Always wanted to compost and now I am! I'm a long way from any sort of results. I have built 3 different kinds of compost bins for 3 different locations -- no reason to haul stuff all the way up the hill if it can be composted way back down the hill where it originated, right?
So I have one built out of pallets with hardware wire inside -- 4'x4' & 3' tall, no lid and in the semi-shade.
A second one that is 3' on every side made from 5/4 slats with 2x4 legs on the inside corners, an inch gap between boards/slats, and no lid, this one in mid day sun.
And a third one with a lid that is 2x2x3' tall with the "legs" on the outside. Also in semi shade.
I'm adding layers of dirt from annual containers, dog poo, grass clippings with pine needles and fallen leaves, straw because I had it on hand, the veggie contents of the fridge (should have done THAT a while ago), more dog poo,. more grass clippings, and more straw. (note to self, gotta water the compost, ooops...)
Finally had to get off the riding mower because it was getting really dark despite the headlights... if you mow from the outside of a circle inward and mow in a clockwise manner, you are mulching as you mow... (great big grin) and you're also PILING as you get down to that last tight circle around and around and around until you're dizzy... (It's also a new riding mower, I've been push mowing 2 acers!!!!). I scooped it all into the wheelbarrow, very finely mulched grass clippings and pine needles and fallen leaves, and added it to the three compost bins! Covered with a little more straw.
I don't know why it is so interesting to see garbage rot into dirt, but it is. I too am new at active composting. My husband had piled clipped grass and shredded leaves in the side yard for 2 years. We never watered it, and being in drought in Texas, it just sat there. A few weeks ago I divided it into 3 piles so that I could turn it easier. I started feeding the first pile and there was very noticable change quickly. I now am "feeding" the second pile and it is starting to decompose. Can't wait to have some good compost to top dress the beds with in the spring. Gardeners have a strange sense of accomplishment, don't they?
I knew the poo would get people's attention. Not to totally harp on it, but I only place it where I am sure I won't be sticking my hand in anytime in the next six months to see if the pile is warm. For example, I'll be building a huge leaf pile soon, I layer it up and let it stew over the winter. I put dirt on it and plant something on it in spring. It gradually collapses over summer. Anything on the bottom of it won't see daylight till next fall, when I might dig in for compost or fairly-well- rotted leaves.
Already figured I was composting for the flowers. Part of this was an effort to find something to do with dog poop, instead of double bagging and hauling it away, or burying it. Seems like a waste of a resource.
(And years ago I learned to think of it as dog dirt... just in case I touched it bare handed, or worse, God, stepped in it -- blech! It's dirt, just dirt, nothing but dirt. As I scrub scrub scrub!)
((And frankly, there is nothing worse in its natural starte than cow poop -- dog, rabbit, horse, racoon, deer, even goat is not as nasty as cow poop, and people pay good money for cow manure without really thinking about what is in that very expensive bag!!!!))
My neighbor used to get cow poop MAN did that stink. Horse poo is very pleasant in comparison.
"an effort to find something to do with dog poop, instead of double bagging and hauling it away, or burying it. Seems like a waste of a resource."
I agree with that. And we all should wash our hands well after ANY gardening, and wear gloves all the time (and brush three times a day and floss after every meal, and...and...)
etnredclay, at first I thought that two of your heaps were just a little on the small side for maximum speed of cooking, but the fact that you have SO much high-nitrogen stuff in there should make it cook very fast!
IF all that N makes it start to smell or get slimy, water it less, add more browns like straw or paper or shredded cardboard or sawdust, and either turn it more often or, as you've already done, break it into smaller piles or spread it around so the air reaches the center easier.
And it may be too late, but more dirt usually means more compaction and density, and slower air penetration. IF that does happen and it starts to smell, try to let more air in.
I agree that raw cat poop buried right in a vegetable bed feels "YUCKY" but the neighborhood cats think that amended soil must be a cat box and I haven't been able to deter them completely.
They do transmit diseases if they splash onto produce, but I've been lucky so far.
Personally, I don't worry if they go through a working, lively compost heap and have time to be eaten by worms and bacteria. My heap doesn't get hot, just warm, so I want animal poop to have a few months in the inner, cooking core.
The poop is always browner in the other person's yard.
For what it's worth to yah, I buy a big industrial-size cannister of CAYENNE pepper at Sam's Club and sprinkle it in any open veggie bed spaces that might look appealing to my neighborhood marauder.
So far, so good. One taste of that on her paws, and, well, nuff said!
Just have to sprinkle more after the rain. But, a little goes a long way...
I was scolded once for sprinkling flaked pizza peppers, "because squirrels would get near it, rub it in their eyes, then claw their own eyes out".
I think if that happened, there would be many blind squirrles in the dumpsters behind pizza parlors. But even so, now I feel guilty and use chicken wire over seedling and in some other places, dry briar branches elsewhere, coarse mulch in other places, and live with their digging and "gifts" in some beds.
I wish my neighbors were as considerate as you, Paul. Thank God, they only keep SMALL dogs...Although, their beautiful cat also used my yard, and it was a constant battle.
Then the cat up and DIED in my yard, on the hottest weekend we had last year (108°+), and I was left with getting her un-wedged from where she had gotten stuck behind a wall of cider blocks, right outside my kitchen window.
Talked to my BFF this morning. She's a cat lover. Told me to set up a litter box for the one cat still insisting on being in my yard (although, she's not leaving poop in the high traffic areas any more...), and to move it further and further away from my raised beds.
That sounded like a splendid idea, and I told her where she could mail the monthly Kitty Litter fund payments...