Composting

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

  1. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Too bad it didn't totally cover it, it would look like a mountain.
     
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  2. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I am not sure that I'll be able to keep it up through the winter. It's getting awfully hard to find a place to put new stuff. But then, I thought that at one point last winter, and still I managed. If I were to start using my other compost pile, I'd have to guess at where it is because it's completely covered by snow.
     
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  3. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    compost-03112017800.jpg
    I had to add a few boxes and yard bags full of compost to my old compost pile because I couldn't fit anymore on this one for a while. If they are still intact in the spring, I'll move them over to this pile. However, with a week and a half of above freezing weather, it dropped enough that I am adding stuff to the top of this compost pile again. It's pretty high though, and right now we are having the coldest weather of the winter, that being below zero weather, not counting wind chill.
     
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  4. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Crazy! My sister's kids in NJ had a snow day yesterday.

    We're going to be 83 in a couple days...70's now.
     
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  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    compost-031617u.jpg
    For a while, I couldn't fit anything more onto this pile but the week and a half of above-freezing weather we had, as well as the rain, shrunk it down some, so I've been adding new stuff here again, on the edges since I can't reach the top.

    reserve-compost-031617u.jpg
    When I couldn't fit anything else on my compost pile, I had to add some new stuff to my old pile. If it still seems feasible later, I may move this over to the other pile. I was hoping to dismantle this one in the spring, and build a new one with a concrete foundation and wire walls. Beneath the bags and boxes that I added only a few weeks ago, everything is pretty well composted.
     
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  6. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    I am starting a new compost pile this year, too. I need to put a fence around it to hold stuff in; but it has been too cold to do much of anything out in the yard so far this year. I have a small corner of the yard that is covered in pine needles from the neighbor's pine trees, plus small cedar needles from our cedar tree. Instead of bagging them and getting rid of the needles, this year I am going to put them into the compost and see how that works. I put the pile under where the rainspout from the back gutter comes down, so they will get soaked when we do get rain, and that should help it to break down into compost with the help of our food scraps and grass clippings.
    I like your idea of putting things in the cardboard boxes and letting it decompose along with the organics that we put on the compost pile, and this would be a good way to dispose of the Amazon boxes we get.
     
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  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Please let us know how it works out. It should work out well for you, as each box is its own micro-ecosystem, and air is allowed to circulate in the center.
     
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  8. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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  9. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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  10. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    YIKES, looks like something Terry and Lisa could climb. :)
     
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  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    It'll collapse soon, hopefully inward.
     
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  12. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    Hopefully...in that case, I take back what I said.

    Do you have to get on a ladder or do you toss the boxes?
     
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  13. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    For the time being, there is a layer of thick ice that allows me to walk on top of the snow piled on the side of it. By the time that melts, I expect the pile will be collapsing anyhow. Not only is there a good chance that some composting has been going on in the middle of the pile over the winter, but a lot of what is there is layer upon layer of snow and ice that I have stacked boxes on.
     
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  14. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    If spring every makes it to Maine, that is. We have still had very few days that were more than a couple of degrees above freezing. I guess we did have a week or so, but we've had some big storms since then.
     
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    Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
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  15. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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  16. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member
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    Can you tear those boxes down before adding them to the compost pile...it would seem if you could do that they would make compost faster.
     
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  17. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Of course, I could. In fact, my shredder will shred cardboard. With my first pile, I did that, but this is much more efficient. I still shred several of the boxes that are put into the compost pile, and the shredded paper and cardboard is mixed with food scraps in each of these boxes. All of these boxes are full of compostable material when they are added to the compost pile.

    When I shred all of the cardboard that I add to the pile, I have to turn it over periodically to add oxygen to the lower layers. When I was shredding everything, I would find paper towels and shredded paper and cardboard that was massed so tightly together that it took forever to compost.

    The boxes have air in them and since the cardboard composts more slowly than much of the other compostable materials, that adds air to the center of my compost pile without my having to turn it over.

    This is the second winter for this compost pile. This post shows where it was a year ago. last winter, the pile was almost as high as it is this year, although not quite as high because we were gone for much of that summer. Once we get some warm weather, that pile is going to drop quickly, since the stuff in the center was probably kept warm enough that it was composting throughout the winter, although not as quickly as it does in the summer.

