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To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

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To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/27/2011, 1:41 am

I know there's a few of you that don't turn their compost pile. As much as I would love to, I just can't turn it much without my back hurting. Since I'm not going to use the compost until spring time planting, will the stuff actually compost without being turned?
Before I shut down the compost bin, I was not really turning the pile the way you might think of but just kind of mixing it up with a pitchfork. I was doing that maybe once a week.
When I did mix it up today, I noticed a nasty smell coming from it......it was from the fish scraps I put in(and didn't have browns to add to it). I did add rabbit manure/straw, and alot of chopped leaves today and while I didn't stick my face up to the pile, I didn't smell anything.
It's really a two part question. Will all of the stuff turn into useable compost come spring time without turning? And how quickly does any obnoxious smells go away without turning?

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Lavender Debs on 11/27/2011, 2:28 am

You are talking about "cold composting" and many gardeners use it successfully.

The smell is from decomposing. It is worse when it is anaerobic (not getting enough oxygen). You can get a tool called an aerator. It is a metal stick with small folding "wings". The idea is that you push the rod or stick deep into the pile and simply pull it back out. The wings open when you pull it up. This gets air into the depth of the pile. It isn't a magic cure but it will help with the smell a little quicker than just letting it be. It should be MUCH easier on your back than turning the pile. This tool usually comes with the type of bin that has you put material in the top and open a trap door at the bottom to scoop the finished compost. (do I remember correctly, is your bin made of pallets?) I've seen people using the tool on you-tube but never thought to book mark them.

Unmediated alfalfa pellets (rabbit food) will help deodorize the pile. Usually alfalfa meal is used as a top dressing (it is a major part of my spring tonic or top dressing called anne's mix) because of its balance of nutrients (and cost) but it will aid the heating up and deodorizing of your pile. Alfalfa hay will also work, but it is messy and expensive. Comfrey will also do a great job if you can get it.

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/27/2011, 8:21 am

You know....I've seen those compost aerators and often wondered if they actually work or if they're just gimmicky.
The only time I noticed a real bad smell was yesterday when I was mixing it with a pitchfork. It was from the buckets of fish scraps I put in just 2 Mondays ago.
If I just let it go and it "cold composts" over the winter, it will be fine to use in my garden come spring time?
Do you still recommend adding the rabbit food and mixing it in with the aerator? I'll do it in a heartbeat if it will add nutritional value to the compost as well.
I have what I guess you call an "add as you go" compost pile. I've been doing this since the beginning of August and whatever stuff is on the bottom is probably composted already.
My compost bin is just made from T posts with hardware cloth(??) sides.

I'm all about compost. Even if I don't have a SFG yet.

Next year, I'm redoing my composting. I want to have a tumbler and compost a month's worth of compostables at a time.

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/27/2011, 10:30 am

I'm also thinking of adding a chimney to the compost pile. I'd just get a 6ft long piece of pvc, drill holes in it so it looks like a piece of swiss cheese. I'd put some kind of spike at the end so that when I hammer it through the compost, it'll go through easy and anchor into the ground.

I know a lot of people don't cover their compost but I prefer to keep it covered so I can keep it from getting too wet during rain or snow.

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  RoOsTeR on 11/27/2011, 10:48 am

I cover mine in the winter. I just place a small old tarp and then black plastic bag over that to collect some heat.
I would think you could cut the pvc pipe at an angle on one end like /
to help push it in. Or dig a hole in the pile and just rebury. Very Happy

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/27/2011, 10:59 am

If I would cut it at an angle, I'd want to cover the cut end so that the compost doesn't fill up the chimney.
Or like you said, I could dig a hole in the pile and stick the chimney in.
Oh yeah....then I'd have to cut a hole in the tarp for the chimney to fit through.

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  yolos on 11/27/2011, 11:29 am

I use pvc pipe with holes drilled in it to aireate the pile. But I put them in horizontally as I build the pile. As I build the pile up, I put three across every foot or so in my 4' x 4' x 4' compost pile. Don't know if it works any better because this is my first pile. I am also turning the pile once a week because I need it to compost quickly because I need it for this spring. I am trying to convert my regular garden to a square foot garden. I am aiming for 512 square feet of additional raised beds this spring. But probably won't get all those built and filled with Mel's Mix for quite some time.

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  sherryeo on 11/27/2011, 12:23 pm

Too Tall, I'm new to composting this year, too. I think, though, that I've read and heard folks here on the forum talking about that fact that cold composts heaps take longer to decompose than do "hot" ones. I'm not really sure that it will be ready for spring - perhaps some of the more experienced composters here will address that issue.

