Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Composting pix

If I've been a little quiet for the last couple of days, it's because I've been neck-deep in compost. Or, more specifically, in writing about it. I had a very large article due with Backwoods Home Magazine on the subject, and I finally heaved it out the window toward those good folks last night (so technically I made my deadline, even if it was after they'd gone home for the day).

Anyway, my editor needs some photos to illustrate the article. I'm posting these so she can pick and choose whichever she prefers.

Photo 1 -- Our "helter-skelter" unscientific compost pile, consisting of barn and chicken coop waste.

Photo 2 -- Our "helter-skelter" compost pile -- newer materials on top, three-year-old compost at bottom. Happy chicken thrown in for free.

Photo 3 -- Another view of her "helter-skelter" compost pile.

Photo 12 -- Chickens love scratching in compost piles, which helps aerate the soil.

Photo 13 -- A wheelbarrow full of compost, destined for the garden.

Photo 14 -- Compost filling a tire, ready for planting.

Photo 16 -- Compost filling a large tractor tire.

Photo 17 -- Polly, our Jersey heifer, watches as I fill tires with compost.

Photo 4 -- The bucket which holds our kitchen waste, ready to empty.

Photo 5 -- I interviewed a friend who composts his kitchen scraps with worms. The composting system is stored indoors during the winter in an unused bathtub.

Photo 6 -- Top tray gets the fresh kitchen scraps.

Photo 7 -- Second tray has thousands of worms, eating their way through the garbage.

Photo 8 -- The worms will migrate upward, through the mesh of the tray above, when they're finished with the food in the lower trays.

Photo 9 -- Harvesting the "worm tea."

Photo 10 -- A gallon of concentrated worm tea. This must be diluted before being used on plants.

Photo 11 -- Watering plants with diluted worm tea.


  1. Nice set up. :)
    How much tea to water?

  2. Curious to what the wire mesh underneath the tires is for?

    1. To keep out voles, which are numerous in our area. In retrospect I don't think the mesh was needed, and for future tires I probably won't bother with it.

      - Patrice

    2. We have lots of tunneling critters, too, and I didn't put mesh underneath my strawberry plants last year. I got ZERO strawberries even though I had a chicken-wire tent covering the top part. Grrrrr.

      I've been using concrete blocks for my raised bed gardening but buying more block is outta my price range since I left my job. (It's kind of a Catch 22 situation: I left my job to catch up on repairs around the place and to do more gardening, but since I left my job, I can't afford to do more repairs around the place and more gardening.) Did the tires work out well for you last year, and is there anything you would change? I would like to give them a try for raised beds on the cheap.

    3. The tire gardening was a vast improvement over planting directly in the ground. We still got decimated by deer, and overrun by weeds (outside the tires). We're taking steps to alleviate both those problems -- watch for future blog posts on the subject.

      - Patrice

    4. We have to have raised beds due to periodic flooding in the summer. If we don't fence ours in, the chickens, ducks, and/or sheep will eat up everything that the bugs didn't get.

  3. Patrice, alot off topic... but just went to Safe Castle. Noticed that they are selling Guy Fawkes "anonymous" masks? That is a very strange decision on their part. They have lost me as a customer. Just thought you should know.

  4. I write for Graze Magazine (we raise pigs, beef and dairy) and often make my deadline about 11:53 pm. Still, my editor keeps asking e for my articles so I neve learn my lesson. Best compost pic? The one with the black chicken.

  5. Forgot to say, thanks for another great article! I also like chicken pic. We just had 16 chicks delivered yesterday. Cute little buggers. Now that we will be raising chickens again we will put this advise to good use!

  6. WOW!...beautiful compost pile. I also love the ones with the chickens. I'm getting some chickens at the end of this month and so excited about having them and finally eating freshly laid, hormone and bleach-free eggs. Also changed my blog: http://aliciashomestead.blogspot.com/ I finally have a rain barrel and working on our compost pile every day. I don't know what it is to be bored or have nothing to do. Homesteading is fun, but lots of work. Life is too short not to homestead; is my motto. :)