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Rebuilding a Compost Pile

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Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Mon 26 Mar - 4:29

After 3 weeks of cooking, I decided to rebuild my compost pile. The temperature of it this morning was around 115F, not quite the 100F that camprn said would be my target for rebuilding. I decided to do it anyway because I had a free morning and I probably wouldn't have been able to do it till next Sunday.

The outside temperature was around 50F as shown by my compost thermometer....



Some pictures of my pile as I moved it out of the bin.....











Here are the sticks I put in. They get pulled out in a few days and it gives the compost pile some "air channels"



I decided to add more rabbit food again. It worked great when I rebuilt it at the beginning of the month and I was just afraid to tamper with success. You can see how much I added per layer.....



Here's a picture of the dried blood I would sprinkle on each layer. It's about 1/2 cup....



I would sprinkle on some water on each layer. Just enough to moisten it.

This picture was taken about halfway through the rebuilding process....



The finished pile......



While I was rebuilding it I noticed that it had a much earthier smell than at the beginning of the month when I restarted it after the winter "hibernation". It still smells a bit but not nearly as much. So the composting process is definitely working properly. There's still a fair amount of identifiable bits but I'm not too worried about that. I can either screen it or just use it as is.

When I rebuilt it at the beginning of the month, I threw in about 10 gallons worth of fruit and veggie scraps that I stored up over the winter. When I took the pile apart today, I didn't see one bit of that left. Awesome.

There's definitely science behind composting(proper green/brown ratios, and enough water and air) but building the pile isn't a science. What I mean by that is this: If the layers aren't exactly even, no big deal. If I use a half cup more of rabbit food on one layer, it's not going to cause a catastrophe. If the compost bin looks like a redneck science fair experiment, it's perfectly ok. Composting will happen.

Hopefully some of us can learn from this thread. What a Face I'm definitely not an expert gardener but I take pride in this compost pile of mine. It's been fun so far.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  JustMe on Mon 26 Mar - 5:53

What a beautiful compost pile! I like your stick/air channels. When we first started composting, we had a wire bin 3x3 set-up and your stick idea would have been handy.

What does the rabbit food do?

We have two Earth Machine compost bins, one of which I found with a FREE sign in the neighborhood. Today I spent the afternoon emptying them and rebuilding them. I was thrilled to harvest a wheelbarrow of unsifted compost between the two today. I am definitely a low key composter, though I've been known to open the lids during a rainstorm and mixing it during a rainstorm so I don't have to cart water from the rain barrel to the compost bins.

You're right about the science experiment feel composting sometimes has. I know it will work, but I am always thrilled when I open the bins and see the black gold.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Mon 26 Mar - 6:00

@JustMe wrote:What a beautiful compost pile! I like your stick/air channels. When we first started composting, we had a wire bin 3x3 set-up and your stick idea would have been handy.

What does the rabbit food do?

We have two Earth Machine compost bins, one of which I found with a FREE sign in the neighborhood. Today I spent the afternoon emptying them and rebuilding them. I was thrilled to harvest a wheelbarrow of unsifted compost between the two today. I am definitely a low key composter, though I've been known to open the lids during a rainstorm and mixing it during a rainstorm so I don't have to cart water from the rain barrel to the compost bins.

You're right about the science experiment feel composting sometimes has. I know it will work, but I am always thrilled when I open the bins and see the black gold.

Thanks! I take pride in my compost. Very Happy

Not only do the sticks, when pulled, provide air channels, they also help keep the pile lose and break up the forkfuls of materials as you rebuild.

Rabbit food helps get the pile cooking if it needs some "green" material to balance out the "brown" material. Combine that with dried blood and watch your temperatures really take off.

Hey camprn, if you see this thread, then you'll notice that JustMe likes your "trick with the sticks".

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  camprn on Mon 26 Mar - 11:37

LOL The trick with the sticks works for me! how is it working for you? It looks good from here! You have good instincts when it comes to "a little goes a long way" with the pellets and the dried blood. I have to get out there soon and turn my massive (4x4x8) pile. Shocked Maybe next week!

