Author Topic: Composting the Pile  (Read 2250 times)

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Offline WooferHound

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Composting the Pile
« on: April 06, 2012, 08:45:29 am »
I have been talking about improving the soil in my garden and what all that I've been digging into the dirt to make it better, including Compost. You guys have mentioned it many times too, and in different ways.

I do have a compost pile every year and have been composting for the last 8 years. I don't have any real method to it. I just throw stuff on the pile as it becomes available without regard to Dry or Wet materials. Sometimes I will add some fertilizer or dirt because it seems to help get everything decomposing faster. Kitchen scraps go on there too. In early Winter I pull up the old garden plants and they are the last thing to go on the pile for the year. Every 90 days I'll turn it over. Then in the Spring it gets spread out with other stuff and gets dug into the soil.

Some things that I will not put on the pile . . .
  • Weeds that I pull out of the garden, they seem to live through the process and come back next year
  • Sticks or twigs over 1/8 inch (3mm), they make it hard to turn the pile over
  • Any thing that may contain seeds, like tall grass clippings

I have been making making a 2 year compost pile that has some of those items in it. It's been through the first year and it's been turned once.
One year I had 8 wheelbarrow loads of compost to dig in. This year was the smallest and I only had 4 wheelbarrow loads to add.
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Offline bj

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Re: Composting the Pile
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2012, 10:35:53 am »
   Have to agree Woof, that's just about word for word what we do.
   The soil I add is the stuff left over from potted plants that have run their course,
and my better half likes lots of them,  so it is quite a bit.
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bj

Offline tomw

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Re: Composting the Pile
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2012, 11:29:41 am »
Woof;

Properly done, composting should sterilise all seeds in it mostly from heating. That takes turning, watering and time.  Probably best to avoid including them up front, however.

Composting is as easy or difficult as you want to make it. To a point bigger is better. Inoculating the pile with soil is very wise since soil has the proper beasties in it to jump start the process.

I have a city bound friend who uses one of those barrel type with a way to rotate it. He gets compost fast. Even in winter his barrel thing never has snow on it as it builds heat in the compost.

Good luck with it.

Tom
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Offline WooferHound

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Re: Composting the Pile
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2012, 12:56:12 pm »
Somehow I missed talking about moisture. I will usually water the compost pile at the same time as the garden gets watered. Too little and it will dry out, too much and it will kill the reaction that does the decomposition.

Sometimes I have trouble getting the reaction started. I think it's because I add so little to the pile over time that it is in various stages of decomposition at the same time and is not One Complete mass until it gets turned the first time in the Winter. I really like it when the compost looks like dirt when it's finished.

I would love to have some kind of barrel composter that would turn 8 wheelbarrows worth of compost.
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Offline tomw

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Re: Composting the Pile
« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2012, 01:27:36 pm »
I would love to have some kind of barrel composter that would turn 8 wheelbarrows worth of compost.
Several large plastic barrels. You could just roll em on the ground back and forth occasionally.

Car washes have big barrels they get soap in. Here I can get big blue plastic ones from the local dairy supply for the hauling usually. Those hold food grade cleansers, disinfectants and renet (sp?) so just rinse them well they are safe for even potable water.

Just on an idea run today in between rounds of setting up my new ~8 foot fiberglass prop  laying out the 2 hub plates ;D :o

Tom
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Offline Poorboy

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Re: Composting the Pile
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2012, 08:40:30 pm »
I bought a book recommended by someone on composting. "the complete book of composting" 1007 pages. Way too much info. The "Indore method" is the original. The formula is: First put a layer of brush on the ground to help with air getting to the pile, then a 5-6" layer of green matter (weeds, crop wastes, leaves), then a 2" layer of manure (1 inch if from chickens), a sprinkling of top soil and limestone, repeat until 5' high. Turn pile after 6 weeks and again at 12 weeks. A few months later it will be done. Moisten while building and when turning if dry. Covering with hay etc helps to keep moisture in and it should be covered with something during heavy rains to keep it from getting drenched. Compost should get at least 140-160F and will kill weed seeds at those temps. Pile not heating up is usually lacking nitrogen. Manure, blood meal, bone meal etc. The layering system above is simply to make it easier to get the proportions right. Then there's the 14 day method. Same ingredients as above but chopped up and mixed up with a mower, compost shredder etc. Turn pile after 3 days and every 2-3 days after that and in 12-14 days it's done enough to go in the garden. Another formula is 100# leaves, 100# grass clippings, 100# manure all chopped up and mixed up. I still haven't figured out how to weigh 100# of leaves though.  :o

You're supposed to be able to use grass clippings, leaves and kitchen waste but I've never been able to get a hot pile without manure. I used to have access to horse manure but don't now so I put a post up on the bulletin board the the general store here. Lots of cow farmers around here.