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I bought a compost bin...

Posted by ezzirah011 7a (My Page) on
Fri, Oct 5, 12 at 11:15

When have the garden got pulled up to make way for a fence my compost "area" got pulled up with it. Well, now that the fence is not going to happen, I decided to get an honest to god compost bin. I found one for 50 bucks at lowes! It opens from the bottom so that the "made compost" is on the bottom and you can scoop it out from there.

Now I have to figure what all to put in it. I have bills that I shredded (hehehehe) and chopped up veggie scraps from the kitchen. What do people use to collect the scrapes? I refuse to spend another 50 on one of those fancy kitchen counter top containers. I just won't. Coffee can maybe?

How long does it take to make compost now that I got a real bin?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Yay for you! I'm too impatient but have wanted a compost bin for a long time.

So, not that I've tried it, but what about a tupperware container with a tight-fitting lid for veggie scraps? A re-used grocery sack for the shredded bills?


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Oh, fun! I've always thought I wanted one, but I just compost in a pile on the ground.

I have friend who save scraps for me. They use the plastic coffee cans and the ice cream bucket pails. They both work well.

Lisa


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

I use a tall stainless steel container that is made to use in a steam table or salad bar (think salad dressing).

Mine has the same type stainless steel lid as the small one shown in this picture, so it doesn't seal, but just sits on top. I take it out everyday so I don't need one that seals, and this is easy to just lift the lid and toss something in. I bought mine at a restaurant supply store in Joplin and I think it was around $12. Like you, I couldn't see paying $50 for something to put scraps into.

Here is a link that might be useful: Beaker


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Ezzirah, I dont have a bin, I just have a pile. The kitchen scraps Madge just puts in a bowl or plastic bag and I carry it out to the pile. I would guess that about 98% of mine is outside waste.

Larry


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

I use the plastic coffee container too. My Mom also saves hers for me in the same thing. It seals well.


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

I have a plastic container that I keep on the top shelf of my freezer for my kitchen scraps. It's only me, so I don't have enough scraps to fill a container regularly. Using the freezer keeps me from worrying about how long the scraps have been in the container. Plus, there's no smell and, more importantly, no fruit flies.

Leslie


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

My most used containers are Braums Ice Cream containers. Once empty, I wash them out, and re use them. but I also use oat meal containers, cereal boxes, pasta boxes, shoe boxes, small card board boxes from amazon..... in short, anything that can go either in the compost with the stuff, or in the garbage. Just dump it whenever it looks wet under the box. :)

No need to buy something.

Time, all you need is time. Just toss your stuff in, mix it up, kitchen waste, shredded stuff, used coffee grounds from Starbucks etc. I mean, layer it. Let is sit. Give it time. If it ain't composted by spring, look again in July and August. It is a bit cool from here on out for it to compost well. It will do better once it get warm again.

Unless you want to work on it. Then you need the "correct amount of browns and greens" and turn it ever so often.

But honest, time is your friend. No pain, no work. :)

Moni


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies!

I never thought of oatmeal containers!

I brought out one of the many coffee cans I keep and started putting the veggie scraps in it. Now I have a lot of cardboard chopping to do! LOL....

kinda takes your frustration out chopping all that stuff!


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

the oatmeal containers go in the compost just as they are... but without the plastic lid.

They break down on their own. :)

Moni


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

In the non-gardening season I use a coffee can or ice cream bucket, but in the summer when I am processing lots of veggies from the garden, I use a Tidy Cat litter bucket and, on a busy day when I am canning or freezing lots of produce, I empty it multiple times. At one point I had an actual compost pail with a snap-on lid and I no longer even remember what became of it. It was made of stainless steel and had a matching lid. I bought it at The Container Store many years ago and think it cost about $12-$15 at that time.

With careful attention to putting in the right mix of greens and browns, chopping up stuff into small pieces before you put it into the bin, keeping it properly moist but not too wet, and turning or stirring it daily, you can make finished compost in a bin in 30 days. However, to do that you have to fill it up and then not add to it during that 30 days. When you are continually adding stuff, the new stuff obviously decomposes more slowly than older stuff so you have material in different stages---some that is almost done, but other material that is not and you generally don't get any finished compost in as little as 30 days.

I used a bin when we lived in town and just filled it up from the top continuously and in winter/early spring, I removed finished compost to put into garden beds. Since we moved to the country and I compost on a much larger scale, I just have a huge pile on the ground but still compost the same way---new stuff on top, with the good stuff removed in late winter and added to beds. I cannot turn my piles in snake season because snakes will hang out in the compost pile, but I can turn the material between about early December and late February when the snakes are not active.

