‘Digester’ laziest way to feed soil!

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January started with a bang! Lots of much wanted and needed rain absorbed by the cover cropped beds and mulched pathways. Plus an extension of the winter break with a teacher strike that brought everyone back to the garden with so much renewed enthusiasm that it made my new approach to teaching so much easier – Project Based Learning in the garden.

4,5,and 6 graders will be studying Soil (using Kiss the Ground curriculum) Compost, using their own observations, (and my interventions) and designing and mapping our new Nature Garden, (using their math skills and my design interventions)

Composting

This two fold project is about the processes of decomposition, and recycling of carbon. But also recycling school food waste into compost so as to reduce our carbon footprint and encourage regenerative gardening practices.

We have an ambitious list of 7 composting methods which we’ll describe as we go along. For starters the kids are familiar with the components of a simple compost pile, (compost recipe) who does the work, (micro and macro organisms) and what does it all end up becoming (soil).

1 part nitrogen (green material)

30 parts carbon (brown material)

F.B.I (microorganisms)

Water

Air

All our green material comes from school vegetable scraps and waste, and some green leafy schoolyard waste. Browns come from all the deciduous trees around the school, collected in a simple wire mesh holding bin, straw and mulch. We use donated coffee grounds and horse bedding as boosters to give our piles a jump start.

Our first method

A Digester. We made this semi underground food waste swallower using chicken wire mesh rolled into a 6″ wide open bottom cylinder, 2′ long, lined with thick card board and covered with a lid (to keep critters out). Buried three quarters of the way into Ms Gotos 5 grade vegetable bed it is fed with food scraps from their cooking class sessions, weighed food scraps from breakfast and lunch, and cafeteria fruit and vegetable discards. This invites the soil ecosystem to enjoy an underground meal and break it all down to nutrients for the soil which in turn feeds the vegetables growing in the same bed. The sun does its part in heating up the exposed half of the digester, and if its too wet in there we cover the scraps with some soil. When its full to the top we’ll fill another one in another section of the bed. When the scraps are decomposed we’ll move the digester to another bed or spot and plant right over the composted scraps now nutrient rich soil!

   

 

 

 

Tahereh Sheerazie

Tahereh likes to hike, bike, quilt, cook and most of all garden. She has been a garden ranger with EnrichLa since January 2015. She teaches middle school children, many of whom have special needs which has necessitated a slow, mindful approach to place based garden education. Improving soil, making compost, harvesting water, growing natives and ancient grains and journal writing, is what she enjoys doing most with the children.

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