Ponies and Compost

My only plan for the weekend was to take my daughter out for a pony ride. We discovered a place right before the end of the school year and went a handful of times but after moving into the house I don’t think we’ve gone at all. So, that was my one plan for Saturday, to go pony riding. But, friday evening I checked my email and discovered that there was a composting seminar by Nance Klehm happening on Saturday afternoon. That I couldn’t pass up! Especially since Nance is the one that emailed me about it! It couldn’t have been more perfect timing since I’ve really been trying to figure out my plan for composting here, at this house. I don’t have a composting bin and I’ve been trying to decide if I want to buy one or figure out the best approach for making one.

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Saturday morning Stella and I headed out to the stable in the burbs, luckily the burbs aren’t to far from us now! There’s a small woodsy area off from the stable where they offer $5 pony rides for young children. They ask the parents if they’d like to lead the pony around the trail and I always say yes!
They ponys are so cute and funny. One of the first times I did it one pony was very stubborn and wanted to stop to eat grass instead of walking the trail. He even tried to bite me when I tried to pull him away! In that situation I had to get one of the girls to finish the ride.

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Yesterday the riding was super smooth. The ponies were well behaved and I let Stella go around a couple of times. After the first round we took a break to go check out the riding lessons in the arena. There were about 5 riders practicing. The horses were so beautiful! I didn’t get any pictures of the lessons but afterwards we went through the stables to say hello to some horses and I snapped a bunch of pics there. We went back to the ponies for one last ride and then it was lunch time.

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Off to the composting lesson we went. It was at a beautiful community garden in Humboldt Park. They had a very lush garden and a beehive that made Stella a little nervous but she managed to make it through the 2 hour (plus) lesson, happily distracted by Nance’s sweet chihuahua.

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Nance began her lesson by explaining Meso and Thermo composting…ha, and I just thought compost was compost! Basically, Meso is the slow and easy way to compost. The temperature of the pile should be around 113 degrees but if you’re in a hurry for compost (composting emergency?) OR if you are trying to kill some nasty things like say pathogenic organisms and undesirable weed seeds then you might want to give thermo composting a go. Nance went on to explain the ideal carbon/nitrogen mixture for a good meso compost (30:1) and gave us lots of examples of what various plants offered in regards to those ratios.

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Basically, you need some good carbons (such as hay, cardboard or coffee chaff aka “browns”) to balance out the nitrogens (food waste aka “greens”. Make sure the food waste is covered well whenever you add it to the pile. You shouldn’t just throw your food waste on the pile and walk away. Make sure it gets covered! You want to make sure there are some good layers going on. Then, every once in a while mix it up. She made it seem pretty easy.

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There are still some things I need to figure out before I start my composting pile. The 2 big things are where should it go and where to get the carbons for starting? Sadly we just gave away all of our cardboard boxes from moving. Well, as someone said yesterday “If you are patient there are always opportunities for scavenging your materials.”

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Posted on: August 18th, 2013 by Gette

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