I also do sheet composting in the pathways between my raised beds. In spring I spread hay, chopped leaves, grass clippings, etc. between 4-8" deep as mulch and let it decompose over the course of the growing season. So, even though my beds are raised 4-8" above grade level, the garden does not necessarily look like it has raised beds because the pathway mulch makes the pathways about the same height as the beds. I add to the pathway all the time during gardening season. By mid-winter all of the prior season's mulch in the pathways (and, of course, the mulch in the raised beds as well) has decomposed down into compost and I use a compost scoop to scoop it up out of the pathways and put it into the adjacent beds before I plant. This is the most efficient composting I've done because I don't have to get out the wheelbarrow, fill it with compost and haul it to the garden. I like being able to shovel the compost from pathway to bed so simply. Then I add compost from the big pile to beds that need more--usually those are newer beds that have not been enriched as much as the older ones over the years.

My main pile is near my garden but also not so far from the house that taking the compost pail out there to empty it is an issue. I find that a compost pile works best when it is in a convenient spot. If it is out of sight, that sometimes means it is out of mind.

Ezzirah, when compost is fully complete and ready to use, it is roughly 1-3% if the volume of the material that you composted, so keep that in mind for planning purposes. This explains why I build a pile that can be 20-40'long, 6-8' wide and tops out around 6' tall in fall when I add manure/straw from the chicken coops and chopped leaves collected from the yard. All that amount of material will compost down to a ridiculously small amount in comparison to its volume before it began composting. The larger the garden you have, the harder it is to produce enough compost solely from the compostable material on your own property.

I also grow compost crops and cover crops to add more organic matter to the compost pile or the garden beds.

When I was a kid, my dad composted but I didn't pay a lot of attention to his pile. As an adult with a yard and garden of my own, I started composting in the 1980s and was shocked to see the small amount of finished compost I got from huge amounts of raw ingredients. That was sort of disheartening, but that's just how it works and there's nothing we can do about it.

Dawn


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Ms Dawn,
I have a large area that I have often thought of using as a compost crop area. I have read and read, but there are too many choices and i do not know what would make sense for Oklahoma. What compost crops do you grow? And what is your favorite winter cover crop that is easy to turn in the next spring?


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

It seems impossible for me to produce the amount of compost I want. I bought two yards of compost this week, plus there is a busted bale of hay down in the pasture that I need to pick up. I some times rake up hay along the road where the HWY. dept. has brush hogged. Almost all my compost is "browns", so I will add composted manure to it to help speed up the process.

I also grow cover crops, this year it will be winter wheat because they were out of grain rye when I bought seeds.

Larry


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Kim, I don't know that I have a specific favorite. I vary what I grow depending on the soil in the area I'm planting, the time of year, whether we're having a wet year or a dry year, etc. It also varies depending on whether I am growing a cover crop I will rototill into the soil or if I am growing a compost crop that will be cut and thrown on the compost pile. I use different crops for different purposes.

For winter, I like hairy vetch or Austrian field pea in combination with rye. They grow well enough in clay. In the spring, I cut them down with the mower and let them lie on the ground a few days before I rototill them into the soil. If it has been an intensely dry winter, I rake up what I've cut and put it on the compost pile if the unimproved clay is going to be too hard to rototill as it was in 2011/12. Winter wheat makes a good cover crop/compost crop for winter, but if you're growing it in an unfenced area, wildlife often comes to eat it.

I plant my garden early here so cover crops often don't get to mature as much as I'd like because I am not going to delay planting. In fiercely hard clay I grow a root crop like turnips or rutabagas because they break up the soil pretty well. All clovers are nice, and I prefer red clover. You can mow it like grass and it will regrow again and again and give you lots of organic mass. The farmer who once farmed this land must have used sweet white clover because it still pops up sporadically here and there.

In the warm season, for a season-long crop that will produce huges masses of organic matter for the compost pile, I like amaranth, and often plant rows of different amaranths with green, red and orange seedheads just to grow mass for the compost pile. Avoid putting the seedheads on the compost pile, or the following year you may end up with amaranth everywhere. I cut the seedheads and put them in big containers for outdoor dried flower arangements for autumn, and then I take them out and put them in the fields in the winter so birds can eat their seeds. Apparently even the heat of a compost pile doesn't affect those tiny amaranth seeds, so I don't put them there. I have used sorghum and broomcorn as a cover crop too. The stalks are a problem because they break down slowly, but you can chop them up with a machete into smaller pieces and they will break down more easily. I can plant a single row or a double row of amaranth, sorghum or broom corn along the exterior of the garden fence and it serves as a wildbreak. The amaranth can be cut back pretty hard and will regrow, and is highly ornamental. I like to use buckwheat as a quick compost/cover crop during the warm season.. I often sow it under taller veggies and use it as a living mulch because it attracts beneficial insects. Buckwheat goes from seed to flowering in about 6 weeks here and sometimes I use it to cover the ground in July after harvesting onions. I let the buckwheat grow until mid- to late-August before rototilling it into the ground or cutting it for the compost pile. Then I put in fall/winter veggies. You cannot go wrong with cowpeas as a soil enriching cover crop or compost crop. One of my friends plants oats as a cover crop. Cowpeas do not rototill in easily because even the bush ones are fairly vine-like and put out runners that wrap around the cultivator's tines, but you can cut them off at the ground, rake them up and put them on the compost pile, and then use your rototiller or cultivator to break up the soil and tear lose the roots and work them deeper into the soil. I don't use a good, edible cowpea for a cover crop--just one of the common field peas like Iron and Clay or Texas Scarlet or whatever else Wilhite Seed has in any given year.

