Cerbiesmom
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Location: Sugar Land, Tx

Starting compost

Hello, I'm a new gardener, and I want to start a compost pile. So far, we have sticks and grass clippings, as well as some plants that have been pruned. How do I go about composting? I saw the list about what can go in there, so I'll keep adding. But what do I do? I'm supposed to turn the pile, right? How often? How do I know if it gets hot enough?

And please, slow explanations, I'm a blonde and its friday and my brain is almost off for the weekend.

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Halfway
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Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 2:48 pm
Location: Northern Rockies

You may want to spend a few minutes reading the posts in this forum. There are literally hundreds and most of your questions will be answered with photos and well thought responses.

Best of luck to you!!
]
:D
Zone 4a.

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rainbowgardener
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Agree with above. There's tons of info here already....

Compost starting basics:

1) some kind of containment system to keep your pile piled. Can be purchased or home made. Needs to keep critters out and let air and water in.

2) good balance of green (soft/moist, includes such non green-colored items as manure and coffee grounds) and brown (dry/ hard). Doesn't have to be precise, but at least equal by volume brown to green. Sounds like other than the sticks which are good for creating air channels, but won't break down very soon, you are low on browns. Read the greens/browns sticky at the top of this Forum for suggestions.

3) Wants to stay damp, not wet. If it is dry enough to water your garden, water the compost pile too.

4) Helps to throw in a handful of good garden soil now and then to add microbial life.

5) Just throw all your materials into your bin. If you add kitchen scraps, throw a good layer of weeds/ leaves whatever on top to keep down odors and not attract critters. Turn it when you feel like it. I turn mine over every two or three months -- take the unbroken-down stuff off the top to be the bottom of a new pile, down to the layer where the earthworms are. Stir the bottom around a bit and it finishes up very quickly. Otherwise I don't turn it.

6) READ some more about it and ask us if you have questions once you get started!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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farmerlon
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rainbowgardener wrote: the sticks which are good for creating air channels, but won't break down very soon, ...
That's right. If you want the compost to be ready relatively soon, avoid putting sticks and/or pieces of wood in there. Those take a long time to break down. So, chances are, those pieces of wood will be a nuisance when you're ready to use the rest of the pile.

Even when chipped or shredded, or sawdust ... I prefer to put wood in it's own pile, and let it take it's time to break down (rot). It's going to take it's own sweet time anyway. :)

You may find that it's more practical to use the wood pieces as a mulch (around trees and shrubs, etc... ).

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rainbowgardener
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Well, everyone has their own way of doing things and OP will have to find out with practice what works for them.

For my no-turn compost, having a few sticks and stuff in it, really does help keep it from compacting, makes air channels and keeps it aerated. (I also do take a stick and just punch a couple holes down through the pile every once in a while while adding stuff, just to help with the aeration.) When you are doing back yard gardening, not farm scale, it isn't hard to screen the sticks and stuff out of the finished compost (see Applestar's posts on screening compost) or just pull them out as you are using it.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

rot
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Take it easy there

..
Easy to follow basics on composting and options in the following link.

As rainbow gardener alluded, find the system that works for you. Don't make any drastic changes in your life and work for the compost.

https://www.compostinfo.com/

to sense
..

Cerbiesmom
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Posts: 145
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 9:39 pm
Location: Sugar Land, Tx

Thanks guys. I think I'm really going to like it here. :D

Cerbiesmom
Senior Member
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 9:39 pm
Location: Sugar Land, Tx

I made a chicken wire barrier to keep my dogs out of my pile, and I started adding my kitchen scraps to the bin. I was fussing at my husband all weekend to stop throwing away bananna peels, potato skins, and apple cores, lol. The dogs are very upset with me.
I also bought The Worm Book on sale at half price books this weekend, and now I want a worm bin. Trying to figure out where I could keep it cool since I'm in houston and it's already in the 90's.

Cerbiesmom
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Posts: 145
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 9:39 pm
Location: Sugar Land, Tx

Got in and turned my compost pile yesterday. I was amazed at all the life in there. I had to poke around a bit bc 8 toads and a house gecko ran out first. Then I saw tons of rolly pollies, and some earthworms in the bottom of the pile. Everything is breaking down nicely, except the sticks, but I broke them up some more with the hoe, we'll see how it goes. I can't wait to use this stuff! But I know it takes time. I hate waiting.

cynthia_h
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Location: El Cerrito, CA

If you have what looks like finished compost + unfinished "ingredients," why not sieve the finished compost and put the unfinished stuff back in the pile to keep working?

Just a drop-by, but words like

sieve
sift
hardware cloth
wheelbarrow

will give you more info that I can in a single post!

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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