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stella1751
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I've Got Leaves!

When I looked at the weather forecast this morning, I saw rain was slated for tonight and decided I should play with my compost bins. While out collecting some of my stored grass clippings, it occurred to me that I'd left the municipal trash can by the curb for the last few days, days that were pretty windy.

Mounded all around that curbside trashcan were piles and piles and piles of leaves! What a score.

Two weeks ago, we had a 4-day stretch of 20-degree high temperatures. Once this frigid weather passed, we had a 3-day stretch of 40+ MPH winds. Because I left my trashcan out, my neighbors' leaves came to me this year.

While I was out scooping them up by the shovelful, another neighbor two houses down, one to whom I deliver regular bags of produce during the summer, was using a broom to clean up his similar situation. (He parks his car out front, and the leaves were mounded up all around it.) He shouted, "Man, these leaves are a pain, aren't they?"

One thing led to another. He ended up with two quarts of pickled hot peppers; I ended up with, between the two of us, six HUMONGOUS bags of leaves. (I decided to get my across-the-street neighbor's while I was at it :D )

I am so excited I can't stand it. Generally the leaf-collecting season begins in November. I think that really cold spell made it start sooner. I can conceivably get two or three dozen bags before the winter begins!

I'm going to "forget" to put away my trash can again the next time the winds start to howl. In fact, I might even set it out there on purpose. It's an excellent leaf-attracter :twisted:
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rainbowgardener
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Way cool!! I'm so far struggling to acquire some. My city stopped picking up yard waste. Last year at this time there were bags of leaves sitting curbside waiting for pickup (by me or by the city! :) ). This year no city yard waste pick up, no bags of leaves curbside. So I'm going to have to work harder for them.

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We must have high curbs in this town. At first I wasn't going to bother with the neighbor across the street, but on impulse I dashed across, used my scoop shovel to scrape his curb leaves into a pile. It was a full bag's worth. Leaves mounded on concrete take no time at all to scoop into a bag. Five minutes, tops, to fill a bag.

Later, when I went to the store, I passed a leaf-choked juniper bush. If I'd had my scoop shovel with me, I think I'd have stopped. That might be what I'll do if I have time later in the week. The north-south streets are the best; the west-east seem to clean themselves. I might drive around later today. The key for quick scooping seems to be to find a north-south street with an obstacle that collects the leaves.
This year no city yard waste pick up, no bags of leaves curbside.
That's a drag, Rainbow. Really. This year I am going to find out when each neighborhood has curbside pickup. I've never checked the dates, just stole bags based on watching my neighbors do yard work and then put out bags. If I knew for certain which week was yard waste week, I could hit neighborhood after neighborhood on the morning of their trash days. Because I didn't pay enough attention last year, I am about three months behind on filling my cages. I had to let the grass clippings sit because I had no brown.
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A lot of folks are having to deal with no yard waste pick-up this year (my favorite columnist and radio raconteur, Colin McEnroe kvetched on this [url=https://www.courant.com/news/local/northeast/columnists/hc-colin-mcenroe-1018.artoct18,0,1673016.column]very topic this Sunday[/url]). Excellent. This will cause many to actually look at composting now (he said hopefully). See, upside to the downturn... :wink:

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stella1751
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Good article, HG! I'm glad, though, that we don't have leaf suckers here! I'd rather get them myself :)

Rainbow, you got me thinking about leaf collection. I've never researched WHEN it was done in Casper, so I decided to approach it scientifically. Thus far, I have determined that the first extra trash day in November is the pickup day. We have what are called "extra days" up here. Because my trash day is on Tuesdays, on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, I can set out extra stuff in addition to my regular trash.

The Casper City website had this to say about leaf pickup:
The city will be collecting leaves on your first extra trash day in November. Only leaves will be collected on that day, no extra trash will be collected. Place your bags of leaves by the curb or in the alley at least 3 feet from the container by 7:30 a.m.

There is no limit on the number of bags of leaves. Leaves will be placed in the compost yard at the solid waste facility.
Based on my experience with the city compost and bacterial speck this summer, I figure I will be doing someone a favor if I collect all the extras in my area on November 3.
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i see bags of leaves all over the place, i drive around all day for work so i see alot! i pull over and toss 4 or 5 bags in my truck. then add a few every other day. its great because i get a good variety of leaves and debris in my pile. :)
Been gardening all my life and cant get enough of it.

