User avatar
Chaesman
Senior Member
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:49 am
Location: Missouri, usa

Ok I am going to have to start composting

I read through the sticky on green and browns. I can build bins fairly easily. so with those 2 items where do I really start?

What I have on hand at the moment is about 20 lbs of coffee grounds and maybe 200 lbs of chicken manure I can get bucket loads of horse manure if I need it (My daughter has several horses). I also have about 10 foot by 400 ft of tree line with plenty of leaves and I mow my 2 acers of weeds ever week or so. To be honest I hear the use three bins but I honestly think if I tried I could fill three bins at one time.

1. Ok so how much of what should I add in what order. Lets use 4x4 for the bin size and lets please use easy terms like 2 inches of weeds/grass or whatever so I don't get lost.

2. How often do I wet this mixture?

3. How often do I turn it?

4. Bait shop around corner should I add worms or night crawlers? (Never found on on my property)

5. How long should it take till it is usable?

I think that covers the inital questions!!

I only ask because reading through a lot of the threads it seams it is possible to mess up the mixture and I realy don't want to do that.

Thanks

Jon
Jon

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:50 pm
Location: MO

Unless that manure has plenty of straw or sawdust, you're going to need plenty of browns to go with. Leaves will do the trick.

If possible it's better to mix completely rather than layer into the bin, but that's harder to do with manure I would think. And, since you have a multiple bin in mind, what you do is make a layered batch in bin 1, and after a couple weeks (min. - you could go months), turn that into bin 2, and make a NEW batch in bin 1. Then #2 into #3, #1 in to #2, and repeat. That way you turn each batch twice, and improve the mixing and aeration.

As far as amounts, it's hard to gauge because most of the guides don't tell you whether their measurements are by wt. or volume. Manure is obviously way more dense than dry leaves. With fresh manure you want to use lots of browns - say 2x as much by weight. If the pile smells worse after a few days than when you started, you probably need more. If it doesn't seem to cook along, there may be too much.

A pile that size with FRESH manure should heat up in 48 hrs. to steaming temps in the middle.

At the same time you turn you can check moisture - it should be damp like a wrung out sponge, not dripping, not dry.

You might get compost in 2-3 months if everything is right.

Good luck and keep us posted!
Tox

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 5:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

Better yet when it's finished send some my way fellow Missourian.

rot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

..
Be prepared to adjust as you go along. You won't come across any major disasters. It will all rot into compost eventually. It just might take longer now and again.

>1. Ok so how much of what should I add in what order. Lets use 4x4 for the bin size and lets please use easy terms like 2 inches of weeds/grass or whatever so I don't get lost. <
What you described, coffee grounds, chicken manure, horse manure and, grass clippings are all high nitrogen or green materials. You'll be wanting to mix with a lot of carbon or browns like tree leaves or other leaves from woody plants. Other browns that can help you would be saw dust, wood chips and shredded paper. I'd start out with two thirds browns to one third of those high nitrogen greens you listed and go from there. A smelly gloppy mess will mean too much moisture or to many greens - add more browns. If it doesn't seem to do anything, mix in some more greens.

Mix well and rough it up for optimal results. If it gets clumpy, mix it up some more.

Once it gets going you'll notice the volume reducing. If it's high on the green side you'll get more volume reduction.

>2. How often do I wet this mixture?<
I'm in dry country. I like to use a watering can once a day. Your milage may vary. If the bin is producing heat, it will use up moisture faster. Sun and wind will steal moisture too.

>3. How often do I turn it?<
I got great results turning once a week. That would get you close to finished stuff if not outright finished in 3 months if all goes well. I have since gotten lazy and 4 x 4 x 4 is a lot to turn. Turn anywhere from once a week to once a month and you'll be culling a batch a season. Ideally you would monitor the temperature, after it starts to trail off from peak temperature, you turn it and repeat.

>4. Bait shop around corner should I add worms or night crawlers? (Never found on on my property)<
Build it and they will come. Build your bin on the bare ground and the worms will find their way and go to town especially after some rains and brilliant you threw a cover over the bin to keep the bin from getting too much moisture. I've built mine on pavers on bare ground and the worms still mange to make their way in. The pavers keeps the borrowing vermin out and tree roots too.

>5. How long should it take till it is usable?<
Don't expect anything sooner than 3 months if you're working it. Just starting out and still feeling your way around the climate and the ingredients you have on hand and how it works into your lifestyle better plan on 6 months at best. When you've done a few and made a couple of messes you'll have a sense of what and when to expect. The more energy you put into it the quicker it will happen so turning more frequently and watching the moisture pays off in a quicker turn around.

Don't stress it. Don't go and make drastic changes on how you go about your business. Try it out and then work it around how you'd like it to work instead of bending over backwards to make it work. It works best when it works for you not when you work for it.

