Monday, July 19, 2010

Don’t Try This At Home

—no, wait, I’m not your mother! Do whatever you like. But this may present a slight hazard in some situations…

Some little while ago, I tried a reclaimed bit of peat-based potting mix as an absorbent material in the bottom of a mini bokashi bucket, yet another version of the no-drain model some folks seem to prefer. Worked very well with drier materials, though it was pretty easy to overwhelm and correcting moisture levels isn’t nearly as simple without a drain. But the bokashi it produced was a dense, spongy mass held together with thick mats of mycelia, and it broke down into a usable potting medium remarkably quickly, so I had to try it again. Full-sized bucket this time, with three inches of new coir in place of the soil-less mix I didn’t have. (The stuff that comes in bricks for worm bedding, not the long-fibered kind from which planter baskets are made.)

At first, I thought it was my imagination, but it wasn’t: the coir plus EM bokashi bran plus a pot’s fresh UCG started a thermophilic composting reaction in my kitchen bucket. That first heating passed, presumably through lack of oxygen, but it restarted with each new addition of food (and air). Without a recording thermometer, I can’t be certain, but I’d guess it never went above 160 and didn’t sustain that much heat for more than a couple of hours at a time. Not much visible breaking down, but signs of fermentation are present, so I guess the heat isn’t hurting anything. And it’s even a food-grade bucket this time, so I won’t worry too much about plastic off-gassing or melting. It’s not like I store my working buckets on top of oily rags or anything. Still…

After all the years I tried hot-composting in spaces too small for the ideal three-bin set-up, with barely enough success to keep me from giving up entirely, it’s a tad bit unnerving to have things heating where I don’t really want them to.

On the other hand, this might actually be an all-in-one indoor compost--with no draining, no bugs, no worms, no off-odors, and no need to empty anything until it’s done. What’s a little fire risk compared to that?

...she asks, suddenly hoping the landfolks aren’t reading this. -G-


[no image credit, because I've lost the link. Sigh. File says "international pictogram no flame-bucket]


Harvested that bucket a bit after posting this. Next time, if there is a next time, I'll have to add a thick coir layer at about the halfway point, since the material in the middle of this bucket was too wet and trending toward failure, though not quite there. But the stuff at the top was bokashi leaning toward self-composting, and the stuff at the bottom was compost with a slightly higher than normal pH. I layered it with dried leaves, giggling at the speed of heating, and then...well, this is me. I forgot to turn it! But Verne neared warp-speed in his haste to move in, and it's largely degraded past identifying contents already.

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