Tag Archives: compost

compost update

y’all may remember this post from some time ago – when i wrote about this “rat resistant compost” method.  there was some skepticism amongst readers.  rightly so, considering what i have seen rats do to a trash can, but i was willing to give it a try.  after eight months of adding my kitchen scarps to this pit composting system i dug them up, and this is what i found.  compost updatenot fully finished compost – but something that could be added to worm bins – or in my case my regular compost pile without fear that rats would be interested.  no rats gnawed though the bin, so i would call it a success. i’m still looking at methods that are much faster than this for helping out with initial composting in urban areas.  if you have any recommendations, let me know.


low cost rat resistant home composting

i teach composting and often get questions about keeping rats out of compost piles.  i’d had the good fortune of not having too many problems with rats in the past, and would often smugly answer that all one needed to do was to bury food waste deeply in the pile and you were ok.

in this last year the rats started finding our compost pile at the old house, and it turned into a rat buffet.  despite putting scrapes deep in the pile, despite not using any post consumer food waste, those rats would just bury though and rip it open.  coming home at night, when they were most active, i could see at least a half dozen, and i can only assume more were lurking about where i couldn’t see them.

i’m determined not to let the situation arise again in this house hold, but still feel the need to compost kitchen scrapes.  good friends recommended using trashcans sunk in the ground for a rat resistant kitchen scrap composting solution.

first thing that needed to be done was to dig a hole.

IMG_2342the soil in this photo makes it look like i’m dealing with better quality soil than i think we are.  while it’s not bad, this spot appears to have been a dumping spot for the household, and at least a good portion of the darkness in the soil is from old coal and other junk.  i pulled out all sorts of pottery etc.  i also was able to find the old slab of what i assume to be the garage.  i didn’t explore too far as to how big it is, but at some point i may find my self with a sledge breaking up concrete.

with the hole dug, i just needed a trash can.  holesdrilledi’d been toting this trash can around for years, it had mainly been used for sanitizing beer bottles for home brew.  since i haven’t been  brewing too much, the current needs out weighed the possible needs.  with a large drill bit and cordless drill, in a minute or two it was full of holes, to allow excess moisture out and microbes in.

barrelsetsunk into the ground, and then covered with a lid lidit doesn’t look too bad.  certainly less unsightly than a bunch of rats chowing down, and it costs a lot less than some of the those fancy compost machines that you can buy.  i plan to use this one mostly for food scrapes, throwing in some leaves and straw to absorb liquid and balance carbon  and perhaps some worms.  i’ll still use am open pile for other organic matter that’s not so tempting to the rats.  once this can is filled up, i’ll dig another hole and sink another trash can next to this one.

while i fill up the other can the first one can do it’s decomposing thing, and when both cans are filled up, i’m thinking can number one will be finished with the decomposition process and can be spread on the garden.


photos from around the farm june 2012

a little late, as i try to get these up in the first week of the month, but better late than never.  i actually took the photos in the first week. echinacea flowers

orange butterfly weed aka pleurisy root

flowers in front of the community garden



the grapes leafed out and the new salvaged cedar posts from reclaim detroit.

the greenhouse mostly empty

red raspberries

red currants

the hoop house

tomatoes, peppers and squash in the hoop house.

black raspberries

the compost pile, greatly diminished

potatoes hilled

potato flower



that is all.  what is happening at your garden or farm?

p.s. let us celebrate, this is my 400th post.

photos from the first week of march 2012

welcome new readers!  we have had several new subscribers.  hope you will make some comments – it adds to the fun.

we made it to march.  as mild a winter as its been, it’s still be a long one.  i’m still ready for spring, and march helps me to feel like it just might come.  maybe.  so lets proceed with this months batch of random photos.

do you ever get sick of these shots of the inside of the hoop house?  i don’t.  lots of little spouts coming up.

freshly transplanted kale in the hoop house.

a praying mantis egg case on one of the currant bushes.

a service berry bud swelling and about to open.

a pile of branches from the recent pruning of the currant bushes.

collard transplants in the greenhouse.

tomato transplants.


new prototype compost sifter.  more on it later.  maybe a short film of it in action.

overwintered leeks.

compost laid down on beds to be planted in peas in a few weeks.

looking down through all the piles of compost.

garlic sprouts popping through straw.

writing soundtrack = can – tago mago

photos from the first week of february

i’ve been crazy busy.  grants, work, class, board meetings, and strategic planning are kicking my butt.  Not much end in sight until march when hopefully things will chill out.

quick housekeeping

1. i was hoping that my last post of food justice would generate some discussion on people’s thoughts in regard to what food justice means to them.  it’s not too late to start the conversation.

2. for those that are not into the twitter thing – i’ve added a twitter feed to the side of the main page.  lots of the links to media that i used to post are now posted there – so you might want to keep and eye on that. or you can just sign up and follow on twitter.

ok now back to the post.  despite being so busy, i did have enough time to snap a few photos around the farm – if i had waited a day later to take them we would finally see a blanket of lovely white snow. in the hoop house we are still harvesting a little, but much of it has been ripped out and we are replanting.  still too cold to install irrigation, we are forced to water by hand. the first radish sprouts – only a week to sprout even in cold weatheronions under the hoopsspinach under the hoops – it’s ready to harvest, but part of my year round harvest strategy is to not harvest on this until we have pulled the last of the greens out of the hoop house.  it helps to fill that late winter early gapflipping and building compost piles in the warm weathertiny mushrooms in the compost.

writing soundtrack = slum village – fantastic vol. 2

photos from the first week in december

i’m falling more and more behind with updates! not that i haven’t been writing, but mostly that i’ve been working on other writing projects, more on that later. glad ma is helping take up the slack with soap posts.

we have really turned the corner into winter in the last few weeks, light snows falling most evenings this week.  We have a nice inch blanketing the ground right now, wet and stuck to trees and making everything look so lovely.  since it has become so cold, it means most of our work is moving indoors into the hoop house, where many of these photos were taken.

asparagus mulched for the winter and turning a lovely shade of yellow.the greenhouse, new floor installed and cleaned up.  i feel bad that i have to mess it up by growing in it. a pile of bee equipment ready to get cleaned up and stowed for the winter.compost pile in the hoop house, full of lots of fresh spent grain and worms.  we have been collecting lots of worms out of this pile for worm bins.  this is turning into very, very nice compost once it breaks down.  it gonna be so much fun to spread it out in a couple of months when we begin planting again. row cover over the crops in the hoop house.  we need to get cloths pins to hold this taunt, it should not sag like this.  spinachscallionshakurei turnips! so sweet!swiss chardsnow gathers on the side of the hoop house.mustard greens these are the same ones i took photos of last winter.  they just keep holding on.  row cover over onions and spinach.  still in need of plastic over them.compost piles!  we are just about out of room in our current area.  time to move to the spot by the hoop house!

photos from the first week of november

i had big plans to get this out a couple of weeks ago before i took off  for the west coast, but it didn’t happen – so it’s happening now.  the west coast was great, and i’m currently jet lagged and bleary eyed from the overnight flight, but very glad to be back in detroit.

so even if they are late, here are this month’s addition of photos.

the late fall bounty at the market table.fall color on the service berriesthe recently flipped compost pile.  new compost piles! so neat!burdock seeds – getting stuck to all my clothes.onions ready for the winter.leaves down on the beds for winter.greens growing in the hoop house. sifted compost stowed in the hoop house for the winter.the last of the tomatoes in the hoop house.asparagus fronds turning yellow for fall.the greenhouse floor getting new fabric put down. bounty of winter squash

i hope to get west coast updates soon, but its gonna take awhile to sort though all the info and thoughts.