HOT compost system – now what?

Let’s resume  this cliff hanger from the previous post

TA-DA!
Words can’t begin to praise Kurt and Nils for how skillfully and amicably they work together. Their creation is so beautiful I don’t want to get it dirty!

Soak the earth-floor of each bin.

Finished compost left in the old hot compost system was spread on the bottom of each section and soaked to create moist conditions for composting critters.

Sort garden waste into green and brown piles, max. 1/4″ diameter & 18″ long.

Let greens dry before adding to compost because there’s enough green from kitchen scraps to make a 2:1 ratio of green to brown.


Add a layer of reedy stems – breathing tubes – if you have them.

Layer dry – brown – leaves & stems

Collect vegetarian food scraps

Add food scraps & spread them out.

Cover with another brown layer, rinse out the food bucket & add water around the pile.

If you made a mess when you added garden waste, please sweep it.

Now you have composting bragging rights.  When we left off composting last year, we were processing at least 2000 lbs – 1 ton – of food scraps per year.   We have more people living here now, so I bet our numbers increase.

Hot Compost System

On one of summer’s hottest days, several of us die-hard composters made a pilgramage to Cottonwood Urban Farm , one of LA Compost’s regional compost hubs.  On our arrival, Elliot Kuhn pulled himself away from unloading and deploying a truckload of food scraps to give us a tour of the composting systems.  Several volunteers continued his work while he explained the features of their system that made it possible to safely compost in an urban setting.

I came away with compost-system-envy and hope that we could resume composting after last years rat invasion forced us to put all our food scraps into the city’s green bins.  As luck would have it,  eco-villager Kyla  suggested that we build a system based on the model that LA Compost built at her urban work site.  A group of us met to assess the plans she had, select a site and ask community for approval.

Our enthusiastic plans were interrupted for a few months by the  COVID19 outbreak that forced projects onto back-burners while we established protocols to safely shelter at home.

Eco-villager Kurt, and Kyla’s friend, Nils – who was temporarily off work – committed to the COVID social distance/ mask wearing protocols while building the system.  Nils launched the action with a comprehensive materials list.

component parts

Assemble the frame

Challenges as they assemble frame.  In addition to wearing mask & working 6 feet apart for COVID precautions, they are being attacked by the thorny bougainvillea, which I had trimmed to accommodate shorter people – like me.

Attach rat resistent hardware cloth to back, sides & bottom.

Move it to it’s new home site.

Add slats to facilitate turning and unloading compost.

TA-DA!
Words can’t begin to praise Kurt and Nils for how skillfully and amicably they work. Their creation is so beautiful I don’t want to get it dirty!

In the next post, you’ll see that the thought of sending more food scraps to an outside composting site is a strong motivator for me, and as Kyla says, the food will add a new patina to the wood!

results of garden work party 12/15/ 18

participants: kurt, sam, irma carol

applied tanglefoot to all fruit trees: the initial application several months ago has worn off or attracted so much dirt it needed to be re-applied.  We’ve observed much smaller aphid infestations since the initial application has reduced the  ability of ants to protect the aphids & increased the possibility for natural aphid predators (ladybugs) to control the aphids with out being bitten by ants.

cleaned out greywater outlets for 105 & 106 and discovered that 104 has been disconnected.  Most of the outlets were buries & required considerable excavation to find the.

there is a proposal to make higher covers for the outlets to they are a few inches above ground level for outlets that are not in pathways.

scheduled garden work parties are 3rd sat. of each month with spontaneous acts of gardening in between.

meetings happen when there’s something needs discussion.

Escape of the Banana Plants

We thinned out so many fully grown banana plants that I thought they would overwhelm our compost systems.  Reluctantly I gave the order,  Prepare them for the green bins!

Bagged banana plants

Fortunately, the green bins were full,  so every time I passed the bags of plants, I sensed their plea: Don’t sent us away. We’ll help the compost. We’re full of water.

Water leaked from banana plants through the hole in the wheelbarrow until I positioned it over the compost. 

And so they changed my mind.  I’m chopping them up and adding them to the bottom 2 layers of both the in-ground-lasagna-style compost and the hot compost.  

Garden & Harvest party May, ’17

Adriana & Samantha train grape vine to arch over walkway.

Yolanda & Shaila tame shrubs along walkway.

We harvested garlic, onion flowers, greens,  basil, squash pumpkin, potatoes – rather early for several of these . Pumpkin began growing in December!

Hilarious veggies!

Sam models the pumpkin

Shaila demonstrate its dental application

We’re so hungry that we

trust Samantha with a dull knife

Consensus, finally! We’re going to eat.

Gardening with rain!

Water thrifty plants get

Water thrifty plants get “high” on 2017’s lusty rainfall.

img0638a  YAY! After thinning out banana suckers and composting, two trees promise bananas.

img0641a img0643a   img0640aWe’re trellising some thorny plants along the fence to deter fence-climbing.

img0631a  Pedestrians from many cultures stop to ask about plants and talk about the gardens they have or used to have in their native countries.  Along the fence I like to plant crops – like these peas – plus herbs and flowers that they can harvest from the sidewalk.