    I don't enjoy turning over my compost pile, and this makes it unnecessary for me to do that.
     
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  18. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    compost-041517.jpg

    It's time to add some worms.
     
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  19. Von Jones

    Von Jones Very Well-Known Member
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    So @Ken Anderson, curious questions - Do you buy the worms? About how many will you use e.g. pounds? How do you determine where to put them? Is the weather good right now to do this?
     
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  20. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    Although I am fairly certain that it already has plenty of worms near the center, since they do survive the winter, I am going to add some to the top of the pile. Yeah, I think this is the good time to do it. Already, I picked up a piece of wood from some construction we had done just before the snow came, and found worms underneath it, so I know they're active. Yeah, I buy the worms. I have bought some of the ones that are sold for bait before, since they're cheaper, but each spring I add some red worms from a composting place online. I have 2,000 red worms coming, along with 500 European red worms, since they work at different levels of the pile.

    The first time I added them, I placed them in different parts of the pile, after digging a hole into it. Later, I read that it's best to place them all in one place and let them decide where to go from there. They come in peat moss, and I bought another small bag of peat moss, so I'll just dig a small hole as close to the top of the pile as I can reach, dump some peat moss in there, and add the worms to that.

    Last fall, I noticed that my old pile was rich with worms, and I hadn't added any to that in a couple of years. Yet every shovel full of compost that I turned over had worms. If I can remove the stuff that I added to the top of it this winter, the compost from that pile should be ready to use. I plan to lay a foundation of concrete there and build another pile like my new one, only with a thicker gauge fence.

    I probably don't need to add any because we have plenty of worms volunteering for duty. I just get impatient and well, I guess I am composting on a larger scale than most people do.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
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  21. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    We have a lot of trees on and around this property, and the ones that are the worst problem are the needle trees. The neighbor has huge old pine trees just on the other side of our southern fence line, plus we have some kind of cedar trees in the front and back yard. All of them shed needles year around; but in the winter, they accumulate more.
    People use the needles (called pine straw) for mulch on pathways and around plants, but we have way more than we can ever use for that. Plus, we have the immense leaf trees (maple ? Elm? ), one in the front yard and one out in back.
    I have been making a compost area out behind the house and putting our household compostable materials on it; but then I read about anaerobic composting using heavy-duty plastic bags, which are supposed to break down the pine needles faster than the regular aerobic compost pile can do.
    We went to Walmart and i got a large plastic garbage can and a box of the heavy construction weight plastic bags, and I am going to start filling up the bags, one at a time with a mixture of pine needles, leaves, house compost (banana peels, eggs shells, etc), and grass clippings.
    Once the bag gets full, I can tie it shut, pull it out of the plastic garbage can, and let it lay on the ground until this fall, and then see whether it is ready to use or needs to compost longer. I should have plenty of bags, and once the material is composted into dirt/humus then I can probably even reuse the bags.

    http://www.plasticplace.com/blog/how-to-make-compost-in-a-garbage-bag
     
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  22. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I haven't heard of anaerobic composting being faster than aerobic, but I know that it can be done.
     
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  23. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    It is the pine needles that are the problem, and they shed moisture so well that it is hard to get them to break down and turn into mulch. Even when you soak the pile of compost every day, it just seems to run off of the needles. By putting them in bags and closing the bag, they have to stay moist and can disintegrate better.
    I am not sure that the overall process is any faster that the typical way of composting , but we have lots of the needles and leaves that can be used for making compost; so even if it has to sit for months, at least it is using them and not just bagging them up for the garbage collector, which is a total waste of good mulch.
    Anyway, I am going to give it a try and see how well it works.
     
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  24. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    When we rented an apartment in Fayetteville, NC for a while, the entire grounds were covered with pine needles and yeah, I guess they never seemed to compost.
     
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  25. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    My worms came today, and I have added them to the compost pile. They were a lively bunch of critters so I refrained from naming them, or counting them, but there's supposed to be 2,500 of them. Now I've got to go out and say goodnight to them every night before going to bed.
     
    #100
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2017
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