I live in Michigan on a small farm with one horse and a donkey companion. I am an avid composter. I thought I would share a few tips with you.
1. My favorite tip starts in the kitchen. I found that a compost pail attracted fruit flies and could smell if left out. Instead, I started keeping a brown paper lunch sack in my freezer door. I add all my fruit veggie scraps to the bag and when it’s full I chuck the frozen bag right into my compost pile. No mess, no smells and no container to clean out. The paper bag will compost fine! To be extra green I often use an empty flour or sugar bag or a used paper lunch sack.
2. I create my compost bins using snow fence, t-posts and zip ties and cover it will a camouflaged tarp to control how much moisture gets in.
3. The secret to really nice compost is WORMS! I had a pile here for 2 years with almost no worms in it at all. Then I went to a friend’s farm who had a very old pile of manure out behind her barn that had never been disturbed. It was FULL of worms. I took a coffee can full of them home to transplant onto my pile early in the fall. By the next spring my pile was so full of worms I could hardly believe my eyes. If you live in a mild climate or like mine, if your pile is big enough, the worms will survive the winter. They do an amazing job of turning my manure pile into black gold.
4. Get a compost thermometer to monitor the temperature of the pile. It will give clues as to when to add more water or when it needs to be turned.
5. A healthy compost pile is a living pile. My compost pile is alive with wiggling worms and various insects and many times I flip back the tarp to see a snake enjoying the warmth of the compost pile. Once I even had a momma deer put her fawn on top of my pile on a chilly spring morning. I rolled my wheelbarrow down the hill to my pile and stopped in my tracks when I saw the doe lying at the base of the pile and her baby 3’ up on the top of the pile enjoying the warmth! They stayed there all morning – smart momma!
Composting is fun and easy. I have two piles that are about 6’x10’x4’ high and another pile of finished compost. I’ve never had to remove any manure from my farm and I make lots of great garden soil that I grow my veggies in and place around my trees and flower beds each year. My Polish grandmother always had a compost pile and my mom has one too. It’s a family tradition that I hope continues!
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