Makeshift compost pile?

jbrickmJuly 22, 2010

There's a approx. 6' by 4' hole in a corner of my yard where a Bradford Pear tree used to be. It's 2-3 ft deep.

Can I fill it with alternating layers of garden waste and paper/cardboard to make it into a compost bin of sorts?

Any tips on what I can do to make this work?

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Yes, you can make it a type of "cold" compost pile where your intent is not to have it "heat up" and cook your materials into finished compost. With a cold approach, the critters (like worms and beetles) will move in and process the materials. After a while you could dig down to the bottom and remove compost, but if your goal is just to avoid sending it the landfill and put something in the hole, you don't need to ever remove any of it.

Just like a hot pile, be careful not to pile in too many grass clippings at once as even the critters don't like to go into a lump of those it seems. Occasionally layering in small-medium sticks give them some room to move around too (and actually the birds might flit in and out of it).

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 8:25AM
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My goal is to pile up yard waste, food scraps and maybe some paper/cardboard now so that I'll have a few cubic feet of compost for veggie gardening next Spring. I'd also like for it to not stink up the whole place.

Once I pile up the matter in layers with enough room for air circulation within, do I cover the top with something to reduce any odors?

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 10:11AM
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My cold pile doesn't stink, but I just put leaves, grass clippings and veggie scraps. To speed things up a bit, try to cut up any big things (shred the paper, cut up cardboard) and also be sure to moisten it during times without rain. I also used to throw and any extra worms into it, but in general they will find it on their own.

If you cover it then it won't get rained on which would not help.

Visit the compost forum too. Great folks over there and they have a good FAQ.

Here is a link that might be useful: GW Compost forum

    Bookmark   July 23, 2010 at 10:24AM
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buford(7 NE GA)

I just pile up my yard waste in a hidden spot in my yard. I don't put in a lot of food scraps, but even if I do, it rarely smells. Sometimes after a rain, it has a slightly musty odor, but that's it. Don't cover it. You need some sun rain and air to get in there. You can turn it once in awhile if you feel like it. If you have large pieces in there, they will not break down. What I do is leave it and then in the fall/winter, take out anything still intact and use a chipper shredder. Then I either use that as mulch or put it back in the pile to break down some more. You'll probably get less good compost than you think based on the volume, but if you keep doing it year after year, you will increase your yields. I had two 7 gallon tubs worth last year and that was with most of my yard waste for a whole year (minus what did not break down). However, I don't do grass clippings and I keep my shredded leaves separate.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 10:57AM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

I composted in an old tree hole for 6 years. I even composted the danged stump. I did not put in food scraps because snakes and rats lived in the hole. Worked just fine and I was able to mix it with red clay and have a really nice garden area in that hole for a few years.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 5:16PM
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Wow - I did not consider that snakes could be there. I'll stick to yard waste and paper then. Did you mean that you waited 6 years to use the compost? I'm hoping to add compostable material and top it off with dirt in a few months so that I can plant there next year.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2010 at 7:58PM
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woody_ga(7a GA)

I say, "Go for it!" I'd suggest you make the pile higher than ground level. Remember than the size of the pile is a contributing factor in compost piles.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 3:59PM
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What do you mean by "size of the pile is a contributing factor"? If I make the pile larger then the composting is better? Thanks

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 9:58PM
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girlgroupgirl(8 ATL)

It took me 6 years to fill the HOLE! It was a HUGE tree that was downed by a tornado probably 17 years ago now. Snakes live in anything that is a hole, is cool and has spaces in it. There were roots, limbs etc. in that hole, so it was hard to compact everything and "make space". I layered everything with soil to innoculate the compost (composts faster) and to help full because I wasn't going to use that compost anywhere but in there.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 1:29AM
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You could start now and plant potatoes in there in the spring if it doesn't get too soggy. Then to hill them up you could just add wood chips/ sawdust in the hole. Composting happens whether you do it perfectly or not - I wouldn't worry too much about it. Just pile it up and let it rot. And the critters like snakes are mostly good for your garden- if your pile encourages their presence, all the better!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 6:00PM
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