Saturday, June 28, 2008

Compost is the Answer...

...or at least it's a gardener's very dear friend. Compost adds organic matter and nutrients to soil, helps build soil structure, and increases the amount of water the soil can hold by an order of magnitude.

Here is a shot of the two compost piles we have underway so far, with a stack of hay in the foreground. We layer kitchen scraps and some carbon sources (paper, wood chips, and whatever else we can scrounge) in the hay and let it rot to make compost. In time we will add a third pile. The walls for the piles are just some shipping pallets that the previous owners left us.

Like all startup operations, we are compost poor this first year. We should have some finished compost by the middle of August, so that will be a start. Next year we will be in much better shape.

Our source for the hay is the grass from the pasture (most of our land is open pasture). We cut it with the sickle bar attachment on the Grillo. (The tiller attachment is the green thing parked to the left.)

The sickle bar works pretty well, though grass does tend to bunch up around the axle. The blue PTO shield needs to be a bit wider in order to lay the grass more to the sides. If I run out of things to do I'll add some arms to the faring.

In addition to composting the hay, we also apply it directly on the garden as a mulch, as this image shows:

Mulch suppresses weeds and slows moisture loss while it slowly breaks down (rots). All good stuff. In really weedy areas we lay down a layer of cardboard first and then pile the grass on top of that.

No comments: