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stella1751
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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.


:D
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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...

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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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I'm with Rainbow re: odors. The only time I noticed a stench on mine was when I foolishly added bushels and bushels of apples all at once. (I also got yellowjackets by the dozens.)

It did occur to me the other day that I will probably have to do a quicker turn, like Rainbow does, on at least one of the piles. Generally, I have one of my three wire grid bin cages only partially filled by the time spring rolls around. I add to that while the others continue to cook. However, what with all three full, I'll have to either make a fourth one or turn one. I think I'll turn one 8)

As for the amount of compost, I suppose I have ten cubic yards of cool stuff (still composting but mostly finished) for the spring. My garden's only 250 square feet right now, so that should be plenty to get me started :)

HG, what does PAWS stand for?
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No doubt you guys are right about plant material being less likely to go anny-something on you, but it can still happen and when it does you lose huge amounts of fertility (as volatized ammonia). Just something to keep in mind...

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If you get ambitious, you *could* move the half composted stuff into a single pile, THEN make a new pile in the empty cage....

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Well I see this thread has been busy.

I went out today to the spot I was talking about before and picked up a truck bed full of leaves. I will wait till tomorrow to put them in a pile it is windy today. I had to back my truck up to block the wind somewhat just so I could rake them. They were blowing everywhere. :lol:

Like I said I got a bed full and there are TONS more. Next time probably tomorrow morning I will go back. Right before I left I went into the wood-line, OH MY there is a ton there, thick and half decomposed. That will be my next target, don't worry about the trees being robbed of nutrients. Trust me there is way more than enough for the both of us.

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What works best

..

Whether slow composting with little to no turning or hot composting turning at optimal frequency, the best way is the one that works for you. Some folks like making the optimal mixes brewing their teas while others just like to pile it up and let it rot.

My slow bins are in an out of the way place on pavers where the worms crawl up and do the work for me. I start with 4 to 6 inches of dry woody stuff on the bottom and add all sorts of junk over the course of a year. After it's topped, reduced and topped again a few times I just water for around a year. I just applied one of those and it was like shoveling a giant brownie.

My hot bins cook the weeds and the seeds and provides me with compost here and there throughout the year. After the hot ones cool down, I'll seed with worms and by finishing time I usually have more worms than I seeded. The hot bins get turned once a week. About two months from top to finish on those.

The two different types work for me. I don't work them that hard. They fit into the way I do things and the stuff I have on hand.

Make it work for you and not the other way around.

to sense

..

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Re: What works best

rot wrote:..

Whether slow composting with little to no turning or hot composting turning at optimal frequency, the best way is the one that works for you. Some folks like making the optimal mixes brewing their teas while others just like to pile it up and let it rot.

My slow bins are in an out of the way place on pavers where the worms crawl up and do the work for me. I start with 4 to 6 inches of dry woody stuff on the bottom and add all sorts of junk over the course of a year. After it's topped, reduced and topped again a few times I just water for around a year. I just applied one of those and it was like shoveling a giant brownie.

My hot bins cook the weeds and the seeds and provides me with compost here and there throughout the year. After the hot ones cool down, I'll seed with worms and by finishing time I usually have more worms than I seeded. The hot bins get turned once a week. About two months from top to finish on those.

The two different types work for me. I don't work them that hard. They fit into the way I do things and the stuff I have on hand.

Make it work for you and not the other way around.

to sense

..
Good post, Rot! I am in complete agreement. This summer I began experimenting with what I call mini-composting: Smaller DIY composters I can use just for my kitchen stuff and small garden waste throughout the summer. For a variety of reasons, some bullheadedness, some poor luck, I never completed the experiment. (Next year, by golly, I WILL drill those holes in it, and I WON'T forget to water it!)

What you have described is the way I will be composting next year. I'll have my monstrous piles and my monstrous wire cages, but I'll also be playing with compost on the smaller scale with my DIY bins. No matter how we do it, we are all achieving the same goal: feeding the soil.

BTW, I loved your imagery: "it was like shoveling a giant brownie." :D
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Sorry stella; missed your query the first time...

PAWS stands for [url=https://www.middlebury.edu/administration/recycle/compost.htm]Passively Aerated Windrow System[/url]. The folks at Middlebury College (home of one of my green heroes [url=https://www.billmckibben.com/]Bill McKibben[/url]; Bill's who taught me about [url=https://www.350.org/]350[/url] and just what that means. Talk about importance of composting...) are using Paws to dispose of their cafeteria waste; I believe Paul Sachs from[url=https://www.moodoo.com/]VT Natural Ag[/url]helped them set up (Paul's one of the old guard who started doing this long before it was cool and has taught a lot of folks the importance of composting).

Moo Doo is a fine product that I have used and a fine way to increase biodiversity in your pile; always sweet and finished, something that cannot be said for all bagged products. I have always been happy with [url=https://www.coastofmaine.com/]Coast of Maine[/url] products which just keep getting better. The new wormcastings look great, and my garden started with a lot of their [url=https://www.coastofmaine.com/soils-quoddy.shtml]Quoddy Blend[/url]; loaded with lobster shells which activates chitinous bacteria that deter many bugs, and the [url=https://www.coastofmaine.com/soils-penobscot.shtml]Penobscot Blend[/url] with all the mussel shells helps to deter slugs AND adds calcium to the soil! Plus almost all the mixes use salmon compost as a component and you know how much I like fish (good bacterial AND fungal food)...

But this sort of product tends to be regional and I just know the Northeast. Around Philly, [url=https://www.organicmechanicsoil.com/]Mark the Organic Mechanic[/url]is putting out a very nice compost potting mix; designed his own bag to keep aeration and allow CO2 to escape, ensuring that the biology arrives ALIVE at your place. 8)

But search your area to find the guy doing it right. There's a Paul Sachs or a Mark Highland in your neighborhood too. When you find them, tell us about it...

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A lot of you are talking just leaves in a pile. What about leaves and grass that can't be wrong can it. I had a puny pile yesterday. Today I have a 12' long 5' wide 3-4' tall pile of leaves and grass mostly leaves though. Of course there are sticks and maybe a few pumpkins in there. I would hope this would do just fine. I already took my tiller into and mixed it up real good than watered it deeply. What are the chances of this actually decomposing by spring?

Another thing I use an old Miracle grow dispenser for watering cause it has a nice pattern to it when on the hose. No Miracle grow though just water. I put some molasses in it along with some fish emulsions. Do you see anything wrong this way of applicating. Main problem I foresee is that molasses not breaking down enough to actually get sprayed out. Seemed to work okay though.

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Not at all gixx; do it just that way myself all the time. Keep in mind that city water has chlorine which let's face it, is ther to kill the bacteria and fungii we are trying to get, which is why I tend to use my rainbarrels and watering cans, but I know that if I am broadcasting a big area (like doing the lawn with fish) most of the chlorine volatizes pretty quickly in the air and what is left cannot compete with fish and native biology. Not optiaml, but o.k. And sometimes o.k. is good enough...

And of course leaves and grass mixed is fine too, combining carbons and nitrogens is what it is all about. Some of us just like to custom blend a little more; fungal stuff for shrubs, bacterial stuff for flowers and veg. But compost is pretty much good for whoever gets it; they tend to adjust things to their needs themselves anyway. Rot and Soil have the right idea; living things Rot and become Soil. Period. Ashes to ashes is bad carbon management (combustion puts the carbon in an atmospheric form, and we are already about 28 ppm too far there now); dust to dust makes much better sense. So we compost :mrgreen:

[url=https://www.daypoems.net/poems/2069.html]This Compost by Walt Whitman[/url]

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I hear the talk of fungal and bacterial but I don't fully UNDERSTAND the whole concept yet.

But I have been composting my way all my life, everything all put in together. I do have a pretty big pile. I will have to turn it a bit to get it going or it will never be done by spring. I have it in a section of my garden that I want to use so it better be done.

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Tonight's the night. All around me, homeowners are toting bags of leaves to the curb. I passed some on my way home today, but I made a point of looking the other way, just in case someone saw me staring at them and coveting them, and decided to call in a suspicious person report to the local PD. I will feel more comfortable stealing them under the cover of darkness, which should be in about three hours.

