There is always a good time to make biodynamic compost at One Gun Ranch. A new moon, a full moon, a baby being born, a special visitor on an educational, hands-on community morning. It's always a special happy time coming together under the guidance & wise eye of Jack McAndrew, Farmer Jack our Biodynamic Mentor.
The vital ingredient is biodynamic dairy cow manure which comes straight from our herd at the Ranch and secondly organic alfalfa which we grow.
The ratio of carbon to nitrogen must be twenty to one so we use one ton of cow manure to two bales of Alfalfa.
For the breakdown process to happen between the manure and the alfalfa a biodynamic herbal bacterial starter must be added, just like the starter in a loaf of bread.
First we put down a layer of manure and then an equal layer of alfalfa and manure- carbon and nitrogen, carbon and nitrogen - and so on. The moisture content is highly important the mix must retain the consistency of rung out wet cloth. When the pile is 6 ft high it is sprayed with the calming biodynamic herbal mixture of chamomile, oak bark, valerian, stinging nettle, yarrow and dandelion to call forth elements from the cosmos in to the compost pile.
The pile will then transform and become rich nutrient loaded black gold over nine months, reaching a temperature of over 130F. When the Supersoil is fully cooked it is 98.5 F (body temperature) and has a dark rich crumbly texture and a deep mineral aroma of forest floors.
The average household throws away around two pounds of organic waste each day – and if you’re eating a healthy diet, you might be throwing away even more. So, if you have a garden or backyard and would like to start growing some of your own food, you should think about starting your own compost pile to make the most of that waste and to start your own mini-closed-loop system within your household. You may not grow all the food you eat, but any foods leftover from your meal preparations can be put to work within your compost pile, and then back into the soil.
A compost pile needs to be outside, and you need room for a three-foot square structure to house it. Apart from that, it’s a pretty simple process.
What you will need:
1. Compost bin or tumbler for the garden
2. Bags of organic soil or compost
3. Pitchfork or shovel
4. Compost crock or pail to keep by the kitchen sink
While there are many types of compost bins and tumblers available to buy online and in garden stores, you can also build one quite easily using chicken wire, hardware cloth, and a simple wooden frame (a slatted box about three feet in every dimension is a good small starter bin). This is the best way to compost. Tuck the bin away at the bottom of the garden, out of view of the neighbors, and make sure to cover it with wire or a plastic tarp so as to avoid any problems with scavenging animals. To start your pile, line the bottom of your compost bin with a one-inch layer of soil or compost, then cover it with an inch of green or brown organic material, such as garden cuttings, mown grass, or raked leaves. You are ready to start adding your kitchen scraps.
Feed your compost pail
Keep your compost pail in the kitchen in a convenient place so that you can throw in any scraps or peelings that come from food preparation instead of throwing them in the trash or down the garbage disposal.
What goes in
A wide range of vegetable or fruit peelings and general scraps are appropriate for the compost pile.
Salad leaves that have wilted or have started to rot, bad fruit, limp carrots, moldy berries, eggshells, coffee grounds, tea leaves, dead flowers.
Bread, rice, and even pasta. To provide a good nitrogen balance, shredded paper, newspapers, and wood chips should also be added to the mix.
What does not go in
Do not add meat or dairy products to your compost.
Meat, fish, egg or poultry scraps (odor problems and pests)
Dairy products (odor problems and pests)
Fats, grease, lard or oils (odor problems and pests)
Coal or charcoal ash (contains substances harmful to plants)
Diseased or insect-ridden plants (diseases or insects might spread)
Periodically dump your compost pail into your pile, then cover the food scraps with a layer of soil and then a layer of garden cuttings and leaves again. Ask your neighbors if they have any food scraps or garden waste they would like to throw in, too. After several weeks, the scraps will begin to break down and you can give the pile a quick turn with a pitchfork or shovel in order to aerate it. You should continue to add to the pile and aerate it every couple of weeks. If you want to, and have some on hand, you can add organic manure into the mix to activate the composting process.
Adding hay is also a great way to aerate the pile if you are not going to be able to turn it manually for a while. Once your compost pile is established, you can just start mixing your scraps in. When the bin is full, leave it for another few months to allow the entire pile to fully decompose and turn into a rich, dark, crumbly homemade compost.
Use this biodynamic compost for everything from houseplants (just a handful in a potted houseplant will rejuvenate it) to your window boxes, raised beds, and kitchen garden for the most nutritious, delicious biodynamic produce.
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