The topic of “homemade manure” is something I’ve written about quite a few times here on the blog (and elsewhere) over the years. I’ve grown to appreciate the concept even more in 2020, since it’s been even more important to be resourceful (especially early in the season).
I can’t even remember how long it’s been since I last had a source of farmyard manure, and our own supply of compostable kitchen scraps always become a precious commodity as the season progresses and my worm herds grow.
If you are new to “homemade manure” (HMM), the basic idea is that we are taking readily available (for the average homeowner) materials and creating a manure substitute that composting worms love.
Here is an equation that helps to explain:
“Food” + “Bedding” + “Living Material” + Moisture + Oxygen + Warmth + Time = Homemade Manure
If you want a habitat material, use mostly bedding, if you want something more nutritious, boost the amount of nitrogen-rich “foods” you are adding – it’s as simple as that!
Looking back at some of my earlier HMM “recipes” (I’ve included some links at end of this post), I shake my head a little over how much time/effort I sometimes put into making the stuff. One of my limited resources this (2020) season has been time, so it has become a lot more important to find ways to get things done as quickly as possible.
During the growing season up here, the most readily available nitrogen source comes in the form of green wastes from my yard. Grass clippings, comfrey, weeds all tend to be more abundant than kitchen scraps – so they become a very important worm food. (NOTE: they are a bit tricky to work with as-is, so I don’t recommend just adding them to a regular worm bin)
I have a good supply of paper wastes – eg scrap paper, paper bags, box cardboard, newsprint – so these tend to be my goto “bedding” materials. The only hassle is that they can take some time to prep (rip up etc).
For this HMM project one of the goals was to do as little work as possible!
I still have the “holey bin” from my “Vermi-Fertilization & Watering System“. I’ve been planning to set it up as an in-ground worm bin – and still likely will – but figured it could serve as an effective HMM “brewing” vessel in the meantime.
The set up process was ridiculously easy. I started with a thick layer of newsprint and paper in the bottom of the bin, and then literally just added alternating layers of green wastes and paper all the way up. Until I ran out of weeds anyway!
I then gave it a solid watering – although decided to move it over to my vermicomposting planter part way through so as to take advantage of the water draining out of the bottom.
If you are wondering about “living material” – the weeds had enough dirt/compost associated with them that I knew the mix wouldn’t really require any microbial assistance. So I kept things nice and simple.
Over time as everything rots the level of material in the bin will go down. So, I will likely continue to add my alternating layers for a period of time before just leaving it be. When I cut the lawn the other day I added some paper and then some clippings to top things up a bit more.
A bin like this is great to keep in the sun since the extra heat will help to accelerate the break down process (and there are no worms to be concerned about), but I suspect I will need to water it fairly regularly with all those air holes.
I will be sure to let everyone know how it turns out!
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