NHGardener
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Compost containers?

Several years back I had bought a composting container on Earth Day from a local organization. It was black plastic, you put the matter in the top, there was a door at the bottom to scoop out the stewed material. I don't know if I need one of those containers again, or what. What do you store all your vegetable, etc. scraps in? My prior container didn't really compost things very quickly or effectively, but I think it's because I didn't stir it enough, I don't know.

Any really easy ways to compost? (I do have chickens so I can use manure too)

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Kisal
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From your description, it sounds like you may have had an Earth Machine. That's what I have, and it works great. The compost runs really hot.

When I first began making compost years ago, I just piled everything up out in the open. Then, my dogs began to get into it and drag it all over the yard, so I made a wire bin. Even though I turned the material in the open piles and the compost bin at least weekly, they never produced finished compost as fast as the Earth Machine does.

Still, you can just pile stuff up and, with enough time, it will eventually become compost. :)
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DoubleDogFarm
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Any really easy ways to compost? (I do have chickens so I can use manure too)
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC03102.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/DSC03101.jpg[/img]

I would pile the compost where the chickens can peck through it.
I think it's because I didn't stir it enough, I don't know.
and the chickens will eat the weed seeds, bugs, grubs and keep it aerated.
Still, you can just pile stuff up and, with enough time, it will eventually become compost.
This works for me also. :)

Eric

NHGardener
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It does sound good to leave the pile in the open so the chickens can aerate it - only then, hmm, might it attract vermin? I don't want the mice calling all their long lost relatives to party in my yard...

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Kisal
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Well, the mice will certainly be there, if they can get in. Even if there isn't anything for them to eat in the pile, they'll nest in it for the warmth. I always had mouse nests in my compost piles, until I got this Earth Machine bin. My 5 cats would gather 'round whenever I went out to turn the piles. They had a heyday chasing ... and catching ... all the little mousies! :lol:
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

NHGardener
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Well, that's a big plus for the earth machine... a really big plus. :D

edit: wow, I just saw it online for almost $200. When I bought mine about 7 years back, it was $35 (from whatever organization that was for Earth Day). I guess they encourage sales thru municipalities. Now we have a really big plus subtracted by a really big minus...

I suppose I could just get a big black plastic garbage can, turn it upside down, cut the bottom loose and use it as a removable lid, cut a hole in the front big enough for a shovel, slice some vents in there...

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Kisal
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I know what you mean. I was about to buy one from our local recycling center. They sell them for $65, but they have a hard time keeping them in stock. Then I got lucky and won one at the county fair. :lol:

Your idea would probably work just fine. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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applestar
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Does t matter if mice get in the compost pile?

There are mice in the shed. I don't worry about it too much because I'd rather they stay in the she'd at the back end of the property than get in the house. The compost piles are a few steps away from the shed. They probably do some of their food shopping there, but I've never seen one.

I think in my garden, it's the squirrels that do more in terms of digging things out. I also see a chipmunk sitting on th piles sometimes so they're probably finding some things to eat too.

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Kisal
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I guess it depends on how far the compost pile is from the house. One of mine was about 15 feet away from one back corner of my house, and the mice would run to the corner, then along the side to the front and squeeze in around my old garage door. From the garage, they would squeeze into the kitchen cabinet where a conduit came through the wall. I saw a couple of them do that, but I wasn't quick enough to catch them. My cats nabbed 'em in the kitchen.) I have since replaced the garage door, and I don't think they could get in that way now, plus I have plugged the opening around the conduit. Mice are crafty little devils, though, so you never know! I used to raise them to feed to raptors, and I've learned that mice cannot be trusted. :lol:
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

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applestar
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I used to completely freak out about mice. My old useless cat brought one inside but had no idea what to do with it and lost it behind the fridge. DH was away on a business trip and I had to call my Dad to come catch and dispose of it -- It was either very late or very early, and I was so incoherent on the phone he thought it was a dire emergency... until he understood and then he laughted at me, though he did arrive shortly. :lol:

I know where my irrational fear comes from though -- when I was younger, I went up to my cozy bedroom to go to bed and there was a mouse perched in the middle of my pillow! :eek:

Had morbid fear of any animal on my pillow ever since -- I wouldn't even put stuffed toy animals on my pillow... Until the said useless cat first came to me as a kitten and claimed my pillow to snuggle up in. :()

After said cat passed after long 18-1/2 years of life, we got some gerbils because I couldn't even think about getting another cat for a long while. :( They were only with us for a few years (short life span, you know), but mice and mice turds no longer bother me (though I still would rather not have them in my house) :wink: And we adopted a couple of barn kittens shortly thereafter. :D. One of them is a good mouser. 8)

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rainbowgardener
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My compost is in a wire bin, a little bit similar to this

[url=https://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/7185-product.html]compost bin[/url]

but with a lid. Mine only cost me $30, but that was more than 10 years ago.

It sits on the ground so earthworms can get into it.

Mice/shrews do get into it occasionally, but it is far from the house, so I figure it is just attracting them away from the house. The grid is small enough to keep raccoons and possums out, which is the point of having the bin for me. Otherwise there would be nothing left to compost, because the critters would eat it all.

Works for me, it is very easy, I add stuff to it whenever I have it, don't do much to it except keep it watered in dry times and be sure to mix greens and browns.
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NHGardener
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That wire compost bin looks like my dog crate on its end! I bet I could use the dog crate as a wire compost bin. Altho it also doubles as a chick nursery in the spring. Hmm. Maybe I should have 2.

About the mice thing, I really don't want to actively encourage and feed them, even if they are far from the house. I also fear encouraging a rat population. I just saw a craigslist ad in my area asking for help because their chickens were being killed by rats in their barn. Yick. (Also, mouse droppings are allergenic, can be a problem if they get in the house.)

Now I'm leaning back towards a closed system like the Earth Machine. I'll keep my eyes open for a muncipal sale. Lucky to the person above who won one at the county fair. That is a treasure. Ha.

Edit: Ooh! Yes. I just googled and found a town 15 miles from here is going to be selling them for $45 for Earth Day, order now. Gotta love Earth Day. :)
Last edited by NHGardener on Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Kisal
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NHGardener wrote:That wire compost bin looks like my dog crate on its end! I bet I could use the dog crate as a wire compost bin. Altho it also doubles as a chick nursery in the spring. Hmm. Maybe I should have 2.

About the mice thing, I really don't want to actively encourage and feed them, even if they are far from the house. I also fear encouraging a rat population. I just saw a craigslist ad in my area asking for help because their chickens were being killed by rats in their barn. Yick. (Also, mouse droppings are allergenic, can be a problem if they get in the house.)

Now I'm leaning back towards a closed system like the Earth Machine. I'll keep my eyes open for a muncipal sale. Lucky to the person above who won one at the county fair. That is a treasure. Ha.
I made a compost bin out of a portable dog pen that I had from when I used to show my Komondor. The panels are 4' x 4', and the mesh is 2" x 4". I still have all 8 panels. They come in handy when I need a quick trellis for some annual vine or some other purpose. At the moment, 3 of the panels are laying flat on the ground in my dog run, to discourage Daisy from digging up the foundation of my house. :lol:
Last edited by Kisal on Tue Feb 22, 2011 12:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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NHGardener
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Wow. We should start a new forum: 1001 uses for dog crates. :lol:

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Kisal
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I used to have one like this, that a friend made for me. It worked great, but as I got older (and more decrepit! :roll: ), it became too hard for me to turn the barrel to mix the compost.

[img]https://greenopolis.com/files/images/spin_barrel_clip_image002_0000_0.jpg[/img]
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NHGardener
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Wow. That's a beauty. Wish I had friends like that. :lol:

Wouldn't mind a couple of those to hold sand for my driveway in the winter either...

rot
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pallet bins are free

..
I constructed my bins out of pallets and nailed down window screen with roofers nails. I set them up on pavers which lets the worms in but not the burrowing rodents or tree roots. Pretty much critter free for a few seasons now.

to sense
..

toxcrusadr
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Mice can get into an Earth Machine and most other commercial composters quite easily. All they do is keep out the big critters - dogs and coons and such - by having a lid.

I wouldn't spend a hundred bucks for a hunk of plastic unless I really really had to. We use 'em at our office building for the food waste, but it's important not to have varmints dragging stuff around the parking lot. At home, I use a circle of fencing or some free wood pallets screwed or wired together.

Finally, the original post said the plastic composter didn't make compost very fast...could be turning as you said, or an imbalance in browns vs. greens, not enough moisture, etc. If you do use a plastic bin, turning is easy - just pull the bin off (or disassemble the two sides and pull them off sideways), set up next to your pile and fork off the pile back into the bin. At the bottom you should find usable compost. And the bottom doors on those things are pretty useless, I've found.
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NHGardener
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I remember thinking that the bottom door on the Earth Machine was pretty worthless too. For one thing, you couldn't fit a shovel in there very well. I used to just pick the whole thing up and move it to get to the bottom.

I really like the pallets and screens idea. Would those have a top of some sort? Sounds like vermin could just crawl over the top. I'm more wary of rats than mice. And then with chickens around, I also have to think about attracting raccoons and skunks. Hmmm. Leaning towards the Earth Machine again...

toxcrusadr
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If you needed to critter proof a pallet bin I would suggest chicken wire. A lid can be fashioned from lumber - just make a frame and staple chicken wire to it. Use hinges or even twisted wire on one side. Or just set it on top and weight it down with something.

I've used the wire hinge trick to make a front door on a pallet bin - makes things easier when turning time comes.
Tox

NHGardener
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Oh, that's a good idea. The mesh wire/hardware cloth not even a mouse can get thru, but still allows ventilation. I'll have to check the price on that.

