Compost Piles
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    I want to start composting food scraps and garden scraps (stuff that over ripens before I get to it). I have no idea where to start.

    I was surprised that I couldn’t find much help through the gtt search. I have been meaning to look into this for awhile but I haven’t gotten around to it until now.

    So, any do’s or don’ts? I am guessing I shouldn’t throw a half eaten beef roast on the pile, maybe stick to veggies? Do I need to add grass and leaf clippings?

    Do you just add the fresh stuff to the top of the pile, or do you stir it all in? When do you start a second pile?

    How far from the house should this be?

    Any tips are appreciated as I begin researching this. Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by swiver; 09-01-2019 at 06:26 PM.
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    For such a simple little thing there are a surprising number of ways to get 'er done!

    Right now I just pick a corner of the lot and dump any/all vegetation and whatever I clean out of the chicken, rabbit and turkey coops on the pile. Grass clippings, leaves, wood chips all get thrown in too. I use my pallet forks to agitate the pile once a month.

    The next spring I start a new pile. After 2 years, I shovel the pile through a screen. The composted material gets used in my gardens. Anything that isn't fully composted goes into the current year's pile. So I usually have 3 piles in total at any given time.

    Don't throw meats, greases, etc.. in a compost pile. They just attract nuisance animals you don't want hanging around.

    Some day when I have more room I want to pour a 8'x18' concrete pad and then build 3 3-sided boxes to compost in. I'd throw a shed roof over the top of it to prevent it from getting drenched in big storms.
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    I guess a lot of it depends on how big and what your plans are. I mainly run leaves and some grass clippings through there. My hop vines go in there as well as pumpkins after Halloween. How close it is to the house will impact what you put in there. Mine is way in the back of our lot. Probably 500' away down a big hill. We could I guess keep a separate bin close to the house and go back there once in a while to dump. I have found if you do just leaves it will take a long time to break down. You need to add other stuff like grass clippings. I have the dump from seat material collection system for my Z950R so around this time of year I start collecting grass clippings to introduce some to my pile before and while picking up leaves which is the bulk. I use the FEL on my X585 to turn it but don't do it too often. As it breaks down it builds up heat and that is needed to break down. If you keep turning it too much I don't see how it would build that heat up. I will turn mine 2 maybe 3 times a year. I have several piles going and am using compost out of it by late year 2 or 3. Not sure how big of a lot you have or how close neighbors are but where I have mine the neighbors behind us have llamas so they smell more than my compost. On the other side he is never back there.


    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    Some day when I have more room I want to pour a 8'x18' concrete pad and then build 3 3-sided boxes to compost in. I'd throw a shed roof over the top of it to prevent it from getting drenched in big storms.
    I am a little surprised you say that. I am trying to add moisture to mine all the time because it seems to stop breaking down if too dry.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sennister View Post
    I am a little surprised you say that. I am trying to add moisture to mine all the time because it seems to stop breaking down if too dry.
    There's a balance in moisture level that is supposed to be maintained. If a compost pile gets too wet it'll turn into mush and the whole bacterial thing will slow (or stop) until the moisture level goes back down again. On the other hand, as you've experienced, you can also have the problem of a pile getting too dry and it'll stop if that happens too.

    I get enough snow that it drowns the piles and they stop doing anything over the winter. Then we tend to get a lot of rain in the spring so things don't start picking up until late June/early July. That's why my piles take 3 years to break down in to usable compost. I think if I can control the moisture levels better, I should be able to get the piles to break down faster.

    So my plan is to build the bins with a roof overhead and mount gutters with rain barrels so that I can use those to add moisture as needed. i'd like to be able to keep the composting thing happening all year round and by adding the roof I gain some control over the process instead of mother nature being 100% in control.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    There's a balance in moisture level that is supposed to be maintained. If a compost pile gets too wet it'll turn into mush and the whole bacterial thing will slow (or stop) until the moisture level goes back down again. On the other hand, as you've experienced, you can also have the problem of a pile getting too dry and it'll stop if that happens too.

    I get enough snow that it drowns the piles and they stop doing anything over the winter. Then we tend to get a lot of rain in the spring so things don't start picking up until late June/early July. That's why my piles take 3 years to break down in to usable compost. I think if I can control the moisture levels better, I should be able to get the piles to break down faster.

