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Compost Heaps

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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  brianj555 on 9/3/2017, 11:06 am

@CapeCoddess wrote:I do more or less.  I dump it all over the top of the pile and all across on the ground, then spread thinly to dry.  I work it in to the pile as I add more scraps.
That's a good idea. Thanks
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Brown/Green Carbon/Nitrogen Ratios

Post  brianj555 on 9/23/2017, 11:55 am

I have tried to read up on ratios, but the information on the internet is difficult for me to decipher the whole 80:1 , 12:1 stuff. 
I'm an 8th grade technology teacher who's home backs up to woods that have never been built on or occupied.  I teach at a school with about 500 students. I have enlisted the help of the workers in the cafeteria and I get all of the fruit scraps and rinds as well as any vegetable scraps.  I get many more fruit , but I also get some veggies.Lots and Lots of fruit!   Behind my house is all of the pine straw anyone could ever need mixed with some leaves.  This time of year , there is much more pine straw than leaves. I can rake the dry top away and the closer I get to the ground the more partially broken down the leaves and straw are.  
Last night when I was reading on the subject, I read an arcticle that said friuts were "brown".  I had been thinking they were "green", so when I made made layers and guesstimated ratios the fruit was considered "green".  Are fruit scraps and rinds really "brown"? 
Can anyone give me some guestimated ratios if I am primarily using :
Partially broken down pine straw and leaves ( heavy with straw) 
Grass clippings (at least for another 6 weeks or so)
Fruit Rinds ( I have lots )
veggie scraps ( about 1/5 as many as fruit )
Small amounts of kitchen waste (coffee grounds, tea , egg shells )

The pile has gotten quite large, so I've gone from turning it every other day to once a week.
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  countrynaturals on 9/23/2017, 12:41 pm

LOL, Brian, you make me tired. 🤣My situation is a little different, since I "hire" the chickens to turn my compost, but there's nothing I can do about my ratios -- way more brown than green -- so I just dump it and use it as needed. I can't imagine why fruit would be considered "brown" but it's great anyway, cuz the compost heap has a sweet tooth and fruit is loaded with sugar. rock on
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  bigdogrock on 9/23/2017, 1:26 pm

Hey Brian, it looks like what you are doing is great. I feel, that the more you turn it, the faster it composts. For me, covered heaps and piles or what ever you want to call it, seem to cook much faster when I add water every now and then. Left alone and uncovered, it takes  a year to year and half to strike gold in copious amounts.
I can cover a 4x4 wire round with clear plastic and within hours it has moisture built up on the inside, "it is cookin' ". The last time I did that I combined three two month old piles and it was done in 2 months, during the summer and I was adding a five gallon bucket of water (that had some finished compost added in about three days earlier, left in spot that was warm, just to add some more beneficial bugs) about once every other week. I have heard that plastic will slow down the process because it doesn't let in enough oxygen. But in my very unscientific experiments, side by side, a pile with the plastic vs. a pile uncovered, the plastic covered pile is a winner by months.

Just a note here to everybody, this is about the best site on the web! Where else can everybody do things differently, explain how to do them differently, not condemn anybody else, teach someone a multitude of different ways, and still show the unity and friendship to everybody?
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  brianj555 on 9/23/2017, 2:39 pm

@bigdogrock wrote:Hey Brian, it looks like what you are doing is great. I feel, that the more you turn it, the faster it composts. For me, covered heaps and piles or what ever you want to call it, seem to cook much faster when I add water every now and then. Left alone and uncovered, it takes  a year to year and half to strike gold in copious amounts.
I can cover a 4x4 wire round with clear plastic and within hours it has moisture built up on the inside, "it is cookin' ". The last time I did that I combined three two month old piles and it was done in 2 months, during the summer and I was adding a five gallon bucket of water (that had some finished compost added in about three days earlier, left in spot that was warm, just to add some more beneficial bugs) about once every other week. I have heard that plastic will slow down the process because it doesn't let in enough oxygen. But in my very unscientific experiments, side by side, a pile with the plastic vs. a pile uncovered, the plastic covered pile is a winner by months.

