January Topic – To Compost or Not to Compost
We’re planning on implementing a few of your ideas in our yard. We are definitely getting chickens, as I have wanted to do that for years. We want to compost, but we wanted to do a bit more research before pulling the trigger here. I like the idea of a barrel on a stand because it seems like it will be less accessible to roaches. Maybe I am kidding myself. 🙂 My husband would like to do a three-phase compost pile. He says the heat will keep the roaches off the piles. His concern is that he won’t have enough compost if we use a barrel. Would you share your experience with us?
Excellent set of questions. As I know that a lot of people have the same questions I will be posting this to my blog as well as responding to you.
Composting can be and usually is quite challenging as there is an art to it. First and foremost you need to consider the amount of bulk composting material that you have. This would include both the carbon parts (dried leaves and such), and the nitrogen parts (fresh grass clippings, and kitchen scraps). I have found that the most effective amount of compost materials ends up in a pile 4x4x4, which is a HUGE amount once you start piling it up. Most of the time at the Urban Farm I typically don’t have that kind of materials to compost.
Should you find that you do want to compost I always put the compost in the chicken yard so that the chickens eat any bugs that decide to take up residence in the pile.
So what does one do???
Well you said the magic words…chickens. The nice part about having chickens is that they will consume anything that you give them. Well almost everything – I have found that the citrus rinds that I have tossed out there they don’t touch. They are the most effective composters that I have found. My chickens get all my kitchen scraps, leaves and grass clippings which they readily consume AND convert into nitrogen rich fertilizer. I have even given them all the compost materials first, then raked it up for the compost pile. It makes for a HOT compost pile.
One of my favorite things to do is move the chickens in a portable cage called a chicken tractor. They come in any size that you can imagine building (I don’t know of any that are commercially available.) The concept is that you build a portable coop and move them from place to place in your landscape. The chickens then do all the work grazing on the bugs and weeds and tilling the soil and I get to be lazy.