Karl Hammer is the founder and president of Vermont Compost Company. Vermont Compost collects food waste and manure in central Vermont, and adds it to grass, tree bark, and chickens on the farm to create a compost that serves as the basis for potting soils that have created raving fans all over the United States. Karl is a fountain of knowledge about all things soil, plant, and long-eared equine, and we tap into just a corner of that here with the history of Vermont Compost Company from Karl’s start as a young boy shoveling manure in Vershire, Vermont to its modern-day national distribution, with plenty of detours into soil, society, and the potential for great compost to catalyze the recapture of carbon on farmland.
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Quotes from the Show
Glomalin is the glue that holds the world together.
I’ve never had a chance to try to compost any diamonds. Plastic bags and chicken shit – it seems like you’d end up with slimy diamonds, but I’d like to give it a try.
I consider myself one of the founding members of Professional Vegetable Growers Anonymous.
When you start talking C:N ratios, at the core of a white pine the C:N ratio might be 500:1. At the apical tip of that same tree it might be 8:1.
A machine cannot make compost. Microbes make compost.
Each step of turning, each movement, everything has biological impact and you want it working for you and for the beneficials, and not against you.
We find ourselves as the thin brown line that connects specialized husbandry to specialized horticulture – like a streak of shit. Captain Compost!
The mass of what plants remove from soil is very comparable to what they exude into soil.
Karl recommended several resources for going deeper into soil microbiology:
- Soil Microorganisms and Higher Plants http://amzn.to/1Q887D4 by N.A. Krasil’nikov , or download a free PDF here: http://soilandhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/01aglibrary/010112.krasilnikov.pdf
- The Physics of Agriculture by F.H. King explains how butter is air.
- Farmers of Forty Centuries by F.H. King
Vermont Compost’s website has a list of important books that have influenced Karl’s philosophical and practical approach to his life and business.