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stella1751
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i see bags of leaves all over the place, i drive around all day for work so i see alot! i pull over and toss 4 or 5 bags in my truck. then add a few every other day.
It amazes me that you southerly people are getting leaves before me! Many of the leaves here haven't even started to turn. I filled my compost cages to the top with leaves, clippings, leaves, clippings, and so on, and then soaked them. Now they've settled enough that I could squeeze in a nice 6" layer of leaves on top . . . if I had any. I guess I'll need to wait for the next blow. November 3 is a long ways away :(
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When I see leaves on the ground, I start to drool and think: "Black Gold!"
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Is drooling good for compost? Lots of Lactobacillus in drool, I bet...

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soil
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lots of leaves = leaf mold pile 8)
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Soil (or anyone), please talk to me about this leaf mold pile. How do I make one of those? I've got a corner in my yard where the dogs don't go (no light, under a tree, fence on one side, house on the other). I have my old tires stacked back there, I think. How could I turn this area into a leaf mold pile?
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there are two ways i make it. the lazy way and the bulk way.

the lazy way, leave the leaves in the bags and let them rot all winter. by spring you have lovely decomposing leaf mold mulch. i even find bags with fat juicy worms in a bag that was just leaves. this way is not as attractive, but it does work.

and the bulk way, get some hardware cloth or chicken wire. make a ring about 3-4 ft diameter, and about the same height. fill with the leaves and let it rot! no need to turn, no need to water because its winter, no need to care until your ready to use it.

if you add some really small sticks in a few small layers (like creating a compost pile) you can get great fungal response. it helps to soak them in water for a few days first.
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stella1751 wrote:Soil (or anyone), please talk to me about this leaf mold pile. How do I make one of those? I've got a corner in my yard where the dogs don't go (no light, under a tree, fence on one side, house on the other). I have my old tires stacked back there, I think. How could I turn this area into a leaf mold pile?
Hmmmm, old tires you say. What about stacking them up and filling those with leaves. You already have the tires doing nothing (Recycle, Reduce, Reuse as they say). I would think that would work great for composting leaves. Just an idea.

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NOT turning is actually more beneficial as turning a fungal compost breaks the hyphae which stops growth and it has to start all aver again. IN the tires? Tires actually bring some ugly stuff to the table (arsenic, cadmium, lead, etc.) and the fungal growth can actually be fairly acidic, which might start to release these even faster, so I don't recommend tires for growing ANYTHING. But soil is right, this is easy and SO good for compost adds or compost tea. And the sticks and wood are even higher carbon inputs than the leaves, so even better for fungal growth.

Bacterial side is easy in compost or compost tea, but maintaing fungal side can be more difficult. Leaf compost is an easy and productive way to boost fungal cultures in any composting project...

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stella1751
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Great ideas, Soil and Gix! I think I've been doing the lazy leaf mold way for years and not even known it. I generally just stack the bags somewhere until I can use them.

If I stacked those tires, too, I could fill them and then maybe cover them with an old piece of plywood to keep the leaves from blowing away. I wonder, though, whether the leaves will absorb any old tire chemicals while they mold.

BTW, I've been saving the tires because I read in a Mother Earth News years ago that they were the best way of growing potatoes. The article said to plant your potatoes and, when they came up high enough, pinch off branches, place a tire on them and fill the tire with dirt. When they get high enough again, you put another tire on them, pinch off branches (or leaves--I can't remember which, it's been so long) and fill the tire with dirt again. Supposedly, by the time the season's over, all you have to do is tip over your tires to harvest your potatoes.

A digression, yes. I hadn't remembered why I kept the blasted things until Gix brought up stacking them for a leaf-mold pile :roll:
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As usual you are right Scott. Sorry bad idea. :oops:

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The Helpful Gardener wrote:NOT turning is actually more beneficial as turning a fungal compost breaks the hyphae which stops growth and it has to start all aver again. IN the tires? Tires actually bring some ugly stuff to the table (arsenic, cadmium, lead, etc.) and the fungal growth can actually be fairly acidic, which might start to release these even faster, so I don't recommend tires for growing ANYTHING. But soil is right, this is easy and SO good for compost adds or compost tea. And the sticks and wood are even higher carbon inputs than the leaves, so even better for fungal growth.

Bacterial side is easy in compost or compost tea, but maintaing fungal side can be more difficult. Leaf compost is an easy and productive way to boost fungal cultures in any composting project...

HG
You and I were posting at the same time, or I never would have shared my MEN potato-growing article. Sigh.

