Sunday, October 12, 2008

Master Composter Class 2008

Even many non gardeners want to know more about disposing of food and yard waste responsibly. So each October the University of Illinois Agricultural Extension Service holds classes at the Chicago Highschool For Agricultural Sciences.

Last year I took the class as part of the continuing education requirement for being a Master Gardener Volunteer. This year I am helping out.

For some of the classmates composting is new and they have never tried to make compost or keep a worm bin. Others have composted for years but would like to become volunteers taking this knowledge to school children and urban residents through city programs. They share an enthusiasm that is inspiring.

Bill Shores leads the discussion about the science of composting and shows everyone how to use worm castings with coir to mix up a batch of potting soil.
5 parts compost and 4 parts coir (or peat) with one part perlite, then everyone plants a few seeds for winter greens.

The afternoon is dedicated to hands on compost making at the compost demonstration station, located on the campus of the Chicago Highschool for Agricultural Sciences

The types of bins are examined.

Tools and materials are gathered.

Some greens, rich in nitrogen. Fruit and vegetable prep scraps,coffee grounds, gleanings from the harvest cleanup.
with brown carbons stock piled for todays class. All must be clipped into small pieces,

then layered in the bins.

Water is added with each addition, making sure the browns are good and wet. Any excess will drain away through the wire sides. Easier to hose as you go than try to moisten the pile afterwards.

Finally most of the bins were full and looking good. The class did an excelllent job. Next week they can monitor progress before making their own worm bins.

Everyone pitched in to sift last seasons completed compost so that each classmate was able to take home a bucket full for their hard work.


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