Sunday, June 7, 2009

Final Answer

I have constructed my Final Answer to the composting question. The latest and greatest in compost bins has arrived in my back yard in the form of three used wood pallets ziptied together and lined with landscaping felt, then fitted with two 2x4s that form a groove in which to slide 2x12 boards that form a front wall for the bin.

The total cost for this project was $34--$11 for a bag of 100 zipties (already onhand), $15 for a roll of landscaping felt, and $8 for a mattock I bought at the Oceanside Swap Meet that morning (used for digging a relief in the ground into which to set the pallets more or less level). I got the pallets for free from a lady who has a farm/ranch nearby. After digging a "foundation" for the pallets, laying them in place and securing them together with the zipties, I dug out the rest of the ground inside of the bin to form level-ish surface that was flush with the bottom of the pallets. Then I dumped in the vegetable-only compost I had been keeping to attract worms (This pile was seated directly on the ground to allow worms to travel up into the material.) into the bin and followed that with enough grass clippings to form an 18-inch layer of vegetable material to act as a sponge/barrier to prevent liquid from leaching into the ground from my humanure compost pile. Then I dumped out the plastic bins in which I had been keeping my compost up until that point into the new bin and covered those with grass clippings. Along the way I had to use some of my "variable bulkhead technology" inserts a.k.a. my 2x12 boards. I'd have to say that this is the most attractive and easiest to use composting solution I have used yet. I might get a couple vining plants and plant them in the ground on the side of the bin to spruce it up a wee bit.

I must give credit where credit is due, and that's not to me. Many web pages contain instructions for building compost bins out of pallets. I just did the work.

Last night I went down the street and knocked on the door of the neighbors who have a huge front yard with waist-high grass. I asked the man who answered the door if he would mind if I cut his grass to use it as mulch in my garden. (I thought saying "compost" instead of mulch--especially "humanure compost"--would have made an already strange man on his doorstep seem even stranger, and while I'm really not worried about what people think about me, I am worried about not getting what I want, and I wanted his grass!) He said the lot in front of his house was actually owned by someone else, and he has been trying to contact the owner to ask him to cut the grass without success. After asking him whether he thought the owner would wand me to cut the grass , he said he didn't know. I thought...hey, what the heck. It's a fire hazard and this guy standing here in front of me doesn't like it. And it doesn't look like a wheat crop.'s better to ask forgiveness than permission, right?

The grass was so tall and thick I had to go over it once with the front of the lawn mower deck raised up in the air then again with all four wheels on the ground to cut it down a little lower. I had to empty the bag after every row. I cut for an hour and finished an area probably 50 feet by 50 feet. I filled up four bedsheets and one 35-gallon trash can. With all those grass clippings, I was able to lay a 16-inch layer in the bottom of my compost bin, then dump the two full 55-gallon bins in the new bin I built and cover those with grass clippings, then have a little pile left over.

So I have a good source of compost cover material for a while down the street from my house until there's no more grass or the owner finds out and asks me to stop (if he does) or I stop composting. There's also a big field next to an apartment complex close to my house that has very tall grass. So I'm set with compost cover material for a long time, I think.

I think it's interesting to note the lengths to which I am going to engage in homesteading activities. I would laugh at me if I weren't me.

Maddy and I decided to try on some new hats today. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. I like your compost bin--the hats . . . are a bit questionable . . . Actually as I scrolled down the page, I just saw your head and I thought it was bandaged up!