180° of fresh rot

for the past few weeks, i've been riding past the garden at 6th ave and 15th street
curiously peering through the iron fence, wondering how i can get inside.

pulling up to the dutch gate, i see a waterstained note in a plastic baggie telling me i should email for more information about composting.

my heart skips a beat.

i re-read.


and i know i've struck gold.

i scour the website, attend an overly political-woman run-socialist style meeting

find the compost queen and sign right up.

today d and i attended our orientation, paid our membership fee, and got to play with the steaming mush.

for those of you who don't know about compost, here's a few facts:

1. yes it smells
2. no, it's not made of poop, though you can add certain manures to it if you want
3. it needs some care and attention to become a useful material

here's how it works, in very basic terms:

there are 3 large boxes, or crates. your greens, meaning chopped up kitchen scraps consisting of fruit, vegetable, eggshells, non-greased up paper products, teabags and a ton of other stuff goes in box 1. you mix your greens with an equal amount of browns, which means natural hardwood sawdust, leaves, newpaper, cardboard, and let the sunlight, oxygen, and water do its natural thing. over a few weeks, you'll turn the box, and eventually dump it all into crate #2.

crate #2 has a vent in it. this is because compost that is properly breaking down gets really hot. apparently it can get to be about 180° in the summer. the steam needs to escape otherwise heat can build up, killing the microorganisms eating the decomposing foods, and it would seem a fire could start. this crate needs to be turned quite often to aerate it. this is the stinky box. lots of methane gas escaping as a byproduct of the carbon and nitrogen based browns and greens from crate 1.

crate 3 is the nearly finished to finished stuff. the stuff gardners love to put on their beds. the stuff houseplants love to have placed along the top of their soils. the stuff life is made of - or something. sometimes crate 3 isn't done, and you can tell by the amount of steam and the way it smells, but it can generally finish curing in barrels besides the crate. this is the stuff that needs sifting before it can be used.

so i'm pretty excited about the composting at the garden. since we've determined that my worms aren't the hungriest bunch of wigglers, i'm glad to have a place to bring my kitchen overflow. i'm up for turning next weekend. should be interesting. also a bonus is that d seems to really enjoy the garden. we're joined as a household and are psyched to get our keys next weekend.



dp said...

remember the night before, when we went out? why no blog about that?

Sarah said...

Oooh. Composting. I was just reading up on this-- I'm jealous you have community spot.