offgridfarmer
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Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:00 am
Location: lost in the woods, VA

Need to start composting

I live on a large size farm.

I have a large amount of pigmy goat dung mixed with hay, cow dung, hay with a little bit of rabbit dung in it, some rotten round bails of hay, and a huge brush pile. I have a good amount of garden waist but there is still more to come.

I don’t know much about compost but I know you need greens and browns. I have done a few searches and I find lots of info but I need some help to get started.

I was planning on starting in layers and was thinking of a row about 6’ wide and 5’ high and 100’ long. For mixing I would just use my front end loader. I plan on getting a big thermometer so I can keep up with the temp. The brush is mixed woods and I was planning on chipping it.

How thick and what order should I put this stuff down?
I have seen some compost activator but is it worth it?
If I need more greens I’ll get some blood meal or cotton seed meal.
If it is ready I’m planning on tilling it all in to our garden.
What book should I buy?

pixelphoto
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Posts: 155
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:13 am
Location: Middle Georgia USA

don't worry about an order of layers once you mix it with the front end loader its all gonna get mixed up anyway. i think it works better mixed up so I don't do layers anyway.
People make composting more involved and more confusing than it really needs to be.
Its basically rotting stuff. Let it sit there long enough and all organic materials will rot. Composting in the right formula just helps it along a little faster.

Grass clippings make a good green mulch when freshly cut. If your hay is still green you can use it too. Green leaves work as well.
Any salad greens, brocolli stems, etc etc work well also.

don't make it more complicated than it needs to be a common well known thing is K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid.

If you think you absolutely need a book on the subject Rodales has several good ones on compost out there.

pixelphoto
Senior Member
Posts: 155
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:13 am
Location: Middle Georgia USA

sorry the activator is not worth it in my opinion its supposed to have microbes which help break down the compost pile. Soil in your yard has the same thing. as long as you don't poison your yard with chemicals.
i

offgridfarmer
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Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:00 am
Location: lost in the woods, VA

The thought on the layers was the part of using a front end loader. I don’t have much green stuff on my property right now I can toss in it but I made some phone calls and I know where I can get a few tons of old produce on Monday. For $20 pulse my gas money for 50 miles.

On Monday I’ll just start dumping it all together and mix it all up.
As far as poison I haven’t used any for 2 years.
Is there any reason that it will not be usable the beginning of February?
I live in SW, VA.

pixelphoto
Senior Member
Posts: 155
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:13 am
Location: Middle Georgia USA

long as it gets hot enough to start breaking down things.
Call a few local landscapers as they usually have lots of grass clippings left over this time of year.
Of course you don't know about other peoples yards and if they use toxic chemicals on them or not. I have a landscaper who keeps me a pile of clippings he knows are safe as he is the one who upkeeps their lawns year round.

offgridfarmer
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Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:00 am
Location: lost in the woods, VA

I made 2 compost piles. Both piles are about 8’ wide and about 8’ high.

#1 is about 7 tons of hay with a bit of pigmy goat droppings, and about 7 tons of mostly green vegetables (not sellable in stores).
I stared the pile about a week ago and the temp is up to about 130*. When I turn the pile (front end loader) how much do I mix it up?

#2 is a bunch of cow dung and all of my chipped wood.
I know this will not decompose for a long time. I’m planning on adding all of my grass clippings and the stuff out of the garden and mix it in as I get the stuff. Is it worth $45 to get 7 tons of old vegetables to mix in there?

philthegardener
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Joined: Sun Jul 08, 2007 9:37 pm
Location: Modesto, California

A couple of suggestions offgridfarmer, if you get the piles too
big with too much greens in them they can catch fire. I suggest
keeping the rows to around 4 feet tall. Be sure the piles are far
enough away from structures just in case.

You may need to add some water if the piles are too dry. Moisture
content is critical to the breakdown of the organic material.

Make sure you are down wind of any close neighbors. A large
pile of compost can make quite a smell.

I think you are wise to keep the wood chips in a separate pile,
because they take longer to break down.

I wouldn't pay for material for your compost. I would look for
free sources or those that would be willing to pay you a small
fee for you to dispose of their debris.

offgridfarmer
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Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:00 am
Location: lost in the woods, VA

I have a lot of land and there not near anything. It’s a 10 minute drive in my john deer to get to them form the house.

I’ll nock both of the piles down to about 4 feet high in a few hours.

As far as the water I think I have them a bit wet and there calling for rain all week but I’ll keep an eye on it.


The one pile I need to use the fist of the year but the other pile I don’t really don’t have plans for. I guess I will need to keep an eye on the temp of the one pile pretty close.

I couldn’t find any free green stuff for my piles that I know were not loaded with chemicals. I know the produce has some but they should cook out and I don’t think they are that strong.

Thank you for the info.

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Jess
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Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 11:50 pm
Location: England

Re: Need to start composting

I have seen some compost activator but is it worth it?
I don't use it as a general rule but if the Summer is cold and wet and the pile is too slow it does work but with such a large pile you would need a large amount which would be quite expensive.

Guest

You don't need a book

Composting is really quite simple. It's a thing of nature.

You want to keep your pile somewhat ventilated so that air can get into the pile.

If possible keep it covered you want it moist but not wet.

Start with mulched or shreded twiggs and sticks. Then add Green cut lawn clippings then weeds. Any thing that is organic in nature can be used. Horse/Cow manure ect..

To measure the heat just stick a stick into the middle of the pile for 5 minutes and if it comes out warm your good if it comes out cool then it's time to flip the pile. A steamy pile is even better.

You can also purchase accelerators from your local garden store.

Personally I only use them if I can't get the bacteria going.

Hope this helps you get a good start on your compost.

cynthia_h
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Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

How did your compost piles come out, offgridfarmer?

They sounded impressive!

Cynthia H.
El Cerrito, CA

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