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Small scale composting ideas?

Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:57 am
by jnunez918
Now that I have an active garden I want to be able to use the waste from trimmings and cuttings from my veggie garden. I've seen those tumblers for sale at lowes but they are real expensive. I'm looking to just use garden waste, maybe grass cuttings, and kitchen waste. I can't pile since I have 3 dogs who will dig. Any ideas? Is it even worth it?

Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:16 am
by ruggr10

Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:19 am
by Kisal
I think it's worth it. A compost pile is just that, a pile of waste plant material piled up on the ground. You don't really need any kind of container. However, containers are useful if you have pets or wildlife that like to get into the pile, going after fruit waste, etc. A bin just made out of a piece of metal fabric, like welded wire, hardware cloth, etc. curved into a cylinder shape and placed on the ground works very well. I used one like that for many years, after I got a dog that liked to dig in my open compost pile.

Some people make compost bins out of wooden pallets, which I gather can be found for free in some areas. Where I live, though, the pallets get reused by the companies. If you receive a shipment on a pallet, you get charged a fee. They refund the charge if you return the pallet. I think the last one I kept ... because I was too lazy to return it ... cost me $15, so I return them now. (A friend of mine collected some pallets from the alley behind a business and was charged with theft, so my advice is to make sure the pallets are up for grabs before you just take them. ;) )

There are many pictures that members have posted here of compost bins they have made. Just look around and you'll find many ideas for inexpensive, and even free, ways to make a bin. But remember, you don't actually have to have a bin, because an open pile works just fine. :)

Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:58 am
by PunkRotten
I got my wood pallets by driving around factories and checking dumpsters behind buildings. I found plenty of pallets. Some may have a cracked board or a board may be loose. But they still work fine to make a compost bin.

You can make a tumbler out of a plastic trashcan with a lid. You punch lots of holes on the bottom and sides. Fill it up, lay trashcan on its side and roll back and forth. There are videos on youtube.

Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:15 am
by dustyrivergardens
yep where I work they would help you load the pallet to get ride of them. they make great compost bins and the price is right free.....

Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:47 pm
by rainbowgardener
Agree with all the above. It is very worth it. If you have some kind of simple bin, home made or purchased, it will keep the dogs out. There are lots of plans for homemade bins here and elsewhere on line. When I started out I bought a simple coated steel bar grid cage for mine.

It was similar to this:

[url=]wire compost bin[/url]

but with a lid on top to keep raccoons etc out. It works well because it doesn't block air or water. Mine cost me $30 20 years ago and I am still using it, though now I also have an earth machine type bin.

You will love your compost! And it keeps all those kitchen scraps and yard wastes out of the waste stream.

You can learn about worm bins by typing worm bins, worm composting, vermicomposting into the search the forum keyword box. They are great for kitchen scraps, but couldn't really keep up with yard wastes.

Posted: Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:58 pm
by rainbowgardener
PS The compost tumblers are not only expensive, they don't really work all that well, and they require batch composting, so you still have to have a place to pile stuff while it's waiting for one batch to finish and the tumbler to be ready to empty and refill.

Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:39 pm
by jnunez918
I got my hands on some chicken wire. If I put this in the back corner of my relatively small backyard how much smell are we talking about?
Do I just start filling as things accumulate?
Do I need any fancy additives I have to buy that i've seen on other websites?

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:03 am
by rainbowgardener
Mg is exactly right. Just to add my 2 cents..

A working compost pile should have no smell except a little bit earthy.

I do just keep adding things to mine as they come along, but as Mg said, keeping the balance of green and brown (check out the green/ brown sticky at the top of this Forum). Thus when I dump in my bucket of kitchen scraps (mostly green), I cover it with a layer of fall leaves. Or if I throw in a pile of weeds I pulled (also green), I cover it with leaves or shredded paper or whatever brown I have around. The balance is important to not having a smell and having everything work well and come out with a good balanced product with all the nutrients you want. But it isn't rocket science, I don't do any measuring, just put at least as many browns (by volume) as greens.

Don't buy any additives, just the couple handfuls of good garden soil every now and then to innoculate it with the micro-organisms you want. And in my experience, to get to the wrung out sponge level of dampness Mg was talking about you will need to add water now and then. My rule of thumb is that if it is dry enough that I need to water my garden, I water the compost pile too. When I add that layer of dry browns, I usually pour a bucket of water on top.

That should be all you need to know - greens + browns + air + water + a few months of time = wonderful, rich compost!


Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 12:32 pm
by rockhound
If your pile is small you might try dusting it (after turning) with finely ground hot pepper, habanero is good. Most pets and possums etc don't care for the hot stuff! :D

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:39 pm
by ruggr10
I mentioned before, worms, and I also have a wire fence compost bin. But, for kitchen scraps, I've been burying them (not right now with frozen ground) in my raised beds and letting worms and rot take over.

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:47 pm
by Bobberman
The chickeywire works great! here is my idea this year whih has been mentioned in this forum earlier! Put a dozn tomato poles or green fence post in the ground forming a circle. I am making more of a oblong one or even a rectangular one! wrap the wire around to about 3 feet high! My inclusure will be about 4 by 12 rectangle. I will put everything staraw leaves burnt stuff all kinds of food skins and even rabbit manure.
When you can use something for more than one purpose you are way ahead. I will dig around the outside of the compost on the south side and plant tomatoes and climbing beans and have the best you will find because of the water leeching from the compost like compost teas. On the shadded side I will plant shade plants or herbs!The following year put your compost some where else and use this years compost as a raised bed buy adding 6 inches of dirt to the top!

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:35 pm
by jnunez918
Bobberman wrote: When you can use something for more than one purpose you are way ahead. I will dig around the outside of the compost on the south side and plant tomatoes and climbing beans and have the best you will find because of the water leeching from the compost like compost teas. On the shadded side I will plant shade plants or herbs!The following year put your compost some where else and use this years compost as a raised bed buy adding 6 inches of dirt to the top!
Awesome idea!

Posted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:57 pm
by Bobberman
There are lots of old cloths dryers out there even in the junk yard! Take the drum out of the dryer it has holes all through it! The metal is heavy and makes a great compost mini bin about 10 gallons> If you have a old motor hook the dryer belt to the drum and it will spin for the compost or to strain soil!

Posted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 10:08 pm
by amalgamate
Bobberman, I love that idea of the dryer! I spent around $60 for a smallish plastic compost bin a few years ago (what was I thinking?).

I also didn't plan well with placement, as it's in the shade for at least half the day. I don't think it gets quite hot enough there, but I still get dirt eventually. Apparently some tomato seeds and beans dropped next to it, because they started randomly sprouting next to the bin at the start of fall. The plants looked beautiful until frost came.

EZ composting bin

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:55 am
by Praxxus55712
I use a 6 foot section of welded wire fencing. I form it into an upright cylinder, connect the ends and toss in the compost goodies. Once per week I lift the fencing off the compost pile, set it next to the pile and refiul it while moistening the pile as I go. Easy and extremely cheap and effective. Better still it keeps Fido out....unless he's as small as a rat......which my dog sort of is. :)

Posted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:05 am
by Bobberman
I had a strange idea for a rolling compost. I guess all my ideas are a little strange but this may be a good one. Electric supply stores where they sell wire have the wire wound around a two wood wheels like a thred bobber. The wood wheels are like 3 feet or bigger in diameter. If you inclose the wheel wih screen and fill it with ompost you can roll it a few feet every week and the finished compost will come out and the rest will mix! They give them away free most of the time! You can also use them for a table! I was going to use a smaller one for a dirt strainer!