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Voting Booth: Do you make compost?

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Forum: Voting BoothReplies: 52, Views: 825
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August 15, 2004
11:00 PM

Post #1003698

There are a total of 282 votes:

Yes, I compost everything I can lay my hands on
(159 votes, 56%)
Red dot

Yes, but only when I have an excess of leaves or yard waste
(26 votes, 9%)
Red dot

Yes, but only kitchen scraps
(8 votes, 2%)
Red dot

I don't know how to start a compost pile
(24 votes, 8%)
Red dot

I don't have the resources (time, room, etc) to compost
(45 votes, 15%)
Red dot

(20 votes, 7%)
Red dot

Previous Polls


Allen Park, MI
(Zone 6a)

August 15, 2004
11:06 PM

Post #1003711

I have 2 bins, I compost 12 months a year.
Great mulch for the beds.


United States
(Zone 5b)

August 15, 2004
11:10 PM

Post #1003717

Actually I was like Paulgrow above until I moved to temporary quarters... since I have NO space here I had to honestly vote No Resources.
Homestead, FL
(Zone 10b)

August 15, 2004
11:25 PM

Post #1003745

I compost in two garbage cans that I've punched holes in for air and drainage. I recently received a ComposTumbler but I haven't put it together yet.

I compost kitchen scraps, coffee grounds and filters donated by my co-workers (I'm not a coffee drinker), tea bags, paper towels, and yard waste. I always have nitrogen (fresh) materials but I sometimes run low on carbon (dried) materials. My neighbor generously gave me six huge bags of dried leaves earlier this year and told me that I can have more when I need them.

My soil, if you can call it that, is very rocky. I have maybe 2-3 inches of soil before I hit rock. Shovels are only used after I start my planting holes with my trusty pick axe. I enjoy amending my soil with homemade compost and it serves as an excellent organic fertilizer. It also improves soil drainage and my plants love it.
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6a)

August 15, 2004
11:31 PM

Post #1003754

We compost everything we can. We haul in horse manure but it's usually not aged enough so we have piles of it on which we put grass clippings, weed pullings, everything from the kitchen that's compostable, we shred newspaper, paper bags, etc.

Basically, we are really into waste watching ;)

Ottawa, ON
(Zone 5a)

August 16, 2004
2:17 AM

Post #1004027

A few years ago while I was living in an apartment I bought a book about vermicomposting - i.e. composting with worms, in a plastic bin under your kitchen sink or wherever. Haven't gotten around to trying it yet but would be very interested to hear from someone who has! Might be a good option for the cold winter months - ?

This message was edited Aug 15, 2004 11:00 PM
Hope Valley, RI
(Zone 6b)

August 16, 2004
4:17 AM

Post #1004170

Would love to have a compost area, but alas the only area that would get enough sun is either in the middle of the lawn or is currently under scrub brush about 4 feet tall and very thick. DH says he will build me a nice one once he gets it cleared out.
Salt Lake City, UT
(Zone 6a)

August 16, 2004
4:47 AM

Post #1004201

I do not generally recommend composting because of the equipment, time, and effort, and because few people have the time or inclination to really do it right. Rather, I suggest putting clippings, scraps, etc. into the ground immediately, so that mixed with the soil they can compost naturally, and there will be no flies, rodents, smells, diseases, etc. To read my experience in composting, see the Zoo-Doo Man article at

That said, here's what it takes to compost correctly. A carbon-to-nitrogen ratio between 20 and 30 is ideal. Moisture content is generally best between 50 and 70%. The material must not become soggy or compacted, but must be moist. A thermometer measuring 100 to 200 degrees, with a long probe, is essential.

Aeration is almost as important as c/n ratio and moisture. Turning the materials 4-5 times at least every 2 days is important. Shred all materials to about 1" diameter. Uniform size improves mixing, and small size exposes more surface area to bacterial action.

Sustained temperature between 135 and 160 degrees fahrenheit for 3 weeks is important - 150 degrees is optimum. Microorganisms are indigenous to the organic materials, and it is their digesting the materials which causes heat. Therefore, do not add dirt to the compost mix. Achieving the necessary heat is accomplished by adjusting the c/n ratio, moisture, and oxygen until the bacteria have the ideal living environment.

