The Art of Resilience: Compost lasagna is delicious…

Compost, about to be sifted.
Compost, about to be sifted.

…if you’re one of the worms or billions of microbes that have been getting cozy in our compost system, that is. Over the past few weeks, we’ve gotten our system underway, and I wanted to give you an update. There was unsifted compost left over from the piles that sat untended next to our fence for a year, so we started by sifting all of the larger pieces out.

Compost, sifted and ready to go.
Compost, sifted and ready to go.

As you can see, the resulting compost looks great! It felt (like a moist sponge) and smelled (like fresh earth) great, too. We mixed some of it into a raised bed in the garden, and we’re saving the rest for when we start planting soon. (Saving compost is fine, but try to keep it a little damp if you can.) The larger pieces that we had sifted out went back into the first – now empty – compost bin, and built up a compost pile from scratch, using these guidelines. Weeks later, here’s the result:

Compost lasagna!
Compost lasagna!

It’s not exactly lasagna…but I thought Joy (one of our FLAT interns this semester) had come up with a good analogy. We alternated layers of food scraps with manure, straw, and pieces of compost material that didn’t get through the sifter, sprinkling with water to keep the whole pile slightly damp. It smelled, but like decomposition, not like rotting garbage.

Dave turning compost into the middle bin.
Dave turning compost into the middle bin.

And as Dave turned the lasagna into the middle bin to continue composting, we saw worms and some other awesome creepy crawlies that make for a healthy compost pile. Turning the compost helps to redistribute the microbes and worms crucial to decomposition, as well as mix in oxygen necessary to the process.

Freshly turned compost in the middle bin.
Freshly turned compost in the middle bin.

The middle bin is now full of mixed, partly decomposed compost materials. It’ll continue to decompose, and we’ll stir it every couple of weeks to mix the microbes up and infuse it with more oxygen. At the same time, we’ll be building a new lasagna pile in the empty bin. Once it’s full, we’ll turn the middle bin into the finishing bin to be sifted, and turn the lasagna into the middle bin…and the cycle continues.

Stop by our Earth Week Kick-Off BBQ this Friday to see our compost system in action! And until then, make it a resilient week.

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