Here's a question: I started my compost bins late, as mentioned earlier. They are the same type of compost method Rainbow uses, big wire cages. Winter should start in a few weeks up here. Normally, if I've got some heat going, my stuff will continue to compost over the winter.

Will this stuff get started on composting before winter hits, or will it just stay static over for the next five to six months? I've been soaking my two bins to make certain everything is moist from top to bottom.
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you guys are lucky, i have to go and search for leaves. I usually take my little toyota to a public park and collect leaves with a bag and a rake.
People must think im crazy or homeless, trying to find work :lol:

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me too! (leaves)

Yesterday was workday at Quaker MeetingHouse. I (cunningly :) !) assigned myself the task of raking all the leaves out of our huge circular driveway (lined with trees). It needs to be done, else the leaves turn into soil and stuff grows in them and roots into the driveway and starts breaking it down. Amazing how fast that process happens! Anyway, it was a good workday project AND I came home with four big garbage bags stuffed with leaves. Nice variety of oaks, maples, buckeye, osage orange, catalpa, redbud, hackberry... Bottom layer was already leaf mould with earthworms, wonderful stuff!

Already dumped one bag out on the two raised beds that had already been cleared and a layer of compost spread.

So to get through winter/spring, I could still use more, but it's a start!

Re: stella
Will this stuff get started on composting before winter hits, or will it just stay static over for the next five to six months?

Depending on how cold/freezing you are now, your pile should get started, but I'd be real surprised if it got hot enough to keep it from freezing pretty soon and sitting static for the next few months. But I keep adding to mine, even while it's frozen solid. The stuff I add just freezes on top. Then as soon as it warms up in spring, it all starts working again.

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I've often read that fresh manure generates enough heat to kick up the temp in the compost pile in the winter....

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Here's a question: I started my compost bins late, as mentioned earlier. They are the same type of compost method Rainbow uses, big wire cages. Winter should start in a few weeks up here. Normally, if I've got some heat going, my stuff will continue to compost over the winter.
it depends on how you compost, i compost in metal mesh rings during the winter, for a few reasons, it rains.... and raised piles like this drain well and don't get too sopping wet. if you keep turning your pile weekly and adding fresh materials, you can compost all winter. last winter i pulled over 500 gallons of compost by the time spring hit. ready for all my starts.

one trick i use is, when it rains, i turn the pile when it stops. it cooks until it rains again then i turn once its done and repeat. before you know it the compost is ready.

unless it gets REAL cold where you live. it gets to the 20s here.
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Like a walk in the park

..

I feel like I need to go take a walk in the park. Where'd that rake go?

..

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Re: Like a walk in the park

[b]rot[/b] wrote:..

I feel like I need to go take a walk in the park. Where'd that rake go?

..
I am striking while the iron is hot this year. Yesterday, I half-way filled my third cage before I lost the sun. I think I can finish it today. The wind is high outside right now, well, only about 20 to 30 MPH, but high enough for my purposes. If it is blowing in the right direction, I shouldn't have any problems.

Because I'm fresh out of green, I'm going for your leaf mold on this one, Soil: six inches of leaves, an inch of soil, six inches of leaves, and so on. It'll be an experiment. (I like experimenting!)

Applestar, I would kill for some fresh manure about now. You'd think we'd have a cow or two up here, but they don't pen them. Each cow gets about 20 acres, for herds of a hundred on 2,000 acres. There's bound to be a horse stable or two in the Casper area, but having bred horses, I'm leary of using their manure. As for pigs, sheep, and the rest, no self-respecting Wyomingite would ever have one on his or her place :roll:

Rainbow wrote,
Depending on how cold/freezing you are now, your pile should get started, but I'd be real surprised if it got hot enough to keep it from freezing pretty soon and sitting static for the next few months. But I keep adding to mine, even while it's frozen solid. The stuff I add just freezes on top. Then as soon as it warms up in spring, it all starts working again.
I was hoping you would respond, Rainbow! Your compost method is similar to mine, and I haven't ever been this energetic this late in the season :lol: Thanks for letting me know. Highs should be in the 40's for another week or so, but after that, we'll be settling into winter. I want to get all three cages topped off before winter. My neighbors are still bringing me bags of leaves, but I want to save those for next summer.
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you don't even need the soil in the layers, just toss in those leaves and forget about it. let winter thrash and abuse it with its winds and rains and cold. then come spring you have leaf mold :)
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soil wrote:you don't even need the soil in the layers, just toss in those leaves and forget about it. let winter thrash and abuse it with its winds and rains and cold. then come spring you have leaf mold :)
I agree. I have said it before but I used to have so many leave at my last house what didn't fit in to piles went straight on the garden, by spring time there would be so much grass and leaves it would be hard to till trough to the actual soil :lol:

But at my new house with little bitty trees. I see tons of leaves every time I got out, all over the place. I should bring my rake. I have thought about several places I could go get some, it's just doing it.

