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To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  jimmy cee on 10/28/2015, 4:26 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:We composters are SCAVENGERS par excellence!!!  You guys reminded me that I need to get to my church coffee shop and trade out my 5 gallon bucket :-)

I get about 2 gallons a week of coffee grounds there - during the big fires I got TONS of coffee grounds as the fire camp was right next to our church and we became a hang out hub for the guys.
 RIGHT ON  A.J.R.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 10/29/2015, 3:21 am

AJ, Scavengers par excellent - I love that!

Sunday, husband collected 25 gallons of horse manure and 2 1/2 bags of Starbucks. He certainly knows how to make a girl happy! He's going back tomorrow to get more manures while it is still dry. We had a tiny bit of rain this morning and I don't want a bunch of heavy wet manure.

Jimmy, I bought 4 hanging baskets at HD for $5 each. I'm going to try to make a flower fence line similar to yours. Need about 10 more of them.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  trolleydriver on 10/29/2015, 8:47 am

sanderson ... it almost sounds like you have a commercial size composting operation. My composting is nothing by comparison.  Laughing Laughing Laughing

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 10/29/2015, 12:24 pm

@trolleydriver wrote:sanderson ... it almost sounds like you have a commercial size composting operation. My composting is nothing by comparison.  Laughing Laughing Laughing
No, no, the box is only 3' x 3' x 3' but I have learned it takes "volumes" to fill it to have a hot Berkeley pile.

My first cage looked like your wire cage, which is fine for slow composting.  It just wasn't large enough to replenish 93 sq ft of beds plus pots twice a year.  The original cage is now being reused this fall/winter as an experiment to make non-pasteurized compost for the flower beds.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Zmoore on 10/29/2015, 3:36 pm

OOO! OOO! Fun with Math!!!
1 gallon= .13 c.f. "-ish"
5 gallon bucket= .67 c.f. "-ish"
25 gallons = five 5-gal. buckets
3'x3'x3'= 27 c.f. (a.k.a cubic yard)

So, Sanderson's pile/box= 27 c.f. = about forty- 5 gallon buckets total or a total of about 200 gallons.

So, the fun word problem for the day is:
If Sanderson wants a ratio of 1 gallon of manure per 3 gallons of straw and leaves and she already has 25 gallons of manure.  What's her outstanding husband's name?

Bonus Question for Sanderson.  When I get horse manure it's got quite a bit of sawdust and other bedding material in it as well.  Looks like yours might also.  Typical bedding used for horses would generally fall in the "brown" category, while the... well, poop and urine mixed in would be "green" (for some reason I just pictured a horse on St. Patty's day, weird).  If you're really trying to get a good "balance", do you count your buckets of manure as "green", "brown", or somewhere in between?

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  jimmy cee on 10/29/2015, 5:38 pm

Don't get caught up in that balancing stuff. It almost drove me crazy trying to understand all of it.
Now I toss it all in, try to keep an even balance and it is going wild for me...The main problem in my opinion is not to forget it's there, treat it like your garden.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  AtlantaMarie on 10/29/2015, 6:13 pm

ZMoore, you are so funny!  And the answer is "purple" because she treats him like royalty.  (And vice versa!)

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Scorpio Rising on 10/29/2015, 6:27 pm

I agree Jimmy! Just do it!


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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/29/2015, 8:51 pm

Only thing I'd add is that, at least in my case, I found that the more green the merrier, but without enough browns, most of what you have will rot/seep away. That's great for any soil underneath, I suppose, but leaves you with very little compost to show for your efforts. You definitely need your browns to stabilize the pile and keep all your efforts from going POOF! and vanishing into thin air.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  jimmy cee on 10/29/2015, 9:29 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote:Only thing I'd add is that, at least in my case, I found that the more green the merrier, but without enough browns, most of what you have will rot/seep away.  That's great for any soil underneath, I suppose, but leaves you with very little compost to show for your efforts.  You definitely need your browns to stabilize the pile and keep all your efforts from going POOF! and vanishing into thin air.