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  RoOsTeR on Mon 26 Mar - 12:54

Looks good TTT

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Lavender Debs on Mon 26 Mar - 13:06

Beautiful job TTT Looks better than mine.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Mon 26 Mar - 13:09

@camprn wrote:LOL The trick with the sticks works for me! how is it working for you? It looks good from here! You have good instincts when it comes to "a little goes a long way" with the pellets and the dried blood. I have to get out there soon and turn my massive (4x4x8) pile. Shocked Maybe next week!

I'm assuming the sticks work because of how high the temps got last time I did this. This time I might leave the sticks in for 4 days instead of two and stir them around a bit so that maybe those air channels widen when I pull them out.

Last time I did this I used an entire 25 lb bag of rabbit food. This time I used maybe 20 pounds.

Beers for everyone!

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Mon 26 Mar - 13:14

@Lavender Debs wrote:Beautiful job TTT Looks better than mine.

I still say the bin looks like some kind of redneck contraption.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  TN_GARDENER on Mon 26 Mar - 13:34

I also spent a fair amount of time with my compost pile this past weekend. Sifted the old & refilled the bin. Hopefully it will heat up in a few days.

As to the looks of your bin. It certainly isn't the prettiest thing, but it's function over form...right?

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Mon 26 Mar - 20:52

@TN_GARDENER wrote:I also spent a fair amount of time with my compost pile this past weekend. Sifted the old & refilled the bin. Hopefully it will heat up in a few days.

As to the looks of your bin. It certainly isn't the prettiest thing, but it's function over form...right?

You're right...who cares what it looks like.

For now it'll work. After I harvest this batch of compost, I'm going to downsize it(cutting the hardware cloth shorter) so I'll force myself into a 3ft x 3ft x 3ft bin instead of the monstrosity I have.

By the way, the temp of the compost yesterday(after rebuilding it) was 70F. I just checked it a few minutes ago and it's all the way up to 130F.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Tue 27 Mar - 0:17

A few minutes ago I checked the temperature of my pile again and it's at 142F. How is that possible?? It increased 12 degrees in about 3 1/2 hours????

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  floyd1440 on Tue 27 Mar - 1:02

TTT

I stopped in at Tractor Supply and the box store and they have quite a veriety, Since I am build mine this weekend I would like your input.


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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Tue 27 Mar - 1:55

@floyd1440 wrote:TTT

I stopped in at Tractor Supply and the box store and they have quite a veriety, Since I am build mine this weekend I would like your input.


Are you building your compost bin from scratch or getting a pre-made bin?

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  GWN on Tue 27 Mar - 3:54

where do you get the dried blood.... I am afraid to ask Smile
I have never had a compost that heated up really well.

I have tons of greens, not enough browns, however i have rectified the difference recently, even added some molasses.

My temp went from 40 ground temp to 60 compost temp, hardly something to write home about........ No

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Tue 27 Mar - 4:17

@GWN wrote:where do you get the dried blood.... I am afraid to ask Smile
I have never had a compost that heated up really well.

I have tons of greens, not enough browns, however i have rectified the difference recently, even added some molasses.

My temp went from 40 ground temp to 60 compost temp, hardly something to write home about........ No

You should be able to pick up dried blood at almost any garden center. I'm sure there's other brands but Espoma comes to mind. That's the brand that I bought. I think I paid about 10 bucks for a 3 3/4 lb bag of it.
Lowes and Home Depot sells Espoma brand products but I've never seen Espoma dried blood. You might have to go to your Mom-and-Pop type garden center.

How long did it take to hit the 60 degree mark? What did you add to increase the "brown" component? Maybe you need to add more, or maybe you should try those tricks I used earlier in this thread. It does work really really well. Before I took apart the compost pile Sunday morning, the temperature of it was 115F. After rebuilding it with the above method, the temperature dropped to 70F. Tonight, approximately 36 hours after rebuilding it, the compost pile is now at 151F.

The temperature more than doubled in 36 hours?? That's just unheard of. I must be doing something right.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  GWN on Tue 27 Mar - 4:23

I have a tumbler, and could add more brown to the lot.
What did I add?
Leaves that have been overwintered, shredded paper, shredded cardboard.
Any other ideas?

I could use my neighbours lawn clippings but I think he uses poisons on his lawn......

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Tue 27 Mar - 4:42

@GWN wrote:I have a tumbler, and could add more brown to the lot.
What did I add?
Leaves that have been overwintered, shredded paper, shredded cardboard.
Any other ideas?

