The first day of Spring was March 20, 2019, just over three weeks ago. We would never know it by the severe weather taking place in the Eastern half of the Country. Looking at a weather map a gigantic storm is hovering above at least one dozen states and the nation’s capital. Several casualties have occurred, we pray there will be no more. Words of support, while an event the magnitude of this is taking place seem to be insufficient and out of place, but between the commencement of the storm and when reacting begins the words are important. They are important if for no other reason than to make us pause and become fully aware of what is tranforming into another human tragedy.
Governor Newsome of California made a statement yesterday that if anyone doughts climate change just come to California for a first-hand look, or something to that effect. That may be true, we could also look to Alaska, Greenland or Antartica for symptoms. In my opinion, if one wants to get a real look at it unfolding before our eyes just look to the East. The Eastern United States has been taking a beating for the past several years, it’s no secret they are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey, Maria, and Irma.
Being no more of a meteorologist than the next guy the closest I can compare the unpredictability of the weather is a vehicle careening wildly out of control down an ice-covered road downhill. As it twists and turns on it’s journey people are running in every direction to avoid being struck by the spinning one-ton projectile. That’s the weather, the climate is different.
Like a slow fuse to a smoldering mass filling a room with toxic smoke that is unnoticeable in the beginning. As the mass smolders the room warms, more toxic fumes gather. Opening the windows to air the place out the wind blows in fanning the toxic smolder on the floor, the smoldering mass needs to be extinguished before it gets any bigger. Unfortunately, nothing is being done on that large of a scale.
Each of us can do our own part to help in dealing with the climate changing, no matter which side of the fence a person is on. Reducing the amount of garbage we send to the landfill is one way to make a difference. We take in a lot of commodities during one month most of it is in the form of packaging, plastics, cardboard, paper, and packaging styrofoam. Some of it cannot be recycled or neutralized in a reasonable amount of time. Most of the remaining can be dealt with in a worthwhile and meaningful manner.
Cardboard, leaves, grass clippings, kitchen waste, and all organic materials may be composted. Piling the organic matter in a location that is out of the way it can be handled a few ways.
Cold composting is slow but takes little manual labor. A loose pile would work fine, however, a bin dedicated to composting is the preferred method. A bin may be homemade or purchased commercially and should be approx. 1 cubic yard, or one cubic meter. Three sides, no bottom, and a wire fence front to allow air is the basic construction. Cold Composting does not require turning the material over with a pitchfork, we merely pile it high and as it decomposes the level goes down. At that point, we may choose to add more material or allow the entire pile to compost, I’ve been piling it on mine for the past few years. This method takes a long time to achieve results, if left alone the original pile will decompose in about one year.
Hot composting is faster than the cold process, processed the same way in the exact same bin with the exception of adding air to the decomposing mass. The wire fencing on the front should be able to be opened in this bin. After opening it a pitchfork is used to turn the material over introducing air as deep into it as possible. The air will warm the compost 140-170 degrees, achieving total composting in about 4 weeks, much faster than the cold process. The hot temperature will also kill pathogens and many undesirable bacteria and insects. Once the initial stack is made no more material should be added to it because the process would never complete.
Both composting methods can have household waste added to them, the restrictions are cooking oils, lard, and bones. Any other organic material will work, egg shells, coffee grounds, and filters are just a few we may overlook. After adding the scraps they must be covered, in this case, they may be buried but when hot composting some of it will come to the top. A sign the pile is mixed well is when bits of kitchen waste are seen partially composted mixed in the upper layers. Newspaper, Cardboard, Paper Egg Cartons, and Printing paper may all be tossed in and buried beneath the leaves.
There is another method of composting, Vermiculture or worm farming, it has interest to people striving for zero waste. Much like Cold Composting, the bin is used to raise worms assisting in the decomposition process. The worm colonies can be housed in many different configurations of bins, the easiest and least expensive is to use two of the “Rubber Maid” type plastic tote bins. A bit of preparation and a nominal investment (well under $50.00) must be made. Used totes may work, five-gallon buckets, bathtubs, and almost any vessel that can be drilled through and closed on top.
Set-up takes less than an hour and should be done about a week before the worms are delivered, it’s best to buy 1,000 to start. A one-inch layer of compost on the bottom of the bin, lay a bit of food on top of it then cover with bedding. The bedding consist of leaves, cardboard, egg shells, shredded paper, and any organic material available, there is no need to buy bedding. After setting the bin up moisten the bedding then cover it with a piece of cardboard cut to fit at the top of the bedding line. Check it in two days to make sure the bedding is moist, if it isn’t sprinkle more water on it, then pick up a handful and squeeze, it two to three drops are emitted the moisture is right where it needs to be. When your worms arrive place them on top of the bedding and leave them alone for one 7 day week, they must acclimate.
After the week household waste may be added for food, they literally eat their way through their environment, they eat everything. The amount to add takes a learning curve, some farmers feed them every day others every two weeks. No two worm farmers tend to their colonies in the same manner, there is no set and dry method. However, after we adjust to them and they to us a pattern is developed that works out.
Worm Castings or manure are rich in nitrogen and are ready to use in the garden immediately, plants cannot be burned by adding too much. Vermiculture is the creation of organic fertilyzer, used in the garden in its direct state it may be added to the compost when planting. Worm Tea may also be made in a five gallon bucket, a paint strainer and an air pump. Duluted up to 10 times it is comparable to synthetic formulas on the market, eliminating the risks associated with them as well as the expense.
Composting may seem like a small effort to help with our climate challenges but it’s like words of support during an event meaning a lot more than we may realize. If each of us took it upon ourselves to commit to something that is environmentally helpful we can make huge progress. Like the proverb ” One person can carry one hundred pieces of wood and make many trips, or we can all carry one and make but a single effort each.”
Jacques Lebec natural Self Reliance