Just a note here to everybody, this is about the best site on the web! Where else can everybody do things differently, explain how to do them differently, not condemn anybody else, teach someone a multitude of different ways, and still show the unity and friendship to everybody?
Yes.  Good suggestion.  I might try covering it.  I have an old 12 x 6 pool ( soft)of my daughters that would cover the pile well and would be relatively easy to take off an on.  Think that would work?  
I need my compost ready for March!  So it's been a heap for 5 or 6 weeks and I have 5 more months. So I'm guessing I need to start finding way to accelerate the process some. 
Should I avoid adding new materials to that pile and start a new one?  Once you factor in vermiculite and peat I will need 20 cubic feet of compost.  I am am trying to get as much as I can , so I will have to purchase less from the local feed and seed.  I have a new 40 cubic foot bed I'm starting next year.
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  yolos on 9/24/2017, 12:20 am

Here is a site I used when I first started making compost.  I don't use it any more but just add to my compost pile whatever I have available at the time.

http://www.klickitatcounty.org/documentcenter/view/3523

Well, that is news to me.  That web site says fruit waste is 32:1.  I believe the dividing line between browns and greens is 30:1 so I guess fruits are then considered a brown.  But I never heard that.  ??????????????????
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  sanderson on 9/24/2017, 2:28 am

I'm glad I saw this thread tonight. For a while, the Klickitat calculator was off line, and I'm happy it is back.

Yolos, Fruit waste can mean different things. I'm wondering if it is referring to fruit processing plant waste? That may mean the peels or drier pulp which would be higher concentrations of cellulose. ?? I lump rotten fruits and veggies as produce.

Brian, Don't add anymore material to a pile. Start a new one. The days/weeks/months to maturity start ticking with the last bit of material you add. That pool sounds like it would work great as protection. Uncovering and turning the pile(s) will introduce fresh oxygen to the material and allow you to monitor the moisture. Just a question. Do you have access to any farm manure? Starbucks??

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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  sanderson on 9/24/2017, 3:00 am

Using the Klickitat calculator with one bucket each of wet compressed leaves, used coffee grounds, fresh mowed grass and orange peels, one would get 25.39, which is within in the 25-30 C:N range suggested.  You can find more lists of products and their C:N ratios on the internet.  If you have more than four major components, just clump similar rated products together so you can fit them within this nifty calculator.

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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  brianj555 on 9/24/2017, 10:48 am

@yolos wrote:Here is a site I used when I first started making compost.  I don't use it any more but just add to my compost pile whatever I have available at the time.

http://www.klickitatcounty.org/documentcenter/view/3523

Well, that is news to me.  That web site says fruit waste is 32:1.  I believe the dividing line between browns and greens is 30:1 so I guess fruits are then considered a brown.  But I never heard that.  ??????????????????
Thanks for the link yolos!  I also thought fruit being brown was weird.  The way Sanderson talked about it made a little more sense to me.  I could see fruit rinds ( like cantaloupe) being brown if I thought about it hard enough.  But I would think like a rotten pear would be green.  Rinds = brown Actual fruit = green ???  I guess that would make some sense.
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  brianj555 on 9/24/2017, 10:53 am

@sanderson wrote:I'm glad I saw this thread tonight.  For a while, the Klickitat calculator was off line, and I'm happy it is back.

Yolos, Fruit waste can mean different things.  I'm wondering if it is referring to fruit processing plant waste?  That may mean the peels or drier pulp which would be higher concentrations of cellulose.  ??  I lump rotten fruits and veggies as produce.

Brian,  Don't add anymore material to a pile.  Start a new one.  The days/weeks/months to maturity start ticking with the last bit of material you add.  That pool sounds like it would work great as protection.  Uncovering and turning the pile(s) will introduce fresh oxygen to the material and allow you to monitor the moisture.  Just a question.  Do you have access to any farm manure?  Starbucks??
I do have access to it Starbucks and Horse Hockey, although the other stuff Is just easily readily available to me. I might need to start doing more leg work and go ahead and go into Starbucks and ask them if I can get some. Didn't I read one of your posts that said something about them using pods or pucks?  Is that what you get?
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  brianj555 on 9/24/2017, 11:10 am

@sanderson wrote:Using the Klickitat calculator with one bucket each of wet compressed leaves, used coffee grounds, fresh mowed grass and orange peels, one would get 25.39, which is within in the 25-30 C:N range suggested.  You can find more lists of products and their C:N ratios on the internet.  If you have more than four major components, just clump similar rated products together so you can fit them within this nifty calculator.
That's a great resource.  Thanks to you and yolos for your help.  
As it stands right now, as a guestimate, I would say I have:
5 parts - straw and leaves (partially decomposed)
3 parts - grass clippings 
2 parts - fruit rinds
1 part - actual fruit 
1 part - veggies 
1/2 part - coffee and tea grounds