Foul odors are from anaerobic activity and indicate a lack of oxygen. Increase turning frequency and/or fibrous content of the mix to reduce the moisture content and increase oxygen.

Green, fresh materials have a much higher nitrogen content than dry materials. Fresh grass clippings are ideal for composting, having a c/n ratio of 19:1. Food scraps vary, but can be as low as 15:1.

Experiment with the materials that are available to you, and remember that success can be fleeting - with constant adjustments being necessary to maintain the ideal conditions. If temperatures are below the target range and the mix is loose and friable, add high-nitrogen materials or water, or both, until the temperature rises. Remember, too dry is as bad as too wet.

For an excellent in-depth tutorial on composting, go to

Some additional common materials with their carbon/nitrogen ratios, which I have copied from the above source, follow:

Leaves - 35:1 - - 85:1, Peat moss - 58:1, Corn stalks - 60:1, Straw - 80:1, Pine needles 60:1 - - 110:1, Farm manure - 90:1, Sawdust - 130:1 - - 490:1, Newspaper - 170:1.

Huntington Beach, CA
(Zone 10a)

August 16, 2004
6:45 AM

Post #1004272

I am a compost junkie!!

Yes, I live in the suburbs and I have 2 nice plastic compost bins that sit on the side of my house where it bothers no one. I keep one bin as a constant ongoing addition and the second bin is to let it sit and finish. I add everything I can lay my hands on that can be used, including food scraps from my family when I'm visiting them. lol The only problem I have is finding enough dry materials/carbon products. I have been known to frequent our local parks in the autumn and bag up every leaf that falls. I bought a leaf shredder last year, which has helped me quite a bit. I can shredd up all my leaves and bag them up to use during most of the next year. When I run out of leaves, I start shredding up newpaper and paper bags. I even use cut up toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls. Can you tell, I love to compost!!!

My compost does very nicely and doesn't take very long for it to look like nice Black gold.


(Zone 10a)

August 16, 2004
11:35 AM

Post #1004337

Clicked the #2. Not a specialist at it, but composting is an important routine after my entry into DG!! I have space and I dump all the leaves and the garden 'waste' into it. The kitchen clippings go in to another smaller one. I must tell that composting is really worth the effort! Results are not immediate, but one can feel its benefits after some months/years.
Princeton, IL
(Zone 5a)

August 16, 2004
12:33 PM

Post #1004394

I clicked other because I had to change for the rest of the year. I was composting everything I could lay my hands on and then I got a fungal infection in my garden and so I stopped using anything outside for the rest of the year. I am still composting my kitchen scraps which, since I live along isn't very much.

I will probably go ahead and compost the leaves that come down. I think by then the cold will have finished killing off whatever fungus is left after the fungicides I used.
Deep South Texas, TX
(Zone 9a)

August 16, 2004
5:01 PM

Post #1004742

When I farmed and ranched I had a 10 x 25 x 2 compost heap made primarily from the hay I daily cleaned out of the lambing jugs in the winter and what came from the lots once or twice a year. (On a cold day it was easy to see it cooking.)

When we moved into town I tried my hand at composting the oak leaves that covered my yard every spring and the pecan leaves in the fall, but the oak leaves were almost impossible to get to decay (lawn mower, bagging and crushing, anything thing to get a break for the bacteria). I finally gave up and started using them as mulch for my liriope that line my frontwalk. Viola! The best of all worlds!
East Flat Rock, NC
(Zone 7b)

August 16, 2004
5:42 PM

Post #1004810

I don't compost table scraps and such, so I voted that I don't have the time and space, etc. What I do isn't technically compost, but it's good for the soil: I spread grass clippings in my flower gardens and cultivate the ground, turning the grass into the dirt. When that stuff rots, it smells like manure, so I know it must be working! ;)
Clanton, AL
(Zone 8a)

August 16, 2004
7:38 PM

Post #1004995

I have horses and compost my horse manure. I have my pile under a tree behind my stalls a ways and add kitchen scraps to it. I add leaves during the fall too and also grass clippings to this pile and turn it with my box blade from my tractor. I just have this in a pile and it does wonders for my flowers and veggies. They grow well. I just try to make sure the pile is at least 3x3 foot square so it will go thru a good heat. Robbie
Baker City, OR
(Zone 5b)

