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How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

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How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  Triciasgarden on 8/31/2013, 12:33 am

I think I may not be the only one curious about this.  I know several of you have made giant compost piles.  What is the largest pile you have made?  How long did it take to become usable compost?  How often did you turn it?  How large was your pile when it was done?

To get us started, my largest was 4' x 4'.  I made several right before winter last year.  They didn't do much during the winter and I couldn't turn them.  In the spring I started turning them.  I probably turned them no more often then once a week on average bcause that was all I could do.  They all took months to finish.  I did have to combine them several times because they shrunk down too far and still had composting to do.  I was trying to rush building my piles because of the approaching winter and it was cold out.  I didn't shread my leaves in 2-3 of those piles like I should have.  I could see a difference in just the next day on how much those piles shrunk.  My combined finished piles were about 2-3' high and wide.  I do have to say that my compost turned out great!

I want to make a giant compost pile but I don't want it to be too big where it isn't composting.  Ok, next person!  Also, if this needs to be moved or changed, feel free to make any changes, additions or deletions.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 8/31/2013, 2:13 am

I did a 4 x 4 last year. It took a crazy amount of time to break down. This year I have my chipper shredder fixed and operable so I'm going to shred everything when I pull up my garden as well as when the leaves fall.

So far this year much of my garden waste has gone to our steer instead of the compost pile. Fattening that boy up until Feb or March when we'll have some nice steaks to go with those veggies :-)

I'm juicing fasting and have lots of pulp waste that I'm feeding my worm tubes and compost tumbler. It's shredded very fine so it's breaking down quickly.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  batmap on 8/31/2013, 6:41 am

As far as I know, a compost pile requires frequent (almost constant) access to a source of water, but can quickly lose moisture in arid environments. I experienced this while living in Colorado. The lack of bugs is great, but it also means very dry compost.

I have found using a trash container made of plastic or metal will work, as long as there is a lid. Summer heat and wind can quickly evaporate any liquids contained in composted materials, so be sure to replace the lid and add water as needed.

The goal here is to increase activity... by keeping them fed, moist, and dark; or stir as needed to encourage compost production. "Seeding" a new pile from a productive pile can do the trick if everything else is as it should be.

After a few days to a week, you should begin to see a pattern of insect activity, such as a bunch of pill-bugs or black soldier-fly larvae. Keep them alive and well fed and they will make all the compost you can use.

*Notes: I use a 31-gallon metal trash can. It is too heavy to move when full.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  camprn on 8/31/2013, 7:07 am

My monster pile last year settled at 4x4x8. However it took a few weeks to get all the fodder into the bin so i would fill it to the top with shredded leaves and the summer leavings. It would settle some and then there was room again for more shredded leaves and summer fodder. I turned it a few times before the weather got cold and then it cooked over the winter time. It was ready when gardening time again. I think there are some photos in the New England monthly threads of October and November 2012.

The fastest compost piles I have had have been done in 4 weeks, typically 3x3- 4x4. Frequent turning was required as well as high nitrogen content. The compost was done in 4 weeks and ready for the garden, could be a bit chunky but it still works. Letting it rest and age is nice if you have the time.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  Marc Iverson on 8/31/2013, 1:58 pm

Mine is about 3 feet wide by 8 feet long. It's on a hillside, so the depth is variable, but I think it's about 1 and a half feet high on the highest end, getting deeper as it goes down the hillside. Only one side is supported, and the bottom isn't, so I need to wrap some wire around the whole thing to keep it in place.

I've got newspaper in it, and lots of cardboard. I'll add some leaves, too. The rest is kitchen waste, chicken and especially horse manure, both of which I'm getting gratis from a neighbor. The bigger it gets, the less I'm turning it, as I don't want it to just roll down the hillside. After I get its sides firmed up, I'll turn it more.

I've been watering it, but sporadically. Still, the earliest part, at the top of the hill, sank dramatically, so it must be doing something.

The cantaloupe seeds and onions sure seem to love it!

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/31/2013, 2:37 pm

Mine have been the same size for a few years now.  It's a cone shaped pile that starts out at about about 4' hi x 6' wide x 7' long, but ends up about 4' x 4' in the end, like now:

Left is last falls pile which I'm using now.  On the right is the new wastes pile that I'm continuously adding to, waiting for fall leaves to mix it with it.  I used to turn them every weekend but now only about 4 times a year.  The oak leaves take their time regardless so why bust my butt.

