Magic Compost Pile

I have come to think of this little dirt pile as my “Magic Compost Pile”. It started life out about four years ago as what was purported to be, horse manure. The only thing it had in common with actual manure, was it had particles of straw no larger than one-quarter inch.

Over the years nothing grew in it, or on it. I was starting to wonder if I made a mistake bringing it home and planting two snowball bushes at its foot. This summer changed all that.

I collect vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and anything else compostable in the crock pot insert shown in the picture. It’s maybe a gallon in size. It was taking forever to fill it, before I went on the Whole 30 diet. Since then and changing a little to the paleo Diet, it is filled about once a week to week-in-a-half.

I have another ‘heavy duty’ compost pile that is slowly working its way through collected bags of leaves. Leaves are not unless they get a lot of help, quick compost material here in the southwest. I have lots of time, and am not in a hurry. I let it do its thing, though I add something every once in a while.

I did not want to go through the work of trying to dug through leaves and twigs to deposit my vegetable scraps, so I decided I could do worse than trying to turn the dead horse manure into something useful. That turned out to be an awesome idea. Every gallon of vegetable scraps, tea bags, etc, added over the summer was gone in a few weeks. All that I find are an occasional tea bag tag.

Some of the seeds from different fruits started to sprout, so I dug little gallon size holes around them. In late August, a yam plant poked itself through the compost pile. Some other seeds sprouted as well. Yet the majority of what went into this little pile was gone so quick, I thought an army of rodents were showing up at night and having a feast.

I started carefully smoothing the top layer, and would go out each day and look for digging, or tracks. There were none. The only thing unusual about the process I think is odd are the kitchen scraps. In the summer, by the time they make into the pile, they smell like vinegar, and have a green fungus going to town in the material. It also sort of plops into the hole as a fused piece.

I doubt this amazing compost speed will carry over the winter. As you can see the pile is only a few feet tall at best. It is against a west fence wall, so it does get light most of the day. With the summer temperature in the mid nineties, it probably heats up much more than it would on its own.

As I was adding another gallon of kitchen scraps today, I thought I talk about this mighty little compost pile while I think of spring just around the corner. I got the idea of using a crock pot insert from my post on pot composting. I haven’t used the pots last summer as everything I added to the pile was eaten so quickly, it almost seems like magic. If you look at the categories, I have links to other compost posts under gardening.