August 16, 2004
8:24 PM

Post #1005039

I pile up leaves, old hay, horse manure, kitchen scraps, and yard trimmings in a big pile, turn it and water it once in a while as time and energy permit, and it breaks down pretty well. In the spring I put it on my garden rows and rototill it under. Some of it goes as mulch around flowers, it all disappears eventually. It's good enough for me, after all even God doesn't do the super scientific method, He just uses the bacteria in the soil, earthworms and time to compost things.
Cleveland, OH
(Zone 5b)

August 16, 2004
10:56 PM

Post #1005236

I do vermi-compost (I have a Can-O-Worms) So I use just kitchen scraps. Boy do they love watermelon!!!!!! They can get the rind as thin as paper!!!!
Humansville, MO
(Zone 6a)

August 17, 2004
12:25 AM

Post #1005381

i use green manure and rabbit pellets those little round balls with some where around 1000 rabbits in the barn that is from birth to breed does i never run out
Deep South Texas, TX
(Zone 9a)

August 17, 2004
3:26 AM

Post #1005660

Wow! A 1000 rabbits!!! I would not want to be the one that cleans up all those smart pills! ; - >
Long Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

August 17, 2004
4:53 AM

Post #1005725

I have a trash can with holes that I use for kitchen scraps and some yard waste (it would never all fit!) and a pile out back of yard waste I ket simmer in th sun and then throw on the beds.

The worst thing I ever did in my compost was listen to a friend who told me when I got my hair cut to put the trimmings in the bin, My last haircut was pretty extreme and for 2 1/2 months, every time I turned the compost, I saw this wig of hair turning round and round. Yuck!

Rather have worms. In the bin.
Crystal Lake, IL

August 17, 2004
6:09 AM

Post #1005775

My husband won't LET me...he says it will stink and the neighbors will scream. So...can anyone verify this (I've read that if it smells bad, it needs oxygen). Also, what's available that is somewhat inconspicuous (if that's possible). To me, it's a crime to dump anything in the garbage disposal that can be composted and then turn around and pay for bags and bags of it. How ludicrous is that? It may be time for the divorce. I wonder if compost-denied is a legitimate reason in Illinois.

This message was edited Aug 17, 2004 2:11 AM
Long Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

August 17, 2004
6:11 AM

Post #1005778

Folks have divorced over far less poop, westyng, but consider that then you will have half the rubbish...

; )
Crystal Lake, IL

August 17, 2004
6:12 AM

Post #1005780

I love the way you think, daisyavenue.
Spokane, WA
(Zone 5b)

August 17, 2004
7:34 PM

Post #1006530

I used to compost, but it was just one big mess and alot of work - so I gave it up. I just buy compost now.


Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

August 17, 2004
10:48 PM

Post #1006830

I continuously compost two large (3x3) piles of leaves, grass clippings, kitchen waste, garden waste, etc.; and I have a worm bin for my coffee grinds and eggshells. I also clean out my neighbor's rabbit runs whenever I can, and I beg for horse and cow manure from any/every source I can (fresh manure goes into the compost pile to help speed things up a bit.) We have nasty clay soil and the only decent beds are those that I've been adding stuff to for the past 3-4 years. I refuse to toss all this stuff out, then turn around and buy bagged compost. I *do* buy a truckload of compost when I'm starting a new bed and can't wait for my piles to finish composting.

I can honestly say my compost pile does NOT stink or attract flies unless something gets really out of whack, and it's really not that difficult to maintain a good balance. Just make sure you've got enough browns (carbons) for the greens. Sometimes that means the leaves sit in their own pile from fall til spring and then get added to balance the kitchen/garden scraps. I bury the tomatoes and other potentially smelly stuff down in the middle. Once a year I flip the big piles over and let them rot for a few more months then start using the compost. Are there some other critters in there when I flip the pile? Sure. Worms, roly-polies (and even the occasional cockroach) all find their way into the non-composted stuff because that's what they eat. I just don't keep the big piles near the house ;o)
Long Beach, CA
(Zone 10b)

August 17, 2004
10:54 PM

Post #1006841

Anyone add sawdust?

I am so finicky about my 'organic' content that I won't let Someone add his sawdust because much of it is plywood sawdust and I figure that it has too much glue, formaldehyde and unknowns to compost into our relatively chemical free veggie beds.