You can't really mess it up. If it turns into a gooey mess, let it dry out and turn it some to get air into the mix. If it dries out while on your vacation just start adding water again and it will start right up again. I can't tell you how to handle winter since winters are mild here.

Observe and adjust.

to sense
..

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:50 pm
Location: MO

rot, I really like your 'observe and adjust' advice. I will start using that when teaching.

Since you are so smart we will let you stay in this Missouri thread even though you're from way out yonder by the big water.
Tox

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

You've gotten really good advice already, from really knowledgeable people, but I'll throw in another opinion:


1. Ok so how much of what should I add in what order. Lets use 4x4 for the bin size and lets please use easy terms like 2 inches of weeds/grass or whatever so I don't get lost: That is a LOT of greens (strangely enough manure is a green not a brown, despite how it looks--we need better terms). You might have to just pile the manure somewhere and feed it in to the compost pile a bit at a time mixed with other stuff. As a rough rule of thumb, I say a little bit more browns than greens, by volume.

2. How often do I wet this mixture? Easy way to do it is just be sure you water the compost pile any time you are watering in your garden. I don't cover my pile, so that it gets the benefit of rain.

3. How often do I turn it? I do cool-to warm compost and almost never turn my pile, just turn it over (bottom to top) every couple months when I want to use the finished compost at the bottom. If you want your pile to really heat up, you have to turn it more.

4. Bait shop around corner should I add worms or night crawlers? (Never found on on my property) They should show up on their own. If they don't, you might want to add some. In my not-so hot composting, the earthworms do a lot of the heavy lifting of breaking things down. If I didn't have earthworms, it would be a lot slower process. But I never did add earthworms, they did just show up.

5. How long should it take till it is usable? two to six months, depending on weather, ingredients, etc.
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
Chaesman
Senior Member
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:49 am
Location: Missouri, usa

Thanks for all the tips and advice so far

it seams it will be a bit of trial and error at first till I figure out what works for me. I am hoping to have at least one to two bins up this week I am leaning toward 4 to 6 bins total when I am done.

Going to take a bit of time and mill over all the info ya'll provided and read a few more threads and start formulating a solid plan.

Thanks so much
Jon

User avatar
Chaesman
Senior Member
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:49 am
Location: Missouri, usa

Well we officially started our compost pile today. It is about 5ftx3ft and about 6 to 8 inches high at the moment consist mainly of dried grass clippings raked dried leaves and chicken manure that has been sittining for about 3 months already. So here are the new questions

1. am I suppose to moisten this pile initially?

2. are weeds from the garden exceptiable to go in the compost?

3 how soon and how often should I be turning the pile

average day time temps are low to mid 70s right now if that makes any difference

I plan on adding more lawn clippings and leaves and manure over the next few days to get it up to about 2.5 feet high.

Jon
Jon

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Chaesman wrote:Well we officially started our compost pile today. It is about 5ftx3ft and about 6 to 8 inches high at the moment consist mainly of dried grass clippings raked dried leaves and chicken manure that has been sittining for about 3 months already. So here are the new questions

1. am I suppose to moisten this pile initially?

2. are weeds from the garden exceptiable to go in the compost?

3 how soon and how often should I be turning the pile

average day time temps are low to mid 70s right now if that makes any difference

I plan on adding more lawn clippings and leaves and manure over the next few days to get it up to about 2.5 feet high.

Jon
Congratulations on your new compost pile! I'm sure you will soon grow to love composting. Are you doing something to contain your pile? It would work much better, if that is all the material you have, to be 2'x3' and 20" high. Ideally you want a 3'x3'x3' cube. It really helps the stuff in the middle to have a deeper pile like that. Spread too thin disrupts the process.

Yes moisten the pile initially. You want it to be as damp as a wrung out sponge at all times. I am surprised how much water a compost pile consumes. If it dries out it stops working. That's not a total disaster, once it gets wet again, it starts up again, but it certainly slows the whole process down.

Yes OF COURSE weeds from the garden are acceptable in your compost pile! That's part of the whole point of the thing, to recycle all the nutrients that are in all those weeds. The only thing you might want to be careful of is if the weeds already have a lot of seeds. As long as you pull your weeds before they have gone to seed, no problem. If they have lots of seeds AND your compost pile doesn't run real hot, you could end up with viable weed seeds in your compost. But even that is not a disaster (there are few true disasters in composting! :) ), just increases the weeding work a bit. But just pull the weeds before they go to seed and there's no issue.

How soon and how often to turn the pile will get a whole bunch of different answers. Depends on what you are trying to do. If you want to run a hot compost pile that will break everything down thoroughly and quickly, you probably want to turn it after a couple days and every few days after that. Other people who do that kind of composting can tell you more about that. I do lazy composting and in the past have just turned mine every couple months and that works too.

