Posts Tagged ‘compost’

Easy Potting Soil Sterilization

January 20th, 2009

I usually don’t worry about sterilizing compost or home made potting soil. However, this year I’m starting most of my plants under lights in a rather cool grow room – a fairly substantial investment of effort and time – and I just don’t want to take any chances.

If I had planned ahead I would have done solar pasturization by putting saran wrap on the top of a picnic cooler full of compost.  Since I didn’t plan ahead I did this instead:

Grilled dirt anyone?  The oven bag makes it look kinda like a dirt haggis.

Grilled dirt anyone? The oven bag makes it look kinda like a dirt haggis.

An oven bag full of  my best screened compost cooked well done on the gas grill.  I added about a quart of water so that it would all steam evenly, and punched a small hole in the top to keep it from building pressure – took about 2 1/2 hours to reach 170 degrees Fahrenheit.  The probe thermometer lets you be more efficient by not opening the lid.  Needless to say plan on just letting it sit there for several hours to cool.

If you only cook the compost you should be able to make 2-3 times this volume of sterile homemade organic potting soil by the time you add the other ingredients.

The oven bag looks no worse for wear and tear, and I don’t see why you couldn’t reuse it again – for dirt of course.  Next time though maybe I’ll do better and use sunshine instead of fossil fuel, but in the middle of January this worked pretty well without cooking dirt in the kitchen.

Potting Soil From Compost

December 31st, 2008

Every year lately I make a big batch or two of potting soil – it saves quite a lot of money and it’s more convenient than working with a bunch of awkward leaky plastic bags.  Plus I know what goes into it.

This is the rig that I use to screen compost – it works very well and is built out of scrap lumber and a piece of 1/2″ by 1″ galvanized wire mesh left over from building some rabbit cages.

The last time I painted the garage roof I gave my retired commercial wheel barrow a nice thick coating with the last bit of roof paint to keep from having leftovers.  It’s ugly, but it keeps it from rusting.

A simple efficient compost screener

A simple efficient compost screener

Just work your compost around with a hoe and pull the big pieces off the back.  Toss them back  on to the compost pile when you finish. » Read more: Potting Soil From Compost

Easy Organic Compost

October 4th, 2007
  • Compost is the best way to improve your soil
  • If you use compost you probably won’t need to use fertilizer
  • Compost doesn’t harm beneficial organisms like earthworms (chemicals do)
  • If you have a yard, you are already doing most of the work to make compost
  • Compost is free, easy, and saves energy
  • You can start a compost pile any time you have material for it

» Read more: Easy Organic Compost