Updated: Apr 30, 2021
Owning a FoodCycler is a bit like having an indoor hungry-hungry-hippo for your food waste. You toss your scraps into the bucket, press Start and the unit's powerful "jaws" chew everything up into a nutrient-rich soil amendment.
But what if you've never really used fertilizer before, homemade or otherwise? What if you live in a colder climate where year-round gardening isn't really possible?
This article will give you some ideas and tips on how to properly store your homemade soil amendment for use in the spring!
Photo Source: Luci's Morsels
When your homemade fertilizer first comes out of your FoodCycler, it may still be slightly humid from the dehydration process. It will most likely feel completely dry to you - and it may very well be! However, to ensure that any and all moisture completely evaporates after the cycle, we recommend that you:
1. Store In An Open Container for Up to 1 Week
Storing in a dry, open-air environment (not a closed container) for a short period of time will make sure that your soil amendment does not produce mould or odours. Your FoodCycler fertilizer should only become damp when you are ready to garden with it and add it to your soil (we'll elaborate on this process in a later blog post).
Make sure that your soil amendment is stored out of reach of pets or pests: the "foodilizer" should be odourless to people, but some of your more adventurous fur-babies - with their advanced sense of smell - may be curious and try to take a little taste-test.
Here are some ideas for how to store your "foodilizer" in open-air conditions safely:
2. Store in a Cool, Dry Place Until You're Ready To Garden
"Foodilizer" can be stored in a container with a lid once you've made sure that any residual moisture has been evaporated (see Step 1).
The most important thing to remember when storing your soil amendment is to keep it 100% dry. If it is exposed to liquid or is incorporated into soil improperly, it runs the risk of rehydrating and producing mould and/or odours - which would be icky!
For this reason, we don't normally recommend that folks store their by-product in cardboard, paper or a textile bag/basket. If you do choose to store your fertilizer in one of these items, we recommend that you keep it in a cupboard or secondary container to ensure that it stays completely dry.
For long term storage, you can put your "foodilizer" in a closed-in container. If you've been storing your by-product in an open-air container without the lid, you can simply close the lid and tuck the container away wherever is most convenient in your home.
Note that a closed-air environment is not necessary for storing "foodilizer" - nothing bad will happen to your homemade fertilizer if you leave it indefinitely in an open-air container. The only reason we would recommend storing it more securely is if you have curious critters roaming around looking for an easily accessible snack, or if it is in a place where the by-product might get wet.
Metal garbage can
Plastic "green" bin
Old cooking pot
Textile bag or basket
Planter (with holes in the bottom)
If you do choose to store your homemade soil amendment in one of these containers, just make absolutely sure that it isn't in an area where it can get wet!
3. Adding Soil Amendment To An Existing Container
As you continue to run cycles over time, you're going to accumulate more homemade fertilizer. When adding the "foodilizer" to an existing stockpile, make sure that the cycled material is completely dry and cool before emptying your bucket. This is to make sure that your most recent fertilizer does not contaminate your existing fertilizer with any remaining post-cycle moisture.
If you're concerned about moisture at all, you can have two running "foodilizer" containers: one open-air for the new material, and a closed container for the existing pile. Otherwise, when adding your "foodilizer", you can let the new addition sit on the top of the existing pile, leaving the lid open so the latter can finish airing out completely before closing it up.
Another way to mitigate potential humidity contamination between the old pile and the new pile is to add a small layer of "browns" between the new and the old. While not necessary, adding "brown" (carbon) materials to your fertilizer stockpile can be a good way of incorporating these materials into your garden in the spring. We'll elaborate on this in a later post!
Note: Compost "browns" or carbon materials are essentially the dry components of a compost pile that allow the "greens" or nitrogen materials (such as food waste) to aerate properly. They're made up of paper products, straw, sticks, wood chips, etc.
"Foodilizer" is an amazing addition to your garden. It's chock-full of nutrients, and is free of pathogens, bacteria and odours. Storing this homemade fertilizer combines the naturalness of compost with the convenience of synthetic fertilizers. As long as you keep your homemade fertilizer completely dry and away from curious critters, you will never have an issue collecting it until the next growing season!