Have I got what it takes to steal leaves on a grand scale? Sure, I've pilfered the odd bag or two, but those were impulse thefts, a matter of seeing, wanting, and taking, the organic gardener version of shoplifting. I've never before contemplated larceny on such a major scale before. I feel like I'm planning a bank heist. I should have made blueprints of the neighborhood. I wonder whether I should black my face?

If you don't hear back from me, hey, it's been fun. I'll probably be sitting in an 8'x10' cell at the Wyoming Women's Correctional Facility, asking my cell mate what she's in for. I'll tell her how it all began, twenty-some years ago, when I bought a spade and my favorite organic gardening book, the one by Shepherd.

Wish me luck :lol:
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I'm not sure that kind of talk is allowed on here..........

I think about you and the others every day. Where I have been working is the more rich part of metro St. Louis. They have leaf pick up by the city today. More than half of the houses had HUGE piles of leaves out by the street today to be sucked up. They might be 60+ ft long and 4-5 feet high. There is dump truck after dump after dump truck truck loads of leaves around that area.

Have you thought about asking them? I'm sure they wouldn't mind. One man's trash is another man's gold, golden leaf that is.

:wink:

.....at least no by me :cry:
Last edited by gixxerific on Tue Nov 03, 2009 12:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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GOOD LUCK, STELLA! :()

Apparently, my township (or county) still has one of those leaf vac trucks. People are piling their leaves in the street. I'm guessing the vac truck is coming soon. This makes leaf taking a bit more difficult. I made off with 4 wheelbarrow-fulls of my neighbor's pile. Also raked up 3 wheelbarrow-fulls from my own front yard. I have to catch my other neighbor before she dumps her decorative Jack-o-lantern bag full of leaves in the street (Last year, I missed my chance and saw her son dumping the leaves out just before the vac truck came).

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applestar wrote:I made off with 4 wheelbarrow-fulls of my neighbor's pile.
Applestar, this one sentence made me laugh so hard my dogs came running, worried that I had finally snapped. I just got this visual of you racing up the street with a wheelbarrow full of leaves, casting anxious glances over your shoulder :lol:

Gix wrote
I think about you and the others every day. Where I have been working is the more rich part of metro St. Louis. They have leaf pick up by the city today. More than half of the houses had HUGE piles of leaves out by the street today to be sucked up. They might be 60+ ft long and 4-5 feet high. There is dump truck after dump after dump truck truck loads of leaves around that area.

Have you thought about asking them? I'm sure they wouldn't mind.
Gix, we've got a leaf sucker up here; sometimes we call it the wind or, if we're feeling poetic, Mariah. Most of the time, though, we call it a discouraging word while we watch the deer and the antelope blow past, legs flailing. I think most of our leaves wind up in Idaho.

I got twenty bags. What a score! I could have gotten more, but I decided that these 20 plus the five that one neighbor gave me plus the five that my neighbor across the street promised me will be more than enough to get me through until next fall.

Best of all, I only had to go to one place to get 'em! I decided to hit a retirement community near me first. They don't have dogs--I think that's a rule--so I wouldn't have poop in my leaves and I wouldn't have dogs barking about my presence.

You will never believe what I found. They stack all of their bags together. There were three stacks of bagged leaves on the first street I hit. I took two stacks of ten before I decided I had enough.

Here's another benefit of stealing your leaves from a retirement community: Hearing problems. I don't think anyone heard me come or leave, honest. I kept waiting for someone to come to the window and peek out, and no one ever did.

I wish I'd thought to do this before. All summer long, friends have been bringing me grass clippings, and I haven't had any brown to layer them with. I just stacked the grass clippings, waiting for fall.

Next summer will be different 8)
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Do leaves do well in one of the black plastic compost bins? Not clear if you have them over there. Bit ugly but they do the job and keep things from blowing about the place. Tend to keep too much moisture in.

Loads of leaves around here. As soon as it stops raining I will be out filling up my bin.

We have green bins collected weekly for biowaste so most people will put their leaves in there, so no chance of picking up extra.
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:lol: Stella, glad to add hilarity to you and your dogs' day. :lol:

Ermintrude, I'm sure plastic compost bins will serve just as well, just be sure to add/maintain sufficient moisture to begin with since lidded bins usually don't collect enough rainwater.