I'll second this

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Scorpio Rising on 10/29/2015, 9:44 pm

Agree whole heartedly! It does kind of disappear, without the browns.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/29/2015, 10:54 pm

Sanderson's hubby definitely deserves to wear royal purple - he's a prince of a guy getting her loads and loads and loads.... (you get the drift) of manure and goodies  Very Happy

My pile composition is really easy.  I've found that 4 wheelbarrow loads makes a complete Berkeley pile somewhere between 3-4 cu ft. depending on how heaping my wheelbarrow loads are.  I have an extra large, wheelbarrow with heavy duty back wheels (Mother's Day gift from the best hubby in the world).  I gather fresh cow manure - I learned from a book that within 12 hours of "dropping" cow manure loses 1/2 of it's nitrogen and nutritional value so I like to get it "fresh" and hot, LOL!  I gather 1/3 to 1/4 ratio of manure to straw and bedding. 

In another corner of the pasture is a section where they feed the cows and it's piled up at least 6 inches or more deep over a year or so.  They stand in this area to eat so it's well saturated with various bodily issues  Laughing  That is perfect to heat with nothing else added so I can get a straight load of that and it works.

I mix in anything else I've got as I'm building the pile because all of that will do enough to get it cooking.  For some reason I have wild mustard growing like crazy when I've never had it before.  It grows fast, makes large greens and pulls up easy peasy so it's a great green to add into my pile.  

I have piles of wood chips available and if a pile heats too hot I just mix some of them in when turning the pile.  That's always done the trick.  

If your pile isn't hot enough, coffee grounds produces the best heat over the longest time.  It can stay hot almost two weeks with enough grounds.  So, cultivate those coffee shop resources!!!

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 10/30/2015, 2:35 am

The color Purple for my husband!  And I loved the math questions!  rofl

This is the calculator I used to try to get a good balance of greens and browns.  http://klickitatcounty.org/SolidWaste/fileshtml/organics/compostCalc.htm

For this last pile, #10 ??, which I think is the best I've done, the manure was broken up into little poos, veggies chopped or squished, and the leaves (front pile) and alfalfa hay (rear pile) mowed.  I used the amount of poo on hand (four 5-gal buckets) and chopped produce (four 5-gal buckets) with the calculator to see if Ken needed to get me more manure for this batch of compost.  I ended up with a C:N ratio of 20.16!!  Not bad for me.

4 buckets of little poo balls
4 buckets of chopped produce
19 buckets of shredded leaves
23 buckets of shredded alfalfa hay
6 1/2 buckets of City Compost
plus 3 beers, 1 cup of molasses, spoiled milk, box of Honey Nut Cheerios, and 1 cup of blood meal.

This showed me that I had been using way more manure than needed to achieve 160*F for a few days with frequent turning.

Someone asked about horse manure with wood shavings.  I quit using wood shavings as browns after the first year.  They just didn't break down and I kept getting splinters from the MM.  The manure I used is from dirt pens or from straw stalls.  I think that if the wood shavings are incidental to the horse manure, the manure will provide enough nitrogen to break them down.  I was actually using wood shavings as a major brown.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  trolleydriver on 10/30/2015, 9:32 am

Are cows a type of mobile compost pile?

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/30/2015, 2:04 pm

@trolleydriver wrote:Are cows a type of mobile compost pile?
Yup, LOL!  Great way to put it!

By the way, I have found that if I gather the raw manure and bedding and use it directly as a mulch under my trees they LOVE it.  I had some very sickly redwoods that have been nursed back to health using 4-6 inches of mulch around them to hold in the moisture and making that mulch nutritious to boot.  Because there's nothing to "burn" I don't waste finished compost on them just layer it on and time and the worms take care of everything.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  trolleydriver on 11/1/2015, 1:33 pm

I now have thirteen bags of leaves waiting to be shredded. These came from three nearby neighbours. Looks like we will be getting some nice weather during the week to allow me to work on the leaves, compost piles and other gardening related activities. Then it will be time to get the snowblower ready for the winter. Winter tires are going this week as well.

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Isn't she cute!!!

Post  Zmoore on 11/2/2015, 7:53 am

Well, I still had some warmth in the pile on Saturday.  Added some more coffee grounds, filters, and banana peels (about 2 gallons) down inside the pile. Fired of the blower/vacuum and picked up leaves off portion of the driveway and then added leaves on top of the pile.  For right now the leaves or more of an insulator for the working part of the pile, BUT my desired "mass"/size is about right now with the leaves added.  That's about a cubic yard sitting there.  Anyway, added the leaves and then lightly soaked with water just to get rid of dust and help them stay on the pile.
  