Maybe I would consider adding it to the perennial beds.
Tyler, TX
(Zone 8a)

August 18, 2004
12:40 AM

Post #1006993

I have been trying for all most a year to compost pineneedles. I put in all the other thing they said to but they are still pineneedles. Have any of you had any luck with them? I have been using a Compos Tumbler but it has not worked on the pineneedles. Has any one used this brand.

This message was edited Aug 18, 2004 10:25 AM
McKinney, TX
(Zone 8a)

August 18, 2004
3:25 PM

Post #1007798

I have a bin made of chicken wire that is 3 foot high and about the same diameter. It is not the easiest thing to turn but it is compact while still large. I am terrible at wattering it and turning it, but after a year it is looking real good. I was adding all I could to it, but have taken a break in the last month or so because it is getting full and I want it to all be ready in the fall for a new bed. I really need to start another small one since I have been trashing garden and kitchen scraps recently. I just have limited space in my tiny backyard.

I have never had a problem with it stinking, though occasionally will have flies if I dump a lot of kitchen scraps in at once and don't stir it in.
Waterville, KS

August 18, 2004
5:10 PM

Post #1007929

This is for Spklatt or anyone considering vermiculture (worm bin) I have 2 bins for worms plus 2 yard composters. There is no smell whatsoever. Check it out on Google. There are many sites that will explain vermiculture to you. I find the worms break down the scraps much faster than the compost bins too ! You must cut up the scraps pretty small or better yet, whiz them up in the blender first or a combo of both. Its a great way to recycle and get great amendments for your soil. I can't say enough about it ! The terrific !!!

Marietta, GA
(Zone 7b)

August 18, 2004
5:17 PM

Post #1007935

Yes, I stopped adding for a few weeks after I discovered my husband was just throwing the kitchen scraps on the top and not getting it into the center of the pile. Yes, we started a fly problem, which we are eradicating. I also have a worm bin and the book "Worms eat my garbage" , but I still haven't figured out the best method for seperation of worms from compost.

I think that exact directions for composting scare folks away from doing it. If speed is not crucial, you don't have to turn it daily or water either. Nature will take it's course. It may not heat to the high temps, but it will still decompose.

I bid on two tomato plants as well as many other things at my garden club fundraiser sale and I just didn't have the time to get into the veg bed this year. I threw them into the compost bin after they had turned yellow and leggy in the pots and I didn't want to feel the guilt any longer. We, lo and behold, my Mother In Law came over the other day and asked me if I was growing tomatoes in my bin! I went to look, and sure enough!!, two beautiful, lush, green, flowering tomato plants!! Of course now they are staked up and I have watered :) One tomato emerging so far :) Very exciting.


This message was edited Nov 17, 2007 9:18 PM
Marietta, GA
(Zone 7b)

August 18, 2004
5:22 PM

Post #1007943

Whoops- forgot to mention- Starbucks will give you all their spent coffee grounds just for asking. For a while I was taking out their entire trash bag of coffee grounds every day! I did have to hand dig through it and pick out plastics, but hey thats what we do for great compost. I also topdressed my evergreens with it last fall. I mix it in the bin and it's great combo for mixing in with the carbon type materials. They are supposed to give it to you in the small little punny bags meant for gardeners, but they were nice to give me the entire trash bag full on a regular basis. Smells good too!

It's too crazy for a "normal" person to understand this, but I know I will go to the local horse farms soon and ask for their poop too!


August 18, 2004
6:59 PM

Post #1008049

I compost everything too. All vegtable scraps, grass clippings, leaves, and sawdust. You can use sawdust as long as it is not treated lumber but we don't get treated lumber sawdust. I wouldn't use walnut sawdust either. I usually only get pine, oak, cherry, or poplar. I have a compost tumbler and LOVE it. I also have a wire bin set up that I throw leaves into in the fall and it breaks down really fast. My composts has NEVER smelled bad.
Gordonville, TX
(Zone 7b)

August 19, 2004
1:19 PM

Post #1009133

Question: are compost tumblers cost effective? And, how much can be produced per year/season?
L.A. (Canoga Park), CA
(Zone 10a)

