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Rebuilding a Compost Pile

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/28/2012, 10:36 pm

@floyd1440 wrote:TTT

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

Hey floyd,

I would get galvanized hardware cloth with openings of 1 inch x 2 inches. You can find that at a store like Lowes or Home Depot. If you have a feed store nearby, check them out as well because they would have a bigger selection and they're cheaper than a big store. Galvanized cloth will last longer than non-galvanized.

If you already know how you're building your compost bin, that's great. Just ignore the rest of this post. If you're not sure how you're going to build it, these instructions are easy and it shouldn't take you long to build your bin.

What size compost bin are you making? If you want to make a 3ft x 3ft x 3ft compost pile, plan on getting a 12 foot roll of fencing 4ft high. That extra foot will allow for you to mix it around the compost without it falling over the top. It works for me....you'll see why in a minute. Wink


If you are not sure of how you will support it, I would get U-posts. Get 4 of them in 5ft lengths because you will hammer them into the ground about a foot and you're left with 4ft exposed for your 4 foot tall hardware cloth. After you hammer your 4 posts into the ground, cut 9 feet of your 12 foot roll of hardware cloth(save that extra 3 feet Wink ) and start by fastening one end of it onto the front left post. You can use those plastic zip ties. I used them and they work well. You can use those metal clips you see on your U post and pinch that to hold the hardware cloth, but it's a pain. Zip ties are easy to use and they're easily removable.

Anyway, wrap the hardware cloth around the back post, zip tie it, wrap it onto the next one, zip tie it, etc. Go in a clockwise position. After the fencing is fastened to your posts, take that extra 3ft piece of hardware cloth and zip tie it sort of loosely to the post on the right. After you're done, it'll look something like this drawing...



Those green dots are the U posts. Anyway, that "door" allows you to have easy access to your compost pile. Just open it up, give your compost a mix and pile it up high(now's where that 4ft tall fencing comes into help). Close the door and level out your compost. To keep the door shut, get 2 bungee cords and run them through the door and the post on the left.

Any other questions, don't hesitate to ask
It doesn't have to be pretty, just functional.....just take a look at mine.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  1airdoc on 3/29/2012, 10:49 am

Here are the photos of my compost experience. Some of you may recall that I was frustrated with my cold compost bin, and I received several helpful suggestions on the post "compost not heating." As a result of your help, I followed the directions on the link I mention above and rebuilt my compost pile, adding in a good bit of horse and chicken manure to the mix. As a result, I soon had great hot compost. About 5 weeks after I built the pile, it had cooled back down and I was able to harvest my compost just in time for the spring season.

Here's a photo of the compost pile in the bins as I was beginning to sift through it. The pile reduced in size by about 1/3 from its original height 5 weeks ago. I made my bins out of pallets, and I really like them.



In the image above, you can see my compost screen leaning against the bins. It is 2ft x 2 ft and the screen is 1/4 inch hardware cloth. In the image below, I have dumped a shovel-ful of compost onto the screen to filter out the large pieces. There is very little recognizeable material left in the compost.



After filtering everything through the screen, this is a photo of all that was left. As I rubbed the material over the screen, most of the larger particles crumbled. More than 95% of the material made it through the screen; the rest I dumped into the empty side of my compost bin to begin a new compost pile.



I was able to harvest more than enough to use to make the MM to fill my new beds (2x8, 2x8, 4x8, and 4x4)! I used more to top off squares in my old SFG, and still have plenty to use for mulch and MM replacement this spring.

Here's a photo of the "black gold":


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Beautiful compost!

Post  Menditha on 3/29/2012, 12:16 pm

You guys are turning out such beautiful compost, and it sounds as though it is in a relatively short period of time. This may be a really dumb question, but what are you using to measure the temp of your piles, and where did you get them? Too Tall Tomatoes' looks like a meat thermometer - is that what it is?

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  1airdoc on 3/29/2012, 12:24 pm

A variety of composting thermometers are available, both digital and analog. Here is a sample of some from Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=composting+thermometer&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=4062880787&hvpos=1t3&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=1727909536323496699&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_7xqspxokq7_b

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Compost thermometers

Post  Menditha on 3/29/2012, 12:25 pm

Oh perfect, thanks! Amazon is great!