 

In the courtyard

Newly mulched path will help to conserve moisture - make the effects of this rain last longer - and eventually break down to feed the soil.

Newly mulched path will help to conserve moisture – make the effects of this rain last longer – and eventually break down to feed the soil.

Draught tolerant plants added to “small fruit” garden.   Experimenting with clover as a  living mulch

Jujube

Jujube

prickly pear

prickly pear

img0607a img0608a    Goji berries & weeping mulberry and their new signs.

img0616a img0618a Parsley and lettuce are easily accessible for community to harvest.

img0610a img0609a  Yolanda has planted papayas next to greywater outlets.

Lower level

potatoes & fava beans planted around olla to slowly water plants during dry season.

potatoes & fava beans planted around olla to slowly water plants during dry season.

img0620a img0629a Papaya, banana and new grape vine against south facing wall will also help shade this apartment.

Garden Group Meeting and Work party, Aug 20

attending : shaila, sarah, samantha, carrie, dani, yolanda, bambi, jocelyn, lara, carol jessica, ely; cameo: bruce

succulent garden : samantha researched plants that might be suitable for the dry area next to loquat tree in front and possibly in the bulb-out raised bed. Contestants were: yucca, ornamental grass, indian mallow. we choose mallow which is perennial, blooms year round and has orange flowers. as a member of mallow family, may also be medicinal. samantha will check for sources.

clean chicken coop & prune adjacent lamb’s quarters & lemon verbena bambi & jocelyn overcame anxiety about not knowing what to do by expertly hauling bedding from chicken coop to compost and pruning around the coop entry path.

transplant goji berry from sandbox dani and yolanda located a good site for the goji berry & dug & prepared a hole for it’s new digs. Unfortunately, the goji berry had been cut down, but it’s roots were still in the sandbox, so they have been re-located to the bed with banana & papaya trees fed by greywater.

prune apple, pomegranate trees & wooly aphids shaila, sarah & carol pruned & carol and yolanda continued on sunday. Jessica researched the wooly white growths on the trees & diagnosed “wooly aphids”.
carol’s wooly aphids control plan spray with 1 TBSP dish soap dissolved in hot water. [1]

Pruning-at-large lara pruned plants surrounding entry to her apartment. Carrie pruned where needed.

After party sweet & juicy pomegranates from our pruning, and cold, sweet watermelon brought by bambi were our rewards while we chatted in the courtyard after working. Many of us went from there to sea dragon for supper & more lively conversations.

Next garden group planned for Sept. 17

Yay Rain!

I know there’s 5 more days until the new moon, but it’s really raining today, so i plugged some sweet peas & austrian field peas in the ground.  (probably should NOT have soaked them overnight, but when rain is predicted here, the drops can usually be counted, so i hope pre-soaking wasn’t overkill for today’s conditions. )  Will keep you  posted in 2-4 weeks.

Meanwhile, Angelinos, enjoy the moisture. on your dry skin.

look what the garden gave me for supper Jan 1!

  • 2 lbs sweet potatoes
  • collardsIMG_5176
  • chayote
  • oregano

all from a plot that gets no direct sun between Nov to Feb!  I harvested about 15 lbs of sweet potatoes from 3 plants.  I’m amazed that they grow in the shade and seem to mature in cool temperatures.  They don’t seem to need much water.

IMG_5072Their flowers were blooming Oct – Dec.

Check out the personality of this 4 pounder!  You can see that gramma is happy about it too!
IMG_5107

no fossil fuels were harmed preparing this meal

chicken stuffed w/ lemon grass & yard long beeans, taro roots, rice pudding, zuccini bread in bana leaf wrap

chicken stuffed w/ lemon grass & yard long beeans, taro roots, rice pudding, zuccini bread in banana leaf wrapbaby zuccini "bread" yard long beansyard long beans

Clear skies from early morning inspired me to see how much food i could cook in the 2 sun-ovens today. 1. Heated 2 qts milk to make yogurt; 2. roasted 3 1/2 lb chicken stuffed with yard-long beans, oregano & lemon grass, resting on bed of lemon verbena & zucchini from garden ; 3. baked rice pudding (rice left-over from Chinese supper); 4. baked zucchini cornmeal “breads” wrapped in banana leaf from jimmy’s tree; 5. roasted taro roots. Between 9:30 – 4 pm.

 

 

 

 

zucchini batter: flour, cornmeal, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, zucchini, bp, bs, milk, ground flax seeds blended w/ water for egg sub.

Being ruthless

I was letting these plants grow under the courtyard fig tree.  They had interesting foliage & tiny daisy type flowers – until – the flowers turned into a burr that disperses it’s seed on a sharp barb – porcupine style.  Now I’m encouraging everyone to pull it out & dispose of it in the green bin.IMG_4614IMG_4615IMG_4617  Anyone know it’s name?

