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TexRx
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My Fall/Winter Compost Pile!!

Hello! I've decided to post my compost pile here so....here goes! My first thread!

Fall and winter is when I work on my outdoor compost pile. The growing season is almost over now and it's time to focus on making compost!
So, I started my outdoor pile today! It didn't take very long and I've got pics below of each step

So, what you see is:
-I started the base of my pile with some yard waste, some bagged compost and some unfinished compost from my last pile
-Then I added a 50 lb bag of beets and molasses from the feed store
-After that, about 50 lbs of coffee grounds from Starbucks
-Next I added some green sand, lava sand and gypsum. You can see it's green red and white
-Next is a 50 lb bag of alfalfa pellets from the feed store
-Followed by 4 pumpkins that are cut into pieces
-and then a full bag of compost starter
While I was layering this pile, I would occasionally add some base material and stir the pile some
-then I covered it all up

And Finally, I flattened the top of the pile and put the hose on low so it gets wet

This pile will sit for a month. We get rain here in N. Texas this time of yr so the pile will get wet....... and then I will turn it and add more materials. At that time I will update this thread with more pics!

Here's all the pics!

Thanks for looking!!!

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/55113419.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/25b51caf.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/bd76831f.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/62e8f1c8.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/43499d0a.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/b0243140.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/06e70d57.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/4fcf8bc9.jpg[/img]

toxcrusadr
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Tex, those are some great compostables. It seems heavy on the green, you might need some leaves or some other kind of browns to balance it.
Tox

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TexRx
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^^^^ I don't have any leaves to collect yet. Fall is just now starting here. I won't have a lot of leaves for a few weeks. So, I don't have any to add right now

And I know it looks that way but I've got 8 bags of compost as my browns and once it gets turned, it will compost well


:)

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rainbowgardener
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I never quite understand buying things to put in your compost pile.

Mine does fine on yard waste, kitchen scraps, fall leaves

I think the compost starter is mostly micro-organisms that are available in your soil. Toss a handful of garden dirt in now and then and you will get the same effect.

If you want to add stuff like green sand and gypsum to your garden, I think you are better off adding it directly to the garden, instead of putting it in the compost pile...

Your bagged compost and old compost is (hopefully) pretty balanced C:N. So it doesn't really count as a brown (which has nothing to do with color, manure is a "green"). If you don't have fall leaves, maybe shredded paper? Last year in the summer when I ran out of the previous year's fall leaves, I bought a bale of straw (not hay which is a green) to use as a brown and fed that into the pile a little at a time. Didn't break down as fast as the fall leaves, but it got there.
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TexRx
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So far, no one here thinks outside the box

My method works

:)

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TexRx
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I'm going to prove to the good people here that my method works. Once this pile is done and you see just what kind of results I'm capable of producing, you'll see what I'm doing works

It's not a conventional pile, of course but I will show you results to wow over!

We've gotton some rain already and I'm going to turn the pile in another week.....that's when my next update will be. Until then I'll be lurking around the board

:)

bogydave
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Go Tex
I like it. It'll make compost.

If it's organic, it will make compost.

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rainbowgardener
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TexRx wrote:So far, no one here thinks outside the box

My method works

:)
Of course it works, and will produce very nice compost; no one questioned that. My method also works, with a lot less effort and zero dollars and nothing mined or imported. And you would still get more bang for your gypsum/greensand buck putting it directly on your garden.
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There are many ways to skin a cat, but overall, I agree with rainbow. I too have wonderful compost but mine essentially comes from free materials. I combine leaves from many neighbors, horse manure, grass clippings from two sources (known to be pesticide free), kitchen refuse, garden weeds and greenery, lots of human urine, wood ash from our wood stove, and pulverized bones after they have been cooked in the wood stove. The water I use on the piles comes from our rain barrels. Several years ago I bought bags of rock phosphate, bone meal, dried blood, greensand, and alfalfa pellets to use in my compost but, to date, I've had no need to use them. Part of the fun for me now is to be able to tell my wife that everything going into the garden is almost free. (The horse manure is transported by car from a nearby town so obviously the gas expense prevents the compost from being totally free.)

