This garden is serious about diverting organic matter produced in the community away from the garbage and landfills and into our bins to create compost. But how does that measure in weight and volume? Today we spent a few hours with our 3-bin composting system in the back of the garden with a tape measure and calculated some of the results. Our composting bin is the same that many gardens construct, made of recycled wood pallets, which create 3 open spStep 1 compostaces for compost in different stages measuring approximately 4 foot square.

We didn’t use the incremental bucket & scale recording method suggested by the Five Borough Farm Kit, because we found it much easier to take bulk measurements during the compost turn and use cubic foot calculations available on the web for figuring out weight and volume.

So armed with shovels, pitchforks and a measuring tape (and some muscle) we spent a few hours in the back of the garden calculating how much organic waste has been diverted and how much compost has been created over the past 7 months.
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We are open Saturday – Sunday 12-5pm April – October.

Step oneEmpty the middle bin of cooked compost.

Surprise! On April 4th, half of this pile was still frozen! It was seriously difficult to hack away at this frozen blob. But through a lot of hard work, we managed to build this pile of finished compost.

 finished compost pileThe contents of this bin yielded a pile approximately sized 3ftx3ftx3ft or 1cubic yard of finished compost, using this site to calculate, seems like we produced at least 465 pounds of compost, but this site suggests one yard of finished compost is closer to 1000 pounds (the sore muscles of the volunteer compost turner concur).
According to this site, 1 cubic yard of compost can cover 325 feet 1 inch deep – which should cover most of all of our gardeners’ spring planting needs.

Step 2 calculate the present volume of organics collected

step 2 compost

The community trudged to the frozen garden, covered with snow and ice all through the many months of that freezing winter weather, to compost their organics. By spring we had amassed a huge pile.  We wanted to measure their efforts before turning into the now empty middle bin.

 This pile was overflowing the bin, so conservatively calculating at 4ftx4ftx4ft, or, using this calculator,  64 cubic feet of food waste/garden waste and leaves were diverted from the landfill into this bin. The actual amount is probably more, as this pile is smoking hot, full of red wriggler worms and has been breaking down for the past 7 months.

Step 3 – calculate fall leaves left in the leaf bin.

step 3 leavesThese were raked up by community members and donated to the garden over the fall months. They mainly came from the parkland surrounding the Morris-Jumel Mansion, but also came from neighbor’s front stoops, sidewalks and yards.

This pile is huge, the bin is constructed of 4 pallets, cattle fencing and orange netting that used to hold the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon of Thomas the Tank Engine. Its all held together with rope and bike tubes.
We need to come back to the garden to measure that volume. According to this site, dry leaves weigh 344.7lbs per cubic yard. This pile is perhaps 3 or 4 cubic yards?
We have applied for a SWAB Community Compost Grant to achieve even more organics diversion, stay tuned for more composting news from the garden!
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