By the way.  I know there are many methods and ways for shredding material.  I have to say a vacuum works nice for leaves.  Little "labor intensive" only because holding the vacuum in your hands and the associated bag on your shoulder for a long duration ... well, it adds up.  I'm only 48, but I'm also out of shape.  After a little over an hour of work I was.. done.  It was a relief to set the vacuum down.  Anyway, I wouldn't suggest running out and buying one just for composting, but if you have one or have other uses for one, it's a nice tool.  Creates a decent material IMO.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  AtlantaMarie on 11/2/2015, 8:40 am

I love my neighbor, Tony!  He mowed/vacuumed up all his leaves the other day.  When he finished putting some on his garden, he dumped the rest in my compost pile...  Not shredded, but it's a cold pile.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/2/2015, 11:38 am

I have a bunch of cottonwoods but rarely get the leaves because of the winds.  They blow away and I don't have a fence that catches them.  Oh well...It's going to rain heavy today which will soak them, knock down quite a few remaining on the trees and gives me the best chance to gather them up before blowing away so I'll be busy as soon as the rains let up!

I have a chipper/shredder and have to clean up the yard and trim trees so it will all get mixed together via chipping and put down on my in ground beds for mulch.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  jimmy cee on 11/2/2015, 10:45 pm

3 houses away from me....(100 feet). is for sale, the caretaker raked up about 30 garbage bags of partially done leaves on Sat.
Today I started gathering them up 2 bags at a time. Filled 2 bags and lugged them over to my driveway.
When I went up for my second batch, the borough's leaf vacuum came along and scoffed them up...
Well, I got 2 bags anyway

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 11/3/2015, 1:36 am

Jimmy,  Sad     How many bags do you need for composting? It reminds me that I need to contact several neighbors this winter regarding collecting their leaves and find out when their gardeners mow.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  jimmy cee on 11/3/2015, 7:37 am

@sanderson wrote:Jimmy,  Sad     How many bags do you need for composting?  It reminds me that I need to contact several neighbors this winter regarding collecting their leaves and find out when their gardeners mow.
As many bags as you can get.
A full bag in spring/summer shredded will taper down to about 1/10th of total contents.
My spot in back of my shed is where I hide mine, Just upsets me a little that they were right on my doorstep and I let it go.
Seriously though, I'd get as many as your comfortable with having around.
A good friend of mine has a truckload of shredded leaves dumped every year. Comes from the borough leaf machine.
In the spring when he is ready to use, it is all just about composted.
He uses it on potato's and their really nice.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Scorpio Rising on 11/3/2015, 8:01 am

Honestly, I have never looked at my yard full of fallen maple leaves with such ardor before coming to this site.....should I bag them, or just stick 'em on the pile (cold pile) now and tarp it? Or as discussed elsewhere on here, start a "new" pile and let the other one deflate for spring?

I have a TON. Full acre, huge trees out front. Mature maples, a couple linden, and a white birch and redbud.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Zmoore on 11/3/2015, 9:12 am

Scorpio, My 2 cents is do whatever you want to do or whatever you can do.  I don't think there is a wrong answer. I think you already have the the basic right answer, which is to harvest the material to begin with.  After that it's just up to you on how it fits your schedule and what you can do or plan to do with it.
In my case, I've started "harvesting" and I've added the material to my active compost pile because in MY case I want to play with a compost pile over the winter and see if I can have it ready by spring.  
I plan to harvest more, but that's going to go in a "cold pile" or just a materials pile that I'll actively start mixing with other material in the spring and going from there.  In my case I have more leaves available than I can use... o.k. more than I want to use.  I guess I COULD harvest and compost all of it, but I don't want to, too much for me.  So, in my case I'll just gather up a big pile, little more than I think I'll actually use, pile it, soak it just to encourage it to compress some and help it generally stay in place and let it set.  No bags, no tarp.  When I start to use it in the spring it will be partially decomposed already, which is bonus as far as I'm concerned.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 11/3/2015, 12:36 pm

Zmoore, I've got to ask you about your avatar. A water-logged area?

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

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