meuhey
Newly Registered
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:43 pm
Location: Quebec, Canada

First time composting question!

Hello first post here, I just started composting last month and it's very entertaining! :) I just made a compost pile 3x3x3 feet and in roughly 3 weeks, the pile has now compressed and is not even 2 feet high. I still add greens and browns to it but I'm wondering would it be better to start another pile or just keep adding stuff in my pile so it's always 3 feet high??? Thanks I love this website!!!

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: First time composting question!

Welcome! Glad you found us! Always glad to see people starting to compost - best thing you can do for your garden as well as keeping all that stuff out of the landfill.

I would keep adding to it for awhile. As you have seen already compostables reduce in volume dramatically from the original materials to the finished product. Your pile isn't just compressing, it is breaking down. If you were to just make your original pile and never add anything and leave it to finish, you would come out with a tiny amount of compost, like I don't know, at a guess a couple cups full. And it would be less likely to finish up well, because the composting process works best in a bigger pile to hold the heat and moisture in.

But at some point you do need to quit and let it finish. What I do is keep two piles. One I am building and adding to all the time. After that one has been building and working for several months (in growing season or all through the winter), I take all the (uncomposted, still recognizable) stuff off the top of that pile, down to the layer where the earthworms are, and use it to be the bottom of a new pile. The stuff at the bottom will be finished or nearly finished compost and will finish up quickly, exposed to air and stirred around a little. So then the second pile is finishing and being used up. After it is all used up, that site can become the location again for the building pile, so I just have two spots that alternate back and forth which one is building and which one is finishing/ being used.

That works for me. Some people have three piles. That partly depends on what volume of compostables you have.
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

User avatar
jbest123
Full Member
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 3:17 pm
Location: Zone 5 WPA

Re: First time composting question!

How large is your garden and what gardening style do you use?

meuhey
Newly Registered
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:43 pm
Location: Quebec, Canada

Re: First time composting question!

Thanks for your replies I will continue building my pile as you say, it's crazy how fast the material breaks down I'm impressed!!! As for my garden it will be my first try also! I will use the lasagna method building layers of greens and browns overs my lawn!! I will make my first "raise bed" which will probably be 3-4 feet wide by 25 to 30 feet long still undecided. I will prepare the bed next month and will probably use the unfinished compost for building the bed along with other material i can find in my yard (I am in south eastern Canada by the way) Next year in late summer/early autumn I will do the next bed etc, I have space for 6 to 8 beds! So I'm starting small to learn and will build more as the years goes by and if I have time( I'm single and young so plenty or time and energy!!!)! So basically I have space for around 700 to 900 square feet for a garden with 10 hours of sunlight!!! Thanks for your help I learn a lot from this forums it's great!!!

User avatar
jbest123
Full Member
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 3:17 pm
Location: Zone 5 WPA

Re: First time composting question!

Wow if your beds are 12" deep, you will need 26 to 30 3' x 3' x 3' compost bins full.

meuhey
Newly Registered
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:43 pm
Location: Quebec, Canada

Re: First time composting question!

I'm starting with a single bed don't forget, I wont only use my unfinished compost, I'll also use yard waste and fallen leaves, chicken/horse manure, grass clipping, and other stuff to build my lasagna bed until it is roughly 18 to 24 inch high. Hopefully all the material will decompose and be ready for gardening season next June! Buildings many beds would be a long term project!

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11342
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: First time composting question!

How often are you turning the compost?
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

meuhey
Newly Registered
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:43 pm
Location: Quebec, Canada

Re: First time composting question!

When I first started the pile 4 weeks ago it took me 2 weeks to build a 3x3x3 feet pile watering every time I threw dead leaves, no turning. When the pile started breaking down last week (3 weeks from when I started the pile) I turned the pile for the first time, it looked like there was ash in the middle when I turned and I could barely recognize the stuff I threw in it ( lots of kitchen scrap) everything was dark brown and no foul smell! So it's been a month and so far I turned the pile just twice. I use to have a small chimney during the first 2 weeks but I think it's useless since my pile is small so I removed it and since then it seems to hold heat better (since August here we get lots of rain and low temps at night)

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:43 am

Re: First time composting question!

Don't forget to figure in the "aisles" 18" to 24" between beds.

Eric

meuhey
Newly Registered
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Aug 14, 2013 8:43 pm
Location: Quebec, Canada

Re: First time composting question!

Thanks for the info Eric, I was asking myself this question so 2 to 3 feet between the rows. Would it be better to mulch the walking space or let the lawn grow between my rows??? Thanks!!!

DoubleDogFarm
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 6113
Joined: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:43 am

Re: First time composting question!

I have a 5ft wide main aisle down the middle of my garden. It's about half grass half white clover. The rest of the garden I'm trying to keep covered. Pulled weeds and spent crops are left in the aisle or placed along the fence line. No pile to deal with. Sheet mulching.

(25) 3ft + wide ~ 20ft long in a 3900sqft fenced area.

Eric

*dim*
Cool Member
Posts: 87
Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2013 10:40 pm
Location: Cambridge UK

Re: First time composting question!

read these 2 links as you may get some ideas: (based on Sir Albert Howard's teachings)

https://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0302 ... 20209.html

https://www.broadleaze.co.za/organic-far ... es/compost
Spend sixpence on the plant but a shilling on the hole - Anon

gepstein
Full Member
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2013 12:24 pm

Re: First time composting question!

3 x 3 is plenty. After turning it you'll know you don't want it any larger. It can get heavy! I like the idea of 3 piles....the oldest one is used in the garden first or if In the garden can be seeded while the other two piles age....like cheese?! Rodale Composting and other sources rec'd the size you're using. I'd just start another one after the first one is getting too high to turn...you,ll know when! If it's too shallow it won't insulate well enough to really heat up. So, 3 x 3 x 3 is probably fine.

Return to “Composting Forum”