Hello Everyone! As a familiar and thick humidity settles into the Ohio River Valley, I wanted to write a quick update of our progress in April, before Spring is too far behind us. This month we composted a 1,433 lbs, right on target with our normal collection. As I mentioned in my previous post, my current focus is on improving and scaling up the composting operation here at the house.
Last month, I built a in-vessel, hot composter out of an IBC tote to predigest the food waste. The food and wood shavings I put inside easily reached my target temperatures of over 120 °F. Plus it is automated and compact...maybe a little too compact. It turns out it only holds about a weeks worth of food scraps, and the food scraps have to sit in it for at least a month to pre-compost. Thus my next plan is to build a larger version that will fit at least a month's worth of food scraps..
My mom commented that I should have taken engineering courses in college, and I couldn't disagree. Lately, this job has involved a lot of design and construction (and redesigning and reconstructing). Thankfully, my dad has been helping to fill in the gaps and, like Mary Poppins, he always seems to have the right tool--which is "Practically perfect in every way."
In other news, my worm hotel at 12 Sisters Farm is finally open and active! Again, it is a different model than my other drop offs or pickups. Members drop the food off directly to the worms. I'm excited to see how it goes and what improvements can be made. If it works well for both members and site owners, it could be a great model for expanding compost services when I outgrow my backyard.
Fun Fact: It is generally agreed that Eisenia earthworms cannot survive temperatures over 95°F. For reference, hot compost piles reach temperatures of at least 130°F. In other words, if you plan on adding worms to your compost bin or pile, wait until it has cooled down.