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  H_TX_2 on 3/29/2012, 12:46 pm

I use meat thermometers in my garden soil and I don't see why they wouldn't work for compost also. I got them at a restaurant supply store. A caution about the restaurant supply store, there are a lot of things in there that you will see and say to your self that would be great in the garden so you might want to just carry in $20 in cash and leave all other forms of payment at home.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Menditha on 3/29/2012, 12:50 pm

Whoa, I have a restaurant supply right around the corner. Great idea! I generally stay out of there for my budget's sake, but the suggestion of taking $20 cash and leaving everything else home might just work.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  H_TX_2 on 3/29/2012, 12:55 pm

I got a yellow mustard squeeze bottle at the restaurant supply store and it was super cheap and that is what I keep my B.T. in. When I need the B.T. it is easy to point and squeeze to apply the B.T.

I also love to cook so those stores can be dangerous.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Menditha on 3/29/2012, 12:59 pm

Another question - some of you guys are sprinkling dried blood in your piles. I have a bag of blood meal from my days with the old SFG book - is this the same thing or no?

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  camprn on 3/29/2012, 2:22 pm

@Menditha wrote:Another question - some of you guys are sprinkling dried blood in your piles. I have a bag of blood meal from my days with the old SFG book - is this the same thing or no?
Yes

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http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Menditha on 3/29/2012, 3:13 pm

Thanks tons! I love learning great stuff from all of you! Hope I can pass some of it on somehow.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  plantoid on 3/29/2012, 3:24 pm

I've been playing at rearranging the five x 11 cubic feet bins of various manures today , used the Mantis electric rototiller with the lawn de thatcher attachment .

Caution if you do this trick wear a boilersiut , steel toe wellies , have the legs of the boiler suit outside the wellies, wear eyeprotection and a face mask . For I got more on me than you can see in the picture.

My boiler suit legs were inside my wellies . So so I got my boots full as well .

I had my glasses on thankfully , but I did get a liberal covering on the lenses .

The face mask is essential unless you like the taste of new " flung dung " , ( it's not the nicest of things I can tell you ) & you can't get rid of the bits that get in your nostrils ( for a couple of days ) no matter what you do .

Guess how I know all this ? Wink

On the bright side ... the five bins of brewing compost was well and truly fluffed up , had a 6 pound bag of fish , blood & bone meal sprinked in it over the whole aireating session , all lumps were trashed to a nice fine mix . The five bins worth went back into 2 & 3/4 bins as it had reduced considerably beforehand . By this time next week It should be down to two bins worth and I'll give it another Mantis session.



As I dismantled the heaps I took out ten or more large brandling red worms and slipped them in to the wormery .. .. I'd noticed earlier today that there were a shed load of small worms and cocoons so a few bigger ready to lay worms should give the wormery a welcome bost.


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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  floyd1440 on 3/29/2012, 8:23 pm

Hey neighbor......

Thanks so much for the info and diagram!!! That was very important for me as a newbie in the compost areana.

IMHO composting is the most important part of square foot gardenning, but I could be wrong.

Now I though some type of fence would be required and I will have to check into the type of galvinized mesh as you mentioned.

As I may have mentioned earlier will a 3x3x3 compost pit produce enough compost for two 4x8 beds?


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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  JustMe on 3/29/2012, 10:39 pm

Going back to the rabbit food...do rabbits come and eat in your compost bin because of the food?

We have two Earth Machine composters. One bin, which is farther from the house, has bite marks from something that tried to get in to it. We have deer, turkey, rabbits, and all kinds of critters in our backyard.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/30/2012, 11:24 pm

@JustMe wrote:Going back to the rabbit food...do rabbits come and eat in your compost bin because of the food?

We have two Earth Machine composters. One bin, which is farther from the house, has bite marks from something that tried to get in to it. We have deer, turkey, rabbits, and all kinds of critters in our backyard.

