golddust
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WANT TO TRY OUT COMPOSTING

I've never composted before and like the idea of free fertilizer. What can I use as a container for a small scale 'try out'. I was thinking of an old vinyl trash can (it has a few small holes worn into the bottom so water isn't going to accumulate there - Florida soil drains quickly). If it works out I'll expand to something larger.

rot
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A little small for me

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I've heard of others composting on that scale but it seems to me more difficult when going that small.

See the following link. Easy to read guide on how to get going. Bookmark it because it makes a good reference too. Talks about bins or containers and different methods and some things to avoid.

https://sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/compost-info/

two cents
..

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rainbowgardener
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Agree, that you won't get a real sample of what composting is like trying it in baby steps. It does not work as well scaled down. Part of how composting works is that the heat of decomposition is contained within the pile, but with very little pile, there is little heat to build up and little pile to contain it. You are more likely to have stinky disasters small scale than with a real compost pile.


Plunge in! :) It's easy. All you need:

1) a pile - some way to contain your pile so that wind, rain, critters, don't spread it around and so that you can get the heat build up effect. It can be simple (chicken wire cylinder) or elaborate.

2) compostables - Mix of greens (soft, wet, nitrogen rich, like grass clippings, pulled weeds, coffee grounds, manures, etc) and browns (hard, dry, carbon rich like straw, fall leaves, shredded paper etc). See Greens and Browns sticky at the top of this Forum

3) water - compostables have to be kept damp, like wrung out sponge, If it is dry enough to water my garden, I water my compost pile.

4) air - composting is essentially a slow form of burning and like any burning requires oxygen. Be sure your pile is well ventilated, maybe throw a few twigs in to maintain air spaces, turn/ stir/ mix occasionally.

That's 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

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luvthesnapper
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This guy has a great method. Let your grass get tall, cut it, collect the grass, and throw it into a wire cylinder, wetting it as you go. Turn it every 4-5 days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=a-JqApyMaP4&NR=1

golddust
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Thanks for the info folks. Will look into this more!

mmmfloorpie
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luvthesnapper wrote:This guy has a great method. Let your grass get tall, cut it, collect the grass, and throw it into a wire cylinder, wetting it as you go. Turn it every 4-5 days.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=a-JqApyMaP4&NR=1
I've seen that video, don't like it.

He talks about how you don't need carbons to compost. Which is kinda true, but all you get is wet, slimey green sludge.

It works so much better with the brown carbons. You actually get something that resembles soil!

cynthia_h
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Re. the video: Why would anyone have a yard so BIG that the clippings alone would produce a big pile of compost? Very strange to me, as well as labor-intensive; maybe some of that big yard should be turned into a nice veggie garden, or herb garden, or even flower garden. :) Or, for those more into long-term plants, turned into roses or other perennials.

How much nitrogen-rich fertilizer is being used to support this very large yard which is being mowed so frequently that its clippings create a compost pile? Wouldn't it be more energy-efficient (people energy and other energy) to grow food, whether for people or pollinators? Or perhaps provide some beauty? A small yard can provide a nice place for kids to play or a family to spread out a picnic blanket, but a yard on the scale this man is discussing is, to my mind, impractical and (dare I say it?) wasteful.

So many kitchen scraps, household scraps (e.g., cereal boxes, toilet paper tubes), and other freebies come easily to hand almost daily and for very little effort that it seems a shame not to take advantage of them in making compost. I feel good that my garbage can is never full these days and hasn't been for several years; each and every item in it is there *only* because there's no way for me to re-use it, recycle it, or compost it.

I wrote this down in this forum, in color and with fun fonts, a few years ago, and it's still true:

Greens + Browns + Air + Water ==> Compost, eventually

Re. the OP's question: The minimum size usually agreed upon as productive for a compost container/pile/bin is 3'x3'x3'. The largest size usually agreed upon as being manageable and productive in a home situation is 4'x4'x4'. Smaller piles don't generate and retain the necessary heat, and larger piles may generate or retain too much heat in warm climates, necessitating very frequent turning, which many, if not most, gardeners find burdensome.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

toxcrusadr
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I didn't much care for the grass-only composting idea either. It will smell like ammoniaand rotting grass, which is the scent of nitrogen wafting away. :cry: I prefer a mulching mower, and when necessary, mixing grass clippings with leaves and other browns.