BTW-She doesn't know about the urine ingredient so let's just keep that little secret between us devout composters!
"Good gardeners do not have green thumbs. They have brown knees, soiled hands and big hearts."

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TexRx
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Using urine in your compost pile is gross!!!
I mean do you wake up and take a leak outside on your pile every morning or do you have a bucket to collect it?


:)

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rainbowgardener
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But if you really think about it, using pure drinking water to flush valuable nitrogen into the sewers where it goes into the water ways, where it contributes to the death of rivers by eutrophication (look it up! :) ) is also "gross."

speaking of thinking outside the box.... :)
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toxcrusadr
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Tex, there are many ways of recycling urine into the compost, so the answer to your question is "yes", any and all of those methods work. I would guess the majority of people who do it at all are the 'occasional deposit directly on the pile' types. But there are bucket people. :lol:

If you've ever bought a bag or truckload of composted manure, you got not only poo but urine too. Yet the compost is just fine. Nature's way of recycling.

This thread will answer many more questions should you wish to expand your knowledge:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=31668
Tox

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stylemichelle21
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Not to be nitpicky in any way, but I'm kind of interested in the Starbuck's coffee choice. In my neck of the woods, that's pretty expensive stuff. Is there any benefit to using their brand versus, lets say, a cheap grocery store alternative?

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TexRx
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rainbowgardener wrote:But if you really think about it, using pure drinking water to flush valuable nitrogen into the sewers where it goes into the water ways, where it contributes to the death of rivers by eutrophication (look it up! :) ) is also "gross."

speaking of thinking outside the box.... :)
Ok! I'll give you credit for thinking outside the box. A composting toilet sounds better than putting on a pile directly

I would like to post here, guys...so even though I'm off to a bumpy start.... keep in mind that there are a variety of ways to compost things. If you just wait and see my results....the results will be full of goodies including natural minerals from the lava sand, green sand and gypsum. And it will be realatively hot compost with NPK nutrients. This batch I'm making will go on my lawn. My native gardens like the native soil and don't want much compost....

peace for now

:)
Last edited by TexRx on Wed Oct 26, 2011 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TexRx
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stylemichelle21 wrote:Not to be nitpicky in any way, but I'm kind of interested in the Starbuck's coffee choice. In my neck of the woods, that's pretty expensive stuff. Is there any benefit to using their brand versus, lets say, a cheap grocery store alternative?
I don't think different brands would vary much from each other. Organic may have higher levels of nutrients and nitrogen...other than that, I think used grounds are all ralatively the same

I can tell you that Starbuck's has a 'Grounds for Gardeners' program and you just have to ask if the store you visit participates. My store gives me up to 20lbs every week Usually 3 to 6 lbs per day
:)

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TexRx
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toxcrusadr wrote:Tex, there are many ways of recycling urine into the compost, so the answer to your question is "yes", any and all of those methods work. I would guess the majority of people who do it at all are the 'occasional deposit directly on the pile' types. But there are bucket people. :lol:
I have read recently that urine has some composting value. And I agree, but I think there are better applications for the use of urine. I have a septic system and I use biodegradable household products....so I feel good that my urine is not ending up in rivers. Commercial applications of collecting animal urine to be composted at farms is a cool idea! Or even composting human urine and watse from waste treatment plants sounds awesome! While, pissing on the pile instead of using a toilet is too much for me

Enjoy it if you do it! But it's not for me

:)

bogydave
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Most comments here are just trying to help.
I don't think anyone is telling you to do it different than the way you are doing it, just ways they do it that's different.
I'm thinking you are making "specialized, super charged compost" & plant are going to do real well in the nutrient rich stuff.
I made some with 100+ salmon carcasses & remains mixed with Horse manure compost this year & am hoping it's super charged too.
As for me, I'm waiting to see what your stuff looks like when it's done. Gives me ideas to experiment with. :)

toxcrusadr
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Yeah, it's all good, we're a pretty laid back bunch for the most part. Just chewing the fat.

I think stylemichelle may have assumed the coffee grounds were fresh rather than used! LOL Can't blame her because the original post just said "Starbucks coffee grounds". Anyone with experience using coffee grounds assumes they're used and would not even have noticed.

