A compost story shared by Peter Ash.
There’s no question that composting requires physical labor. Composting the manure of 15 horses in Frankfurt was intended to be done on a farm with a tractor to remediate soil that had previously been leased to a farmer using chemicals. The land transformation has instead taken place using a wheelbarrow and a couple of hard working hands, with a lot of creativity. The intention is to use the land for practicing permaculture and continue being used as a spiritual center offering workshops.
There’s a garden on the property, so the horse manure was first mixed with food and garden waste, with a new pile added every couple of days. The piles heated up quickly, needing to be turned every couple of days since their temperatures had reached 158 degrees. The highest temperature a pile can typically reach is 160 degrees without killing the good biology needed for healthy soil.
Physically turning the compost piles became too much work for one person, so an air tunnel was inserted underneath using bricks and wooden sticks, covered with straw. Once the new piles heated up, a rebar was used to poke holes along the top all the way down through the air tunnel to cool it back down. When it was time to heat the pile up again, the holes on the top were closed. This process allowed the compost to process while alleviating the need to physically turn the piles.
When the piles would no longer heat up, they were knocked down, watered and European Red worms were introduced to complete the composting process. They will remain cool and moist for a couple of months while the worms do the work to finish breaking down the pile into usable soil.
To learn more about composting and managing manure, sign up for Solana Center's next Manure Management workshop on June 22nd at Pathfinder Farm in San Marcos.
To contact Peter directly go to straightash.com.