I have never seen any animal going after my compost. One reason is because it's kept in a bin so it might be kind of hard to get to. Secondly, I don't see how any animal would be able to smell edible food if it's covered up with manure and other junk.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  plantoid on 3/30/2012, 11:29 pm

Straight tailed squirrels .. aka. rats Wink or other rodents will soon find any worthwhile food in a compost heap if the weather has been / very bad as it's an easy feed . The teeth marks on the bin kind of confirm it.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/30/2012, 11:35 pm

@floyd1440 wrote:Hey neighbor......

Thanks so much for the info and diagram!!! That was very important for me as a newbie in the compost areana.

IMHO composting is the most important part of square foot gardenning, but I could be wrong.

Now I though some type of fence would be required and I will have to check into the type of galvinized mesh as you mentioned.

As I may have mentioned earlier will a 3x3x3 compost pit produce enough compost for two 4x8 beds?


A compost pile 3x3x3 is one cubic yard. That'll be enough compost to do 5 4x8 beds. That's assuming your compost pile has a great mix of ingredients. Since Mel's Mix needs a blend of 5 different composts, you might need to suppliment your compost pile with additional bags of bought compost.


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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  kittykat on 3/31/2012, 1:40 am

That is some amazing composting going on! I liked the hot composting article. 18 days! Wowzers!


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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  plantoid on 3/31/2012, 1:55 am

@JustMe wrote:Going back to the rabbit food...do rabbits come and eat in your compost bin because of the food?

We have two Earth Machine composters. One bin, which is farther from the house, has bite marks from something that tried to get in to it. We have deer, turkey, rabbits, and all kinds of critters in our backyard.



No , though it made me smile to think of Bugs Bunny going ape to get into your composter bin ,they eat natural vegetation out in the wild and would not be interested in any partially decayed cage food in the compost bin .

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Goosegirl on 3/31/2012, 7:28 am

We have a small bag of cat food, a flavor that our Spoiled Puddy Tats will not eat. Will that work in the bin?

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/31/2012, 7:46 am

@Goosegirl wrote:We have a small bag of cat food, a flavor that our Spoiled Puddy Tats will not eat. Will that work in the bin?

GG

It depends on what it's made from. If it's meat-based, I wouldn't put it in but if it's vegetable-based, I'd say go for it. If you do put it in, you might want to balance it out with brown material like leaves.

Hey....if you want, maybe you can donate it to the local animal shelter.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Goosegirl on 3/31/2012, 8:07 am

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
@Goosegirl wrote:We have a small bag of cat food, a flavor that our Spoiled Puddy Tats will not eat. Will that work in the bin?

GG

It depends on what it's made from. If it's meat-based, I wouldn't put it in but if it's vegetable-based, I'd say go for it. If you do put it in, you might want to balance it out with brown material like leaves.

Hey....if you want, maybe you can donate it to the local animal shelter.

I may just end up giving it to a friend with a Mastiff since we have no local animal shelter - this bag should be about one meal or a good snack for him! It is a grain-free, meat-based dry food. Really high quality food but it does have a distinct fish smell, and I have discovered that my cats DO NOT LIKE FISH!!! We are apparently a poultry house!

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/31/2012, 8:11 am

@Goosegirl wrote:I may just end up giving it to a friend with a Mastiff since we have no local animal shelter - this bag should be about one meal or a good snack for him! It is a grain-free, meat-based dry food. Really high quality food but it does have a distinct fish smell, and I have discovered that my cats DO NOT LIKE FISH!!! We are apparently a poultry house!

GG

I know cats are picky eaters but not liking fish?? Wow. I'm surprised. But I can almost guarantee you that your friend's dog will devour the cat food. Dogs will eat almost anything.
My brother's dog snacks from the compost bin at his house and is well-known for having a squirrel tail hanging out of his mouth. I'm sure you can figure out what happened to the squirrel. Shocked

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Goosegirl on 3/31/2012, 9:15 am

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:My brother's dog snacks from the compost bin at his house and is well-known for having a squirrel tail hanging out of his mouth. I Shocked

Floss?!

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/31/2012, 10:09 am

@Goosegirl wrote:
@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:My brother's dog snacks from the compost bin at his house and is well-known for having a squirrel tail hanging out of his mouth. I Shocked

Floss?!

Quite possibly but then he'd eat the floss because it tasted like animal.

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Re: Rebuilding a Compost Pile

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