Compost pile emptied

Posted by on June 1, 2015

The compost pile was emptied yesterday as roughly 32 cu ft of black gold was spread out over nearly 600 sq ft of garden space.

At the moment, the compost pile will be rebuilt using a layer of straw on the bottom for drainage, then gobs of chicken and rabbit litter whenever I get to cleaning out under the rabbit cages and inside the floor of the chicken coops. In July, I will empty the brooder (a kiddie pool) after the last batch of meat birds go outside. In the fall, compost is filled with green plant waste from the garden and brown leaves and needles that fall from my trees and possibly the neighbors trees.

From that point, I turn the compost every other day for two weeks and it is ‘finished’. I rebuild the same pile in spring with another cage cleaning including poop and wood chips then adding comfrey and raw milk (Warning: do not put pasteurized milk in compost! That crap will rot and stench and kill your pile) to ‘ignite’ the pile before spreading it next year. No poop is added after mid March to allow for 200 days before harvest for the last of the poop to become completely safe.

Critters go from mid March until the beginning of June without a cage cleaning because of the deep litter method for chickens and because my chickens keep turning the rabbit poop and straw that falls out of the suspended rabbit cages. Chickens do this looking for insects or grains I throw under the rabbit cages to ‘pay’ the chickens for digging wherever I spread the grains. I have watched the chickens and they never eat the rabbit poop. Rabbit poop is extremely dry, compressed bits of grass so it does not get ‘on’ the chickens at all.

With excellent compost management such as the Berkeley method, temps in the pile reach 165F before cooking the bacteria working the pile. This temp kills all seeds, bacteria, and other nasty stuff in the compost. I still use the organic food standard of requiring 200 days between exiting the critter and harvesting the fruits (veggies) in case any ‘corner’ of the compost does not fully cook itself clean.

That covers ‘a year in the life’ of compost management around here. Today, the three pallets that border my compost pile sit empty, waiting to start the whole process again!

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