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Starting my first compost bin

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Starting my first compost bin

Post  peanut0915 on 3/21/2011, 10:38 pm

I have read through many of the threads and links in this section, but am having a hard time figuring out how to start my compost bin. I have a raised plastic drum type bin that I bought from the store. I started it this morning with shredded newspaper, dried autumn leaves, and a good amount of kitchen scraps and even a few coffee grounds. I am planning on adding some manure and bagged compost to get the process moving, but then what? One link I've read says that the more you turn it, the faster you will get compost, but then another link says that I need to leave it for a week or two to get the temperature up. So which advice should I follow? Thanks in advance!
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Re: Starting my first compost bin

Post  Old Hippie on 3/22/2011, 1:15 am

Hey there, Peanut. There really IS a lot of conflicting stuff out there about composting. My head just about splits sometimes trying to make sense of it all. So what I discovered is this........just do it. It really isn't rocket science. Mother Nature composts stuff out in the forest all by herself and doesn't turn anything. she ends up with the most wonderful stuff. So just start. The stuff will decompose all on it's own no matter how much or how little you turn it. Just depends how much of a hurry you are in to get usable compost.

Keeping the pile (I call mine Gomer after Gomer Pile from an old TV show) moist is important....about as moist as a damp sponge. You don't want it dry but you don't want it soaking either. You can keep it in a plastic bin and turn the stuff with a garden fork or like some of us do.........just a pile confined within pallets placed on edge or surrounded by chicken wire.

Add vegetable scraps, lawn clippings that haven't had weed & feed on them or are not full of weeds, coffee grounds, newspaper shreds as long as it has vegetable based inks.....there is a long list of stuff you can put in. Do not put in cat or dog feces. There is some disagreement as to what kind of animal poop you can put in but for the most part stuff from plant eaters is usually okay. There are some compost threads on here. You can do a search in the topics and check them out. I have an awesome book called The Complete Compost Book by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah Martin that I use a lot.

But seriously, just start. It gets easier the more you do it. And you can tweak it as you go along. Best of luck to you.

Gwynn
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Re: Starting my first compost bin

Post  boffer on 3/22/2011, 1:36 am

Old Hippie wrote:.......just do it. It really isn't rocket science. Mother Nature composts stuff out in the forest all by herself and doesn't turn anything. she ends up with the most wonderful stuff. So just start...
I was so into what OH was saying at this point. (we have a similar approach to these things) And then she went on to say..
Keeping the pile (I call mine Gomer after Gomer Pile from an old TV show) moist is important....
Do you know that I nearly crashed? Who in the world names their compost pile? Let alone calling it by the name of a TV marine Gomer Pyle!

That's crazy, Old Hippie!!! I'm going looking for the old Bellamy Bros. song right now!!!

BIG hug
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Re: Starting my first compost bin

Post  middlemamma on 3/22/2011, 2:12 am

lol! I love you guys....both of you. Hippie had me rolling with naming her pile and Boffer just made it last longer.
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Re: Starting my first compost bin

Post  Old Hippie on 3/22/2011, 9:32 am

better than naming your hemorrhoids. Embarassed

Gwynn
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Re: Starting my first compost bin

Post  madnicmom on 3/22/2011, 9:47 am

Your killin me on this side of the "screen". thank you , I needed that laugh this tuesday morning!
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Re: Starting my first compost bin

Post  peanut0915 on 3/22/2011, 10:40 am

Thanks so much for the advice, and the laughs! I am brand new to SFG as well as composting and finding this forum has already proven to be a huge help. I am planning to add a little manure and compost to my bin today and will hope for the best. Again, thanks for the smile this morning!

~Mandy
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Re: Starting my first compost bin

Post  jayjaym on 3/22/2011, 1:24 pm

In my experience, patients is key with compost.

Last summer I started a new compost pile in a black plastic compost system. I was adding material (grass clippings, shredded newspaper, biodegradable paper plates, rabbit droppings, weeds, etc...). I would turn it an keep it moist, but it didn't seem to be doing much. By the end of the growing season, I did my last mow of the lawn, tossed in the clippings, gave it a good turn, and forgot about it from late fall and all through winter until the snow melted about two weeks ago. The bin was under two feet of snow for several months.

I didn't expect much when I opened it up a couple weeks ago. It never felt like the pile was really "cooking" all the previous summer.

Boy oh boy was I shocked. It was like Christmas. I opened the bin to reveal gardeners gold. With the exception of a bit of newspaper that happened to be sitting on top, the entire pile had decomposed over the winter. I've gone back out to check it a couple times since, just to make sure I didn't imagine it (I didn't).

As for letting a pile site and start to cook initially, I might agree with that. My pile only really seemed like it was cooking once in the beginning (it felt hot when I started to turn it). Then I added a bunch of material to it, and turned it. I think I may have added to much material all at once, and it overwhelmed the pile.

I plan on setting up a second bin this year. That way, I can fill one bin and really let it start to cook while I fill the second.

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Re: Starting my first compost bin

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 3/22/2011, 5:31 pm

Old Hippie wrote:better than naming your hemorrhoids. Embarassed

Gwynn

Did she really just say that? Wow, you just proved to me that the "line" is still WAY out there. So many thoughts just went through my mind I couldn't begin to express them.
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