wsommariva
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Comment please on my plan of action

Hi everyone,

As I age I listen more. So last Fall I built three bins. Each three feet by three feet by three feet tall. Pressure treated slats. I have millions of leaves stockpiled and get at least a gallon of kitchen scraps/coffee grinds each week. I add the scraps and cover with leaves weekly. I add ten gallons of water each week except in the winter. Bins are in the shade. Bin number one is full since last December. Once bin two is filled I'll transfer bin one to bin three, thus turning it. That's my current plan. Anything I should do differently?

Thanks everyone in advance.

Bobberman
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I would add some garden soil on top the leaves once a week. I would also sprinkle some nitrogen holding mix like blood mill or cottonseed meal on the leaves when you add the dirt.! You have a nice set up and should have alot of worms. Some manure would not hurt! Some wood ashes if you have any! Asd long as the leaves do not get to soggy you are in good shape!That is what I would do!
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wsommariva
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Thanks for the input. Garden soil is hard to come by. I do add it when I can. How about sheep manure? I can get that cheap. And I'll add either the blood mill or cottonseed meal, whichever I can find.

Bobberman
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Sheep manure is great and you will not need the blood meal or cottonseed mill if you add the manure! What is the manure mixed with straw or sawdust! Straw is excellent also!
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wsommariva
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I don't know what it's mixed with, never bought it before. I'll pick some up tomorrow. How much should I add per week?

Bobberman
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Add it when you add the stuff from the house scraps. Just mix them together and they will decay faster and maybe add worms! The sheep manure will also be great in the garden! or mixed in raised bed and will make bad soil much better! I am not sure but sheep wool is also good for a compost does anyone here know? Every state has something in abundance that is cheap in that area that makes great compost! By products of some factories are great and cheap in certain area so look around for that compost gold!
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wsommariva
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Thank you very much. The sheep farm will be fun for the whole family. I'll also use the sheep manure instead of Planttone which is a bit pricey.

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Halfway
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Sounds like a great, well thought out plan.

I can smell that good "earthy" black gold from here! :D
Zone 4a.

wsommariva
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Thanks for the nice comment. Smells good indeed.

toxcrusadr
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If you can get fresh manure you will have plenty of nitrogen to speed the decomposition of your leaves. Therefore the blood meal and cottonseed meal would not be essential, although there is nothing wrong with adding it. I tend to avoid paying for anything that goes into the compost, because in my mind it is a way to make a nutrient-rich soil amendment from wastes. Of course it's up to you.

How is the moisture content when you turn it or dig down into it? 10 gal. seems like a lot but you have to be the judge. It should be damp but not dripping wet. Observe and adjust.

Soil is also optional, if your piles are on the ground you will get plenty of microbes in the piles. Also, half-composted chunks from the finished pile can be tossed back into Bin 1 to inoculate it.

Finally, with a 3-bin setup the most efficient way is to make a pile in bin 1, turn that into #2 and make a new batch in #1, so you always have finished compost in #3 and a fresh pile being added to in #1. Once you get that rolling you will like it.

Good luck!
Tox

wsommariva
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Moisture is good with the ten gallons that goes into the bins that are close to full. I think that the sheep manure will cost me maybe $4 a month; and it will be a nice trip to the farm.

Since this is my first year I need to figure out a good system. Currently I build my pile weekly with kitchen scraps, (will start manure) and then the leaves. I think it will take six months to fill a bin.

Last Fall I cheated. I filled a bin with leaves and added fertilizer for nitrogen. That bin is about six months old and I'll turn it into a free bin soon. I'm very excited as my current soil is really poor.

SOB
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I am new to composting but I thought the bins were supposed to be in the sun so it warms up faster...?

wsommariva
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Not allowed by wife. Must be out of site.

Bobberman
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A compost will heat up anywhere even in a cave! They grow mushrooms in mines with a compost mix that heats up some but ha slost most of its heat from the manure they use!
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vermontkingdom
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I too am a big fan of the three-bin composting setup. For many years I used tumblers and found the results acceptable but not great. About 8 years ago I went to the bin system. My bins are 4 x 4 and I pile the initial one to about 5 feet. It's a considerable chore to turn so I use a compost aerator to aerate the most active pile while it's still growing and use pipes to occasionally introduce rain water. It's amazing how long the pile stays hot. When it finally loses its heat, the contents of each bin get moved along, the contents of number three are spread or given away, number two to three to finish, number one to two to basically free up number one for new stuff. The major problem I have with this arrangement is that some of the compost never finds itself in the middle of the heat core, and therefor not all seeds in it are cooked. Presently in bin three, I have squash and cuke volunteers growing from last year's additions. Obviously, if diseased plant material from the previous year is added as compostible material, you put yourself at great risk when using the mature compost.
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wsommariva
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That's for that info. I've seen pvc pipe in some bins. What is a compost aerator?

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farmerlon
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Re: Comment please on my plan of action

wsommariva wrote:Hi everyone,

... Pressure treated slats. ...
Different opinions abound on that. Some folks say pressure-treated wood is safe, others say not so.

Personally, I would opt for a wood that is naturally rot-resistant, such as Cedar or Redwood. Or, use free or cheap (untreated) pallets to make the bin. That way, the compost pile can be kept "organic", with no fear of chemicals leaching from the wood.

Those natural woods will likely not last as long as the pressure-treated, but they will typically give several years of service.

wsommariva
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Yes I know. I did some research when I built the bins. I used non arsnic PT. I would have used cedar, but costly and a long trip to the lumber yard.

toxcrusadr
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The newer treated wood has only copper and no arsenic or chromium anymore, so it is relatively a lot safer than CCA. I do like the pallet approach, when they rot you just find some new ones. They make a lot of oak ones around here, which are pretty rot resistant.

Someone mentioned adding fertilizer to leaves...that works, but you may also want to try the slow leaf-mold method. Pile them up in a bin and let them go by themselves. It takes about 2 years but the humus you get is different and quite wonderful to behold. So if you have the space you can make a leaf bin. I have one but always end up robbing it to feed the regular bins with browns.

On the topic of sun vs. shade, indeed the 'heat' comes at least in part from within. One drawback of a sunny spot is that it dries out in hot weather forcing you to water it to keep it going. OTOH a shady spot will take longer to warm up and dry out in the spring (if you're in a place with real winter!). So it's 6 of one, half dozen of the other.
Tox

wsommariva
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Very good to know about the leaf mold, leave it alone method. I do have one bin full of leaves with just the added fertilizer. I can move that to a wire bin and have a wood bin free to move my lasagna mix to. And I get the chance to see what's on the bottom of that pile. Thanks for that tip.

toxcrusadr
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To answer a previous question, I think the aerator being referred to is a gadget you stick down into the pile and yank it back out. It has little arms that open when you pull so it mixes the compost and makes air holes in it, without turning the whole pile. I haven't used one because I just turn my piles now and then.
Tox

wsommariva
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I was thinking that was it. What do you think of adding pvc with holes to aerate? Maybe install them vertically?

bogydave
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I made some from white PVC.
Last edited by bogydave on Tue May 17, 2011 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

wsommariva
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That's a nice drill press.

I have pvc laying around, I'll use it until it falls apart. 1/2" hole it is.

I think verticle in my piles, see how it works - this is all new for me.

Thanks very much.

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