What would that cost...50 lb at $10/lb = $500. I'd be brewing up the compost in my French press! :lol:
Tox

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farmerlon
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The term Sustainability is tossed around a lot these days; probably so much that those of us who try to practice "sustainable" or "frugal" methods even get tired of hearing it.

But, I think that gardeners can make a very positive environmental impact by striving to use as many "assets" that are available on their own property or as local as possible.

Unless you are faced with a property or local environment that is very lacking in compostable resources, you may be nicely surprised by the quality of compost that you can create without the input of purchased amendments. :)

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TexRx
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Well, honestly, the reason I do my compost this way is because it's faster. Piling up yard waste, grass clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps etc. seems to take forever to get results. This pile I'm working on will be ready by early spring. Other basic textbook style compost piles would usually take at least 1 yr to get finished results

So I've adopted this method where I add a variety of rich ingredients to a pile of bagged compost

After reading a compost book that describes several different composting techniques, I assumed what I was doing here was not out of the ordinary

:)

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rainbowgardener
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I don't know who told you it would take a year to produce finished compost. Perhaps it is a matter of definition... if you build a whole pile at once as you are and then wait for the whole pile to be finished, perhaps (but I don't think so unless there's lots of woody stuff in it).

I do build as you go composting. When ever anything compostable comes along I throw it on top of my pile. Every few months, I turn the pile over so what was on top (the most recent additions) is now on the bottom, and what was on the bottom, finished compost, gets pulled out for use. Mostly I only do it when I want to use some of the finished compost.

This year I did it a bit differently. Usually I do it three times a year, spring, mid season, fall. But I built a new veggie garden bed in the middle of my front lawn. So I pulled out all of the compost I had, to help fill up the new bed. That was sometime in Sept. Then a week or so ago, I turned the pile again and pulled out more compost, to be able to use for fall projects. It was about a month in between. The time in Sept, I stripped out everything remotely finished. I had skipped the summer time one, because I knew the new bed project was coming, so I was saving compost for that. So I had three big wheelbarrow loads full for the new bed and nothing finished left at that point. One month later I went back and pulled out three more buckets full of finished compost. All of that had finished up in that month. That obviously doesn't mean my whole pile was done, most of it went right back in the compost bin where it will now stay until spring. But in spring I will have a whole bunch more finished compost (and then again all the remains/ unfinished stuff will go back in the bin).

So given my method, it is difficult to say how long the stuff that became the finished compost in my October buckets was actually sitting in the pile. Probably different lengths of time - some stuff composts down quicker than others and all the finished stuff tends to filter down towards the bottom. But clearly I can say that you can get more finished compost from your pile at least every few months (except in winter when everything quits, but I don't have a need for compost then anyway).

And I don't do anything special or add anything special and my compost pile doesn't usually get very hot.
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TexRx
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I appreciate the info! So, when you pull finished compost out of the pile are you using a screen to keep unfinished parts from being in the mix?

I'll be turning and adding new material to this pile all winter and when it's done I will run it thru a 1/4 inch screen. What is screened out goes back to start the next pile. The rest is either used as is or is screened again thru a bug screen. This fine compost is used for compost tea and the course compost will be used on my lawn and also to plant new plants

After I use all the finished compost, what's left of the pile will sit until the growing season is over in Oct
During the warm season, I focus on making small batches of compost in 2 30 gallons bins in my garage. I've got 2 bins that's are 3/4 of the way thru right now

:)

here's my 2 screens! On the left is my 1/4 inch screen on the right is my bug screen

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/fa2a65a8.jpg[/img]

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TexRx
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And to show you I can make some good dirt, here's a pic of some finished and screened compost! This is from my 30 gal bin in my garage, not my outdoor pile

:)

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/920e2be7.jpg[/img]

bogydave
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Good looking compost.
I may have to start screening garden compost.
Awesome!
I screened my large piles of Horse Manure compost I made a few years ago, & have several yards stored. I found things like pocket knives, horse hoof clippings & several rocks from the gravel pad it was stored on.
Home made compost shaker:
[img]https://i274.photobucket.com/albums/jj269/bogydave/cmpstshkr2.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i274.photobucket.com/albums/jj269/bogydave/cmpstshkr1.jpg[/img]

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TexRx
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Awesome compost shaker!

