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pictures coming soon!

Thanks to Citizens Committee for New York for our Composting Grant. Here’s our calculations for the past year:

Our 3 bin pallet compost bin holds 4 square feet of compostables, 50% is food waste and 50% is garden waste and leaves. We turned these bins 5-6 times since April 2015. Our collection bin holds approximately  4 feet square or 64 cubic feet of materials – which has cooked down to much less, especially as the weather has warmed.  Therefore conservatively estimating 64 cubic feet of compostables, multiplied by  5 compost turns, our three bin compost system has therefore diverted 320 cubic feet or about 12 cubic yards of compostables.

According to this calculator  1 cubic yard of compost is 800 pounds.  12 cubic yards of compostables might weigh around half the weight of finished compost. We therefore diverted approximately 4,800 pounds of organics from the waste stream in our open compost collection bin. The volume of finished compost cooked down in our removal bin usually ends up being about half of that, so we produced 6 cubic yards of compost which also weighed approximately 4,800 pounds. This compost went to amending the soil of garden plots and tree pits around the community. We will soon have a compost give-away to empty out this bin in preparation for building our new bins.

We collected approximately 100 cubic feet or 3.7 cubic yards of fall leaves in our browns holding bin. Using this calculator for dry leaves, we estimate that we diverted 1271 pounds of leaves from the waste stream. These leaves will eventually be mixed with greens throughout the year.

 

Sunday October 18 12 -3pm [rain or shine]

Joseph Daniel Wilson Community Garden/Project Harmony
Across from 216 west 122nd street between Fredrick Douglass & Adam Clayton Powell Aves
A/C, D/B Subway  to 125th street 8th Avenue

In this workshop we will discuss challenges and advantages of composting through the fall and winter months. We will cover what is needed –including food waste, coffee grounds, fall leaves, water and air – to build a hot compost pile and discuss how to keep it active through the cold season. Attendees will receive information, handouts and instructions on composting and learn how to ‘cook’ enough finished compost for spring plantings.

Compost binsTogether we will turn and sift the piles in our newly-built concrete-block compost bin and examine what is interacting, living, decomposing in the bins and the composition of finished compost. In addition to discussing ways to keep the outdoor compost pile going through the cold, ice and snow we will also learn about incorporating indoor methods such as worm or vermi-composting and Bokashi food fermentation in the garden composting system.

While this is a hands-on workshop, attendees of all physical abilities and hands-off observers are welcome. Please dress appropriately for the weather and work if you intend to get your hands dirty. Bring your compostables!

This is part of a series of workshops supported by 2015 Composting Grants from Citizens Committee for New York City, the Manhattan Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB), and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Thanks to everyone for bringing your compostables (greens) to the garden and covering them with leaves (browns).. Thanks also to those with muscle that pitched in to turn the compost. And thanks to the air, and rainwater for supplying the other two ingredients for a successful compost pile.

We stuck a thermometer into the compost pile the middle ‘cooking’ bin. The contents of the collecting bin (measuring around 4-5 cubic feet of organics) were turned into this one just last week, on Thursday August 20th.

140We were very pleased to see that the thermometer registered around 138 degrees! Now that’s a hot community compost pile! A hot compost pile [above 130 degrees] will break down organics very quickly and kill any weed seeds, plant diseases or pathogens remaining in the compost.

We haven’t yet purchased a compost thermometer; we just dug into the pile and stuck in a 4-5 inch long cheapo ‘meat’ thermometer, which can be purchased from the grocery store, and often found in 99cents stores.

If you want to bring your compostables to the garden, we are open Sat-Sun 12-5 the bin is in the back of the garden. The Collection Bin is the left/east bin next to the leaf bin. Please cover your donations with leaves.

If you need compost, we should have some available soon, though you’ll have to sift your own.

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.
Want to bring your compostables to the garden? We love you! Bring them!
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!