Composting

Discussion in 'Crops & Gardens' started by Ken Anderson, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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  2. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    compost-071916-1.jpg
    A couple of weeks ago, I added several tree branches that I had trimmed from my trees and that's holding the pile up right now. Although I cut them into small pieces, it's keeping the pile from dropping down. Before too long, I think that weight of the stuff added later will compress it, though. Also, I must have missed a large section of styrofoam from one of the boxes that I added, because I see that in there, near the bottom, now that the box has composted around it. Once things settle a bit, I'll try to dig that out.

    compost-071916-2.jpg
    Although it hardly looks like a well manicured lawn, this spring I was faced with rust-colored moss all over my lawn. Last year, it was green moss and looked pretty okay so I didn't do anything with it, but this year it was ugly. I pulled up as much of that as I could and re-seeded. Then I made the mistake of adding fertilizer and, where in spots where I added too much of it, I had dead spots, so I dug up the soil from these spots, replacing it with a mixture of top soil and compost, and re-seeded them. This about all the lawn maintenance I plan on doing this summer, other than mowing and watering. Next spring, I'll see what I have. I might have to pull up more of the moss and the soil around it, and do some more seeding. I don't look for perfection but I wasn't exactly looking for butt ugly either.
    compost-071916-3.jpg
    I am going to quit putting peanuts out for the squirrels though. Although I'll continue to feed them other types of squirrel food, they keep digging holes in my lawn and gardens to bury the peanuts that I give them.
     
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  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I hope I'm not overworking my worms this summer. I've added the brush from the trees that I have cut down over the past few days.

    compost-08152016.jpg
     
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  4. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    compost091616800.jpg
    The worms are doing a pretty good job, considering that every bit of my compostable materials have been added to this pile.
     
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  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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  6. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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  7. K E Gordon

    K E Gordon Very Well-Known Member
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    I like all of your Fall leaves! It is still pretty green around here, with no nice color. We have some yellows but alot of the leaves are just turning brown and falling off. We haven't really had enough rain to get good color, nor have we had a freeze yet, but some of the areas just North of here will. Keep it up worms! I keep thinking I should leaf rake and put it in my composter, but I am lazy..! I just used the leaf blower on the deck!
     
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  8. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    It fascinates me that I have added everything compostable from our house (food wastes, junk mail, boxes, paper towels), as well as three bales of straw, the leaves from four trees that I cut down and, of course, the ones that I've raked up from the yard since last fall, yet the pile never gets much bigger than it is now, at least not for long. When I do heap it, everything is composed down to about this level in a short time.
     
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  9. Steve North

    Steve North Veteran Member
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    Just a quick note on composting..
    We have in our back yard, way out from the house, one of those black composters.. The one that has a screw top and is anchored to the ground with spikes..
    We keep on putting food scraps, dried dead leaves (mostly birch and maple) some dried up cut grass and some bags of good black earth.. I mix it up often enough and I also add water to it so it isn't too dry..

    Well, a black Bear smelled what was inside and wanted the food scraps even though they were all mixed up.. It knocked over the composter, made the biggest mess you have ever seen, got to nibble on some food scraps and left, but not before giving us one of the biggest drop of bear poop you can imagine.. I mean this was a mound...

    I put back the composter as best I could and put everything back inside as much as I could, put the locking lid back on and it is there for now..

    Yes, I also put the poop in the composter and mixed it up...
     
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  10. Von Jones

    Von Jones Very Well-Known Member
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    @Steve North. That bear just left it's mark by your composter so it other bears know that it's claimed territory. I suspect it will be back.
     
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  11. Steve North

    Steve North Veteran Member
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    No Von...
    I promise you that bear will NEVER come back.... EVER !!!!!
    It is now sausages as well as roasts to the fellow down the road....
     
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  12. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    There's not a lot of active composting going on here in Maine this time of year (maybe in the center of the pile), but the compost pile rises.

    compost-010517.jpg
     
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  13. Sheldon Scott

    Sheldon Scott Very Well-Known Member
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  14. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Although heat is a component in composting of pretty much everything (hopefully, there is still composting going on in the center of my compost pile despite the winter), manure composts a much higher temperature than the stuff I'm composting, which is mostly paper, cardboard, leaves, and food wastes. I am hoping to be able to fit the rest of my winter compost onto the top of the pile so that I don't have to divert it to my other compost pile, which I would otherwise spread onto my lawn this spring. We had a couple of warm, rainy days that have melted some of the snow on it, bringing it down somewhat, but it's awfully high yet.
     