I'm not at an actual pc right now and the calculator doesn't work on my mobile device (iPhone )
You mentioned not putting any more in the pile so the time for completion can start ticking .  But, do you think I should try to level out the ratio by adding more green, then stop and start a new pile?  I can probably add another part grass clippings today after I mow my yard. 
Last question: (for now Very Happy) if my grass is dry when I mow it, do I still need to lay it out on a tarp in the sun before I add it?
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  sanderson on 9/24/2017, 2:40 pm

I "grouped" your ingredients and came up with 25.3.

By dry grass do you mean yellow grass? I'm guessing it would be dry enough to add directly.

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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  brianj555 on 9/24/2017, 4:01 pm

@sanderson wrote:I "grouped" your ingredients and came up with 25.3.

By dry grass do you mean yellow grass?  I'm guessing it would be dry enough to add directly.
That's great.  Thank you for doing that.  I guess I'm just going to let it ride then.  Not put any more materials in, just turn it once a week or more if possible.  I know I probably won't be able to make anywhere near 20 cubic feet by March 1, but the more I can make the less I have to buy.   My next project is to make another double bin.  I'll try to pick up six more pallets tomorrow.  I guess simply adding another bin (3rd)to my double  wouldn't work since I'm not adding any new materials.
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  sanderson on 9/24/2017, 4:52 pm

A third bin is also great. Turn #2 into #3. Turn #1 into #2. Repeat going backwards. Or a third bin for finished compost.

Have you started looking for bagged composts in case you need to supplement? Have you looked at this thread? http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t21089-recommended-store-bought-compost?highlight=compost

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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  brianj555 on 9/24/2017, 5:09 pm

@sanderson wrote:A third bin is also great.  Turn #2 into #3.  Turn #1 into #2.  Repeat going backwards.  Or a third bin for finished compost.

Have you started looking for bagged composts in case you need to supplement?  Have you looked at this thread?  http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t21089-recommended-store-bought-compost?highlight=compost
Oh yeah.  I never thought about it like that. I could just add a third in and turn it the way you described.  Thanks.  In regard to compost, I DON'T get my compost from big box stores.  I have a local feed and seed that I go to.  They have (or at least had) course vermiculite.  ( I put it on the database) and pmoss.  I got the five different kinds of compost.  Two are the same as examples on that page you provided the link for.  The black kow and mushroom are exactly the same.  The others were chicken, cotton burr and worm castings. I didn't have an equal amount of worm castings to the other 4 due to expense though. I was filling a 40 cubic foot box. I will be going back there to supplement my home made compost once I figure out how much I make.
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  brianj555 on 12/24/2017, 12:54 pm

I started harvesting black gold from my very first composting effort yesterday.  After sifting I was pleasantly surprised by the amount and appearance of the finished product. 




I would say (based on five gallon buckets) I harvested about 3 cubic feet and still have half of the heap left to sift.
I am a little concerned about some seeds that have appeared to fallen out of the pine trees from above, but I guess I will deal with those if they sprout.
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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  sanderson on 12/24/2017, 1:23 pm

I wouldn't worry about the pine seeds.  It one germinates, you'll be able to identify it easily as not belonging in that square.  Very Happy

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Re: Compost Heaps

Post  bigdogrock on 12/31/2017, 5:41 pm

In light of all the cold, feeling like a trapped rat, nursing a nagging cold, and to avoid sweeping and doing the dishes (for the second time today) I decided I needed to know what the temperature of some of my compost piles. I had one pile that was inside the black bell, appeared to be frozen solid, so I got a 4 foot pry bar and poked it down until it hit soft stuff. I was about two feet down and the temperature read 38°F (3.333°C). Everything else was 32°F (0°C). The other piles were frozen as far as I could reach in.

So, now I know.

Yup. 

Good.

Something must be happening at 38°F (3.333°C), right?

It isn't frozen, yet. (Today's high is 2°F (-16.6666°C) with a pretty good breeze, and some wind. Everything but the bell has at least a foot of snow and ice on it.

Well, look at the bright side, now I can say I worked in the garden on the last day of the year Rolling Eyes .
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