Friday, June 15, 2012

Sunny Weather and uses for pallets

It looks like we're in for a hot week to come. Sunny, breezy and temps nearing the 30's. I'm going to give the garden a really good soaking today and this evening and after I've straightened out my house a little I will go and see about getting a couple more rows of peas and beans in the ground too.

My poor husband and sons are in for it this weekend...I've got quite a list of chores for them. Namely, getting the plastic top on my greenhouse, fencing my veggie plot to keep out the chickens, and taking the Pedersen's enormous grass clipping and compost pile and moving it beside the garden. The problem with the pile where it is now is that it's too huge to use. Maybe 5 feet high, 8 feet wide and 10 feet long. It's too big to mix so it's not composting properly. I'm going to take all the loose and partially decomposed materials and put them in a big wooden pallet series of bins so that it's easy to turn, keep moist, and use the finished compost in the garden. I'm also secretly hoping that near the bottom of this pile I'll find a few yards of compost I can use in the greenhouse. I may be getting a late start to the season but I intend to extend it as much as possible so getting the greenhouse up and running is a priority.

Here are some easy plans for making a pallet compost bin. It shows one with a door though we usually have a series of 3 bins side by side with open fronts. I also recommend using chicken wire inside if you have extra. It lets in air and keeps the particles together a bit better. we've always left the bottoms open to the ground but you can use a plastic sloped bottom to collect the compost tea if you want to. Frankly, I've never bothered. We do try to layer things brown-green-brown etc but find that it all composts eventually. We load up the first bin until it's 3/4 full or getting pretty tall, then we fork it over into the next bin. The forking aerates everything and mixes it up a bit. You may find it's pretty hot stuff and that's a good sign. We water it occasionally to keep it moist and I appreciate anyone who pees on it for me. It's tricky for a girl...so thanks to all the guys who help add nitrogen and water to my pile :) After about 3 weeks we fork it out again into the final bin. I screen out any large chucks and add then to the first bin and leave the almost completed compost to sit for another week or two. Temperature and time of year affect the speed of decomposition so this process takes a lot longer in the fall. By having this constant rotation it means we have 3 bins. The first of fresh trimmings and grass, the second of actively composting compost all nicely mixed together and starting to shrink in volume, and the final bin of nearly completed compost. The final bin has a smaller volume of compost than the first bin so you can in fact leave several batches in there at once to wait until you're ready to use them. There you go, another use for pallets. They're good for more than just stacking your firewood pile on :) While it may not win any beauty contests, it's useful and a good way to recycle pallets. Of course you could use lumber and build a beautiful one too :)

My friend Jennie is likely having her baby today so I'm trying to get all my stuff done here at the house and garden early in case I am called away. So far the day is zipping by too quickly. I apologize for making this such a short entry but will write more tomorrow. It's hard to write about gardening and raising livestock when you're busy doing it :)

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