If you are wanting to use a crop that will give you lots of organic mass to compost, choose whatever would produce best on the soil you have. In my clay that usually means amaranth, broomcorn or sorghum. If I had sandy soil in a food crop area, it might be something else. In my small band of sandy soil, I grow four o'clocks because it is a shady area where a lot of other compost crops wouldn't grow. I've never had nematodes in that sandy area, likely because it is surrounded by clay on all sides. With adequate moisture the four o'clocks reach 4-6'in height and start falling over. Once they reach that point, I use pruning loppers to cut them off at the ground and throw them on the compost pile. They provides tons of mass for it. They regrow very quickly and a month or so later I can cut them off at the ground again and throw them on the compost pile. In late fall, I leave them alone until they reseed and then I cut them again and throw them on the compost pile again. Although I started growing four o'clocks for ornamental reasons, they grow so fast and get so big that I have found they provide lots and lots of mass for the compost pile which makes them even more useful. Even if I only used them as ornamentals and not as compost crops, I love them for their flowers and their evening fragrance too. They are perennial, and you need to be sure when/if you plant them that you are planting them in an area where they can stay forever because they get huge, tuberous roots that sometimes get as big as a human head.

I've had to experiment to find cover crops and compost crops that produce the best in various areas because our soil is all over the place in terms of composition with some of it being very dense (yet highly fertile) red clay, other being a more sandy-clayey mix where clay still predominates, one band of nice sand, and another area with a silty sandy mix.

I love annual winter rye grass, and usually overseed the lawn with it in fall. That means I have to cut the grass twice a week from fall through spring, but I put the grasscatcher on the mower, catch the grass clippings and add them to the compost pile every time I mow. Because I am raking and putting leaves on the compost pile all autumn and winter, the winter rye grass is a good thing to mix in with the leaves, which I chop up and shred with either the leaf vacuum or the lawn mower. If I had sandy soil, I'd plant Elbon rye in the soil to help combat root knot nematodes.

I'm going to link the website of Bountiful Gardens because it has several pages of cover crop seeds, and they give a good description of each one. The best way to find out what grows well in your area is to see what the farm stores carry. That was the first thing I did when I went into a local farm and ranch store here our first year after we moved here---I asked what people grow for winter cover crops, and found that was a good starting point. Then I started with what they recommended, and went on to experiment with many other things too. Chamomile, though a small delicate-looking herb, reseeds like mad here, so it is great for a winter/early spring cover crop that holds the soil and helps prevent erosion. I already have chamomile popping up all over my growing beds right now, and I don't think I've planted any chamomile since about 2005. Once I got it established and self-seeding, I have had it ever since---sometimes in places where I don't want it. However, it transplants easily or I just yank out seedlings by hand and compost them. Almost everything that grows on our property either ends up on the compost pile or is rototilled into the ground, except for Johnson Grass. The only way to conquer Johnson Grass is to dig up the roots and put them in the trash. Johnson Grass is about the only thing I've ever seen whose roots survive hot composting. I'll even compost bermuda grass runners, but not Johnson Grass.

And, to be perfectly clear, nothing is really that easy to turn under in the spring. If the crops grows well enough to be useful, it isn't easy to turn under, at least not with my Mantis cultivator or even with the big Troy-Bilt rear-tine tiller. One of the biggest challenges of using cover crops is how to get them worked into the soil. All things being equal, I'd just as soon remove them and throw them on the compost pile. Then they can return to the area where they grew once they are compost. I laugh at those articles that say to cut the rye or vetch off at the ground and leave it on the ground as a mulch, and plant right through it. I have not had much success with that because it keeps regrowing and competing with the crop that followed it. Buckwheat, overall, is fairly easy to work into the soil after you cut it, but it is a warm-season crop with a 6 or 8 week turnaround time. The cool-season cover crops grow for months and develop very strong root systems.