Thinking on the way home today along my rural road there are tons of leaves in the ditches along the road. They are just piling up and turning to leaf mold right there. That would be an awesome place to store them for the winter if I had something like that in my front yard. Maybe I will raid one of those spots soon, I'm sure the farmers wouldn't care one bit.

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soil wrote:you don't even need the soil in the layers, just toss in those leaves and forget about it. let winter thrash and abuse it with its winds and rains and cold. then come spring you have leaf mold :)
Because of our high winds, leaves don't stay where they are put. Even though they're in my wire cages, the wind works as an ice cream scoop on anything even of medium weight. I've seen entire branches fly past during one of our winter winds. Heck, I've been hit by entire branches during a summer wind :x We just don't get enough snow to hold leaves or even grass clippings down, so the top layer on my compost cages is always something heavy like soil or composted manure.

I think I can accomplish two things by layering them with soil: 1) Anchor the puppies down for the serious blows ahead; and 2) Create an attractive environment for the worms, who will leave me tons of worm casings if my experiment works :-) When I turned one of my bins this past summer, it had been long composted, and the bottom foot was filled with earthworms. It was great! Once these leaves have settled and started to decay, an earthworm or two with wanderlust might find himself moving up in the world.

Ya never know what those staggered layers of soil might do, and it doesn't hurt to try, right?
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Applestar, I would kill for some fresh manure about now. You'd think we'd have a cow or two up here, but they don't pen them. Each cow gets about 20 acres, for herds of a hundred on 2,000 acres.
Stella, I'm picturing you with a bucket and a manure fork or a shovel, trekking after those roaming herds on the 2000 acres. :lol:

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Stupid leaves I went out scouting a area right by me. Lot's of leaves, it's an undeveloped subdivision. While turning around at a dead end I dropped a tire off the road. I had to put it in 4x4 to back it out. Long story short Instantly after that my brakes don't work, well maybe 25% or less. I can't seem to find any visible damage after checking it out. I am a good shadetree mechaninic but this has me baffled.

All this in the search for free leaves. :evil:

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gixxerific wrote:Stupid leaves I went out scouting a area right by me. Lot's of leaves, it's an undeveloped subdivision. While turning around at a dead end I dropped a tire off the road. I had to put it in 4x4 to back it out. Long story short Instantly after that my brakes don't work, well maybe 25% or less. I can't seem to find any visible damage after checking it out. I am a good shadetree mechaninic but this has me baffled.

All this in the search for free leaves. :evil:
Man, what a drag! Then again, what if your brakes were ready to fail anyway? What if you hadn't known they were going bad and had been traveling 75 MPH on a major highway, coming up on a six-car pile-up around a blind corner, when they failed? Lucky you that they failed while you were on a country road! Good thing you decided to get some leaves :lol:

Sorry, though, to hear about the brakes :cry:

To Applestar, who wrote, "Stella, I'm picturing you with a bucket and a manure fork or a shovel, trekking after those roaming herds on the 2000 acres."

I've actually done that :oops: When I lived in Cheyenne, there was a 600-acre pasture at the end of my street. I used to sneak out there with trash bags and collect bags and bags of dried cow pies. No local cow pastures in Casper, though :x

I filled the third compost cage yesterday. It's now soaking on trickle-water. I have to shut down my hose over the winter, lest it burst the pipes, so that's all the water they'll get for the next six months. We get some snow, but not enough to speak of. Mostly we just get cold and wind up here.

One of my neighbors has brought me five bags of leaves, which I have stored. Another has promised to deliver me his; that should make another three bags, at least. Today and tomorrow, if the weather cooperates, I'll fill the backyard bathtub and a 50-gallon trash can and cover them with dirt. Next Monday night, I'll drive the neighborhood, furtively stealing bags of leaves. Leaf-collecting will be done by next Tuesday 8)

I might not need to collect next year!
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Thanks for the concern but I think I have it figured out, I hope, if I'm right it will be an easy fix.