Yeah, since I started screening my compost I've felt like my results are better....I always use them now!!

:D

pickupguy07
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TexRx wrote:
stylemichelle21 wrote: I can tell you that Starbuck's has a 'Grounds for Gardeners' program and you just have to ask if the store you visit participates. My store gives me up to 20lbs every week Usually 3 to 6 lbs per day
:)
If you have a "free standing" Star Bucks in the area, you could get LOTS of grounds in one trip.
In my area we have a star Bucks inside out local Kroger store, so I get their grounds ever6y time I go shopping. about 30 pounds or so at a time. I shop about once a week, and it's not out of the way.

At my local free standing Star Bucks I could go in the afternoon abd get 100+ pounds from just that day. I find what I get from my Kroger Star Bucks gets me all I need. You can have too much of a good thing.
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting

SOB
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bogydave, I LOVE the ingenuity! Is that an orbital sander that you're re-purposing for the shaking mechanism??

Also, tex your final compost looks great! I agree with the "frugal" people that I enjoy taking waste and making it beneficial but to each their own. I look forward to following your progress...

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TexRx wrote:I appreciate the info! So, when you pull finished compost out of the pile are you using a screen to keep unfinished parts from being in the mix?
I don't, I simply shovel it out and throw back the big clumps of organic matter. The uncomposted matter will continue to compost in the garden. I also don't mix the compost into the soil, just lay it on top and the water will bring down the nutrients to the roots.

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[quote="SOB"]bogydave, I LOVE the ingenuity! Is that an orbital sander that you're re-purposing for the shaking mechanism??

Also, tex your final compost looks great! I agree with the "frugal" people that I enjoy taking waste and making it beneficial but to each their own. I look forward to following your progress...[/quote]

Yes, an old craftsman orbital. I learned you have to use it for short periods, not continuos duty!
Worked great until I burned up the plastic slide attached to the cam. I ran it for about an hour straight, got to hot & melted.
Now I mount a high rpm electric motor with an "out of balance" pulley on the end. More longevity.

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rainbowgardener
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I'm with john-g. I'm the lazy gardener. All that stuff is great, but looks like a lot of work. I dump out all the stuff from the bin, throw back everything down to the layer where all the earthworms are. Below that is the (more or less) finished compost. If it isn't looking quite finished, I put it in a separate pile for a few days exposed to air and it finishes up quickly. I pull any big sticks or rocks out, don't screen, use all the rest. If something is not perfectly finished it will break down later.

For spring planting, I put some in the planting holes/rows and put some on the whole bed when I am preparing it for planting. Summer and fall, I just put it on top, like john said.
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TexRx
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Thanks for the positive comments about my finished compost!!

I don't mind buying stuff to put in this pile. It's going to be mostly for my lawn and this wil end up costing less than buying 40lb bags of organic lawn food at $30 a bag

I get alfalfa pellets for $13 a 50lb bag
Beets and molasses is $15 a 50lb
Lava sand, green sand and gypsum are $10 a 40 lb bag
And pumpkins are only $4 for an 8 lb one

But I can appreciate the feeling of making compost at zero cost other than some labor. I get it, really I do!

:)

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farmerlon
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TexRx wrote:...
And pumpkins are only $4 for an 8 lb one ...
Tex, that is some awesome looking compost!

Here's a tip ... This time of year, you might check your area for places that sell a lot of "decorative" pumpkins and squashes for the Halloween and Thanksgiving season. There is a place in my area that clears out their leftover inventory at "5 for $1.00", when the season ends. If you can find a similar store near you, that might be a great way for you to score a load of nitrogen for your compost pile, "on the cheap"! :)

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TexRx
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farmerlon wrote: Here's a tip ... This time of year, you might check your area for places that sell a lot of "decorative" pumpkins and squashes for the Halloween and Thanksgiving season. There is a place in my area that clears out their leftover inventory at "5 for $1.00", when the season ends. If you can find a similar store near you, that might be a great way for you to score a load of nitrogen for your compost pile, "on the cheap"! :)
That's a good tip! and.... Yeah, I have an independant garden center that will give me big discounts on pumpkins once they start to get old in mid Nov. Sometimes the guy will throw in a few extra for free!! (cuz I'm a regular customer). He'll also give me discounts on hay. And will put loose hay in a bag and give it to me for free

So, in several weeks I will have pics of pumpkins and hay that I'm getting!!

