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The Many Hands Organic Farm Composter

Now that you have read David’s description, you might be interested in our adaptation of the idea to New England.

First, we decided to build our composter in a hoophouse, to extend the season of fungal activity. This entailed modifications to the pipes so that they could be withdrawn inside a structure that was not twice as tall as the reactor.

Second, we determined to irrigate the reactor daily by hand, rather than by a drip system, since we did not have a frost-free water supply to the hoophouse yet wanted to reactor to be functional in early spring and late fall.

The following pictures show our construction progress.

photo by Jack Kittredge
Tracing the location of the pipe holes onto the pallet. The large ring is composed of 5 pieces of ½ inch PVC pipe, each about 16 ½ inch long, joined by 5 T-joints. The joints locate the sites for the 5 pipe holes, along with one in the center. The small ring is sliced from a quart yogurt container, enabling the tracing of holes about 4 3/8 wide for the pipes.

photo by Jack Kittredge The pipe holes have now been cut in the pallet. Notice how their placement has avoided totally bisecting the center 4x4 supporting the boards forming the top of the pallet.

photo by Jack Kittredge
The pipe holes have now been cut in the pallet. Notice how their placement has avoided totally bisecting the center 4×4 supporting the boards forming the top of the pallet.

Cutting the pipes to length with a hacksaw

photo by Jack Kittredge
Cutting the pipes to length with a hacksaw. Each pipe was formed of three shorter pieces joined by unions. That way each pipe could be removed in pieces without having to lift the whole pipe out of the reactor at once, which the hoophouse wasn’t tall enough to allow.

Close-up of the sewn fabric covering

photo by Jack Kittredge
Close-up of the sewn fabric covering the re-mesh fencing.

Building out the PVC ring

photo by Jack Kittredge
Building out the PVC ring to the full diameter of the reactor. This ring will now help stabilize the pipes during the filling of the reactor.

The pallet is covered with landscape fabric


photo by Jack Kittredge
The pallet is covered with landscape fabric with holes
for the ventilation pipes.

Wetting the leaves before filling buckets

photo by Jack Kittredge
Wetting the leaves before filling buckets with them to be dumped into the reactor.


Joining lengths of wire re-mesh together

photo by Jack Kittredge
Joining lengths of wire re-mesh together to get a piece long enough to wrap into a circular cage 12 ½ feet in circumference.

Sewing the landscape fabric

photo by Jack Kittredge
Sewing the landscape fabric onto one side of the fencing.

top edge of the fabric has been folded

photo by Jack Kittredge
The top edge of the fabric has been folded over the fencing
and sewn onto it.

Pipe on end in the hoophouse.

photo by Jack Kittredge
Pipe on end in the hoophouse. Note that it is formed of three pieces, enabling withdrawal from the reactor despite the low hoophouse ceiling. Below the lowest joint you can see cord protruding from pipe holes on both sides of the pipe. This cord extends to the top of the pipe on both sides and enables the whole pipe to be pulled up from the top within the filled reactor.

Filling the buckets

photo by Jack Kittredge
Filling the buckets.

Reactor has been almost totally filled with wet compost

photo by Jack Kittredge
Reactor has been almost totally filled with wet compost.

The reactor has been filled.

photo by Jack Kittredge
The reactor has been filled.
In a day or two the pipes will be withdrawn because fungal networks will have grown enough to stabilize the ventilation holes which will remain.