Storing Carbon next to your Compost Bin
This year I purposefully set up a compost cage next to my compost bin and let me tell you, it’s a total game changer when it comes to collecting and storing nitrogen and carbon material for your compost bin.
Around our small suburban yard, I am able to hedge a few plants a month, I am mowing our 80sqm lawn once a week, we also have a veggie patch that requires weekly maintenance. So, you can imagine each week I am able to add 4-5 big armfuls of a diverse range of nitrogen and carbon material to my cage, and when left sit over a 2-to-3-week period this once leafy green and nitrogen rich material will dry out, become crunchy and turn into carbon. Amazing!
You can also add a wide range of material to the cage, which essentially follows the layering method for compost bins. The obvious choice of material to add are lawn clippings, hedge trimmings, and raked leaves. However, cages serve a great purpose of drying things out. As an example, over the winter a lot of Kale, Cauliflower and Broccoli is planted. Once the edible veggies are harvested, we are left with the stems/stalks, and this is what can be chopped up and chucked into your compost cage. Over time the stalks will dry out and when added to compost bins it goes through the process of breaking down to hummus. These vital nutrients will provide valuable micronutrients to your soil.
- Hedge Trimmings
- Raked leaves from driveway
- commercial carbon: shredded paper, cardboard
- Freshly harvested veggies leaves
- Veggies stalks from broccoli, cauliflower, kale, tomato plants, cucumber plants.
Aim for a set up where your compost cage can be directly next to your working compost bins. The close the proximity can promote a good practice of adding a couple of handfuls of carbon material when you are topping up your compost bin with fresh kitchen scraps. It makes it even easier when setting up new compost heaps; as previously mentioned in other articles that go through the finer steps of setting up compost bin, we strongly recommend alternating carbon and nitrogen layers which has been coined the layering method. This method stops nitrogen clumps from turning anerobic, and similarly stops carbon clumps from forming which can slow down the composting process.
One of the things that can be frustrating when dealing with carbon is how crumbly and messy it can all be when transferring it around the yard. The benefits of having a cage next to your compost bin allows you to scoop the leaves into your bin or in some cases using a pitchfork to add material to your compost bin. A few tips to keep in mind, let nitrogen materials like lawn clipping and hedge trimmings sit for about 2 weeks in the cage or until brown and crunchy before adding to your compost bin. Make sure the cage and in this case your compost bin is in direct sunlight and has great air flow around it.
What is key here is remembering that adding a variety of material to your cage is like superfood for your compost bin, the wider the range of materials the more micro and macro nutrients you are returning to your soil. Setting up a cage in close proximity to your compost bin allows you to easily access these composting natural resources.