Monday, July 22, 2013

Compost Wrap-Up

Andy: Megan was very proud of herself when I got home. She marched me right out to her pallet masterpiece, and the only thing I could think to say was… I think you are one pallet short; I will never learn. 

Missing a pallet me thinks!
She proceeded to sheepishly explain that the pilot bit had broken off, as if she had nothing to do with it. Sigh. After explaining, very condescendingly I might add, that a hardened HSS drill bit is not meant to incur lateral forces by inept newbies (Can’t help it, I’m an engineer), I told her it looked beautiful. She then informed me with a vague wave of her hand, that after dinner I would be adding finger quote “fronts”. After a delicious family dinner and adding the final pallet to the bin system I moved on to designing the removable fronts. 

Ready for fronts

I dug through my mind of past designs I have seen and cross referenced my material supply; yes I think like this in my head. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to use up some of the old 10" wide panel shiplap boards that separated the grain bunkers in the old grainery I was converting into my new shop. 

Shiplap style joint
The pallets are 40” wide/ tall when stood on end so I rounded up as many lengths of pine 1x that I use to trim everything in the house and set to work cutting everything to size. As a time saver I ripped a piece of the 1x material to 7/8” wide, which is 1/8” wider than the thickness of the shiplap I would be using for fronts. This extra 1/8" would allow the front to side up and down easily while still maintaining a fairly snug fit.

This isn't me... just "some dude" demonstrating ripping

I lined up the first 1x to the front of the pallet and secured it with 4 – 1 ¼” exterior deck screws. This is the point where the speedy spacer comes in that I ripped to 7/8”; just sandwich it between the first and second 1x and you have a perfect space for the front to slide in… no measuring and easier to hold. 

First 1x being attached
Spacer and second 1x

Three bays later and all the slots for the fronts are complete. Just slide in as many widths of shiplap fronts  you need from the top, per compost material height, and call it a day.  

"Fronts" slot

Megan: Viola!  Finished!  Cost:  $Free.99 plus the cost of a new drill bit (thanks to Megan’s reckless drilling).  Now we have this great compost system but actually no idea how to use it.  The University of Iowa said build a three bin system, so we did, but the pamphlet did not explain how to use it so off to the Internet!  Basically, the information online says you can use it multiple ways.  The way we are going to try first is moving the pile down the line each month.  It seems the best way to get the compost to decompose quickly is to turn it.  With the three bins, we can shovel the pile into the next bin and start filling up the first again.  Our plan is to move the piles on the first of each month… this is not some master plan, we just figure between the two of us, we can remember to move them on the 1st

There is a lot of information about what to put in the compost and how to layer.  Maybe someday we will get really neurotic about this, but right now we are kind of winging it.  We keep a Tupperware on our kitchen counter and throw food scrapes in it during the day- mostly vegetables and egg shells.  According to the books, you shouldn’t put meat or dairy into the compost since it can attract animals and overheat it. At the end of the day (or two days if we get really lazy), we take the food Tupperware and add it to the pile.  We also throw any garden and yard cuttings we have on the pile- no weeds that have already seeded, though!  Once a week, or so, we sprinkle a layer of dirt and we are planning on putting in layers of old cow manure that has turned into compose already (we have a huge pile in the back of this from previous owners)… like I said, we are not scientific about this… just winging it right now to see how it goes!  Now if we can only remember in the fall and spring to actually use our compost… more to come!

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