I said before there is a cow pasture not even a 2 min drive (10 min bike ride) from my house (about a third of the way from the leaf roundup). We could go and you can be the watchman (or watch woman) while I scoop up patties. Maybe we could bag them and sell on here or something. But were taking your vehicle this time. :P Than we can hit up all the other cow pastures. Around here when you drive down the roads it goes Cow's, corn, beans, corn, cow, beans, corn, horse, cow, corn or something like that.

The bad thing is I didn't get any leaves yet, I was just scouting. :( But that is alright I will fix my problem and they are plenty of leaves to go around for quite some time.

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gixxerific wrote:I said before there is a cow pasture not even a 2 min drive (10 min bike ride) from my house (about a third of the way from the leaf roundup). We could go and you can be the watchman (or watch woman) while I scoop up patties. Maybe we could bag them and sell on here or something. But were taking your vehicle this time. :P
You always make me laugh, Gix. Thanks!
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I once heard someone describe driving through Kansas as corn, corn, corn, corn Stuckey's, corn, corn, corn, corn, Stuckey's, corn, corn, corn, corn, Stuckey's... :lol:

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stella1751
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It's working. I'll be darned. The two compost bins I finished over a week ago are actually generating heat!

We had snow last night, only about four inches. The cold compost for next spring's garden is still layered with snow, as is the leaf/soil layered bin. The two cages with greens layered with browns layered with soil have melted their snow caps AND shrunk about six inches. How about that?

I need more leaves :shock:
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It's amazing isn't it! Be sure and turn that regularly or it will smell and that is bad as it indicates that it has gone anaerbobic on you. This means that the secondary metabolites are not the beneficial ones normally found in compost and they can actually harm the plants.

Anyway, turn every day.
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when it shrinks about 6-12 inches. its time to turn. before you know it, youll have black gold :D
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soil wrote:when it shrinks about 6-12 inches. its time to turn. before you know it, youll have black gold :D
I don't turn mine. I leave it in the cages for 9-12 months. It composts all by itself. In July, I'll turn it, putting the uncomposted outer layer on the inside of the pile. When I use it in 2011, it will all be compost.

I've got two huge piles I turned last July. I'll use those this spring and summer. Once I pull the cages from these two, I'll begin filling them. Assembly line composting on a very slow assembly line. This system has worked for me for years :D
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Agree with Stella.... if being a gardener depended on turning a compost pile daily, there's no way I could do it. At least not until they start paying me for staying home and gardening instead of going to work!

I never turn my compost pile, except to turn it over. Usually that is three times a year (late winter/early spring, early summer, late summer/early fall). At that time, all of the uncomposted stuff on the top gets turned over to be the bottom of a new pile, down to the layer where the earthworms are. The rest is finished or nearly finished compost. Once the bottom is stirred around a little and exposed to air and sunlight again, it all quickly becomes finished compost. So stuff is probably in the pile four to six months, depending on if it sits through the winter. Really tough stuff will just get turned over an extra time, but most everything gets totally broken down in that time.

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there are many ways to compost, if i did not turn my compost piles regularly i would not have enough compost for my garden(very big). and have to buy some, which is not ok in my book. i don't turn it every day that is stupid. the piles would never be allowed to compost at that rate. harvesting a compost pile once or twice a year would screw me over! a couple hundred gallons of compost every 2-4 weeks is more to my liking. even in the winter.


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Actually commercial guys can even turn twice a day in the first few days and once a day for the first week, spraying with tea to finish stuff really fast (I have heard of 14 day turns!) but you could do a PAWS system and not turn at all and that works just fine too. A lot of cafeteria systemsuse PAWS, starting with a digester and then dumping slurry onto sawdust windrows with drainage pipe throught them (the heavier CO2 from aerobic repiration seeps out the pipes, drawing fresh air down through the pile. Ingenious!)

If you are not turning I really recommend this extra feature; CO2 pooling at the bottom of the pile can start an anaerobic reaction that fumes back up through the pile... Pepe Lepeau...

HG
Scott Reil

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rainbowgardener
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

I don't turn and I've never noticed any odor or symptoms of anaerobic-ness (getting slimey or anything). Now maybe that's because my pile is all plant material, I don't use any manures. Maybe if I did, I'd have to be more careful. My pile does have some fairly rough stuff, plants I pulled that are pretty tough and woody, etc which keeps air pockets open. It's in wire grid bin, not enclosed, and I do every once in a while poke a couple holes down through the pile with a stick (maybe once every couple weeks while it is warm enough for the pile to be working) just to help with aeration. Given that it seems to stay aerobic just fine...

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