Christophe's Compost Corner: Got almonds?

Christophe's Compost Corner: Got almonds?

The worms are receiving an extra treat at this time of the year which helps to diversify the microbial biota in their casts and in their gut: almond paste left over from the juice that is sold in the Frog Hollow store at the Embarcadero. The paste is mixed with water and fermented in the sun for a couple of days and then spread in the worm beds. The paste is an excellent source of protein (nitrogen), sugars and micronutrients for the worms. As you can see, nothing goes to waste at Frog Hollow Farm.

The contents of  windrow  # S-39 (thermophilic compost pile) have finally been spread in the orchard. The windrow was composting for  about 2.2 months old and was analyzed for the biology (bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematodes). The biology analysis is mostly done by MLF Consulting and takes several days. It had a relatively high fungal to bacterial ratio which is ideal for the Frog Hollow orchard.

We will soon be setting-up worm beds that will produce vermicompost that is bacterial dominated (a fungal to bacterial ratio of about 0,5 to 0,75). This is being done to help Marlene with her vegetable crop project.  The starting materials for the worm beds will have to be monitored for “weed” seeds which are an issue with vegetable crops. There are three ways to deal with this problem. First, the biology has to be well monitored. Second, any material that potentially contains weed seeds can be removed. We could limit ourselves to fruit, coffee grounds (from the Frog Hollow store), cardboard, Frog Hollow Kitchen residues. Third, we could pre-compost some materials at a high temperature (160 F) for 24 hours before adding it to the worms. We will probably use all three approaches.

Farmer Al is receiving a lot of local landscaping material. This means that in the very near future the surface area of the Frog Hollow on-site operation may double or triple. As an aside, we produced somewhere between 10-20 tons of vermicompost this year. This number will become more precise in a couple of weeks

More on climate change and compost piles in the future.


Author: Christophe Kreis MLF Soil Consulting PhD, Molecular Biology/Developmental Biology, University of British Columbia, Canada. Christophe is co-founder of MLF Soil Consulting with his wife Monique. He started his career in basic medical research and after various positions in academia and industry Christophe slowly returned to his first passion Soil Ecology and Microbiology. It is his belief that human health is tied intimately to soil health through the production of healthy food. For this reason MLF Soil Consulting is committed to help farmers improve the management of their soil through composting, vermicomposting and biological analysis of microbial soil life.

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