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How small can a starter compost pile be?

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How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  jymarino on 6/2/2011, 4:42 pm

I haven't really ever composted before and am not sure it will be a possibility since I have so many weeds in my lawn. I have some old chicken wire I could use to make a small pile to see if it would work. Is it worth the effort to try a small pile? I do have some local compost I could start it with but am concerned since my greens have so many weeds.

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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  quiltbea on 6/2/2011, 7:53 pm

I started a side pile last fall that was about 2 1/2 ft square at the most. Used some green plastic fencing and made a half circle.
It can work because I just kept piling in stuff all fall and then left it alone all winter and a couple weeks ago when I was forking it up to put it into the 'new to me' big green compost barrel, it was almost compost at the bottom.
So a smaller size will work for you.
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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/2/2011, 8:02 pm

My pile started off as nothing. I just started adding kitchen scraps to it as I used them. I added some grass clippings as they became available. Coffee filters, etc, and the pile started to grow. It's not ready yet, but it's still only about the size of one or two laundry baskets.

Just get a small one started. It all breaks down.....eventually.
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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  yosoypanadero on 6/2/2011, 10:19 pm

Yeah, any amount of organic matter can be called a pile right? So however small it is, eventually you will have some homegrown soil!
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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  jymarino on 6/2/2011, 11:29 pm

Oh good, I was hoping we could just start small. Especially since I don't know how hot the compost will need to be in order to kill those dumb henbit and wild violet seeds. Very Happy

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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 6/2/2011, 11:41 pm

@jymarino wrote:Oh good, I was hoping we could just start small. Especially since I don't know how hot the compost will need to be in order to kill those dumb henbit and wild violet seeds. Very Happy

To get good heat, though, you may need a bigger pile. And, you will need the correct mixture of moisture, greens, and bacteria. That requires a bit of science, imo. Personally, I am not concerned with the weeds or stuff. I plan on pulling any weeds I see anyway. Wink
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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  quiltbea on 6/2/2011, 11:56 pm

I went to a composting seminar last summer and the proportions that worked beautifully for fast decomposition were:
1 part green to 20 to 25 parts brown.

The resulting compost was like the earth. Just magnificent.
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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  TN_GARDENER on 7/11/2011, 8:22 pm

A couple easy items that you ought to be able to locate are shredded paper and used coffee grounds from the coffee shop. If you really want some grass clippings, I'll work out a deal with you (you cut my grass and you keep the clippings Very Happy I'll even toss in some some coffee grounds from the coffee maker. ).

This fall, you can probably find bags of leaves sitting on the curb. Very Happy

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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  MelissaG on 7/30/2011, 2:07 am

And if the proportions are correct the heat should be high enough to kill any seeds in your pile, from vegetation, weeds etc. (forgive me if this was mentioned, I didn't see it but it's really late)

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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  jymarino on 7/30/2011, 9:48 am

@quiltbea wrote:I went to a composting seminar last summer and the proportions that worked beautifully for fast decomposition were:
1 part green to 20 to 25 parts brown.

The resulting compost was like the earth. Just magnificent.



So how fast is "fast"? We have plenty of green, plenty of brown and should be able to put together a 1:20 ratio without a problem. How often does it need to be turned? If I have it in just chickenwire will it start stinking while it decomposes? Should I add some of the completed compost from the city?

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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  teamhillbilly on 8/7/2011, 9:58 am

tongue
@jymarino wrote:I haven't really ever composted before and am not sure it will be a possibility since I have so many weeds in my lawn. I have some old chicken wire I could use to make a small pile to see if it would work. Is it worth the effort to try a small pile? I do have some local compost I could start it with but am concerned since my greens have so many weeds.
Yes smaller sometimes works better I use a couple of small bins and a couple small piles just remeber to turn and water your piles and the rule of thumb is 2 parts brown and one part green,so them weeds your talking about will make a great start: D Smiletongue


Last edited by teamhillbilly on 8/7/2011, 10:01 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fat finger this morning)

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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  littlesapphire on 8/7/2011, 10:08 am

Just thought I'd throw in my two cents. I started a garbage can compost pile last summer. I hardly ever took care of it (oops!), but I made sure to keep filling it until the can was mostly full. Then I pretty much left it sit all winter and spring. I looked at it the other day. It was completely dried out, but almost finished composting. So I added some water, and I bet it won't take much longer to become compost.

So I bet if I had kept it watered and turned it more often, I would have had good compost in early spring sometime.
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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  teamhillbilly on 8/7/2011, 10:18 am

yep I bet your right,but you don't need the can let air and rain work the pile for you I only turn mine when I add to it,lazy I guess,but it works,GREAT;)


Last edited by teamhillbilly on 8/7/2011, 10:19 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : fat fingers)

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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  littlesapphire on 8/7/2011, 10:25 am

I would love to leave my pile out in the open air, but unfortunately I live in the city, with neighbors very close together, and I don't think I have enough room to set that up properly. I'll probably look into it more next year though. I guess the problem is that I would like to have it way in the back of the yard, but I don't think my backyard neighbor would appreciate that. And plus it gets no sun way back there.
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Re: How small can a starter compost pile be?

Post  teamhillbilly on 8/7/2011, 10:37 am

well I guess space can be a problem, I have very little room for composting myself,but I don't have a smelly compost mostly rabbit & chicken droppings, grass clippings,chopped leaves from the yard and garden waste

Grass catchers on lawn mowers is a great help to the composter;)The trick is to keep it covered with clippings to cut down on smell. I do use a trick my grandmother showed me I add a 1/2 gal of buttermilk to the piles about every three or four months helps jump start,honey works good to but I hate to waste it.

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