Leaves, worms, heaps

CREZIERES, France(Zone 8a)

I have been an enthusiastic composter for over 20 years and, though a fairly inept gardener, think that my composting practices are fairly robust.

For some time I wrestled with the problem of finding the most efficient way of integrating the production of vermicompost with that of ordinary garden compost and leaf mold.

MY problem was that I didn't want dozens of worm bins cluttering the place up and I wanted to allow the bacteriological heating process to kill weed seeds without killing my valuable worms.

My current solution is as follows: I operate a single moderately large (2ft x 2ft x 2ft) worm bin into which goes all of my organic kitchen waste except onion skins and citrus waste that the worms don't like. I live on my own so that means about 10-20 litres a week. If the worms are hyperactive I augment this with shredded and moistened newspaper.

Garden waste, including the grass clippings that can be extensive goes on the compost heap, together with surplus leaves from last year and sawdust from cutting up the logs with which I heat my house. Compost heaps are created on a monthly basis and turned into the adjacent site also on a monthly basis. At the second turning, when any danger of overheating is gone, I induce a feeding frenzy in the worm bin and take a couple of handfuls of worms and add them to the newly turned heap. After five turnings, I generally find that the compost is ready.

Every autumn/fall I collect 50 or so 50 litre bags of wet leaves from some overhangs in the country lanes. Halfway through this process (collecting the leaves) I empty the worm bin, harvest the vermicompost and divide the remaining contents in two. One half I spread across the surface of the rapidly expanding pile of leaves, the other half I divide again in two, and put one half in the large 'harvest' compost heap and return the other to the worm bin, which I have previously filled with the a bag of wet leaves.

This way the worm bin doesn't reach 'capacity', and my worms are able to assist in the production of compost from the rest of the stuff. And as the 'harvest' compost pile is largely brown waste, the pÓle doesn't heat up so much that it is a threat to the worms.

By early spring, the heaps, which I don't, generally, turn in the winter, are turned and, after another month of maturing, used to start another year of composting.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I try to save all the brown leaves from my yard and at this time am still working my way through the use of a few bags. Those that got shredded but stayed mostly dry, I just used on garden paths. Those that I allowed wet and tried to encourage some rot, I am using as my browns. Kitchen scraps , some weeds and trimmings, coffe grounds, are keeping my greens going. Warm wet weather , and its all cooking about the best I have ever seen.
I use one black plastic compostor right now. When I turn the whole thing, I pick it up and set is aside and turn into it. Bottom stuff that's looking pretty good, I fill a bucket or two and find some discreet place to put it in the beds. Even so, the bin seems to ''eat up'' leaves.

This message was edited Jul 15, 2013 8:08 AM

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I throw compostable stuff in and walk away!

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