The new star ingredients last year were lots of seaweed, urine, dzns of lobster & steamer shells & 5 gal buckets of Starbucks used coffee grounds.  This years new stars will be totally organic chicken poop from the cleanest chicken house/yard I've ever seen along with some huge comfrey leaves. What a Face 

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  littlejo on 9/1/2013, 10:01 pm

I tried doing a reg. pile, but soon realized I was not able to do it, so, I got a bin, about 50 gal. that I could turn. It works fine but I needed more volume for my garden.
I was given 2, over 200 gal cylinders, and I've used 1, after my DH made some ventilation tubes for it. I did not turn at all, just layered browns and greens as best I could, watered it whenever I thought about it. I let it work for about 2 months, til I needed some. I had to have help turning it over to shovel out. It had finished with good looking compost. I've included some pics. I will start filling the 2nd 1 soon, for Oak leaves are falling now, and I think we will have an early winter, we've not had much summer here! (I cover it with a tarp) Jo




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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/2/2013, 12:06 am

What a cool idea!

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  sanderson on 9/2/2013, 5:32 am

Ditto, Cool!    I'll have to show it to husband.  Just what he wants to do; build me another project!

Could you take a photo of the top?  I'm trying to figure out how you have a piece of PVC sticking out of a 4-way connector.  Thanks

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  batmap on 9/2/2013, 6:49 am

@sanderson wrote:Ditto, Cool!    I'll have to show it to husband.  Just what he wants to do; build me another project!

Could you take a photo of the top?  I'm trying to figure out how you have a piece of PVC sticking out of a 4-way connector.  Thanks
Unless I am way off here, as far as I can tell...

My guess is it kind of looks like he drilled thru the center using maybe 9/16 or 1/2 inch drill bit for that smaller center piece of ~1/4 inch pipe (which has 0.54 inch OD; pvc pipe chart), based on what the outside diameters appear to be.

Everything else looks like ~3/4 to 1.5 inch; not sure what scale is. Center piece sticking up looks to be for water access for moisture, venting, and possibly a handle. Nice idea.

Am I close?

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  llama momma on 9/2/2013, 7:54 am

My compost pile is made from 5 wooden pallet heaps or 20 feet long 4ft wide and 4 ft high.  Plus two leaf corrals each 6 by 8 ft by 5 ft high. In January this year the compost pallet heaps and leaf corrals were filled and by now shrunk down to about 1/2 of the original volume.  At this  time I've barely used any compost from the first pallet heap.  I had a lot of kitty litter containers of stored compost in the garage from the previous year and used those first.  Early spring I made a 18 day fast composting heap and used all of it immediately for new boxes for spring planting while letting the large compost heaps continue composting.
I haven't turned over or watered the large compost heaps. Had  enough rain to keep the heaps moist and I use a 5 ft long rebar to periodically punch new holes in the heaps for aeration. That aeration proved to be enough when a surprise of 1/2 dozen volunteer pumpkins showed up.  The plan now is to dig out compost from the bottom and store into containers for next spring. Then consolidate heaps and refill empty heaps. Then I'll have an idea how much material is needed to start over again.   The link below has some pictures page 15, if interested.  
 http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t14020p210-leaves-compost-leaves?highlight=leaves

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  bnoles on 9/2/2013, 8:18 am

LM.... Proof is in the pictures! You are without a doubt "The Compost Queen"!

I finally caved in and bought a Mantis Tiller to help me keep mine turned and churned and look forward to seeing better results.


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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  llama momma on 9/2/2013, 9:52 am

That tiller sounds like a great idea Bob - let it do the hardest work! 
Yeah my compost adventure went a little wild.  Got all that work behind me so while a lot of it will continue to break down and stabilize I should get away with much less effort this year making new piles, while maintaining a good reserve of usable stuff in storage containers for next spring.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  camprn on 9/2/2013, 10:25 am

I love my mantis tiller, but turn my monster pile by fork and hand.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  sanderson on 9/2/2013, 2:10 pm

LM, I looked at your link. I'm impressed by all your work.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  TxGramma on 9/2/2013, 3:35 pm

LM very impressive. How much property do you have? It's very pretty, easy to see how you and hubby can enjoy lots of peace and tranquility there. And like you said still have some things to keep you active and enjoying life. Congrats on creating your piece of heaven on earth.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  llama momma on 9/2/2013, 4:28 pm

Thanks sanderson and txgramma.  That much composting was a lot of effort.  Should be able to  back off this year.   TxGramma, I think you saw the picture of the land next to us that had all the wide open brown harvested land. The place is several hundred acres. My place is a mini farm 8 1/4 acres and real farmers would rightly call my place a builder's lot.  To this Long island born and bred girl this land is exactly the same size as the street I grew up on with 22 other houses on it.  But we get to look after the same size piece of God's earth with one house on it.  Though when you're tired it feels like an entire county What a Face

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  TxGramma on 9/2/2013, 10:37 pm

LM, I did see that pic but was talking about not just that photo but all of them. What I could see it looks like you have a nice place. 8 1/3 acres is still a nice size property even if the "real farmers" don't think so. lol At this point in my life, I wouldn't want anything huge anyway. Too much to take care of and more work than I want to do now. I would love to have a few acres to have some chickens, bees, my garden, and maybe a cow or two. But I want to be in the mountains and have actual seasons instead of all this heat.

