Ladies and gentlemen, we have compost!

If you are going to keep urban chickens, maintaining a good composting system is pretty important. We clean our coop out once a week by raking out the old straw and laying down new, fluffy straw. The old stuff needs to go somewhere and it is filled with fabulous manure. The city yard debris bin would be a terrible waste of some fantastic poo.

A good compost mixture typically consists of roughly four parts “browns”, in this case straw, to one part “greens”, which in our house means food scraps and chicken manure. We aren’t rocket scientists about it, but we turn it occasionally and ensure it has enough water. They recommend the pile feel like a rung out towel, in terms of moisture.

We had the black dome thing at our last house, which worked well and we had great hummus at the bottom. This time I wanted to experiment with an open bin – something easy to turn occasionally with the pitch fork. To do this cheaply, I collected some shipping crates from nearby grocery/home improvement stores. I tied the ends together with wire to hold them in place.

This house had an old, open bin system that went awry. At some point weeds were dumped in there, where their seeds sprouted. It’s now an overgrown pile of prolific weedy plants and blackberries! Ack! You can see it to the left of the new bin. When it’s not 100 degrees outside, I’ll put on some thick gloves and empty those bins into the city yard debris bin.

The new compost bin is pretty simple system, but it works! We keep a large plastic bin with a tight fitting lid under the sink for our food scraps. It gets filled about once a week and then dumped into the pile with the used chicken straw. We stir it all around and wait for the worms and microorganisms to do their thing. This helps keep our garbage down to just one bag a week and keeps our yard debris bin freed up for the yucky stuff, like weeds.

Happy composting!

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