We will have a tech upgrade today between 1pm and 2pm EST.

Can I see pictures of your compost bin or pile?

Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

I am writing an article on winter composting for publication here on Dave's Garden, and would like to include pictures of several different composting methods. I would, of course, give credit to the photographers in the article, and I have already included a link back here to the composting forum, for those who would like to learn more!

I have two Miracle Gro BioStack composters, and will be including my own pictures of them, but would love to see a tumbler, a bin, and a pile, as I address ways to retain heat in all of those in the article.

Thanks!
Angie

Ravenna, OH(Zone 5b)

My simple backyard bins hold plenty of shredded leaves. In April, I have access to loads of horse manure to add to them, besides the usual used coffee grounds, grass clippings, etc.

All in all, simple but effective for me!

Thumbnail by kentstar
Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

Thanks, Kentstar, for responding! I already submitted the article with the pictures I could scare up, but I really appreciate you taking the time to post your composting set-up.

Those look like very nice wire bins! I think that is what I need to hold all the leaves I collect in the fall; they won't begin to fit in my compost bins! So far I've been bagging them and storing them in the shed until I need them.

Thanks again!
Angie


Springboro, PA(Zone 5a)

I make piles on the ground, turn them once or twice and when ready, use them as needed.


EarlyBloomer

Thumbnail by Early_Bloomer
Springboro, PA(Zone 5a)

This is a springtime photo with several piles of raw material I've run through my shredder in the foreground and the finished piles in the back. I'll mix the new material with grass clippings and build new piles.

EarlyBloomer

Thumbnail by Early_Bloomer
Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

Looks like you have lots of leaves available, too, with all the trees in the background! Our leaves mostly come from the neighbors' trees, as we only have one very young maple in our yard. I keep trying to talk DH into some fruit trees, but he doesn't want the extra work of mowing around them, and wants to keep the wide-open spaces for the boys to play. Maybe someday. . .

Big Sandy, TX(Zone 8a)

I go by the quantity is more important than quality method. I gather about 6,000 bags of leaves every year and do get some horse manure at times but it is a drop in the bucket compared to my pile. I do not have any way of turning it, so it must be left to rot for over a year before it is complete. This year the pile was started in March because it was such a cold and wet Winter that people put off raking their leaves until Spring. This picture was taken in May and the pile is much higher now. When I get time I will take a new one.

Thumbnail by kenboy
Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

Wow, I love seeing all the loose piles! We aren't allowed to have those in town, so I have contained bins. DH probably would pitch a fit over loose piles, anyway. He tolerates my gardening, but only insofar as it doesn't interfere with easy mowing of his grass. LOL

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Angie - I don't have pictures, but I will share one thing I've done in the past with you, as it pertains to "winter". I have 1/4 acre in the city limits of Raleigh that I live on. And I have about 12 maple & oak trees on that 1/4 acre, so I have NO shortage of trees come fall/winter! Our city collects the leaves with a large vacuum each fall/winter; however, I like to use them as well for mulch and spread around my lawn in hopes of breaking down the clay soil we have an abundance of. Mowing helps some, but it blows/spreads them around a lot as well, and sometimes I want to use some for mulching my other plants pretty heavily. So what I do with a lot of my leaves is this: I have a large, rubbermaid trash can with plastic lid. I cut a line from the outside edge of the lid to the center, then cut a hole in the middle about 6 inches (basically, make the lid look like a donut). I pile my leaves into the trash can, put the "business end" of my weedeater in the trash can, put the lid on & around the weedeater (don't forget safety glasses!), and use the weedeater act as a hand-blender to "puree" those leaves with up & down motions. It's super quick & easy. Once the first load is chopped up, there is a lot of room in the trash can again, so I just keep adding more leaves and keep chopping away until I can't put the lid around & on top of the weed eater anymore. Even when full of the chopped leaves, the trash can is so lightweight it's a cinch to carry around the yard and dump the mulched leaves exactly where I want them.

The only down side is that my weed eater finally tanked out on me last summer, so I have to get a new one ... and quick because the city will be around any time now to collect the leaves soon, and I don't want them taking them before I can get my hands on enough to mulch my plants with.

Best of luck with your article!
Jennifer

Guerneville, CA(Zone 9a)

Wow Jennifer what a great idea! Thanks, I'm going to do it. ~ Holly

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

Jennifer, that IS a great idea--to make a dough-nut hole in the lid. I've tried the exact same thing with my weed-eater, but I never used any sort of lid, so the leaves would swirl up and out of the top of the trash can, causing unlady-like language on my part.
Thanks for the suggestion.

Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

The article actually ran a couple of weeks ago. I hadn't expected it to move through the process so quickly! I really do appreciate all the responses, though. Feel free to make comments at the bottom of the article, so anyone who stumbles across it in the future, while searching for articles on composting, can benefit from your experiences!

http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3050/

I like the trash can idea! I have one I use for growing potatoes, with holes partway up the sides. In the fall and winter, I use it to store mulched leaves, so I can keep adding them to the compost bin after a few loads of kitchen waste. Maybe I'll try your weedeater idea, so they are more finely chopped!

I also like to put a thick layer of mulched leaves on my beds in the fall, and top it with wood mulch to keep it from blowing off. Kind of my own little mini-lasagna bed. :)

Raleigh, NC(Zone 8a)

Great article, Angie! Thanks so much for sharing your experience & ideas with us all! I've been wanting to start a compost pile/bin for some time, but am not super-scientifically savvy when it comes to understanding the biological process for compost and what is required (I can't even recall one item off the periodic table, embarrassingly enough!). I'd just go outside and start piling things up without knowing how/why/when. Your article and a few others I've found recently have helped make this more understandable, and ideas like those in your article help spark my creative juices for getting my butt in gear to start composting.

Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

You'd be surprised how many things I've been inspired to try here on Dave's Garden. A lot of my plant addictions started right here, in front of my computer screen. :) Composting is one of those addictions. I started with one compost bin (my husband gave it to me for Mother's Day a couple of years ago. His mother was horrified, but I couldn't have been happier!), and quickly outgrew it and had to add a second. I don't know why I haven't found my way to this forum more often. I guess compost is hard to mess up. Sooner or later, "compost happens" regardless of whether you get the proportions right, or turn it often enough. LOL

Anyway, I'm definitely planning to stop by here more often, and get to know the other folks who compost. My neighbor thinks I'm nuts. Then again, he also thought I was making wine in the rain barrels under my downspouts, so know knows what he assumes about my compost bins. Maybe he thinks I just never remember trash pick-up day?

Angie

Mid-Cape, MA(Zone 7a)

Please do stop by this forum more often, Angie, and share your experiences. It's a very friendly forum--well, we are somewhat obsessed--but we love to talk dirty together ;-)
My neighbors, not to mention my family, also think I am nuts: several bins, a pile, black garbage bins full of leaves, plus a Bokashi bucket AND a Nature Mill composter. And does anybody else insist on taking home restaurant-scraps?
BTW, I really enjoyed your article, which I missed in November so I am glad you told us about it again.
http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/3050/

Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

When grass clippings pile up and sit for several years, without turning or any other amendment, it turns into a solid dark brown mass. Is that soil or compost or what would you call it? I went ahead and piled it onto the garden beds many inches deep. I saw no worms in it. What is it? Is it good stuff, ready to plant in? I just took a chance with it cuz it was there. In the spring, if it is still as solid as it is now it's going to be a task to break it down.

Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

If it has set for several years, it should be fine to put on your garden. I've read that you should be wary of piling fresh clippings on, because they are so high in nitrogen, and can "burn" your plants. Fresh grass clippings can really heat up your compost pile, too, if it doesn't seem to be doing much. Too much, though, and your compost will get slimy and soggy and stink to high heaven.

That said, we used to have an elderly neighbor with a phenomenal garden, and he piled all his fresh clippings between the rows of vegetables with no adverse effects. Our current neighbor keeps offering his clippings to me, but he puts so many chemicals on his lawn that I'm concerned about the effect it would have on my gardens. He is fairly "lawn obsessed" and spends an unbelievable amount of time de-thatching, plugging, rolling, fertilizing, poisoning weeds, and mowing every 5 days or so. He won't leave any clippings on his lawn, and bags them all, but then doesn't know what to do with them and wants to put them on my garden or my compost bins. I just politely say "no thank you" and mention that I am trying to garden organically, and am concerned that his herbicides will damage my plants. His vegetable garden consists of one bag of Miracle Grow potting soil, with an X cut in the side, and a single tomato plant in it. LOL I sure hope he put drainage holes in the underside! But I digress. . .

Is this going on flower beds, or vegetable garden? If you can till or dig it in a little, that might be a good idea. Sometimes grass clippings can form a solid mat and not allow water through. If your weather is getting cold (ours is!), the worms may have dug down deeper to stay in warmer soil. If you have the chance, you might consider mixing it together with some carbon-rich "browns" like leaves, to help with the texture. It sounds pretty solid. Is it very dry?







Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

This stuff is not at all the dry grass nor the dense, heavy, slimy wet stuff that grass can turn into. This was 2 feet down, several years old. The familiar grass stuff was on top. If was of the consistency that could be cut into blocks that would hold their shape. There is no smell and no worms. It's dark brown. I had to cut it apart with a spade to remove it. It didn't crumble. So for now, throughout the winter, it is just going to sit on top of the raised veg beds. I broke it up a little to spread it over all the weeds that were there.

Milton, NH(Zone 5a)

Great thread Bookerc1! I love checking out other peoples' piles. Here is my first ever compost pile. This photo was taken in mid spring of '10 after a turning. I started in late fall of '09 as I had piles of sawdust and straw I wanted to get rid of. By March I had learned more about composting and got a better c:n ratio, air & moisture, etc. By October I had a beautiful pile of black-brown, broken-down, woodsy scented bits of straw. I used it for a mulch, as I wasn't sure if it had completely decomposed. My current pile is under snow. Can't wait for spring!

Thumbnail by sarahn
Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

I know, I love seeing how other people do it, and especially hearing their adventures and misadventures. One of my favorite threads on DG was about growing potatoes in straw or leaves, on top of the ground, and the stories of the snakes that would burrow in, and the extents to which she would go to scare away the snakes before she started foraging for new potatoes. I laughed til I had tears running down my cheeks. :)

You pile looks nice! I'm really eager to see how mine look once the temps warm up. Despite all my attempts to insulate, I think the frigid temps this week put a halt to any active composting. It has quite a drift built up around it, so maybe it is better insulated that I think. If there was any heat whatsoever going on in there, you'd think the snow would melt, though.

Milton, NH(Zone 5a)

I know that in our cold weather zones there is little activity below 50 degrees F. Not really composting in the winter, but maybe a little something is going on slowly on the micro level. The straw bales you see in my pile photo were used for my first ever attempt at strawbale gardening. Seven bales in all and by the fall they were "used" up to about half the size. Most of which I just started stuffing with kitchen veggie scraps, coffee grounds, etc. Then in October piled them in together and added alfalfa pellets, bone and blood meal, raspberry leaves, lawn clippings, and more. I never saw snakes in the straw bales, but did see alot of the same kind of compost macro critters, like spiders, slugs, earwigs, beetles, etc. Very cool.

Thumbnail by sarahn
Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Our compost bins are cut from fiberglass underground storage tanks. 8' in diameter and about 2 1/2' tall. We first purchased these for cleanup of our barnyard (llamas, min. donkeys, goats) and oak leaves before we even got interested in gardening. Gardening neighbors started begging for the results and we gave it away for years before we had sense enough to use it for our self. LOL. Now we add all kitchen vegetable scraps and gallons of coffee grounds from local restaurant, too, and make about 2 finished batches per year in each of the three bins. A little labor intensive because we have to turn it with a pitchfork frequently and add water when we have extended dry periods like this last year. But it has opened up a whole new world of gardening in raised beds on this iron ore/clay hill we live on.

Thumbnail by Dogs_N_Petunias
Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

D_N_P, those look like a great idea! Sounds like you have the materials to make some great compost! Have your neighbors started composting on their own, now that you've "seen the light?"

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

Quote from Bookerc1 :
D_N_P, those look like a great idea! Sounds like you have the materials to make some great compost! Have your neighbors started composting on their own, now that you've "seen the light?"


Well, they kind of cry big crocodile tears when we say we're not giving it away anymore. LOL. We don't have much sympathy for one guy because for years he would tell us about his tomato production, approximately six hundred pounds in a season, while giving our compost the credit, and he never ONCE offered us even one tomato !!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Dogs__N_Petunias- that guy was not very nice !
Hm, turns out I can't find a picture of mine. I might take one this week. I have a couple.--
Earth Machine- a black plastic job with handy door for scooping finished compost out the bottom, except you can only scoop the first gallon of stuff, the rest is packed in down there forget it! But it makes the composting look offocial.

Floppy black plastic cylinders with holes- those were given out by our county. They do OK, nice that you can roll them up for storage (as if one is ever NOT currently composting- but in summer I have less than fall)

Wood- my favorite is made of 'two by 8s' by 8 ft on the long side and 4 ft on the ends, which have lincoln log-esque notches in them so I can stack em up. edge wise. I load it with leaves in fall, scraps and whatever thru winter, top with some dirt in early summer, and plant some kind of squash or pumpkin. I have had good luck that way. It shrinks way down thur the season and then in fall I would move the boards to start a new place, and have a raised area of mostly finished compost left in its spot.

Savannah, GA

Mine is hardware cloth zip tied to metal posts. I should have used shorter wire, you can't pile it as high as the wire or it won't decompose. I also have piles of leaves and yard detritis. Some of it I use as mulch, some I add to the bin with kitchen scraps. The wire just keeps the dogs out.