Lasagna compost is ready for planting

The magic begins here

Even though I do this several times a week, setting the conditions for kitchen waste to become fertile soil is still the most amazing transformation.

Jonas finishes this compost pit with a  layer of soil.

Jonas finishes this compost pit with a layer of soil.

We planted nightshades: tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos here last year, and it was cover-cropped with clover during the winter.  After another round of cover crops, how about some corn?  Will we get enough light? Not the best exposure, but let’s experiment

compost cover-cropped with flax & buckwheat

compost cover-cropped with flax & buckwheat

Now that I think about growing corn, i think i’ll toss in some lentils to boast the nitrogen in this cover-crop mix. I’m using “seeds” that we stock in the food lobby bulk room.

Visitors work in Ecovillage gardens

Visitors to the ecovillage are encouraged to help with our projects.

IMG_4506

ernesto (visitor) and irma (member) dug holes for potatoes in composted lower level site.  Potatoes will alternate with sunflowers for an interesting visual, and clover cover-crops will protect the ground while everything is growing.

IMG_4500

ellary planting fingerling potatoes (donated by george
IMG_4505

ernesto practiced hilling potatoes using un- composted straw from the hot compost bins. the large leaf pale green (fuzzy) plant is mullein.  It will send up a stalk with yellow flowers that bees love

IMG_4530

bulb out garden on Bimini.  revived by carol and irma last year; maintained by visitors: ellary, daniel, carla supervised by carol and watered by shaila.

 

Sunken garden construction courtyard, dec, 2014 – jan. 2015

This area of the courtyard gets scant sun from end of Nov., so what better time for garden construction? Motivated by recent draught and desire to conserve water, i’m experimenting with sinking the garden beds below the paths. i figure it’s like hair – if i don’t like the haircut, it’ll grow back in.

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02. one of the 18" holes at the "U" end of a bed that has just been "lasagna" composted for 12", keeping it 6" below the path, which is built up with some of excavated hard pan.

02. one of the 18″ holes at the “U” end of a bed that has just been “lasagna” composted for 12″, keeping it 6″ below the path, which is built up with some of excavated hard pan.

 

03.  1st layer of kitchen scraps on top of some reedy plant material - the breathing tubes.  within 8 weeks, i expect these kitchen scraps to be converted to composted so il.

03. 1st layer of kitchen scraps on top of some reedy plant material – the breathing tubes. within 8 weeks, i expect these kitchen scraps to be converted to composted so
il.

 

04. lasagna style composting kitchen scraps covered with water, soil & corrugated cardboard; repeat x 12".

04. lasagna style composting kitchen scraps covered with water, soil & corrugated cardboard; repeat x 12″.

 

05. ready for next layer of kitchen scraps & a "worm transplant" from another active compost site. note border of nasturium transplants along outside

05. ready for next layer of kitchen scraps & a “worm transplant” from another active compost site. note border of nasturium transplants along outside

 

06. newly composted bed (right) , raised path (left). most of beds are cover-cropped with clover when they're finished, but i decided to plant some of the bulk room fava beans adjacent to the transplanted volunteers.

06. newly composted bed (right) , raised path (left).
most of beds are cover-cropped with clover when they’re finished, but i decided to plant some of the bulk room fava beans adjacent to the transplanted volunteers.

 

07. volunteer favas, tomato & lettuce rescued from this construction site

07. volunteer favas, tomato & lettuce rescued from this construction site

 

08.  fingerling potatoe patch couldn't resist planting fingerling potatoes from george in one of the trenches.  composted soil will be used to hill them up until bed is 6" below path.

08. fingerling potatoe patch
couldn’t resist planting fingerling potatoes from george in one of the trenches. composted soil will be used to hill them up until bed is 6″ below path.

 

09. site for circular herb bed which will not be connected to drip irrigation.  Lavenders, sages & rosemary - low water needs plants are planned.

09. site for circular herb bed which will not be connected to drip irrigation. Lavenders, sages & rosemary – low water needs plants are planned.

 

10. Queen comfrey continues to provide leaves for comfrey fertilizer tea.

10. Queen comfrey continues to provide leaves for comfrey fertilizer tea.

Edy learns to bake with solar oven

We use the recipe for Apple Pan Dowdy from my ancient Fannie Farmer cookbook.

Edy does the math to double the recipe and makes the cottage pudding topping.

4258 - edy makes batter

4260 Edy adds topping to fruit

Apples, raspberries and concord grapes from our gardens are baked in the solar oven with cinnamon, nutmeg & ginger and placed in the bottom of the pan.

It took about 1 1/2 hours to bake.

It took about 1 1/2 hours to bake.

Edy carries his creation to the art studio opening

Edy carries his creation to the art studio opening

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 medium apples, peeled, if desired, and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

 

PREPARATION

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Arrange the sliced apples in a greased pie pan or 9-by-9-inch baking dish. cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar well. Add the egg, and beat until smooth. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, and add this to the butter-sugar-egg mix, alternating with the milk. Spoon this batter over the apple slices. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown. Cool slightly before cutting.