    So my plan is to build the bins with a roof overhead and mount gutters with rain barrels so that I can use those to add moisture as needed. i'd like to be able to keep the composting thing happening all year round and by adding the roof I gain some control over the process instead of mother nature being 100% in control.
    Yeah, like I mentioned I am on a 3 year cycle as well. Three piles in different stages. The biggest good/bad thing about our location is it is under a bunch of pine trees. Good because I don't get a ton of snow on them but that means I get some pine needles that drop in to the mix. I try and keep as much of that out as possible. Things get too acidic if you get too many pine needles.

    Our piles are too far away to manually add water but agree that there is a happy medium. That is why I was thinking that no water (covered) wouldn't work that well but if you are going to collect the water in rain barrels, then control it, it would work.

    I have enough space where I just live with the 3 year cycle. I don't use that back part of the lot for anything else but compost and a burn pit for getting rid of branches and stuff.

    The best option I have for adding water is to fill my bucket on the FEL, by the time I get there, I might have 5 gallons left.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sennister View Post
    I have enough space where I just live with the 3 year cycle. I don't use that back part of the lot for anything else but compost and a burn pit for getting rid of branches and stuff.
    I could live with the 3-year cycle if I could produce more compost doing it. Right now I end up producing about 3 yards of usable compost each year and then I end up buying another 3-4 yards. I'd like to be able to produce 6-8 yards a year. I have a plan to get there but it isn't a huge priority right now so something else always ends up getting done first.

    The best option I have for adding water is to fill my bucket on the FEL, by the time I get there, I might have 5 gallons left.
    That's just painful!
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    Quote Originally Posted by JimR View Post
    I could live with the 3-year cycle if I could produce more compost doing it. Right now I end up producing about 3 yards of usable compost each year and then I end up buying another 3-4 yards. I'd like to be able to produce 6-8 yards a year. I have a plan to get there but it isn't a huge priority right now so something else always ends up getting done first.



    That's just painful!
    I get about 8-10 yards. We have a lot of Maple and Ash trees. It also helps that I start around Sep collecting grass clippings..

    While it may be painful only getting 5 gallons there at a time, at least I don't have to take a shower when I am done... It is a little bumpy getting there.

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    Google and YouTube

    There are quite few articles online - google search is a good place to start. Lot's of good advice about how to make a multi-bin system that allows one to "screen out the smaller material for use." Oh, and there's people who make a "Trommel" for sorting the material if one was so inclined.

    Quite a few people use wood from pallets rather than pressure treated lumber.

    And, there's quite a few videos on YouTube detailing different ways to build a composting bin.

    To keep animals out of the food scraps, we have a plastic one that is more than 20 years old. It is cracking but still works to keep the critters from dragging the food around the yard. Everything else goes on big pile and it gets turned it with the tiller once in a while. If I was more serious, I'd wet it down with a hose rather than rely on the rain. I've recently used all compost I have so I'm considering building a bin that is sturdy enough and wide enough to use the loader to turn it.
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    This is what I built, it will eventually need to handle waste from 2 horses, right now it just handles yard clippings. I went with a roof because as others have said, too wet and it stops composting. I try to mist it and agitate it 1-2 times a week. From what I have read, every 3 days is optional, but I just don't get to it that often. If I was better about it, I might be able to get it down to the 3 month cycle I have read about from fresh clippings to completed compost.

    All of the side boards are removable for later replacement, and I can clean it out really well if I pull all the boards. Pallet forks are awesome for turning the piles, it sucks trying to do it with a bucket.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Satch View Post
    This is what I built, it will eventually need to handle waste from 2 horses, right now it just handles yard clippings. I went with a roof because as others have said, too wet and it stops composting. I try to mist it and agitate it 1-2 times a week. From what I have read, every 3 days is optional, but I just don't get to it that often. If I was better about it, I might be able to get it down to the 3 month cycle I have read about from fresh clippings to completed compost.

    All of the side boards are removable for later replacement, and I can clean it out really well if I pull all the boards. Pallet forks are awesome for turning the piles, it sucks trying to do it with a bucket.
    I want that exact same setup on a concrete slab with poured concrete walls/dividers.
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