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  15. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    It is true that manure does compost with more heat than just leaves and other vegetable matter. When I had my little bunny rabbits, I always added their droppings to my compost pile, and even the small amount from cleaning those small cages helped with the composting.
    Many-people actually buy manure to add to the garden or compost to help enrich the soil, and that would help us a lot, too because our soil is mainly hard clay and no sand.
    One thing that is almost like adding manure is to add alfalfa pellets into the soil or into the compost heap. The alfalfa will rot fast and produce almost as much heat as the manure does, and it really adds nutrients to the soil. We usually get a large bag at the feed store in the spring, and then I put some in a coffee can and add a cup or two when I am planting flowers or tomato plants in the yard.
     
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  16. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    It isn't unheard of for corn silos to catch fire, though. Same principle. As for manure, when I was living in Texas, a friend of mine bought three truckloads of manure that he spread on his lawn, an area where the soil isn't particularly good. It stunk for a while but in the end he had a beautiful lawn.
     
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  17. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I am still hoping to be able to avoid putting new stuff in my old compost pile, but this one is getting awfully high. I have to throw water on it every now and then so that the ice holds it all together. A lot of that is snow so it will sink rapidly come spring.

    compost-020817-800.jpg
     
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    Last edited: Feb 8, 2017
  18. Von Jones

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    #68
  19. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I'm not sure. Above my head, though. I had to throw that top box up there this morning. Yeah, I know. It's an odd way to compost. I don't know of anyone who does it this way, but it works very well and, except for some difficulties in the winter, it doesn't require a lot of maintenance.

    Bulk composting the normal way requires turning the piles over regularly and aerating to be sure that there is oxygen available to the center, and I'm too lazy for that. Using boxes, there are plenty of air pockets in the center of the pile, since the stuff inside the boxes composts more quickly than the boxes themselves, and the size of the pile keeps the center warm enough to allow some composting to continue throughout the winter. In the spring, hopefully, the pile will collapse inward as the snow and ice melts, since there will be a hollow in the center of the pile. Theoretically, it will work that way, and that is what has occurred in my other compost pile
     
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  20. Von Jones

    Von Jones Very Well-Known Member
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    From the angle of the picture it looks taller than you :D.

    So from your composting, do you use it all when it's decomposed or is there something else that needs to be done before you are able to use it?

    I have a place in my backyard where I discard my leaves evey year and it's down quite a bit mid-Spring. I never use it for anything though.
     
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  21. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I have two compost piles, and will be starting a third this summer, since composting seems to take about three years. My house is on land that was once under water. The paper mill in Millinocket preceded the town, and they used coal-ash to fill in several areas upon which the town was built. Thus, my soil is only a few inches deep, so I have been using the compost to gradually build up the amount of soil that I have in my yard. We don't have trash pick up here, so we have to haul our trash to the town's transfer station. The town also maintains a compost area, where they do a pretty good job of producing compost, with the advantage of chippers and heavy equipment to turn it over, and residents can take whatever compost they want for free.

    I found that I was making two or three trips to the transfer station hauling trash, and making several trips back with compost, so I thought I'd cut down on that by composting everything that was compostable. Now, I only have about one or two bags of trash per week and, while I might still pick up some compost from the town every now and then for my gardens, it's a lot easier this way, and I have enjoyed experimenting with maintenance free ways of composting.

    The problem with my first piles were that they were build directly on the ground and by the time they were fully composted (about three years), roots from neighboring trees had found their way into it, and it was very difficult to harvest any of it. My latest pile, the one in the pictures, is build on a cement foundation, which I think will work out better. My next pile will be similar, only I am going to use heavier posts and wire, and I think I'll put in a regular gate to make it easier for me to harvest it.
     
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  22. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    The fence is a four-foot fence, and it's quite a bit higher than the top of the fence right now.
     
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  23. Von Jones

    Von Jones Very Well-Known Member
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    Interesting, @Ken Anderson. So when you use your compost, do you mix it with soil you buy or do you till what's already there? That is some hard work either way.
     
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  24. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    No, I just spread it onto the yard and seed it.
     
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  25. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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