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I don't seem to have the problem with the plastic bins being too dry they seem to keep the moisture in and things end up a bit slimey.
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I found myself thinking about leaves all day yesterday -- the pick up is on Monday -- I missed out on some bags I passed on sunday on my way to dinner! ARGH...

We have a street sweeper -- but I beat its coming -- I swept the street in front of my house and 3 of the neighbors. But none came out to say anything -- however ... there was some grass clipping in my neighbors driveway --- I didn't go for those -- he was home and had company... I wonder if they are still there..the clippings.. not the company.

I came out with 3 bag fulls --- now to get that bin built....

I am becoming an addict.

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Ermintrude wrote:I don't seem to have the problem with the plastic bins being too dry they seem to keep the moisture in and things end up a bit slimey.
The slime may be too many greens not enough browns, or possible not enough aeration. The leaves would definitely help if it's all greens.

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I am so excited to start a leaf pile! Last year I hoarded a bunch of leaves to mix in with my greens in the regular compost pile because I didn't know that I could start a leaf mold pile.

If I had more space I would be camping out at neighbors' houses ready to pick up leaves. We don't have a leaf pickup on our suburbia street, I guess people's property sizes can't hold enough trees to justify a city-wide leaf vacuum truck.

Anyway, I fully take advantage that most of my neighbors don't compost. They are so happy when I come by to empty their green bins for them. Hee hee... :twisted:

Stella - I was laughing out loud at your stealth leaf collection tips. If I had the room I would be following your lead. Well done! :D

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I too was out under the full moon stealing leaves! On my way to the grocery store and discovered that someone had about a dozen big yard waste bags full of leaves out at the curb. Not sure why since our city discontinued yard waste pickup, but there they were! Couldn't resist.

Of course, my car trunk and passenger seat happened to be full of boxes of books to take to the used book store. So three giant bags stuffed full of leaves, almost as tall as I am (not saying a lot :) ) got wrestled into the back seat of my two door car. I'm sure it would have been quite an amusing process to watch. Then my groceries ended up on the shelf under the rear windshield.

The things we do for love... I mean leaves.

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Yesterday I topped off the bins that had shrunk, and I made three interesting discoveries:
  • One of my neighbors delivered his leaves in see-through bags. I think they might be those bio-degradable trash bags, but I'm not certain. Anyway, his leaves, collected two weeks ago, had already begun to seriously mold, unlike those in the one black bag I dumped in.

    Next, because I'm out of green, I topped one of the piles with one of what I thought was my "failed" mini-composting experiments. With the exception of some pine shavings I added a few weeks back, the stuff was all composted! It worked.

    Finally, it occurred to me that I don't know what to do with leaf mold. Do you just add it like you would compost?
Lazygirl, now that I know the ringleaders in the retirement community leaf collection, those whose houses had the piles in front of them, I think I'll ask next year. If they say no, I'll steal 'em anyway. Those are some seriously trash-free leaves! :twisted:
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The image of you folks rushing round grabbing bags of leaves has given me a good laugh.

Not doing very well in comparision, managed to sweep up a couple of bag fulls from the other side of the street.

Must say that the last lot of grass clipping which have a good % of leaves are rotting down very nicely.
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Ermintrude wrote:The image of you folks rushing round grabbing bags of leaves has given me a good laugh.
Yeah me too, but I have truckloads of leaves not 3 min from my house. Of course I have to rake or shovel them up, but it's basically limitless for me.

If you all need any I will hook you up. 8)

By the way, those of you stealing leaves in the cover of darkness. I aint' down with that, I go out in morning with full sun. Really who's gonna mess with a psycho like me piling my truck full of leaves off the side of the road. :lol:

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stella1751
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gixxerific wrote:By the way, those of you stealing leaves in the cover of darkness. I aint' down with that, I go out in morning with full sun. Really who's gonna mess with a psycho like me piling my truck full of leaves off the side of the road. :lol:
Gix, in the legal sense, we are not stealing. Once people set out their trash on public byways, it becomes the property of the public. Admittedly, my actions look deceptive, done under the cover of darkness. However, that's a courtesy. In a day and age of continual solicitation of our elderly by all kinds of unscrupulous parties, many of them, my mother included, dread answering the door to a stranger. By not pounding on their doors late at night, I probably spared the homeowners unnecessary stress.