Thumbnail by margocstn
Kalispell, MT(Zone 4b)

I have to look down on mine from our sunroom/living room so I designed them with a wheel like look. They are in contact with ground and are made up of railings off my deck that I replaced. I rotate 3 times from one to the other as they are processed. I allow my chickens to have free acess to them and they keep them stirred on the top.

Thumbnail by Soferdig
Savannah, GA

That's a good idea! I sometimes set one of my chickens on top of mine for a few minutes. The only problem for me with making it more chicken friendlly is it will make it more dog friendly as well.

My chickens do have access to the leaves and debris I have stored along the back fence. I use leaves in their pen, which also go into the compost pile when I change them out.

Batesburg, SC(Zone 8a)

Here is one of my 2 compost bins. They are merely 15 ' of fence wire..pinned into a circle. I had this compost pile just open on the ground, but the edges weren't working, as they couldn't get enough material to heat up and compost. They have taken off since we stacked this one and the other one on the opposite side of the property. I will be getting a 3rd one made, eventually, so as always to have 1 finished, 1 working, and 1 fresh, going at the same time. We hope to be able to turn the 2 main bins into the garden soil, when we turn it after the summer crops are pulled.

Thumbnail by moxies_garden
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Do the 8' fiberglass tank sections have bottoms, or are they open on the bottom?

If open, are they sturdy enough and light enough that you could lift or pry them up and away from the pile?

If you can lift the wall away, the pile would be much easier to turn. Then flip the wall back around the pile, and dig away around the circumference under the rim of the wall, to let the wall settle back down to ground level.

Maybe lift one side a few inches, and tuck in a 2x4 laid flat.
Lift the other side, tuck in a 2x4.
Go back to the first side, turn the 2x4 up the wide way.
Keep hoisting up a few inches at a time until you get one side high enough to shovel out from the bottom.

Shovel out enough from the bottom that the rest turns as it settles.

Just a thought. The "shovel from the bottom" idea sounds like more work than forking it from above!

Corey

Cleburne, TX(Zone 8a)

The fiberglass tank sections have no bottoms. DH has a little tractor with front-end loader that he lifts the whole fiberglass thing up a couple times a year, repositions it and then puts the contents back in. The thing is way too heavy for a person to lift. Most of the time I just use a pitchfork to turn the contents and that is really sufficient.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Nice!

Corey

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

Anyone who gets free compost and doesn't share the tomatoes is just plain crazy.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

re shoveling from the bottom.
I have the stupid Earth Machine composter with the supposedly handy door for shoveling from the bottom. At that point, all you can do is trowel out a few scoops- the rest is like packed dirt from the weight and fiber in the material above. Really you are trying to shovel sideways and it just doesn't work. The lift-reposition way to turn and harvest is the way to go with this thing.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> re shoveling from the bottom.
>> ... with the supposedly handy door for shoveling from the bottom. At that point, all you can do is trowel out a few scoops-

Too bad! My little pile is also threaded with slow-decomposing stems that make it hard to turn. next time I start a new pile, everything that goes into it is going to be chopped fairly short!

Corey

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

''chopped fairly short!''
Another learned the hard way thing!!
Really, the Earth Machine is never spoken of in my regional forum without the added prefix stoopid. Sure wish I had the Biostack. At least the earth machine makes it look official and not like a garbage heap.

North Ridgeville, OH(Zone 5b)

I ditched my Earth Machine for a biostack in '09. Very, very glad I did.

Scott's manufactures the biostack now under a different name: http://www.google.com/search?q=scotts+compost+bin

Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

I have two BioStacks, and that is a really nice set-up. I can take the top level off of one and place it on the other, shovel some material over, and repeat, until I am down to the lowest level and the finished compost. Then I reverse the process, putting each layer back onto the original Stack, and keep going until I'm down to the lowest level of the other one. I can't imagine how I'd turn it if I didn't have two!

Las Vegas, NV(Zone 9b)

This is my compost pile. It was started in mid April. I'm a little concerned with how near I put it to the house. That decision was made because it was easier to move a rose than a Lemon tree. It was also shaded by an Apple that was infested with borers of some sort. That tree has been removed. I'm having a little trouble getting it to warm up properly. Possibly because of shade or I'm because I'm keeping it too wet. Or other reasons, n/c ratio... Anyway, here's my pile.

Thumbnail by daves_not_here
Mackinaw, IL(Zone 5a)

Mine don't seem to heat up much until I get a pretty sizable pile going. It might just be too small at this point.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or register to post.

Upload Images to your reply

    You may upload up to 5 images
    BACK TO TOP