Ken Peavey

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since Dec 21, 2009
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Recent posts by Ken Peavey

Thank You, John for all that you have done for us.  We are better people for having known you.  Your support, unswerving dedication, and passion for improving the world has been felt by people all over the world and in every walk of life.  You have woven a thread through the tapestry of our lives that has made us all stronger, each of us in our own way.  There is dignity to be found in knowing that your contribution will be carried forward by those many lives you have touched.  We see your name, read your words, and we know there is a kind heart behind the thoughts you have shared.  Godspeed.
Bedrock City is for sale for $2 Million

30 acres ✓
Paleo ✓
Well suited for desert permaculture ✓
Gift shop ✓
Restaurant ✓
RV park ✓
Convenience store ✓
Hollowed Out Volcano ✓

Flintstones Bedrock City in Arizona on Sale for $2 Million

9 years ago
For my opinion I refer to Ken's First Rule of Compost: It's your compost and you can do whatever you like with it.

Compost is a process. In nature, the process has a lot to do with succession: what happens next. In a hot heap the thermophiles are the king. When they have consumed their resources and populated themselves into unsustainable territory they die off. As the pile cools the mesophiles have the advantage and for a while, they rule the world. There are still thermophillic bacteria around, but the conditions which allow them to dominate are no longer in place. There are also anaerobic bacteria scratching out an existence. As conditions in the pile change, so does the dominant organism. There are countless species of microbes lurking in the shadows which will grow readily the moment they are able.

The primary reasons for hot composting: kill off weed seeds, kill off pathogens, and speed of decomposition. Besides heat, other factors can kill off weed seeds. Mold, mildew, and fungus can infect the seeds, destroying their viability. They can dry out. The can be eaten or damaged by bugs and worms. Pathogens have a hard time of it. While they thrive on the host plant, the conditions in the compost heap are usually far from ideal for their needs, reducing their population. Speed of decomposition is deceptive in a hot heap. Sure, there's lots of activity, but for the compost to finish, other successors need to do their part. Some of them can do their part in the garden beds just as well as in a heap.

9 years ago
Insects are going after the compost because it offers something they are looking for:
-a breeding environment

Regardless of the stage of decomposition, most of the material in that bin will offer a food source for some kind of insect. It may not be the orange peel the bugs eat, but the bacteria and decomposed material which offers a delicious meal. Insects have a limited digestive system. Organic matter that has broken down makes it possible for some insects to consume what they could not otherwise ingest.

Bugs need water same as everything else but they don't much. Standing water such as a birdbath does not offer a stable surface to land on whereas moist grass clippings provide purchase from which the bugs can slurp up the water they need. There is no getting away from moisture if you wish to compost.

The warmth is important when the seasons are changing. Bugs have a different way of seeing the world and can detect infrared (heat) as well as UV sources. Being a cold blooded creature, they'll be drawn to it. At this time of the year it's not a factor.

Bugs eat, mate, breed. That's what they do. A warm, moist, food rich compost bin is an ideal environment. As long as the bugs are hanging around eating and drinking, they'll find a hugger and set to work keeping their genes pool alive. For momma's precious little snowflakes, it's hard to beat a compost heap for egg laying. From the perspective of the compost maker, the bugs are good workers helping to decompose the material.

With all this in mind, the task is to make the compost less attractive to the bugs. Bugs have 2 primary methods of detecting your compost: light (including IR) and chemical. Those antennae are able to detect the odors emanating from the compost. Evaporating moisture will carry chemical signals through the air. Looking at your compost bin I see it is essentially an inverted trash can with solid sides. There is some ventilation on the bottom, but not enough to allow the material to dry out. This is by design as these small containers need to retain the moisture in order for the contents to decompose. If that same volume was a heap o the ground it would be able dry out completely, weather permitting.

That small volume won't heat up to such an extent as would a cubic yard heap. It's just not big enough for the thickness and depth of material to serve as insulation. We can eliminate visual cues as a reason for drawing the bugs. This leaves odor as the attraction.

