Editor’s Note: Our last installment of “new to us” posts from the personal blogs of FSC Contributors is a lovely piece from Jillian. She writes an extremely reflective blog about family life on Everyday Life for Four Seasons. This post was originally published on January 16, 2010. On a related note, if anyone is moving their family into a new home this year check out Jillian’s latest post “How to Pack & Move With Children”- not to be missed!-Christina
I made some progress on building our new compost pile – finally, I got around to making the pile! I put it in the woods behind our house. So much snow has melted these past few days and a fluffy bed of leaves was exposed, so I dumped my buckets right on top. Then I covered the kitchen scraps with a sheet of newspaper and some more leaves. I did break one of the rules of winter composting – the scraps in my buckets weren’t cut into small pieces, but going forward, they will be. Come to think of it, I probably should have ripped up the newsprint too. Oh well, live and learn, right?
Remember how I talked about green layers and brown layers in the compost pile? All organic matter has a ratio of carbon to nitrogen (C:N) in its tissues. The ratio for kitchen scraps is 15:1. The ratio for dead leaves is 60:1. 30:1 is the ideal ratio for creating a compost pile that heats up well and generates enough microbial activity to turn the pile to rich compost in a shorter period of time. The compost pile is teeming with bacteria that break down the waste. The “food” that keeps them going comes in the form of carbon and nitrogen. Carbon provides energy and nitrogen helps them produce the protein they need to grow.
Material that is high in carbon is called “brown” and material high in nitrogen is called “green.” If the C:N ratio is too high, decomposition will slow down, and if it’s too low, the pile will begin to smell.
So there you have it, a mini-course on composting in your backyard. Stay tuned as I grow my pile and learn more about it.
While I was making the pile, I spotted a few sets of red fox tracks in the woods – I haven’t seen them in 10 days. The claw marks on the red fox print are pretty neat to see in the snow. Beautiful.