Compost Sak-08-03-11

Just a quick Compost Sak update for everyone. The first “sak” I set up (as a composting system) has been doing very well! I’ve added quite a lot of food waste since getting started, and have been blown away by how quickly the waste materials are breaking down. Initially I was starting to think that it was going to be a much better warm/hot composting system than a vermicomposting system (since the contents were heating up quite a bit) – but when I finally did some serious digging down into the lower reaches of the bag yesterday, I couldn’t believe the swarms of small Red Worms I was finding! I can only imagine how well this system will work once temperatures cool off a bit and we get rain on a more regular basis. I really think this could turn out to be a killer worm bed!

The only “negative” so far is the overall look of the “sak” – well, the one I’m using for composting anyway (more on the other one in a minute). It’s not filled all the way so it droops over to one side and doesn’t exactly look as sleek and sharp as my regular backyard composters (which I’m sure plenty of non-composters would actually call “ugly”! haha). Luckily I’m a function over form kinda guy, so I’m very pleased so far!

As you can see in the picture above, I decided to use the other one basically as a giant “Smart Pot”. I’ve had a few tomato plants in small buckets this year – hoping I’d be able to come up with some more spacious digs eventually, so it was nice to be able to rescue this particular plant. I am especially excited about this one since it’s a heirloom variety – called “Great White”- that I’ve read is rather tasty. Yumm!
I really pulled out all the stops for this one when setting up the new “pot”. At the very bottom I put some cardboard and horse manure, then some potting soil, earthy sand, vermicompost and a small bag of organic fertilizer (which basically just looked like vermicompost). Next I put in three bags of composted sheep manure (store bought), some coffee grounds/filters (just for kicks and giggles), and topped up with a very thick layer of vermicompost.

Should be interesting to see how the plant responds. Hopefully I didn’t leave it in the small bucket for too long!

BTW – if you are wondering about the squash plant in the pot sitting next to my new tomato sak, that is actually one of the Crookneck Squash plants from my vermicompost experiment! Amazing what happens when you give them a bit more space to spread out. I suspect it will even get a fair bit bigger than that.

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    • John Duffy
    • August 4, 2011

    Who cares about “pretty” if it’s working well. (sorry ladies…”guy speak vs chick speak”)…No offense intended…We can “pretty it up” once we find out how well it works. It’s just a matter of how we are “gender hard-wired”
    In my world, “working well” trumps looking nice.
    But, then again if momma aint happy, aint nobody happy ( help me out here guys…)
    End result, the plants look happy & healthy…Run with it;)
    Thanks Bentley for more info to keep our vermi-minds headed in a positive direction

    • Bentley
    • August 5, 2011

    I hear ya John!
    I actually think the bag used to grow the tomato doesn’t look half bad as a container garden. It’s my other one that looks a bit more unsightly.
    But yeah, I’m with you – these things seem to work very well as worm beds AND grow beds so I’m going to run with it and have fun!

    • Andrew from Berkeley
    • August 8, 2011

    Bentley, how would you compare the material on these vs the Smart Pots? Thicker/thinner, stronger/weaker? I agree they look like great material for breathable worm bins, but since neither are critter (rodent) proof you’d want to be careful what you put in there. If I put anything smelling rotten in one, the neighborhood ‘coons would easily tear into those bags.

    The 100 gal. Smart Pot at 38″ wide x 20″ tall (short & wide) seems to be dimensionally more appropriate as growing containers than the tall & skinny Compost Sak. People who have access to food-grade burlap sacks (like for shipping coffee beans) can use those in a similar fashion. They’re also tall & skinny, so probably better for composting/vermicomposting than as container garden units.

    • Bentley
    • August 9, 2011

    Hi Andrew,
    I actually haven’t tried Smart Pots yet – hoping to start using them for tomatoes next season. I get the feeling the material is somewhat thinner for Smart Pots than for the Compost Sak, but I could be wrong.
    Not sure a Raccoon could rip open the sides of the Sak, but it could certainly climb in easily enough. I haven’t had any issues with larger pest animals yet myself, and have been adding all sorts of stuff. Have little doubt they could cause issues in other areas though.

    Yeah, I think wider and lower to the ground makes more sense for the pots, although even a Compost Sak width with 1/2 or 3/4 the height would be great.

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