The compost bin does not have to be a reeking cesspool. Light odors will be enough to draw in the bugs. Looking at the bin there are vents on the bottom and what appear to be vents on the top. What you have, in effect, is a chimney. You toss in new material, stir it up. This keeps it loose and allows air to flow. There will be some warmth which will create some airflow. In that air is moisture and chemical signals. It's a big neon sign for bugs. Those plastic bins retain much more moisture than an open heap. Those open heaps dry out on the outside. Once again, it's the thickness and depth of dry material that absorb that moisture before it passes out of the heap. The moisture will still move through eventually, but in the meantime it is a barrier preventing access to the moist material which the bugs need to eat, drink, and propagate.

Once you use the material in your garden or containers, you'll have the same effect: a dry surface acting as a barrier. The core of the planter will still be moist but the bugs won't be able to get to it in such numbers that they become a problem. I hope that answers your question.

There still exists the problem of the bugs in your bin. I suggest leaving the cover off to let it dry out some. You could also add some dry material to reduce the moisture level inside the bin.

9 years ago
Oh..if you get something IN your boot, it sure is handy to be able to pull that boot off right now instead of trying to undo a whole bunch of laces which are probably covered in something prickly.
9 years ago
It breaths, allowing some moisture out. Hard work and sweat will see any boot get moist by the end of the day. Synthetics take a long time to dry out. Leather flexes and will take on a shape according to the wear and use involved. Synthetics retain their shape and end up causing blisters. Break in the leather boots by wearing them for a couple hours per day while doing some light work, walking around.
Not all leather boots are created equally. Different cuts from the hide, different tanning methods, different stitching. Those cheap leather boots you can get at the big box store for 30 bucks won't hold up. Better brand names include Justin, Wolverine, Timberland. Do you go for a $30 boot that lasts maybe 6 months or a $200 boot that lasts a couple years? I've done it both ways. Those durable, high quality boots are expensive, but your feet will thank you. If conditions are kinda nasty and would ruin boots in short order, go with the disposables for those jobs.

Steel Toe
Physical work will have the wearer kicking and dropping things. It does not take much to break a toe and a broken toe is not worth seeing a doctor, getting a cast...get the steel toes ad save a whole lot of grief.

Steel Shank
This is a steel bar in the sole of the boot. It protects the bottom of the foot when stomping and walking on rough surfaces. Makes life easy when stomping a shovel into hard ground.

Wet feet in boots can be tolerated for a few hours. Wet feet in boots for many hours will cause distress and can take the worker off the job. A splash here and there is expected and you'll get wet feet from time to time. For that occasional splash, swap your wet socks for new socks. Keeping your feet dry for long work days demands the boots don't allow water to seep in. I've seen guys treat their boots. In an emergency, WD-40, motor oil, even bearing grease will offer protection, but some of these solutions will wreck the boots. Your boots should be waterproofed as part of the manufacturing process. As they get scuffed and scraped, they lose that waterproofing. Google this: Nikwax

Lace Ups vs Pullups
Pullups are easy on, easy off. After a while they can lose their snugness.
Lace ups can be tightened as needed but the laces can get caught on machinery, sticks, obstacles.
My preference is and shall always be pullups. I'm just too danm clumsy, and that's on a good day.

I hear Arizona is kind warm. no matter. Get the high top boots. They'll be warm but they reach above the ankle. There are low top boots out there, but if you are even a fraction as clumsy and awkward as me you'll save not one but many sprained ankles. If this is your daughter's first time in boots, she'll be awkward. Get the high tops.

