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Cover compost bins ???

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Cover compost bins ???

Post  jimmy cee on 3/18/2013, 11:00 pm

I have two-- 4x4 ft compost bins, 1 is full and hopefully working.
Open to rain and snow I am wondering if I should throw a cover over them
to keep rain from creating excessive moisture ?
A cover that would be easily accessed and keep rain water off to the sides.
Of course I'll maintain watch to make sure it doesn't dry out..
I turn them every few days
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  yolos on 3/18/2013, 11:31 pm

I also have a 4 x 4 compost bin made out of pallets. I hill the top a little bit and put a piece of plastic over the very top. I leave the sides exposed to the rain. The sides of the bin dry out easily so I leave them exposed to absorb some water when it rains. The plastic on the top keeps the inside from getting too moist. I do not have to contend with snow so I do not know how that affects the operation. But if it gets too wet, it will mess up decomposition. Of course I only have one year of experience and don't really know what I am doing.
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  jimmy cee on 3/19/2013, 8:10 am

Good point
Yolos
I think I'll follow your method, edges almost always seem to be drier.
It will be like a top hat for my compost pile.. Very Happy
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  camprn on 3/19/2013, 8:14 am

I never cover the compost pile to prevent rain from getting in. If I lived in the Pacific Northwest where it rains so much of the time I may consider it but otherwise a bit of rain is a good thing. Save on my water bill.

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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  jimmy cee on 3/19/2013, 8:23 am

A bit of rain as you mention is fine camprn, however we sometimes have deluges and our yard turns into a temporary swamp.
It dries out in a couple of days, although the compost pile will hold most of that moisture.
I am liking that idea of a little hat on the top...maybe I can make one, a real top hat... Very Happy
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  camprn on 3/19/2013, 8:32 am

@jimmy cee wrote:A bit of rain as you mention is fine camprn, however we sometimes have deluges and our yard turns into a temporary swamp.
It dries out in a couple of days, although the compost pile will hold most of that moisture.
I am liking that idea of a little hat on the top...maybe I can make one, a real top hat... Very Happy
But if you are turning the pile a lot I don't see how this would be a problem as you are getting air into the pile. The reality is that if you are doing long term, leave it alone composting it really wont make a difference is you have enough carbon (browns). If you are doing a hot pile, the rain water, unless you get 5+ inches in a few hours, will not make that big a difference, especially if when you turn it over and there is a slope to the top of the pile.
IMHO What a Face

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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/19/2013, 9:25 am

@jimmy cee wrote:A bit of rain ...snip...is fine, however we sometimes have deluges and our yard turns into a temporary swamp.
It dries out in a couple of days, although the compost pile will hold most of that moisture.
I am liking that idea of a little hat on the top...maybe I can make one, a real top hat... Very Happy
We get that in western Washington. By-by heat! Hello really heavy, wet compost. I am in the habit of doing cylinder-shaped compost heaps. Usually a garbage can lid is enough to keep the center dry and warm. I like to make a big cylinder of hog wire so there is plenty of air circulation but days and days of cold rain puts a stop to everything (even snow doesn't cool it down like one to two inches of daily rain for 10 or more days). The other thing I've done is plastic garbage bags which tuck in nicely (wind is seldom a problem but when it kicks up things do fly) I collect bags of leaves in fall, saving about a third of them for spring/early summer when the rain is the worst. After running the leaves through the lawn mower, I like to add a bag of leaves to the compost when I turn it. The bag goes on top of the pile. By mid July, the PNW dries up enough to find another use for the bags.

Whatever you do, covered or not, enjoy the process.
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  plantoid on 3/19/2013, 4:12 pm

@jimmy cee wrote:I have two-- 4x4 ft compost bins, 1 is full and hopefully working.
Open to rain and snow I am wondering if I should throw a cover over them
to keep rain from creating excessive moisture ?
A cover that would be easily accessed and keep rain water off to the sides.
Of course I'll maintain watch to make sure it doesn't dry out..
I turn them every few days

Jimmy ,
The action of composting is to rot the materials , so by covering to hold in moisture will retain not only moisture neded for the action but also retains the heat of the heap and this inturn assists the moist conditions to become optimum rotting humidity temps for mould & bacteria production .

I strongly suspect( after reading the Berkley 18 day hot composting method ) that a covered frrequently turned heap will give you much superior compost with more of the nutrients N ,P& K along with micro nutrients than an uncovered left alone heap will .
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  jimmy cee on 3/19/2013, 9:50 pm

Plantoid
I like your idea
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  Gunny on 3/19/2013, 10:48 pm

Dave, that may be true, but I think climatic conditions would affect the out come. Say an area where you have high heat (yep, my place) and humidity during the summer, I don't see where a cover would add anything to the mix. I have one bin that was turned this morning, I had not messed with it for a couple of weeks except to spray down the outside, I don't mean hose it down, just a lite spray. When I got near the lower part of that pile I saw it had gone over to the microbes with the black hats. Mind you this an open cage and the pile is 122 cm diameter and 160 cm high. It is composed of hay, wood chips, green yard waste, kitchen scraps, dry ancient leaves, some already composted manure, and some then fresh manure when first built. I truthfully didn't have time to play with it with all the other stuff going on here. The top part and sides were dry, not the middle or the bottom. Covering it in this instance would probably had the neighbors complaining and they are not that close. So I am afraid I will have to agree to disagree with covered piles down here. Maybe in a colder time of the year they would be appropriate, but not when daytime temps are pushing 40C. Big Smile.
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  plantoid on 3/20/2013, 6:14 am

Yes in extreme temps the excessive heat will be too much for the microbes and fungi. It will sterilize them when much above 155 oF so in your sand pit of an oven area things will likely be quite different from the rest of the world wrt composting .

Keep notes adn bunbg them up on here Gunny, there are bound to be lots of others in your situation who'd just love to stand on the shoulders of composting giants who've been through the mine field and survived.
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

Post  yolos on 3/20/2013, 9:21 am

The information I found said to put your bin in the shade of a tree that will loose its leaves in the winter. It gets the shade in the summer and then the leaves are gone in the winter and it will get more sun to help keep the pile warmer. But looks like you area is a little devoid of trees Gunny. Of course if you put it too close to the tree you will also get roots in the compost bin.
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Re: Cover compost bins ???

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