But I will say I just got a new compost bin, referenced here:
https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=201418#201418

It came with a compost mixing tool about like this:

[url=https://www.amazon.com/Bosmere-BOSMERE-36-COMPOST-AERATOR/dp/B0007WIVU2/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1305804177&sr=8-3]compost mixing tool[/url]

So since my new compost pile is taller, more enclosed, and I have the tool, I guess I will be doing a little more mixing! :)
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
Chaesman
Senior Member
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:49 am
Location: Missouri, usa

Yes it is enclosed and It will be well over 20 inches high in a week or so have a lot of clean up of leaves and grass is do to be mowed once the rider comes back from being repaired hopefully by sunday. still have a mound of chicken manure that would take it over 20 inches by its self.

will moisten the pile today.

thanks for the info

Jon
Jon

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:42 am
Location: middle Tennessee

Re: Ok I am going to have to start composting

Chaesman wrote:... worms or night crawlers? (Never found on on my property) ...
Well, you're definitely right about needing to start producing compost. :D
Worms love rich organic matter, and I bet you will notice more and more of them in your soil as you start to incorporate good compost.

When a compost pile is fresh and "working", it will usually get hotter than the worms like, and they will get out until the pile starts to mature. So, once the pile has aged a bit (and cooled), it probably would not hurt to add some worms... but, by then, you may see that they are already there. :D

pickupguy07
Senior Member
Posts: 253
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 7:06 pm
Location: GA

Well I can see I still haven't got the hang of this composting stuff. I turned my pile today... I've got no smell, and it seems to be too dry.
I've put water on it to try and 'wet' it up... maybe thats wrong also.

hhuumm... when I turned it I found it was damp near the bottom,.. and I've put 5 or 10 gallons of water on it every other day for the last week (it hadn't rained here in seven weeks)

So what am I doing wrong, and what should I do next. I have a feeling folks are gonna say more greens... but it was MOSTLY greens up to about three days ago when I added some leaves. Currently it is about 1/2 and 1/2.
HELP -helpsos-
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Dunno... it does always surprise me how much water a compost pile needs, especially in hot dry weather. Is yours in a shady area (I think we had some discussion of that)? In full sun and hot dry weather, it might need more water than you are talking about. In shade, for the small amount of material you described, I would think that should have been plenty, especially for a pile that's more green.

Did you get the pile built up more? A pile that's spread thin not only won't compost as well, it will lose water a lot faster, both to the air and to the ground.

Otherwise just patience... composting is a slow process. It looks like you've only been at it a week or so. It will take a couple months (or more) to have compost that will give you that rich earthy smell people describe.
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
Chaesman
Senior Member
Posts: 263
Joined: Fri Oct 15, 2010 10:49 am
Location: Missouri, usa

been adding tp the pile daily.. trying to be good about it. I plan on adding a nother couple of trash cans of leaves this week. only been addding a scoop of the manure here and there. been wetting it when ever ot looks dry about 2 to 3 times a week and it is in full sun. Plan on giving it another good turn when I add the leaves it helps keep the wind from blowing them away.

Jon
Jon

pickupguy07
Senior Member
Posts: 253
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 7:06 pm
Location: GA

mines in the shade... Being in the South it's been so dry. Someone told me to keep it in the shade if it stayed hot all the time.. so I can see why... LOL

I built the two bins out of pallets that are 4' x 4' x 4'. Then I turn the compost from one bin to the other. The bin has about 30" of material in it. (so about 2/3 full). When I turned it I saw no steam.

I'm hearing ya when it says it takes a while to compost. ON the other hand I want to make sure it's not just sitting there and doing nothing.
I was hoping as late as Winter comes in my area,.. if I turn it often and try to keep the pile going I could make two bins for before Winter.

Then try my hand at seeing if I could make any over the winter.
I suppose I need one of those thermometers to help me with knowing what the inside temp is. Where do you all get yours, and what do they cost. I looked at my local Farm store, and they didn't have any. also checked at Lowes, and Home depot. They don't have them either. SO I am kind of out of options.
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 11:42 am
Location: middle Tennessee

pickupguy07 wrote:...hhuumm... when I turned it I found it was damp near the bottom,.. and I've put 5 or 10 gallons of water on it every other day for the last week (it hadn't rained here in seven weeks)

So what am I doing wrong, ...-
That's normal.
A lot of materials tend to repel water when they are first added to the pile. So, you try to water the pile, and all the water runs off of the materials at the top, and finally settles somewhere near the bottom of the pile.
Eventually, as the materials in the pile start to "gel" together, they will get better at holding moisture more evenly.

There seems to be a "tipping point", that the pile is too dry... too dry...too dry ... and then suddenly too wet !!! :)

pickupguy07
Senior Member
Posts: 253
Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 7:06 pm
Location: GA

ok.. thanks for the info..
I guess I have so many questions because it is my first time, and I don't know what to expect.
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting



Return to “Composting Forum”