:D

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TexRx
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My grocery store is having a clearance sale on medium pumpkins!
So, I decided to buy a bunch
The first day it was $1 for each pumpkin - I bought 6
The next day it was marked down to .50 cents - I bought 12
Then bought 12 more the next day
And then bought 18 today
For a total of 48 pumpkins

I've cut them all up and I have 6 bins full
I'm gonna turn my pile and add these pumpkins to the pile in the next few days!

:)

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/d91df20e.jpg[/img]

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TexRx
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So, I added my pumpkins to my pile a few days ago and I've got a couple pics!

This is just one layer. There's about 6 layers. And then I set the hose on low to get it wet

After another month or so, I'll be adding more material......I'm not sure what to add next...I'll have to think a bout it!!

:)

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/f6bba9b1.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/0b09bfc8.jpg[/img]

SOB
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That's a lot of pumpkins! Did you at least cook up some delicious pumpkin seeds??

The pile's looking great, btw!

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TexRx
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Thanks! The pile is coming along nicely

...And, no....I didn't do anything with the seeds. There are so many that I just put them in the pile. Some of them will sprout inside and be composted....some will not and will hopefully compost over time. If not, I screen my compost and no seeds will end up in the finished product

I'm not sure what to add next but I'll have a bunch of leaves soon, so I'll be including at least some leaves in this pile

And it's going to be a few weeks before I add material again

Thanks for your interest!!

:)

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TexRx
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I have an update today!!!!.....I'm turning my outdoor compost pile!

I operate my pile differently than traditional piles. Instead of piling everything up, I'm layering material inside a big pile of dirt! What I will end up with is a nutrient rich compost that's going onto my lawn in the spring

In this first pic, you see I have 3 bins and a trash can full of fresh cut grass/weeds & also brown leaves. A nice mix of browns and greens! There's also 1 & 1/4 bag of beet pulp shreds & molasses. And lastly, there's 2 bags alfalfa pellets (labeled Bluebonnet)

On the left, my pile ready to be turned!

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/78e5a8bd.jpg[/img]



To start the pile, I added a bin of grass/leaves and then covered with 20 lbs beets & molasses followed by 40 lbs of alfalfa pellets. I get both of these items at the feed store

I then cover this up with compost from the pile and start another layer. I have 3 layers

This is the first layer
[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/5a9b9dbf.jpg[/img]

Here's the second layer ....you can see the beets and alfalfa clearly in this pic
[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/12cdd7af.jpg[/img]

And the third
[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/d6aa3a42.jpg[/img]

I then cover the pile with whatever is left! The pile is still moist from our recent rain so I'm gonna skip wetting the pile w/ the hose!
This pile will sit for about a month or so. It needs to get at least one good rain storm for best results! The pile should be finished in early spring. Most if it will be spread on my lawn as fertlizer

~ p e a c e ~ Thanks for looking!!! :)

[img]https://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g192/dtresse35/83dab84b.jpg[/img]

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Very nice I like it...

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TexRx
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Location: North Central Texas

georgia lawn wrote: @TexRx - Do you worry about the weed seeds in your compost germinating once you put the finished compost back out onto the lawn?
I've never had any issue spreading seeds around in my compost. There's one thing I do that reduces the amount of seeds that make into the finished product~> I run my compost thru a screen. First a 1/4 screen and then a bug screen like on your window to keep out bugs. This elimnates unfinished compost from the finished product and removes seeds!

The pumpkin seeds often germinate in the pile and then just get composted

So far, I've also not had a issue with spreading weed seeds around. I have not seen any show up in my garden yet!

:)
Last edited by TexRx on Fri Jan 20, 2012 8:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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