In 2010, a community partner purchased this lot through an eBay auction, and donated it to Franklinton Gardens. Rapunzel Garden was the main site for our composting program. Food waste was regularly collected from over 13 businesses in central Columbus.
The compost from was used to fertilize the new raised beds being built on different sites. Like other garden sites, there was once a house on this lot, and the ground contains a lot of low quality fill dirt and rocks. After 3 years, there was plenty of finished compost to create the 2 large hugelkulturs that are in operation at the back of this site. These beds have produced tons of food since their creation. As the wood in these beds decomposes, the mounds will shrink in size.
There are many different composting techniques, and Franklinton Gardens used windrow composting and worm composting (vermiculture) to break down the food waste. Windrow composting consists of piling organic matter in long rows, instead of regular heaps. The rows should be turned regularly to introduce fresh air, help regulate the moisture level, and mix the cooler sections back into the hotter areas. Windrow composting is a technique that can be scaled up for use on a large farm. Many large scale farmers have tractors that mechanically turn the windrows as they drive over.
Compost piles heat up as they decompose. Thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria quickly break down fresh food near the center of the piles, where optimal temperatures range from 104°F – 160°F. Along the outsides of the compost, mesophilic bacteria break down matter at a slower rate, with an ideal temperature range of 68°F – 113°F. As a compost matures, the warm center begins to cool, and mesophilic bacteria take over where thermophilic bacteria once lived. With worm composting, or vermiculture, the compost piles do not need to be turned. Instead, the worms help to aerate and “turn” the pile.
During 2013, this site was used to grow edible mushrooms on logs. Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a fungus, and mycelium is the vegetative part. There are two main types of mushrooms, compost loving and wood loving. Mycelium is the part of the fungus that lives underground, or inside of wood. The largest organism on the Earth is a 2,400 acre patch of mycelium in Oregon. Lions Mane, Shiitake, and Oyster varieties grow well on logs. Holes are drilled into the logs and inoculated with mushroom spores. The holes are sealed up with wax, and over a few months of moist conditions, mycelium colonizes the log. Once the logs are fully colonized, the growth of mushrooms can be stimulated by soaking the logs in water.
Mushrooms are a great source of protein, B vitamins, and are also low in calories. Mushrooms contain a compound that converts to vitamin D when exposed to UV/sunlight. Many mushrooms are poisonous and can be deadly. Never eat a wild mushroom. If you ever want to eat wild mushrooms, always bring an experienced “mushroom hunter,” and if possible, get your findings checked by a mycologist.