that hadn't decomposed, I sifted through it. All finished compost went into Bin 3. All decomposed items went into the overflowing bin 1. I did part of that yesterday and part today. But finally bin 2 was empty.

Once it was empty I noticed that a lot of compost had fallen in back of the bin over the years. I have my cedar fence back there and I don't want that to decompose on me, so I took out the pallet and scooped up all the excess. I'll do that with the other bins when I get them empty next time. Though the fence looked fine as it wasn't really buried, the bottom board of the pallet had decomposed. I flipped the pallet over and around so the undecomposing boards will be in toward the compost. These have been here for about 3 1/2 years. And considering they are cheap wood, they have held up pretty well. If I can get seven years out of the pallets I'll be really happy. I can get free pallet easily enough just by asking around, but dragging them back and taking apart the piles to replace them is a PITA. I'd rather they last a long long time.

Once bin 2 was empty I started turning bin 1 over into bin 2. The top part is all new additions that are getting turned. As I turn them I'm adding a bit of eggshell that I've collected from the kitchen (the bag on top of the compost). And that is where I left it. I'll have to finish turning. And once I get down far enough I'm sure I'll find more compost to sift through. Hopefully it will be done before the weekend.

In totally non-compost non-garden related news, the Macintosh apples were in at the farmers market. I picked up a few to make my husband some applesauce. I'm going to be canning every week I can get my hands on more apples. He doesn't eat a lot of fruit and applesauce is one that he loves. I make it very healthy when I make it for him. No sugar and I use a stick blender to blend the peel into the sauce. I think if I make 75 jars he might be happy for the year. I'm not sure I'll have time for that many, but I'll try. I would also love some applebutter for me.


  1. Fall is a great time to turn the compost piles. Reading this has encouraged me to tend to my own pile. I hope to layer the beds with compost this fall before the snow covers the garden.

    I am trying to can enough applesauce to last a while too. I love how naturally sweet the applesauce becomes when cooked in a crockpot, but it takes a few days to cook up enough applesauce to fill the canner.

  2. Your pallets are lasting longer than mine did. I'm going to have to replace mine after 5 years. I plan on building one next year from cedar, and sitting it on a concrete pad we have (the home of a former dog run). Hopefully that one will last a bit longer. Like you say, dragging the pallets around is no fun!

  3. I have always loved how you have your compost set up & am aiming for the same kind of multi-compartment setup. I got the pallets for it last year but just need to clear the space which is at the top of a hill & is covered with brush right now.

  4. Daphne, I have often wondered: does your husband help you with any of the gardening (or cooking?). You seem so thoughtful on his behalf when it comes to feeding him! BTW I'm leaving my compost bins for a while. I usually do the job you have described in Winter time - often at Christmas.

    1. I cook. My husband does the dishes. I couldn't imagine him helping me with the compost. He is a bit OCD and hates to get his hands dirty. I could just imagine a compost pile with all that decomposing stuff and bugs. Occasionally I will ask his help with something in the garden. But very very rarely. I like to garden and for the most part I like doing it myself. Though admittedly sometimes I like the chores more than other times. Gardening and dirt are not his thing. He was out with the rest of the condo during our workday though. Digging in the dirt and placing cobblestones.

  5. I have a similar (but messier) set up with 3 pallet compost bays on my allotment. I normally have one 'active' heap and grow squash in the other two (one plant per bay). This year only one survived as the other got eaten by slugs n snails when small. I even planted another one out after too but that got eaten as well! The one sqush that survived had done well though and is now taking up a big area around the bins. There's a path I can't walk on now as it's covered by the plant but I'd rather have the squash than the path!