October 2014 

Newsletter Paragon

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept It... 

... is to spend five minutes (uninterrupted) visiting your manure pile. Instead of the daily "dump and run" routine, I am asking you to spend some quality time with your manure pile to see what it really looks like, up close. Is there manure leachate draining from the bottom of the pile? How does it smell? How are the flies? How do your neighbors and boarders like it? If you have a dumpster, how much is disposal costing you each month? Are you sending it off to fill up your local landfill instead of creating a beneficial product that you can use in your garden or on your pastures?


Does your  method of managing manure look anything like this?

 Photo1  Photo2
When it could look like this?

We are all so busy that we tolerate the pain instead of resolving the source of our discomfort. Take a minute right now to visit our website and submit a "Contact Us" form. We'd be happy to schedule a time to get together on the telephone to answer all of your questions about composting.

Our goal is to help you protect and conserve our land, air and water resources.

Is it Too Late This Year to Start Composting?

No, it's not too late at all. If you live in one of the southern states, this is the perfect time to construct your compost system and be up and running well before the heat of summer returns next year.

If you live in one of the mid-latitude or northern states, you can get started with an O2Compost Micro-Bin system, even if the temperatures outside are well below freezing. Because the Micro-Bins are portable, you can construct them in your shop or garage any time of the year. One O2Compost Micro-Bin kit will service up to three bins, making manure management a very easy chore.

The Micro-Bin is a perfect long-term solution for those with 1 to 4 horses. For those with more than 4 horses, it is an excellent way to get started to confirm that aerated composting works well in your situation. It will provide you a complete understanding of the aerated composting method and, in turn, help you start planning for next spring and summer to build a permanent system.

If you purchase an O2Compost Micro-Bin system and later decide to upgrade to a Benchmark or Cornerstone system, we will credit you your original investment toward your upgrade. There are no time limits on this offer - it is simply our policy.

Pssst - Men. It's also a perfect Christmas gift for the horse woman in your life. Santa

Peter's Rules of Composting - A 12-Part Series

Rule 6:  Composting Takes Time 

Invariably, when you first start to think about composting, your phone will ring and the person on the other end of the line will try to sell you a miracle device or a secret additive that will enable you to produce finished compost in "JUST 3 DAYS". They either don't know what they are talking about or they are lying to you outright - probably both. You have been forewarned. It happens time and time again.

The truth is that composting is a biologically mediated process, and it takes time.

If you simply pile manure and stall bedding in a large pile out behind the barn, it will ultimately break down but it will take at least a year because the pile is largely anaerobic (lacking oxygen). With an O2Compost system, the process is much faster, typically 30 to 60 days.

The initial stage of composting is referred to as the "active phase". This is largely a bacterial driven process whereby the readily available forms of carbon (simple sugars, carbohydrates and proteins) are consumed, resulting in the production of heat. The active phase typically takes 21 to 30 days and is generally characterized by a very rapid increase in pile temperatures followed by a gradual drop off.

We take advantage of these high temperatures to destroy pathogens, parasites and weed seeds in the mix. It is also during the active phase that the nutrients, primarily nitrogen, are converted over to a stable, slow-release form. By applying compost to your gardens or pasture, you are effectively opening up a nutrient bank account for the soil. The nitrogen in compost is released slowly over a period of years.

The active phase of composting transitions to what is called the "curing phase". Curing is predominantly a fungal driven process. It is not at all unusual to see mushrooms growing out of the pile and a white filamentous material "marbled" throughout the pile. This white material is called "actinomycetes" (pronounced: ak-tin-oh-my-seats); and it is ubiquitous in the natural environments. It is a cross between bacteria and fungi and it breaks down the more resilient forms of carbon in the mix (complex carbohydrates, hemi-cellulose, cellulose and the lignin component of woody materials). 

The curing phase takes anywhere from 30 to 60 days and it is during this stage where the majority of textural change will take place. However, curing can also take much longer than 60 days for compost with a high proportion of wood.

Nature's ultimate goal is to convert all organic materials to humus (pronounced: hu-muss), which is dark brown or black organic matter than is highly resistant to further decomposition. Producing humus from raw feedstocks can take many years.

Previous Rules:

Rule 1 - Start With the End in Mind  (April Newsletter)
Rule 2 - To Learn to Compost, One Must Compost  (June Newsletter)
Rule 3 - Every Question About Composting Has Only One Answer - "It Depends"  (July Newsletter)
Rule 4 - Oxygen is the Secret to Composting  (August Newsletter)
Rule 5 - Water is the Highway of Life  (September Newsletter

Frequently Asked Question

Vermi-Composting: In your July Newsletter, you included a short article on vermi-composting (composting with worms). My question is this, "How do you get the worms out of the compost when you're ready to harvest the castings?"

There are three basic ways to remove the worms from their castings. First, you can use the sunlight. Pile your worm castings (with worms) on a tarp in the sunshine and progressively remove the top layer of casting from the surface of the pile. The worms will move away from the sun light to the center of the pile. For a large pile, this could take a few hours, but it's very easy and free.



A second approach is to use a set of stacked trays that have a 1/4 to 1/2 inch mesh for the floor of each tray. The worms will travel upward to their food source and over time they will leave the lower trays to reside in the upper trays. in this case, you will not need to remove the worms, simply harvest the casting from the lower trays and return the empty trays to the top of the stack. You can construct a simple system with readily available materials, or you can find many versions on-line, as shown below. 

Bin1              Bin2


A third approach is to use a commercial scale flow-through worm bin:

With this approach, the pre-composted worm "food" is placed in layers on top of a large mesh screen (typically 2" by 4" metal grid). The worms are introduced to this layer and over a period of several months, the depth of the feed increases to the top of the bin. Slowly but surely, the worm population will increase dramatically.

Worm Bin

Right above the grid is a sharpened metal bar that rides horizontally in a track and is pulled from one end of the bin to the other using a winch.  As the bar proceeds, it cuts a 1/2-inch thick slice of castings from the bottom of the mix and the castings fall through the grid onto the floor where they are then collected and processed for market. There is also a winch located at the opposite end of the bin so that the bar can be pulled back to its original starting point.

A New Compost System Comes On-Line

  Hudson Newsletter2

OWNER:   Dan H. 

LOCATION:  Annapolis, Maryland

7 horses on sawdust bedding

The finished compost is spread onto the pastures.


Coming Events

October 26-29, 2014
AASHE Conference
 Portland, Oregon
Visit their website for more information.

December 10-11, 2014
Composting Workshop
St. John's University, New York City
Co-hosted with Compostwerks. 
More information will be provided in our November newsletter. 

January 20-23, 2015
USCC Conference
 Austin, Texas
Visit their website for more information.

Protecting Our Land, Air and Water Resources

Price-Moon Enterprises, Inc.
PO Box 1026
Snohomish, WA 98291

Phone:  360-568-8085
Email:   info@o2compost.com


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