Problems with composting

A little background, I live in a housing coop and there is a number of us that share and contribute to a composting system. The other day I noticed that it was a little smelly so I decided to do something about it. Upon taking it apart I noticed the smell, the smell of a failed compost. I have some experience with failed compost, and this is the a good reason why you just can’t through veggie scraps into a bin and hope for the best.

Organic life needs carbon and nitrogen

The issue is carbon matter, or lack of it in this case. When a decaying pile of matter is too high in nitrogen, a bad smell arrises (ammonia). This is a clear indication that you need to add some carbon to your pile. The reason is because bacteria grows best when there is 25 times carbon then nitrogen, and when there is too much nitrogen, the pile will let you know by giving off an awful smell.

Add more carbon

Carbon must be added. Adding carbon will give the composting creating bacteria the right ratio of building blocks to do their work. Now the question arrives, what do you add.

Composting 101 has a handy chart of the CN ratio of commonly found materials that are perfect for the compost bin. Now we just have to add it at the right time to make sure that it works right.

Adding carbon every time you add kitchen waste

I really feel that the ideal solution is to have a bin of high carbon material beside the compost bin. Every time someone adds to the bin, sprinkle the high carbon material on top to cover the kitchen waste. I am hoping that this will keep the compost pile in check.

Icon from The Noun Project.

Our Favs in Portland

Portland is a fun place. Both Tanya and I love this place, and why not, it has all the stuff we love, cyclo-culture, amazing beer, foodie options, cool districts, chilled out just enough and just a little rough around the edges to make it interesting.

This isn’t an extensive list, we only had two days in Portland and one day was July 4th (everything was closed). These were our favorite activities.

  1. Rent bikes, if you have a little ones, go Dutch with Clever Cycles
  2. Get away from the heat in Forest Park
  3. Buy a baguette from Ken’s artisan bread and and fill it with goods from City Market
  4. Go to Hop Works Bike Bar
  5. Eat a Swedish breakfast at Broder, show up early to avoid a line
  6. Check out Alberta Street
  7. Eat ice cream from Salt and Straw
  8. Check out some of the many farmers markets
  9. Drink coffee in one of the cafes and think up skits for the next season of Portlandia

Other options?

Tanya and I are foodies and our travels usually have a food and drink spin, so if that isn’t your thing, download a copy of Travel Portland Magazine for many more options of what to see, do, and eat. 

Posted from Portland, Oregon, United States
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Forest through the mist

Trees…and fog, in Glacier National Park.

Posted from West Glacier, Montana, United States
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Snow?

While standing on a glacier, we came to the conclusion that we had the wrong footwear.

Posted from West Glacier, Montana, United States
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From the Summit Logan Pass

The summit of Logan pass is pretty spectacular. Wind swept trees try to survive the harsh conditions, rugged mountains form the background, with snow and trees filling in the rest, what a great view.

Posted from West Glacier, Montana, United States
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Green Pastures and Jagged mountains

The scenery along the cowboy trail.

Posted from Longview, Alberta, Canada
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The Cowboy Trail

The Cowboy Trail (hwy 22 & 6) was one of the last things we saw while we were in Alberta. It starts in Mayerthorpe and heads south to the USA border through Waterton National Park. This slower, scenic route is definitely worth the drive.  Bright green hills on the left and jagged mountains on the right, this is what I think when I think of Alberta scenery. This is also a great way to end the Alberta part of our holidays.

Alberta Beef

Both Tanya and I never really understood all the fuss with Alberta Beef, we thought that it was like most beef that is produced in North America. But this is no normal beef, and our drive down the cowboy trail was proof of this.

Upon the hundreds of thousands of acres that we saw while driving, we saw many cows eating grass (which is what they are supposed to eat). With the ability to roam free and walk about, this is the reason Alberta Beef tastes so good.

Why does this matter? Most of the beef that is produced in North America is produced in a feedlot. Fueled by corn and 24 hours of light, cows are jammed into a small building to produce what some call meat. Even though this meat is cheaper, I avoid this meat as I don’t agree with its practices.  

This trip has changed our view of Alberta Beef, and thanks to the cowboy trail, you can see real cowboys (really, we saw a bunch herding cattle) creating some tasty beef.

Posted from Stavely, Alberta, Canada
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