Rather than sowing a single cover crop, I like to plant a mixture for winter. Last year I planted a deer forage crop that had six or eight kinds of cold-hard plants in it and that made a great cover crop in an area behind the barn that had incredibly dense red clay. I often just mix together one legume type cover crop, like clover, with one grass-type cover crop, like wheat or rye. Combination products give you a better variety of nutrients.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Cover Crops at Bountiful Gardens


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Thanks, Dawn. I do have sandy soil, used to be a sweet potatoe farm. And I have raised beds, so it is a challange to figure out a winter cover crop that I can turn over with a mantis. I did not realize that about chamomile! I was turning the chamomille bed into the saffron bed on Monday. That should be an amiable relationship when they reseed.
And thanks for the link.
Mr Larry! Thanks for the advise on the gophers. I am much better...except for that time I was playing bob a gopher with the shovel in my green patch patch.....


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

luvabasil, your welcome. I would like to through out one more comment. You mentioned cover crop amd Mantis, that is not a good combination. The Mantis has a 42-1 ratio on the tine drive. Which means the gear teeth are rather small, and the pick style tines collect a lot of roots and foliage. This can cause a lot more stress on the engine and gear box. You can buy a lot of compost for what a gear box cost.

I have a Mantis, Poulan Pro and a Troy Bilt Horse. The Horse is the only one that I use to turn in a cover crop.
The Poulan will do the job but the counter rotating tines dont bury the vegetation near as well. If the Mantis was all I had I would buy or rent a heavier tiller to till in the cover crop, unless it was a very small area.

Larry


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Thanks for the warning! I would have killed the mantis. I have the larger tiller, but it doesn't do well in the 12 inch raised beds.
Since the mantis and the cover crops don't like each other and the large troy built doesn't like the raised beds, what is the best thing to do with raised beds over the winter? And remember I can follow instructions if they are made very clear and slowly spoken.


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Kim, How wide are the 12" high raised beds?

Dawn


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Kim, my daughter has beds 2 railroad ties high (14 to 16"). I have a ramp made of treated fence pickets (6')that I use to drive my larger tillers up into the pickup and into her beds. Both of my rear tine tillers have reverse, so I can back up to the starting point and till forward again. The Poulan tills a 17" path, the Horse will till about a 20" path, you really need a bed 36" wide to maneuver in, but I have worked in beds just wide enough to get the tillers in.

I use to have an old front tine tiller that I liked as well as any tiller I have seen, but that type of till is very hard to find now. I expect it was made in the 1950's or 60's.

Larry


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Ezzi, I'm so glad for you. You won't regret having the compost bin or compost.

I have these rain water tubs outside. I collect cardboard boxes. When we're ready I toss all the cardboard boxes in the water to soak. Later that day, the kids and I sit down and rip the cardboard down to tiny pieces. It's easier tear when wet. We pile it in the compost as needed re-moistening it as we go.


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

The beds are 12x36, and we do have ramps. Sounds like a plan. The other raised beds were intentionally built for the larger tiller to move through (8 feet wide x 32 ft long). I might have to figure out how to break it to hubs we might need to rebuild the smaller beds....maybe a rum cake will help...


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Well, a rum cake can't hurt any.

So much of what we know about what works for each of us in our specific locations with our soils and climate conditions was learned the good old-fashioned way: by experience. I bet all of us have rebuilt beds more than once as we've learned and figured out better ways to do things.

Before we finished building the house and moved here, I had a certain idea about how all the landscaping and gardening would be accomplished. Since moving here, I've revised all those ideas and plans numerous times. There is nothing wrong with that---it shows one's evolution as a gardener.

However, it sometimes baffles people who aren't gardeners because they wonder why you keep changing things......

With sandy soil in your cold winter climate, I think either hairy vetch or rye would do the best job of holding the soil and preventing erosion all winter, but neither is necessarily easily to work into the soil later on. It takes a strong tiller. You can simplify the process somewhat by mowing down the topgrowth and letting it shrivel and dry for a few days before you rototill it into the soil along with the roots.

Some people leave the hairy vetch in place as a living mulch and plant right through it, but I've never attempted that. In our hot climate, I've been concerned the vetch roots would outcompete whatever I planted in the middle of it.

Dawn


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Chicken Coupe - I am excited about it! I put it all together yesterday and started with filling it. I have some boxes, I will have to tear them up. As well as any spent plants from this freeze. I put it on concrete out the way of the kitchen window. I am hoping on the concrete would be ok. I just didn't want to be looking out my window and see this big black compost bin there. I want to see garden. :)


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RE: I bought a compost bin...

Five gallon buckets during growing season. Any available container with a lid in winter.


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