I need to find some good sources of compost items so that I can get a nice pile going. I want to have homemade compost ready for my new beds that we will be adding in once we get our remodeling complete.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  llama momma on 9/3/2013, 6:51 am

TXGr  Thank you for your thoughts.
 
 We enjoy the elbow room, scenery, and the quiet.  We've lived in 2 nice suburban areas with nearly trouble free neighbors but we felt crowded and traffic congestion were huge negatives for us.  Pros and cons no matter where you live.  There was faster snow removal service in the burbs.  Out here you sit tight longer till the plow makes its way over...  I've learned to accept using powdered milk in those times and glad I had the wits to have a pantry installed especially nice in winters.  Learning to can so it'll be a neat treat to put my own stuff in there too. Otherwise we can only pray we maintain our health to keep up this place.  
 
When I became an outdoor composter it's funny how your mind shifts and looks at things so differently at all the possibilities.  And with vermicomposting there is a frozen bag of goodies in the freezer for three basement containers of worms too.  Composting changed my behavior.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  sanderson on 9/3/2013, 11:41 am

@llama momma wrote:
 
When I became a . . . composter it's funny how your mind shifts and looks at things so differently at all the possibilities.  And with vermicomposting there is a frozen bag of goodies in the freezer for three basement containers of worms too.  Composting changed my behavior.
+1 Very Happy 

I have a compost cage and worm tube

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  plantoid on 9/3/2013, 4:08 pm

The biggest I made was over 50 mtrs long and 8 mtrs wide at the base I  used a front loader and cleared out the over wintered cattle shed  Laughing 

 The best I made was 20 foot square base rising to about 12 foot tall when made . The " *********  " who had the next allotment set it on fire when he decided to burn off the tinder dry  cut grass left by  the local authority when they cut it down a fortnight before he got possession of the allotment for free as he was unemployed having just come out of a six month stretch in jail

When I was informed of situation & went down to the allotments to see what was what & found for he'd also  burnt down my store shed as well , which contained my seeds , records , clothing and hand tools ... it took three other gardeners adjacent to my plot to hold me back from him  Evil or Very Mad till the red mist subsided and reasoned thought  took over .
 It had taken me ages to borrow the firms truck at £ 10 a go for fuel and go and collect all the various raw materials . It consisted of something like eleven x 2 tonne loads of stable yard muck chic ken muck, cow muck , mixed raw veg waste from a veg processing/cannery  factory , mixed raw fruit& exotic veg  from a nationwide veg & fruit wholesaler & several loads of sawdust and shavings from a large joinery work place adjacent to my place of work .
 I'd mixed it ever so well several times and in truth could have cheerfully murdered the stupid little  "****** " Twisted Evil Rolling Eyes .

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  littlejo on 9/3/2013, 6:00 pm

Plantoid.
Sounds like he did not stay in jail long enough!


Here is a pic of the top connections on my bin. The pvc is 1 in, 2in, and elbows on the 2 in. with air holes in all the pipe. I don't know what use the 2 in surrounding the 1 in, I think my DH had a senior moment. He put the 1 in. into the four ways with a forstner bit, don't check spelling please.


The bottom parts are all glued together so everything stays put while filling. The top comes off for ease of filling/emptying.
I'm trying for simple and easy. For my 2nd bin, I'm going to see if I can just use pvc pipe, maybe 1 in, with air holes in it. I'm going to put the pipe thru holes in the bin that will just fit. I'll use this site for my ideas.  If it works, should be able to use smaller containers/maybe trash cans.
http://www.hillgardens.com/21compost.htm

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  TxGramma on 9/3/2013, 7:39 pm

littlejo, I like your set up for the barrels. When I saw it I thought about the link that you just posted...I have that link saved for when I get my compost bins made. I had ran across it a while back when I was doing some research on composting/composting bins and thought it was something worth trying out so I wouldn't have to turn my piles...can't wait to see how well it works out.

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  sanderson on 9/3/2013, 8:50 pm

Plantoid, That's a tear jerker. Sad  [The loss of the bounteous compost!]

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Re: How big have you made your Biggest compost pile?

Post  Triciasgarden on 9/3/2013, 10:38 pm

Wow Plantoid, what a big loss!  Saying this nicely, how can someone be so ignorant!

All of you have such wonderful compost piles and containers for compost!  This is being so much more inspiring and such a great learning experience for us all!

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