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Compost one bed

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Compost one bed

Post  ETNRedClay on 1/19/2014, 2:08 am

Long time no type. Things got crazy last summer.  LOVED what I got from my first SFG, and my first BTE SFG.  No time to post at the time.  HUMONGOUS sweet potatoes, 5 & 6 POUNDS each.  All from mix, plant, mulch, & neglect.  Rosemary beds are wild and thriving even now.  Not so much Lavender, which is pathetic.  One in every garden, right?  Bell peppers in 5 colors were awesome.  Squash was overrun with fruits.  Tomatillos insane.  Worm tower was a creepy shivery success, put in 30 little red wrigglers into a 4x8 Irish potato bed and got back 30 GINORMOUS monster reds per SHOVEL-full.

Anyway, sadly, did no fall clean-up.  No fall planting.  No winter planting.  I am ITCHING to get back into things, this my second spring with vegetables and SFG & BTE.  And I have SO MUCH to compost with bagged leaves/grass clippings/pine needles, mushroom compost stockpiled, and branchy woodchips.  So much that my rolling trashcan composter is woefully over capacity, by a factor of 20 or 30.  So I'm converting one of my 4x8 raised beds to be a composter.  I'll raise it to 36" and load it with all the green or dried waste from the beds, and everything else above. 

This bed is right in the middle of the back SFG "garden" of 8ea 4x8 raised beds, and I'm wondering...

1) Is it crazy to put the composting bed right in the middle of the growing beds? 
2) Should I cover the bed with row cover to keep out bugs?  Or...?
3) Is there such a thing as too much compost with SFG?  If this bed works, I'll be able to top off everything early summer, distribute, and plant it for fall.  Making the NEXT bed in line the composter for summer and fall waste.
4) Any thoughts on loading up the compost bed and then covering in 4" of branchy  wood chips (BTE) to retain moisture aid breakdown?

Thoughts?  Practical advice?

I'm so restless to start I'm about to do SOMETHING, right wrong or foolish    Thanks, all!

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Re: Compost one bed

Post  FamilyGardening on 1/19/2014, 2:28 am

sounds fantastic to me!!

if we had enough room we would love to do something like this.....well....I think we kind of are....but....we are going to build raised beds for our chicken run, and put all of our compost in them and let the chickens go at it.....then a couple times a year....im thinking fall and then again spring....we will clean out the chicken beds and start it over again or more if needed......we are also going to use woodchips in their run....we will keep layering it over with compost and then woodchips.....and repeat  Very Happy 

we are also going to plant in these beds just for the chickens.....

we will have three beds fenced in with  their chicken house.....im hoping to have 2 4x6 for the chicken yard/run and 1 4x4 under their chicken house.....we are hoping to alternate between the two 4x6 beds....to allow growing time for their veggies/grass and such.....they are also going to free range in our garden beds when the beds are empty.....and of course in our back yard when we are out with them.....

it will be fun to see how it works out.....please keep us updated!

happy gardening

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Re: Compost one bed

Post  Goosegirl on 1/19/2014, 4:55 pm

@ETNRedClay wrote:....
I'm so restless to start I'm about to do SOMETHING, right wrong or foolish    ....

I hear ya! I did no fall clean-up and no fall planting either, so I am really itching to do something! I am thinking of starting my onion seeds early and just give them an extra haircut before they can go outside.

Personally, I think the idea of making one box at a time a compost box sounds great. I may just have to build another box just so I can start that, as I am not about to give up any growing space!


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Re: Compost one bed

Post  Marc Iverson on 1/19/2014, 6:07 pm

You can do more or less the same thing with chicken wire, or maybe a bit stronger. Anchor it here and there with some posts. My compost pile stays together fairly well on its own, though it could use some tucking up on a few edges. But it stays together well even on a significantly sloped hill. Gravity tends to pull downward more than sideways.

If you did that, it would keep your bed free for growing stuff, if you like. Why not turn one of your beds into a hoopy affair, with some PVC hoops holding up some row cover? Lots of people do that (I'm doing it) and get crops to at least establish a root system over the winter, leading to much earlier spring production.

The only problem with turning a box into a compost pile is that it sounds like your aeration will be very poor, and at the bottom more or less non-existent. You could improve that by first stabbing some perforated pipes into the soil or holding them together alternatively by connecting them into a grid of some sort. That would let some oxygen in. At any rate, compost gets created much more quickly and has much less chance of going all toxic and stinky on you, when it has plenty of air.

Also working against proper aeration in a bed is, how are you going to turn over the compost to get it rotting evenly (and with enough air and water)?

It seems to me you'd be much better off with something that lets air and water in, and that you could even turn over once in a while when you're in the mood. Faster and probably more reliable results, less stinkification from anaerobic decomposition. Some of those solutions might be cheaper too, which doesn't hurt. And it would leave you with your workable bed.

Marc Iverson

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Re: Compost one bed

Post  sanderson on 1/19/2014, 8:08 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote:  stinkification from anaerobic decomposition.

I had one of those compost piles!!

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Re: Compost one bed

Post  Goosegirl on 1/19/2014, 8:42 pm

@sanderson wrote:
@Marc Iverson wrote:  stinkification from anaerobic decomposition.

I had one of those compost piles!!

Who hasn't?!  affraid rofl 


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what's BTE?

Post  kauairosina on 1/19/2014, 10:01 pm

What is BTE?

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Re: Compost one bed

Post  camprn on 1/20/2014, 12:10 am

@kauairosina wrote:What is BTE?
Back to Eden, another form of gardening than the square foot gardening technique.


41 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.

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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