Now let's talk about socks.
Heavy Duty or Industrial Strength durable socks, reinforced heel and toe. I get more holes in the toes than in the heel-moving my toes for leverage wears them through. When the heel wears out, they are finished. I like those with arch support. Some cotton in the blend makes them cozy. You'll spend 10 bucks on a decent pair of socks. Be sure to try on the boot while wearing the socks. These socks are bigger than normal crew socks and can make a pair of boots a little too snug. You might want 1/2 size larger to account for the socks. I can stand old ad beat up boots if I have my awesome socks. I tell you, I freakin LOVE my socks. I don't care about the boots. Awesome socks will make crappy boots bearable.
The socks need to be as high as the boot at least. Too short and the cuff of the boot will rub your leg.
Get extra socks so you can swap them if your feet get wet.
9 years ago
Smaller is better. The issue here is the ratio of surface area to volume. The higher the ratio, the faster the material will break down. Consider a log as the example. Cut the log in half, you have increased the surface area by exposing the newly split sides, but the volume is unchanged. Keep keep on splitting that log the size of the pieces keep getting smaller but with every split you are exposing more surface area. Wood chips are the same thing as a log that has been split a large number of times. It is on the surfaces that the microbes live and do their thing. More surface area allows more microbes. The microbes generate heat as they do their thing. More surface area will allow a larger population of microbes which in turn generate more heat, but conditions have to be right.

The microbes need a diverse diet. The woodchips offer carbon. Grass clippings offer nitrogen. A layer of wood chips on top of a layer of grass clippings has a narrow zone in the middle where the microbes have access to both N and C. I've seen lots of instruction saying to alternate layers in the heap as you build it. This is great advice to help you get the proportions of browns and green right, but these instructions stop short. Take the extra step of tossing the heap immediately. A layered heap will heat up in a few days, and will compost fine. A homogenous heap with a reasonable blend of greens and browns combined with adequate moisture throughout will heat up overnight.

Another key indicator of when to turn is temperature. When the heap begins to cool, it is because the thermophillic microbes have consumed all available food and are beginning to die off. Turning the heap brings unconsumed food to the microbes as well as much needed oxygen and moisture. Turning breaths new life into the heap and will allow higher temperatures to be sustained for a longer period. This will last until the food runs out. It is possible to keep a heap in the thermophillic phase indefinately by adding fresh foodstuffs. I've added bag after bag after bag of lawn clippings to an active hot heap. The clippings are consumed in less than a week. Bear in mind that it is possible to add too much green material. Spontaneous combustion has been documented. I have burned my hand by shoving my arm into a pile.

I've read studies that show the nitrogen loss in cow manure begins immediately. I recall one study that measured soil nitrogen: Plot A had the manure applied and tilled immediately. Plot B had the manure applied and tilled a week later. The N levels in the soil were HALF.
Gather the patties, but get them blended with browns and cover with several inches of material to absorb the ammonia as it volatilizes. Dry leaves are well suited for the task. Sir Albert Howard covered his Indore Method heaps with a few inches of soil.

Use weight as the metric. The carbon is not a free molecule, it is contained in cellulose, lignin and organic compounds within the cells. The N is in the form of ammonia and urea within cells. Most plant matter has similar density once it is shredded up, about 5 pounds per gallon. Water can make it seem a lot heavier by filling the spaces between the shredded pieces. As long as the browns are about as moist as the greens, you will be able to estimate equal weights well enough for the process to work. If you can come up with similar weight, all you need is the proportions. I find a pitchfork will let me gauge the long as my back hurts the same with each forkfull, I'm able to stay consistent.
50 pounds of greens to 100 pounds of browns. This does not have to be perfect. It barely needs to be close. In the ballpark, even way out in left field is good enough. The heap will let you know what it needs. Smelly: add browns. Cool: add greens. Dry: add water

The best way to learn how to compost is to go ahead and pile stuff up. Compost happens even when conditions are not ideal. There is a certain excitement and satisfaction found in building a hot pile, tearing into it and watching the steam rise! Over time, the excitement may cool off right along with the heap, however that satisfaction can develop into pride and accomplishment.

Talking with veteran composters I find a common pattern:
Early composting attempts see great attention to detail, turning the pile religiously, strictly following the directions
Experienced composters turn it less often, keep an eye on the moisture, but generally loosen up the standards and let things slide
Veteran composters pile stuff up and walk away. Nature takes care of the rest.
9 years ago