minu
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Location: Fremont, CA

Help on starting to make own compost

Hello,

Am a relatively new gardener and am on the fence about being ambitious enough to try composting on my own. I have some space in the yard but nothing that is away from the house or not easily visible. Secondly, I do not have too much time to devote to gardening/composting so trying to see if this would be a burden or just a little bit of additional work.
I have seen some of the drums/bins or whatever they are called and wondering if they are worth the steep price.

What makes the decision really difficult is that my city already composts all our yard waste and food scraps so I don't have to worry about all this good stuff ending up in the landfill.

Any thoughts? Should I invest a large sum in a closed bin or continue to buy organic compost and let my city compost my yard waste instead given my constraints?

Thanks
Minoti

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stella1751
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Minu, composting is fun. I use huge wire cages to make my annual compost supply, but I'm now experimenting with smaller piles, just because it's fun. It's like working with nature, and it makes you an active participant in the growth of your plants. Maybe just experiment with a small pile. See how you like it. If you don't, then you can easily use up what you've made and go back to buying it :lol:

Check out the thread on home-made composters. There shouldn't be an expense in making one. I like building things with found objects, turning one man's garbage into my treasure. If I find time today, I am going to build a compost bin out of old 2x4's. There are many other nifty ideas. It shouldn't cost you anything, and you'll have fun watching food waste and other organic material become black gold to feed your soil!
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

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rainbowgardener
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starting to compost

Well minu, you are very lucky that you have the city compost, so you have organic compost available and a way to deal with your own garbage so that it gets used instead of polluting the water supply. So you do have the option of not composting yourself, which most of us don't.

But doing your own compost is free, easy, and very rewarding. It always seems to me like participating in a miracle to take my smelly icky garbage out to the pile and watch it become rich crumbly dirt.

A compost "bin" can be anything (lots of materials available on freecycle) you have on hand. Concrete blocks, wood, wire. Mine is a grid of wire bars that I bought for $30 about a decade ago and am still using.

I do very little work at composting. I save my kitchen scraps in a tightly closed bucket under the sink. Once a week or so (a little more in summer, sometimes less in winter), I take the bucket out to the the pile and empty it, clean it out and bring in a fresh one (they are kitty litter buckets and I have several so I can rotate them). When I dump the kitchen scraps, I cover them with a big layer of weeds, leaves, whatever organic material I have on hand. If it's dry enough to water my garden, I water the pile also. That's it.

I don't turn the pile or do anything to it. 3 times a year when I want to use the finished compost, I turn the pile over. That is I take the stuff off the top to become the bottom of a new pile. When I get down to where the earthworms have collected, I stir that around a little and anything that isn't already finished compost rapidly becomes so.

My bin is about 3'X 3'. When I turn the pile over, I start the new one right next to it (and move the bin to cover the new pile), so my whole composting area takes up 6X3.

Is there any down side? Other than the small amount of work I just described, the only thing I can think of is that small critters do come to it sometimes. My wire grid (including over the top) is small enough openings to keep out the raccoons and possums, but not the mice/ shrews or whatever. I don't know that it is attracting them, they are here in the neighborhood anyway. The pile is far enough from the house (maybe 40 ft) that I don't feel like I am attracting anything TO my house. It is visible from the deck, but is not an eyesore, mostly looks like a pile of leaves. You never see or smell garbage.

What would be the advantage to you since you have the city compost? Other than the satisfaction of participating in it, I guess just to have your own compost sitting there waiting for you whenever you want it.

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applestar
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When you say the city composts, do you get the resulting compost for free?
You'd still have to go and pick it up somehow I assume.

Me, I'm cheap. It occurred to me a while ago :idea: that I'm THROWING AWAY stuff then BUYING stuff with good money that I could have made with the stuff I THREW AWAY. Yard waste? Why am I giving away my good yard waste, then spending the time I don't have getting in the car, driving (and wasting gas) to go spend money on bags of dirt? :mad: :lol: Same with toilet paper tubes and used napkins/paper towels. *I BOUGHT THEM* -- why let the county take away GOOD COMPOST INGREDIENTS! :mrgreen:

GeorgiaGirl
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Location: Metro Atlanta, GA (zone 7)

applestar wrote:Me, I'm cheap. It occurred to me a while ago :idea: that I'm THROWING AWAY stuff then BUYING stuff with good money that I could have made with the stuff I THREW AWAY. Yard waste? Why am I giving away my good yard waste, then spending the time I don't have getting in the car, driving (and wasting gas) to go spend money on bags of dirt? :mad: :lol: Same with toilet paper tubes and used napkins/paper towels. *I BOUGHT THEM* -- why let the county take away GOOD COMPOST INGREDIENTS! :mrgreen:

That's my attitude too. I'm even too cheap (and lazy) to go pick up free city compost (although where I live, they make it from biosolids so I wouldn't want it anyway). Plus, this way I know exactly what went into my compost (i.e. no stray weed seeds, no sewage sludge, etc.!).
Julia in Georgia

Decado
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Location: Crystal, MN (Zone 4)

Re: Help on starting to make own compost

minu wrote:Hello,

Am a relatively new gardener and am on the fence about being ambitious enough to try composting on my own. I have some space in the yard but nothing that is away from the house or not easily visible. Secondly, I do not have too much time to devote to gardening/composting so trying to see if this would be a burden or just a little bit of additional work.
I have seen some of the drums/bins or whatever they are called and wondering if they are worth the steep price.

What makes the decision really difficult is that my city already composts all our yard waste and food scraps so I don't have to worry about all this good stuff ending up in the landfill.

Any thoughts? Should I invest a large sum in a closed bin or continue to buy organic compost and let my city compost my yard waste instead given my constraints?

Thanks
Minoti

If you're worried about the smell and it being close to the house, I noticed at my home depot they had a plastic square 3'x3'x3' compost bin for $50, much cheaper than the drum type ones. Unless you plan on composting more than a 3'x3'x3' bin can hold. Your local Home Depot is likely to have the same thing or same type of thing.

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Jewell
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Posts: 65
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 6:06 pm
Location: South Puget Sound

minu, I am like you and the city recycles our "yard and house waste" to compost. I have chosen not to have a compost bin, but do site layer/compost yard clippings that are shredded with an old lawn mower. That means all fruit tree trimmings, fallen leaves, garden debris and hedge trimmings go directly on my garden beds after running over them with the mower. I do not use anything with weeds that would need to be heated up to kill, or grass clippings (which I simply use a mulching mower for).

With this method I always seem to have plenty of mulch and don't need to buy compost. The worms seem be extremely active year round and add enough castings to the mix that fertilizing with manure hasn't been necessary. I don't know if this would work for you, but it has been very successful and fits my gardening style. :D
Jewell
My Vegie Gardens http://picasaweb.google.com/Jewell2009/ ... arden2009#
Zone 7b or Western Gardener's Zone 4
There are fairies at the bottom of my garden~Anonymous

cynthia_h
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Minu, be sure and look at the Alameda County Solid Waste website: stopwaste.org

There's a discount program for BioStack Bins. They're something like ?() $48 or $49 through StopWaste.

We lived in Berkeley for 17 years, and that's when I bought my BioStack--early to mid '80s. It's still going strong, some 25 :shock: years down the line. I think I got a good return for my $33--the price way back when.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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