In fact, I think we are performing a public service. The ones I took were almost in the middle of the street. What if some sweet elderly woman driver had leaned over to fix her makeup in the car mirror and swerved into all those leaves? Blinded by flying leaves, she could have panicked, ramming into someone's house, car, or riding lawn mower. Think about it. I probably deserve a medal for the role I played in Casper's fall clean-up.

I do hear you, though. Next year, now that I know where to get the goods, I will ask. If they refuse, I will know that they are hiding something, that they probably stashed something besides leaves in those bags, that they are probably eco-terrorists out to destroy the city's municipal compost maker. Again, I will feel I am doing a public service if I steal those leaves, which I will first dump heavily on the lawn of someone I dislike. If they don't explode, I will take them home :lol:
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Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

Hold on now Stella, I'm not downing you at all. I'm an anarchist by all means.
I was not saying you are bad by doing what you are doing. You took me all wrong. I applaud you for it as a matter of fact. I was just making a joke about hiding in the shadows, where being the self proclaimed nutcase I am don't hide and do it front of everyone. No offense Stella sorry If I came off that way.

If only you knew all the stupid crazy stuff I do. :lol:

On your one post where you describing the "nights heist" I was loving every word of it. Actually jealous of the words you were saying. Seems some people don't like the words I sometimes use and was banned for a day, right after I told you I could be banned in that PM. I wanted to tell you that I would be happy to be your wheelman on that night of illgoten leaves, but was afarid I would get kicked off again.

We are good Stella forever and always. Peace! :flower:

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stella1751
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Location: Wyoming

gixxerific wrote:Hold on now Stella, I'm not downing you at all. I'm an anarchist by all means.
I was not saying you are bad by doing what you are doing. You took me all wrong. I applaud you for it as a matter of fact. I was just making a joke about hiding in the shadows, where being the self proclaimed nutcase I am don't hide and do it front of everyone. No offense Stella sorry If I came off that way.
Sorry, Gix. I seriously thought you were questioning our (read: my) morality :oops: I had fun justifying the exercise, though, laughing while I wrote that I probably deserved a medal for stealing leaves, so we're good. Criminal acts are all about perception, I suppose. I steal leaves. I like stealing leaves and will probably continue to do so. When you get to be my age, you take your fun where you can get it.

However, I use the "hot" leaves to make compost for a garden that produces for the local church. Hey, I like that play on words. The leaves are already hot, so my compost should heat even more quickly than before. Shucks :D
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

Ermintrude
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Location: UK

Well guys you have got me at it. Was down the street looking for piles of leaves. Did not fancy loading them up in the dark but will be out first thing tomorrow. Driving around I find myself spotting new sources.

I really hope that mixing them next year with grass clippings I will get much better compost.

Had a bit of a run in with contaminated manure this year so am looking for something else to feed to my beans.
Growing Veg is fun.

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stella1751
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Ermintrude wrote:Well guys you have got me at it. Was down the street looking for piles of leaves. Did not fancy loading them up in the dark but will be out first thing tomorrow. Driving around I find myself spotting new sources.

I really hope that mixing them next year with grass clippings I will get much better compost.

Had a bit of a run in with contaminated manure this year so am looking for something else to feed to my beans.
Welcome to the gang, Ermintrude! I had a run in this year with contaminated compost from the municipal compost site, so I am determined not to have to use any of its compost again. I think I got enough leaves to get me through the year, but as my compost piles continue to shrink during what is proving a warm November, I am starting to regret not having gotten all 30 bags :cry:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

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gixxerific
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Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

I hope i don't get any contaminated compost! But I think the way they are doing it here it should be good.

Welcome to the late "night early morning leaf gang" Ermintrude. This is the first time I had to look for leaves for my garden. Before where I lived I had so many in my yard it almost became a nuisance. :shock:

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