But getting back to the OP, I hope all this very good advice and discussion about size does not discourage you from starting. Note, Mother Nature makes compost constantly, all over the ground, and she doesn't make piles at all. A nice sized pile will be optimal and will make compost faster, but start with whatever you have. :)
Tox

estorms
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I'm a big yard person. I want it all; the huge yard, vegetable garden, orchard, flower beds, berries, maybe some chickens someday:) I may have crossed the line between gardening and farming.

cynthia_h
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It's amazing that Americans, by and large, feel that a quarter-acre lot is barely enough to manage with. In most of the "close-in" Bay Area, lots are 50'x100'. DH and I originally had a house on a 25'x50' lot. I suspect that many others, as well, are gardening and growing food with quite small lots (the "new" urban farming movement, for example).

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9
Last edited by cynthia_h on Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rot
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What works best

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WRT to the original post, I really think the link I provided previously is a good start. I used it very much when I started out.

I would recommend that you scan your options and go with what works best for you and your lifestyle. Please don't go changing things all around because I, or anyone else, told you you gotta do it this way or that. If the trash barrel works, great. Go ahead and make some mistakes. Observe what went wrong and adapt the system, do not adapt to the system. What works best is what works best for you and not necessarily anyone else.

WRT grass clippings: A few things.

1. Grass clippings are 70 percent water. Those big hoops are going to reduce in volume severely. In my own experience I experimented with just grass clippings and shredded paper. Got some nice stuff just not very much. It's the greens that tend to get consumed in the compost process and the carbons stick around more.

2. The greater variety of ingredients you put into the compost pile or bin, the greater variety of nutrients for your soil you're going to get. More is more.

3. Grass clippings make a great mulch all by themselves. If I could get away with it, I would never compost grass clippings. I'd just mulch to the teeth with grass clippings.

4. With grass clippings, I think you'd get more bang for the buck on your lawn by using a mulching mower and just return those clippings to the lawn each week than by gathering, binning, watering, turning them into very little compost to then spread on only a small portion of that lawn at any given time.

5. What works best is what works for you. If that's what is working for you, don't let me stop you.

two cents
..

toxcrusadr
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No doubt grass clippings will make compost, just like any other kind of organic matter when piled up. When I was a kid my dad used to dump his clippings in a pile, and he got compost, sure enough. It will go through a stinky slimy stage, but eventually it will become compost. I just choose not to do it that way because of the potential odors and nitrogen loss.
Tox

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klevelyn
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Lots of good information here. I like to keep my compost pile simple. I have a place in the back corner by my garden and I just pile everything on top as It comes. I use any green matter, plants and weeds from the yard and scraps from the house, vegetable peels etc.

It is a passive system but it works for me.
Eat healthy from your backyard garden

Artemesia
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not everyone worships compost

Golddust

Since you admit you are new to this, it is only fair to point out that not everyone thinks composting is such a great idea. Do not get me wrong; composting has it's place. But many of us have found that it is often more efficient to bury organic matter directly into the garden. Growing inoculated legumes and working them into the soil is one of the cheapest and efficient methods of improving nitrogen levels. Roots will sink more carbon than you could ever haul in. Compare all the options.

cynthia_h
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And there are those of us who cover our bets both ways. :lol:

At my MIL's house, I have a 4'x4' raised bed for veggies. I "tend" this bed once a month. The fava beans are very successful, and so are chard and kale. One year, the tomatoes went wild, but only once. Alas. They needed more tending than I could give them.

Anyway... I grow the favas for nitrogen fixing. When each plant is spent at the end of its season, I cut it off at ground level rather than uprooting it. That way, the channels it made with its roots are still there for rain penetration, *and* the nitrogen nodules on those roots are also still there. The biomass (leaves, stalks) are cut up into the BioStack at MIL's house, and the fava beans, whether fresh or dried in the pod, come home with us to be eaten.

It's a 100% terrific plant.

Other people have more success with other legumes; it's just that favas have worked very well for me at MIL's Sunset zone 15 house, consistently warmer than my own growing conditions.

Cynthia

treehopper
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get a pitchfork, clear a small area, have fun!
I started a compost pile, because I gardened. Now I find myself gardening, so I have someplace for my compost!!

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