Saturday, May 09, 2015

Compost Awareness Week?

I never knew that there was such a thing, but there is.

Earlier in the week, I called about buying 2 cubic yards of compost and I was informed that because was "compost awareness week", their product was half price, $8.50 a yard. The problem was that the place selling it is 170 miles from home.

Why would I even consider going that far for composted yard waste? Well, there are several places around me and in neighboring communities that accept yard waste, but NONE of them do anything with the waste. They typically do not charge a drop off fee and the grass clippings, leaves, and tree trimmings are usually just left to rot in a hole in the ground. Nancy and I called several of the contact people listed for these sites, and none of the people we spoke to recommended using their "compost", and I use that term loosely, in a garden. Some of the people we spoke to said that the incoming waste often contained household garbage.... What a waste of a great resource!

In the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, it's a whole different world... Yard waste can't be tossed in the trash for curb side pick up. It has to be recycled, either curb side in a special bin or special large paper bags, or you have to haul it to a yard waste facility yourself. They charge you to drop off material, and they charge for the finished product. It's been that way for many years.

Years ago, when I lived in the suburbs, I made countless trips to the drop off site. When I had a small backyard garden, I made use of a lot of the finished compost. It's a fantastic soil amendment. I had some very productive tomato plants...


On Thursday, I had business to tend to down in the cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul MN) so I brought along my trailer. I stopped at the Empire Township Compost Facility. I wish I had brought my camera because the piles of product, in various stages of completion, were huge!

I had them dump a FULL skid loader bucket in the trailer and just as much in the truck bed. I would have loved to drive over the scale before and after because it was a big load. I ended up with 2 very generous cubic yards worth of black gold!. The load in the back of the truck was more than 16 inches deep.

The trailer was loaded about as heavy as I'd ever want it loaded. The springs are almost flat and there's not a whole lot of clearance between the tires and the underside of the fenders. I looked after I got home, but I could not see any evidence of the tires rubbing on the fenders. The ride home was smooth, it rode like my old Eldorado.

I did a little figuring as to how much that heavy load really cost me. If I accept that I had to make the trip anyways, and I can normally get a solid 20 MPG with my truck on the trip. The difference in added fuel use wasn't too bad. I gassed up on the way down and again just before I got home. I figured that I averaged 17.6 MPG pulling the trailer. I drove a total of 380 miles on that trip... so.... on a "normal" empty trip, I would have used 19 gallons of gas (380/20=19). The same trip with a loaded truck/trailer, at 17.6 MPG... 380/17.6=21.6 gallons... A 2.6 gallon difference @ 2.499, Thursday's fuel price, it cost me an extra $6.50 in fuel. Not bad for all the miles and extra weight. Even better is the half price product. $34 worth of compost for $17.

On Tuesday, I drove an hour or so away and picked up a truck and trailer load of what was supposed to be "well composted" cow manure. It was advertised on Craigslist as "odorless" and "finished", but in reality it still has an ammonia smell and a lot of the pine bedding is still visible. The contents of the compost should be unidentifiable. I spread only a small amount on the garden and made a large pile of manure near the garden. I'm going to cover it with a dark brown tarp and let it finish decomposing. It should be fine by fall. Also, there was a difference between what each person calls a "yard". This guy's yards seemed a bit light compared to the Empire Facility's...


The garden with half the compost spread on top and the manure pile behind it. I'll till this in and add what's still in the trailer...