Bobberman
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If you see a old cloths dryer take a look at the tumbler. It is made out of coated steel with small holes all through it! It should be great for a compost maker just make a top for it!
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Heron's Nest Farm
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Re: pallet bins are free

rot wrote:..
I constructed my bins out of pallets and nailed down window screen with roofers nails. I set them up on pavers which lets the worms in but not the burrowing rodents or tree roots. Pretty much critter free for a few seasons now.

to sense
..
Can I get a picture of this? My dilemma right now is building something big enough for us!I want to put it closer to the house out of site and this sounds good!
I'm concerned about using pine boards. How long do you think it would last?
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toxcrusadr
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Untreated pine will rot pretty fast and you might only get a couple years out of it, especially if the pile is very active and moist. I prefer oak pallets - white oak especially is very durable. Of course they make them around here, so there's no shortage of free used oak ones at the various stores and warehouses. YMMV.

The treated stuff nowadays just has copper in it, no arsenic and chromium, so it's a lot safer. You could also use plastic deck lumber. I always wanted to try that. But I've never built one from new lumber, always recycled crate wood or pallets.
Tox

rot
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palletable

..
Mine have lasted a couple of years so far. The ones I busted up were the ones that weren't on pavers but on and eventually in the dirt. The submerged parts rotted away and I made firewood.

I can't tell pine from oak once they're pallets. I can be somewhat picky so I get the clean ones without paint. The ones I don't use get pulled apart for fire wood so clean new ones pull apart more easily.

I'm still trying to get a couple of pictures loaded. Nothing spectacular so don't hold your breath. I just can't remember my flicker account. Or was it photobucket? I need another ID and password anyways.

to sense
..

toxcrusadr
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Pine is softer and lighter, oak is really hard and very heavy. Sometimes I see cottonwood, poplar or maple too. It helps to be a woodworker. :)
Tox

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M.Clark
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I use a black 50-gallon Rubbermaid garbage can with holes drilled into it. I bought the can on sale for $5.00 at a clearance sale. It heats up very quick and once got too hot. (charred my compost into this ashy mess) This year I am going to add more browns when I put in the brewers grain, coffee grounds, and veggie scraps.

toxcrusadr
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There is a mold that sometimes grows at high temperatures and looks like ash. I've seen it in piles using a lot of fresh grass clippings that got very hot. Although compost can catch on fire, it takes a very big industrial size pile for that to happen. You're probably seeing the mold.
Tox

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I used to have an open compost bed and gave up on that because it just took too long to get good compost. Now we have a closed bin and it makes great compost. No matter how high I pile it, it melts down in a short time and then - black gold!

As for the mice, here is an email I sent to my husband last May when we had one in our kitchen and that I discovered as I was about to punch down the sourdough bread I was baking (never finished that). Here goes:

"OK, so I got some traps - 6 to be exact – the kind where you don’t have to see the mouse once it gets inside. That was the only kind they had. I came home and started yelling loud so he would stay away while I put some cheese into 4 of the traps. I put the first one down by the wall near at the edge of the fridge and, while I was filling the other three, it came scooting out!!!!! I yelled pretty loud so missed my first chance to get the bugger. OK, I screamed & screamed again and jumped up into your chair and I know that you are smiling, maybe even chuckling a bit as that vision runs through your head. When I stopped shaking, I covered the rest of the package of your Cabot hunter’s cheese with a bread pan on the table, sent the last three traps flying near the fridge (one discharged when it hit the cabinet) and raced up stairs and closed the door which I know he can’t get under. I kept being really loud until I got up stairs since I know it doesn’t like that (I’m quite sure he wasn’t following me). I’m really disappointed that I scared him but he scared me too! I wasn’t prepared for him to be waiting under the fridge while I was getting your favorite cheese out and preparing him a delicious snack. I never thought for one moment that he would come running out to get caught within a minute of the trap going down – he really wants your cheese.

All the way home, with 6 mouse traps in hand, I kept singing “I fought the mouse and I won (to the tune of “I fought the law and the law wonâ€

toxcrusadr
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Egad, I'd hate to see you if you saw a big rat in the toilet! :lol:
Tox

Canadian Farmer Guy
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I was working at a horse farm once.

One day I went to dip a bucket into a water trough, there was a dead rat the size of a softball floating in it.
Mice and rats generally don't scare me, but this was the last place I expected to see it.
Startled me pretty good.

Man he was big, biggest rat I ever saw.

CFG

toxcrusadr
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Ick. All swole up and ready to pop, I bet. Not so good for the flavor of the water I bet. :shock:
Tox

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Composting bin

Last year my neighbor was getting rid of a ton of decorative landscaping stones that he was tired of. I hauled every single one to my house - they each weighed 25 pounds, I am a 5'2" female and this was no easy feat! I calculated that I moved over two tons of stone!

Anyway, I ended up building an open air, half circular structure about 3 feet high for my compost bin - I am very proud of it.

One person's trash is another person's treasure!

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