Compost Bin Snapshot - Early Fall 2021

These are the days for filling up our compost bins.  Each Fall, the leaves in our yard drop all of their annual leaves and I use the mower to mulch them up and pick A LOT of them up off the grass.  My process is actually a little nuanced in terms of mulching vs. bagging.  I use my Ego leaf blower to clean out the beds and push all the leaves to the middle of the yard on the grass.  From there, I use my mower - with the bag attached - set to the lowest level to begin to mulch-up and vacuum all the leaves.  

However, I don't immediately clear the mower bag once it is full.  If you've done this (like I do), you know when the bag is full because you start to see dust and little leaf parts flying around because there's no place for them to get ejected into the bag, so they kind of fly out the sides.  I'm doing that on purpose - so I leave a little bit of leaf litter (mulched up, mind you) behind on the lawn to feed the soil.

But, after doing that for a couple of passes, I end up clearing the bag.  Where do I dump those leaves that have been mulched up and collected by the mower in the bag?  Into our compost bins they go. 

The last time I peeked at my two-bin (plus a tumbler for finishing) setup was back in late August of this Summer when I documented how I used an alfalfa cube slurry to speed up the decomposition.  At that time, I had the bin on the right - my 'active bin' full up completely with material to the level of the top of the wire sides.  The storage bin - on the left - was (in August) completely empty.  

Also, early this Spring (May 2021), I showed the effect of Winter compaction on the bins with some photos.  I had both bins filled to the brim and the impact of snow (and gravity) pushed the pile down to about 3/4s full.  

With that knowledge (that the bins *will* compact over Winter), I have decided to overfill the active bin on the right and use as much of the bin on the left (storage) for my excess browns1 that I'll put to work next season. Below, you can see the current state of the bins.  On the left is my 'browns storage' bin that is about half-way full.  And, on the right, you can see my 'active' or 'working' bin that is mounded up about 24" taller than the frame in the center.  In the working bin, I used as much of the initial mowing (that includes grass clippings and leaf browns), while on the left, I put the secondary passes that included 95%+ browns. 

My plan - as noted in the footnote) is to use a lot of the excess browns/mulched leaves to insulate my Disneyland Roses on the south side of our house.  More on that process as I complete the task in the yard.  I've also been thinking about laying down some mulched leaves around some of my beds as a winter layer to help amend the soil.

For record-keeping purposes, a note about my 2021 to-do list:  #13 was to add a third bin. When I relocated my bins, my thinking was that I needed three bins:  storage, working/active and finishing.  But, based on how I've been moving through the material, this season I decided that I actually need TWO bins and one tumbler.  Bins for:  storage and active/working.  And the tumbler for finishing.  SO...I sort of *have* three bins, but one is a tumbler.  I'm planning on checking this one (#13) off my list as complete when I do my run-through at the end of the season this Fall.

1. [I use the word 'excess' for now because I'm going to utilize A LOT of these to insulate my Disneyland Roses in the coming days/weeks.]


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