I could use my neighbours lawn clippings but I think he uses poisons on his lawn......

You could ask 10 people what your green-to-brown ratio should be and you'll probably get 10 different answers. I've seen equal amounts of greens and browns, 3 browns to 1 green, 2 browns to 1 green, etc. I have no idea what my ratio is but if I had to guess, I'd say it's about equal.....maybe slightly more greens.

Like I said earlier, there's a science behind composting but it does not have to be an exact science. Eventually, it will all compost. How quickly it composts depends on what's in it. Whatever you do, don't sweat it one bit.

Take a look at your tumbler and if you see more greens than anything, add something brown. For a while I was running my newspapers through my paper shredder(took forever to shred because it only does 2 or 3 sheets at a time). That was my main brown component. Then I read that you can add pine shavings(animal bedding) for your brown component. I ran to the pet store and bought a bag(I forget how big) and added that to my compost.

If you do add pine shavings, make sure it's untreated and not treated with any sort of antibacterial additive. I wouldn't use cedar shavings because cedar is somewhat rot-resistant and it will take longer to break down.

The more of a variety of browns(and greens too of course) you add to your compost, the better it will be.

A few websites.....

http://www.plantea.com/compost-materials.htm

http://www.compostinstructions.com/what-you-can-and-cannot-compost/

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Tue 27 Mar - 14:12

I leave the temperature probe in my compost at all times. Here's a picture of it taken this morning.



Sorry for the blurriness but you should still see that it's at 159F

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  floyd1440 on Tue 27 Mar - 23:05

"Are you building your compost bin from scratch or getting a pre-made bin?"



Never done this before but was considering building my own but did not know the correct type of fence?

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  camprn on Tue 27 Mar - 23:08

@floyd1440 wrote:"Are you building your compost bin from scratch or getting a pre-made bin?"



Never done this before but was considering building my own but did not know the correct type of fence?
I just use pallets to make the sides to contain the compost. You can see my pile in my album. Click on the Gallery tab above.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Tue 27 Mar - 23:10

@camprn wrote:
@floyd1440 wrote:"Are you building your compost bin from scratch or getting a pre-made bin?"



Never done this before but was considering building my own but did not know the correct type of fence?
I just use pallets to make the sides to contain the compost. You can see my pile in my album. Click on the Gallery tab above.

Pallets are probably the easiest and cheapest way to build a bin. Hammering those fence posts into the ground was a real pain in the backside.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  floyd1440 on Wed 28 Mar - 1:28

@camprn wrote:
@floyd1440 wrote:"Are you building your compost bin from scratch or getting a pre-made bin?"



Never done this before but was considering building my own but did not know the correct type of fence?
I just use pallets to make the sides to contain the compost. You can see my pile in my album. Click on the Gallery tab above.

I check the gallery out and you picture is very interesting. But here is my problem. I am overrun with deer and may need to put in in my fenced in area, which is on a slope.

Now I am considering putting a skid of the bottom and level it and perhaps some fencing around it???

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on Wed 28 Mar - 1:49

@floyd1440 wrote:
@camprn wrote:
@floyd1440 wrote:"Are you building your compost bin from scratch or getting a pre-made bin?"



Never done this before but was considering building my own but did not know the correct type of fence?
I just use pallets to make the sides to contain the compost. You can see my pile in my album. Click on the Gallery tab above.

I check the gallery out and you picture is very interesting. But here is my problem. I am overrun with deer and may need to put in in my fenced in area, which is on a slope.

Now I am considering putting a skid of the bottom and level it and perhaps some fencing around it???

If you put a nice amount of manure on it, I don't think the deer would go anywhere near the pile.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  1airdoc on Wed 28 Mar - 14:05

To GWN:
Plantoid shared the following website with me in a previous post ("Compost not heating"), and I found it extremely helpful. By following instructions on the site, which includes info on N:C (or green:brown ratios), I was able to convert my old, slow, cold compost pile into a steaming productive pile and made several cartloads of gorgeous compost in only a few weeks.

http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/

I'll share photos later.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  floyd1440 on Thu 29 Mar - 1:13

TTT

I am planning to build a fenced compost area and what is a good fence and openning size of the wire mesh?

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

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