How does one start a compost pile?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Caelma, May 28, 2005.

  1. Caelma

    Caelma Well-Known Member

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    Can you tell me how to start a compost pile?
    What things are ok and what it not?
    I have mowed grass clippings, coffee grounds
    (I was told was good but not sure)
    also lots and lots of rabbit raisins :)
    What are the do's and don't's?
    Also was thinking of putting a tarp down,
    so no weeds from below and making 3 mini walls
    sides and back of cinder blocks. How would this work?
    Thank you
     
  2. pcdreams

    pcdreams Well-Known Member

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    I haven't done much composting yet but I know you won't want a bottom on the pile. You want the worms to be able to get as this will help it breakdown. Weeds shouldn't be a problem. In fact you might want to break the earth under where the pile is going.
     

  3. seedspreader

    seedspreader AFKA ZealYouthGuy

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  4. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    It's easy!!

    Step One: Pile up grass clippings, leaves, rabbit poo, kitchen scraps when you have each item available.

    Step Two: Water if it doesn't rain.

    Step Three: Repeat

    Don't worry about any do's and don'ts. They are all man made.

    Think forest floor = whatever falls there rots there.
     
  5. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    1. What Rose said;
    2. Except never put meat or dairy in the heap.
     
  6. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    yep, they draw flies!

    also, i never compost my rabbit poop. it is an excellent fertilizer straight out of the bunny, and the only reason i keep rabbits. it is worth the cost of their feed just to get the poop. not too many animals you can say that about. LOL!!
     
  7. halfpint

    halfpint Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Comments above are good, but I've found the pile I have in the sun composts much faster than the one in the shade. I do add my chicken and rabbit droppings.

    Dawn
     
  8. BaronsMom

    BaronsMom Well-Known Member

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    Garden Composting: ingredients, uses and instructions for making compost
    http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/horticulture/g810.htm

    I've also composted with worms in my home and office (vermicomposting). It's easy and handy during the winter when outdoor compost piles in Nebraska are darn chilly!
     
  9. ajaxlucy

    ajaxlucy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A friend who grew up on a small family farm in Tennessee said they just had some piles of stuff on the ground: the old pile, last year's pile, and this year's pile. There were never more than three piles, because after four years, everything was broken down to compost and got put back in the garden.
     
  10. Alice In TX/MO

    Alice In TX/MO More dharma, less drama. Supporter

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    Actually, the dairy and meat issue was what I meant when I said don't worry about the do's and don'ts. When I put in the kitchen scraps, I just put a layer of something over them. Sometimes leaves or grass clippings or weeds from the garden. Peat Moss is nothing else is available. That keeps the flies from being attracted.

    In the woods, when Mother Nature composts, she doesn't limit what goes in.
     
  11. BaronsMom

    BaronsMom Well-Known Member

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    If your compost pile is on the "back 40", and you aren't worried about it, toss in the meat and dairy if you want. But put a compost pile near my garden (a few steps from the house) or by an area near housed livestock or poultry (or if I knew I had rats), I'd watch what I toss in there. Meat will attract pests and who wants those any closer to your house than needed! :no:
     
  12. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    For a bin, I use a four-foot-diameter circular structure constructed out of 4-foot-wide hardware cloth (1/2" wire mesh) stapled to 4-foot-long vertical 1x2s spaced every foot or so. On the ends, I screw in alternatingly-spaced eyelets and slide a slender metal rod down through them to hold the structure closed. To undo the structure, simply slide the rod out and the whole thing comes apart.

    I think that many "instructions" for making compost overcomplicate it. I stick to the following very simple rules:

    - Layer green and brown, no more than six inches per layer. The best "green" is fresh grass clippings; the best "brown" is straw. "Green" provides the nitrogen that will heat up the pile. "Brown" provides the fuel.

    - Keep oxygen flowing by turning the compost frequently and keeping it "fluffed up." Using straw (a good "brown" component) is great because it keeps things so airy.

    - Keep the pile moist (about the feel of a damp sponge). If it gets soggy or starts to stink, it's too wet.

    - Turn the compost frequently by pitchforking it over into a new pile. The more you turn, the faster it cooks. It's possible to make compost without turning, but it takes forever. A really hot pile turned frequently can be done in as little as five weeks.

    - The hotter the pile, the faster you'll get useable compost. In order to generate heat, you need volume, so build that pile up fast. A good mix of green and brown material will naturally heat up if it has oxygen and water, but if you want to really kick start it, add fresh manure. It will get so hot you won't be able to put your hand in it.

    This recipe works for me.
     
  13. MarleneS

    MarleneS Well-Known Member

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    Composing is like much of homesteading...first you read all the info you can find...ask for advise online...then learn for yourself by trial and error. Whatever works for you and gets you the results you are hoping for is fine. That said, I'll now share Marlene's idea of composing.

    1.) figure out where you want your next garden bed, size, shape, etc.
    2.) drive in a few fence post put whatever fencing you have handy around fence post
    3.) dump everything you know will decompose inside fencing.
    4.) if you have time: chip/chop/shred everything into as small sizes as possible (but like someone pointed out -- left long enough even huge trees will decompose) if you think it's been too dry where you live -- water the compose pile each time you water the garden.
    5.) Wait one year...then repeat steps 1-2 (move the post and fencing to new area) using top (not yet decomposed) to start your next compost/bed.
    6.) Use as much of the composed part in old beds...work the bottom into "new" bed.

    And just incase you have lots of time to devote to composing: Those drum tumblers which chose big bucks -- IF you follow the instructions exactly...so much of each component...kept at exact moisture levels and tumbled once or twice daily -- will give you a tumbler full of the most beautiful perfect compost you will ever see in 14-21 days. If you are like me, at the end of 14-21 days you will hate composing as it will take up big chucks of the time you'll be happier doing something else and let the compost pile do it's own thing on it's own time.

    And you won't have to worry about weeds -- the heat from the composing will kill them. Nothing is lovelier then to see the steam rising from your compose pile on a chilly fall morning...and nothing smells sweeter then good clean homemade compost.

    Happy Composting
    Marlene
     
  14. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    If I kept my compost way way far away, I'd probably throw in meat and dairy.

    But I have rats and other scary critters, and the compost is right out back. !