Monday, January 19, 2009

Compost Bin

I decided to make a compost pile in my yard. I've been wanting to do this for some time, but never got around to it. With the spring like weather that we've been having this month, I decided to get out and get some of those kinds of projects completed.

Do any of you have experience with a compost bin? I would like some suggestions on how to make it work. Here is what I did. I just staked in six 4' tall tomato stakes in a rectangle shape, and wrapped a plastic flexible fencing around them and stapled it in place. I filled it most of the way with dry leaves, but I also threw in some rotted apples and oranges, and a few green leaves. I have it so that I can open the front and turn it with a shovel every so often. I would show you a picture, but it isn't much to look at.

From what I hear, a compost pile needs air and sun, and it needs to be layered with different ingredients. My neighbor heard that you are supposed to layer it: brown, green, vegetable peels, repeat. This is gross, but I saw a youtube video that suggested using human urine to make it compost better. Sorry, I'm not going to that length. One, I don't want to go through the collection process. Two, I don't want the smell in my yard. It's not enough to tell the boys to go outside to relieve themselves in the compost pile because the video said it is too hot by itself, so you need to dilute it with water. Okay....my mind is really starting to think of new ways to do that, but I have to remember reason number two. Anyway, do you have any ideas on how to make it better?

13 comments:

deputymomof6 said...

No, but let us know how it works out. I love the urine part, my mind made up some funny stuff about that one!!

Christina Bess said...

I don't have any ideas either, but my dad had one in the backyard growing up and I remember him going outside and turning it once in a while. Also, I just remember we'd save scraps of food and such and each night or 2 would take them outside and just dump them on top. He had it for years until my mom talked him into getting rid of it because it was "too ugly for the yard".

Nene said...

I'll bet if you googled "compost pile" you'd find some info on it.

Max said...

Hey D!

I have called my father and he says that to make it better you should add chicken poop, and then add warms (they'll do all the work for you). Then cover the composit box with a plastic, so that birds won't eat the warms.

I hope this helps (apparently that's how it's done here)...

Cheers

Bunc said...

I have done composting and also know a little about this through my study at University.

The bacteria that do the composting need a nice warm moist ( not too much) environment which doesn't become anaerobic ( airless). You should make sure the compost is not packed too tight. Equally if its too loose the bugs cannot spread well through the mix.

Occasional turning of the mixture can be useful.

Worms also help the composting process. I found a good way of getting composting going is to sprinkle a small amount of soil as a layer here and there. This delivers bacteria and soil - but don't go overboard - its compost not soil your aiming for.

The compost needs to reach a good temperature partly to aid the bacterial process but also because this is in part what kills weed seeds in the compost.

Don't be tempted to put a lot of moist grass clippings all at once - they simply turn to mush. Let them dry a fair bit and make sure they are mixed with other stuff.

You can actually use shredded paper like newspaper in the mix.

Once your composter has produced it's first batch then you keep some from that batch and use this to seed the next batch instead of using soil.

You can buy accelerants which speed up the composting process. They are not dear. They supply a dose of bacteria and sometimes nitrogen. It's probably cheaper to use pee and soil though!

Don't put dog or cat faeces ( because they are carnivores) or meat products in the composter. These will sour the compost badly and may risk breeding pathogens ( bad bugs!)

The absolute best stuff for compost is horse manure followed by cow manure. Sheep manure is not so good. Basically anything that comes out of the backside of a herbivore is great in your composter. If you can get some of this and mix it with your garden waste in your composter you will produce great compost.

Delirious said...

Wow, thanks Bunc, this is really helpful. I actually have some steer manure that I put on my garden. I bought two bags but only used one. I can throw a little of that in. I also hadn't thought about giving it a little sprinkling of water now and then. I also didn't know that about the grass clippings. I probably would have put them in too wet. Thanks for your help! I'll let you know how it goes.

Epitome of Sweetness said...

My inlaws have a composter in their yard. They bought it, though and then they have a little thing by their sink that they pile stuff in and take it outside later.
I will ask her.
I want one, too.

Bunc said...

I see someone suggested chickensh*t. I have heard tell before that this is excellent and may even be better than cow /horse manure. Although chickens aren't completely vegetarian this is not a problem because they are birds and we are mammals and so there is less pathogen risk than if you used stuff from a mammal like us( it's an evolutionary relationship thang).

And looking at my earlier comment I see I mentioned the bacteria and worms but never mentioned moulds and fungi. How could I be so insensitive. These little beauties also help digest the vegetable matter in the compost.

Remember not to water it too much though - you want the compost to slowly cook in its own juices so to speak. It's like a very very slow stew I guess LOL.

One more thing - you know your compost is ready basically when it has broken down so that you cant really distinguish all the different stuff that went into it. It should also smell pleasant and loamy by then.

Delirious said...

I'm sure glad you mentioned the smell thing....it's nice to know it won't stink when it's done lol.

When I bought the steer manure, I took my Yaris, and didn't have enough room in back, so put it in the front seat. I forgot that my side window won't roll down right now. Wow that was a smelly ride home!

Off I go to make compost stew. ;)

Joseph said...

Take all the rest of Tommy's poop, and some of eddy's and put it underneath some of Sam's old underwear. Beleive me, bury that stuff and you'll have some reactions taking place.

Author said...

I love composting! I have an "Earth Machine," which is basically a drum with a lid. I put food scraps into it and cover with some leaves to keep down the fly population.

I also made a circle of chicken wire fence about five feet in diameter. I put in leaves and grass clippings.

I "turn" both composts with a pitchfork, to bring up the composted material at the bottom and help the undecayed material fall to the bottom. This helps get air into it.

I think the idea of layering with green & brown is to balance the "hot" ingredients (green) with slower-acting stuff. I didn't know sun was necessary, unless it's to keep it from freezing on cold days. If the pile is too dry, you can add some water to it. Other things to add: coffee grounds, ash (like from a fireplace). My wife has gotten used coffee grounds for free from Starbucks.

Good luck!

-Square Peg Guy

Bunc said...

Direct sun? - no. Compost should really be covered. Warm yes. ( it will generate it's own warmth once composting starts. Those plastic composting bins are good - I have two in the garden. Ash from the fireplace wold give extra potash which is a necessary fertiliser for plants but it would be best not to put it on in a thick layer.

Hey I am beginning to sound like Mr Compost.

Delirious said...

Thank you Mr. Compost. ;) Actually, I'm glad you clarified because I wasn't sure if it needed to be covered or not. I think I'm going to post a picture of my pitiful little compost bin and see if you can find any flaws that I should correct.