USF Garden Project

Compost Workshop Report (9/26/08)
November 6, 2008, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Activities

This week, Amy from Garden for the Environment came to talk to us about composting basics. She started by telling us some general facts about waste and composting; about 6-7 lbs of waster are produced by a person in one day. Also, it is best to model urban composting piles after the froest floor, which is full of layered organic matter. However, in the forest, it takes nearly 100 years to create a healyth 1 inch of soil. Then, Amy described the composting progress, which includes green matter, brown matter, moisture, air, and a minimum of 1 cubic yard of space. Green matter is high in nitrogen, while brown materials are crunchy and dried out. The best ratio for a compost pile is 3 parts brown to every 1 part green. As the compost pile matures, it gives off heat, the composting materials shrink, and begin to attract bacteria and other organisms. There are three different types of composting: passive, pit/trench, and active/hot composting. The first, passive composting, is basically putting anything and everything into a pile and waiting for it to rot. Pit, or trench, composting is achieved when a hole is dug in the ground, green and brown matter are put into the hole, and then covered with 8 inches to 1 foot of mud. The last type of composting, active composting, requires a specific temperature value to be reached in order to be successful. For three consecutive days, the pile must reach between 130 and 140 degrees. 


Amy then discussed the different materials that can and cannot be composted. Materials that can be composted include: eggshells, fruits, vegetables, rice, green and brown materials, manure from a non-meat eating creature,  non-glossy cardcoard, and fish. Meat, eggs, oil, dairy, bones, nonorganic matter, noxious weeds, and plants that have died from disease cannot be composted. Amy noted that during rainy months the compost can be covered with a lid. Also, compost piles should be comprised of alternating layers of brown and green materials, and the uppermost layer should be made of brown materials. Lastly, she informed us that red wigglers are the best worms for composting piles.

-Kathryn Jeanfreau


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