18-Day Compost? Possible?
Quite possibly. I watched Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture Soils again the other night with Rachel.
In it, Geoff makes a few extraordinary claims about his compost.
He says it’s possible to make compost in 18 days, and if Geoff says it is… well… it is.
That said, 18-day compost isn’t a new idea; it’s what the Berkeley Method does, though you need a shredder of some sort (lawn mower, anyone?) to move the process along:
Following this idea, over at Deep Green Permaculture there’s a solid DIY post on 18-day composting which reports:
To illustrate the point, a friend with a small with only a courtyard (in a rental property) wanted to attempt hot composting, and I helped him out with the project. He gathered a wheelie bin full of fallen leaves from his local street, one wheelie bin full of weeds from his garden, purchased a small straw bale for the sake of it. I helped him collect a few garbage bags of cow manure from an urban farm. It took us under an hour to pile it all up in reasonably thin layers (under 5cm) of each ingredient to get a good mix.
It was his first attempt at hot composting, and in around 18 days, he had over 1 cubic metre of rich, dark, compost to use in his garden. You couldn’t distinguish any of the original ingredients in the final product either, and it had a very fine consistency. Best of all, it cost him next to nothing – the straw bale was just a $17 luxury, it would have worked just as well without it, and without it it would have cost absolutely nothing.
Just think that 1 cubic metre is 1,000 litres, and if you think how much you pay for a 30 litre bag of potting mix (over $10) here in Australia, you realise what value this entails.
Compost is valuable, and if you make more in a faster period of time it helps you get beds going. Right now we’re entering the rainy season and I want a lot of compost fast. Our beds are being dug and planted and having it available to feed the growing crops would be quite helpful.
I decided to try 18-day compost using what we have available on our homestead.
The first thing I needed to do was build another bin, as I already have a batch of compost going. It should be done in a few weeks, but I wanted to start NOW!
Here’s what I created:
See how fast you can build a compost bin when you just have junk laying around your yard? Redneck FTW!
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough material to get a solid start on this pile. I need to go cut some grass and gather some manure before I can make a good go of it. I’m not sure mango leaves are going to break down quick enough, though they do seem to rot a lot faster than cocoa leaves. They are the main “browns” I have, so they’ll just have to do. Even if turning regularly means I’ll get compost in a month instead of a few months, it’ll be great. I have made compost pretty quickly in the past by getting more air into the pile and rotating non-composted materials into the center, so we shall see. Maybe we’ll make 21-day compost. Or 19-day compost!
Stay tuned – I’ll be hunting biomass and will start this experiment soon. Our internet is out right now but I’ve tethered my phone’s connection via bluetooth to my Mac so I can keep posting until the line is back in service. It’s burning through my data plan like a drunk through cheap wine, but I haven’t run out yet.
Have a wonderful Lord’s Day and I’ll see you Monday.
* * *
Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
“You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.”
As for the saints who are on the earth,
“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”
Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.
O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.