ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JANET HAMOUS
If you don’t have space for a home compost pile or composting just isn’t your cup of tea, you can still take advantage of compost’s many benefits by picking up a few buckets of city-made compost from the community compost piles in Hillsboro and Marion.
“We have a compost site where folks can bring their grass clippings, etc.,” said Steven Garrett, Hillsboro city administrator. “We turn it. We have a ‘leave’ pile and a ‘take’ pile. We encourage folks to come and take what they can.”
Since the county transfer station does not accept yard waste, cities were left with the dilemma of how to handle the grass clippings, leaves and other yard wastes.
“We had to do something with it, so we have the compost pile,” Garrett said.
Marty Fredrickson, Marion street superintendent, oversees the composting project in Marion.
“They just dump it in a pile and every Friday we go out with a loader,” he said. “The loader stockpiles it in wind rows 4 feet high by 30 foot long, and every Friday they will completely turn that row over.
“We might have four to five rows at a time. That way, you’ve always got one row that’s near done if not completely done.”
Fredrickson said the compost takes 30 to 45 days to cure.
“The temperature inside of that compost reaches 135 to 140 degrees,” he said. “That kills off the weed seeds so when you take this compost back to your flower bed or garden, there shouldn’t be any weeds that grow out of it.”
Fredrickson checks the temperature of the compost pile periodically.
“If you get a cool morning, when you turn it over you can see the steam roll off of it,” he said. “You can’t stick your hand in there and leave it in there very long-it’s pretty warm.”
When the compost is ready, it is hauled to a site that is open to the public around the clock.
“People will shovel it into a pickup or fill up buckets depending on how much they need,” Fredrickson said. “There’s still a lot of sticks in there, but what I’ve seen people do is bring a sifter of some kind and sift that stuff out and pitch it to one side. That way they get just the good compost.”