Also, at some point you will have to stop adding to the pile if you want it to be decomposed at a certain time. Everything you add new to it is probably going to lengthen the time it takes to be "ready."

Isn't that true, more experienced composters?

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Lavender Debs on 11/27/2011, 2:52 pm

@sherryeo wrote:snip.....I've read and heard folks here on the forum talking about that fact that cold composts heaps take longer to decompose than do "hot" ones. I'm not really sure that it will be ready for spring - ...snip..... at some point you will have to stop adding to the pile if you want it to be decomposed at a certain time. Everything you add new to it is probably going to lengthen the time it takes to be "ready."


My experience has been that a cold pile is basically ready in late spring. Sherryeo is correct in saying that the outer layers will not be ready BUT if you dig down into a cold pile, putting the items that you lift off into a new pile, there should be a nice pile of compost gold for your use.

My observation is that the cold pile actually works better in winter because the center bottom of the pile is a comfortable habitat for the critters who consume the items you put into the compost. In summer they can go anywhere to eat and live, but in winter your cold pile, insulated by the outer items, keep them warm and working. (but that is only my observation, no science involved--not quite worth 2 cents)

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  sherryeo on 11/27/2011, 2:55 pm

lol! I've seen pics of your garden, Lavender Debs! I'd say your advice is worth quite a bit more than 2 cents! Thanks for replying with your experience!

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Lavender Debs on 11/27/2011, 3:04 pm

@sherryeo wrote: Thanks for replying with your experience!

I meant to add that you are spot on when it comes to spring through autumn piles.

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/27/2011, 6:44 pm

I'm figuring on starting my tomato garden around mid to late May and if I start turning/aerating the compost pile on a weekly basis at the beginning of March, it should be ready by tomato time.
Even though my compost pile is "hibernating" I still think I'll get one of those aerators and give it an aeration periodically throughout the winter.....as long as I can stick it in the pile.

All of the compost needs to be ready by tomato time, because all of the really good stuff I put in(fish scraps, different manures, shredded leaves) is sort of at the top of the pile.

Oh yeah....and I'm going to Lowes and Home Depot to do some shopping and I'll pick up a piece of pvc for the chimney

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  RoOsTeR on 11/28/2011, 9:14 am

You can always use some cornmeal as a quick nitrogen source periodically through the winter to keep it goin. Pretty simple and cheap solution.

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/28/2011, 9:33 am

isn't there enough nitrogen with all of the manure and fish scraps put in?

I checked the temp of the pile last night before I went to bed and it was just a hair above 120F

The more I think about it the more likely I am to aerate it throughout the winter. I'm not so sure I like this "forget about it" method I thought would be ok.

Is there a quick source of carbon I could add to the pile? Just in case there weren't enough leaves and straw added to it over this past weekend.

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  plantoid on 11/28/2011, 2:37 pm

From my rural science days a long long time ago I seem to recall that the compost heap needs some of the methane & ammonia produced to feed some sort of beneficial bacteria & produce cellulose destroying/ converting chemicals that helps to break the pile down so be careful of venting the heap too much thus losing that aspect of things .



Here is a link about composting ( are these permitted/ if not can someone who knows how put it into a clickable button please )

www.cyber-north.com/gardening/compost.html

it's a bit long winded but in the main covers composting very well .

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  middlemamma on 11/29/2011, 2:21 am

@sherryeo wrote: lol! I've seen pics of your garden, Lavender Debs! I'd say your advice is worth quite a bit more than 2 cents! Thanks for replying with your experience!

+1

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  1airdoc on 11/30/2011, 2:25 pm

I have read several times that it was not advisable to put meats and animal products into the compost pile. Is that not true for the fish parts?

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/30/2011, 2:31 pm

You wouldn't want to put something like steak into the pile but fish is great. I'm not sure why fish works but it does. Indians used to stick fish in the holes they dug for planting their crops.

About the only reason you wouldn't want fish in a compost pile is because it could possibly attract racoons, cats, etc. Bury the fish underneath a layer of manure and those animals won't be able to smell the fish.

Another reason why you might not want fish in a compost pile is the smell. Wow does that make the pile stinky if you don't add enough "brown" material to help mask the odor. I speak from experience. LOL

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  southern gardener on 11/30/2011, 2:46 pm

check this out!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60JPvWckQiU&feature=related

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/30/2011, 3:02 pm

OMG.....that is just awesome!

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

Post  camprn on 11/30/2011, 3:49 pm

@southern gardener wrote:check this out!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60JPvWckQiU&feature=related
Fabulous!

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Re: To Those Who Don't Turn Compost

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