August 19, 2004
3:53 PM

Post #1009396

We make compost of yard waste that isn't too woody and kitchen scraps. Actually, the compost makes itself. The stuff is put into the bin and left to its own devices. The earthworms, maggots, and beetle larvae work it over pretty well. Once in a while, DH sifts out the completed compost and puts the unfinished back into the bin. That's the only "turning" it gets. It rarely gets hot, so it's more like a worm composter, I guess.
Ottawa, ON
(Zone 5a)

August 19, 2004
5:54 PM

Post #1009551

I've learned more from this thread than in the last 5 years of reading detailed instructions in books. Thanks, everyone! Particularly soulgardenlove for reassuring us that nature will take its course, and for the excellent tomato story!! What a hoot.
Marietta, GA
(Zone 7b)

August 19, 2004
7:15 PM

Post #1009699

Why thank you!! I am determined to get my tomato pics on here soon!

This message was edited Dec 18, 2007 8:40 PM
Redmond, WA

August 20, 2004
10:55 PM

Post #1011513

My very kind husband bought me a tumble composter about 2 years ago, and a few months later we added a second one so that the first one, when full, can quietly "cook" until it is ready, and we've still got somewhere to dump the daily kitchen scraps and the garden debris/mistakes. I love them! It is enormously liberating to know that all the scraps of fruit, veges etc. are going to a good home, rather than down the garbage disposal, and there is nothing more satisfying that spreading out glorious home-made compost, full of wriggly worms onto the garden. I probably shouldn't have composted last year's Halloween pumpkin seeds though, because, perhaps not unexpectedly, I have lots of volunteer pumpkin plants in my flower beds at present! At least they are lush and green. I was a bit nervous about the whole composting process before going ahead and giving it a go, but as soon as someone pointed out that "compost happens", a lightbulb went off in my head, the nerves disappeared and I've never looked back.
Winnipeg, MB
(Zone 2b)

August 20, 2004
11:26 PM

Post #1011569

I had a worm box for years. How to remove worms. Easy.
First, divide your worm bin contents into two. only put worm food into one part of division for a week or so. Then scoop out the other part.
You will find most worms have migrated over to the food side.

Start removing scoooped out compost aroundthe edges of the heap you have made. Every time you find a worm, return to bin. Eventually you will have wormless compost, with all worms back in the bin to carry on.

Put shredded newspaper b/w only into bin to give them some more space. Mix up the compost you didn't take out..

If youdo this during warm weather you may notice more worms where you use the compost because you will have worm eggs in there too.

Have fun.
Marietta, GA
(Zone 7b)

August 20, 2004
11:53 PM

Post #1011607

Ahhhhhhhhh. Very good. Thanks!! I'll do that

Pittsburgh, PA

August 21, 2004
10:27 PM

Post #1012915

We've composted outdoors using both a 4x4x3 landscape timber frame and the dark green plastic composter "hut". Neither gets turned more than once a month. Everything except "meat/grease/sweets" goes in and sweet loam comes out. Would I actually buy compost? Heck no!

Props to Starbucks for their corporate recycling initiative! My friend used 5 pounds for container gardening with great success.

Vermicomposting is simple too. 40 to 80 degrees max, wide shread newsprint moisture like wrung out sponge, air flow, minimal environmental light, bury the scraps and wait.
Redworms will double populate quickly and the castings are exceptional, nutrient dense, and almost totally odor free.

Starting out I was a worm skeptic (not to mention the yuk factor) but it's a good thing. Don't buy into the complex, multi level units though. Simple, inexpensive storage bins with a vent on either end and a tight fitting lid is all you need.
Glendale, UT
(Zone 5a)

August 22, 2004
3:46 AM

Post #1013270

I compost directly on the ground in the paths between the raised beds in the greenhouse,this is handy because it is ready to be mixed in or forked on the beds whenever I re-do them, and it fills the path up level with the bed so it is easier to plant the edges and it suports the sides of the beds.- the weeds and grass or materials suspected of having lots of seed in it, I put in the chicken coop and let them work it over-- when it is done it is black gold, and anything that grew is eaten and recycled back into the compost. I was given a compost tumbler and I used it for a while ,I decided the price was right and now I store my pop cans in it until they get recycled, I would choose a plastic garbage sack for composting over the tumbler.

Thumbnail by Michaelp
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Montezuma, NM
(Zone 5b)

August 22, 2004
5:17 PM

Post #1013774

My composting till now has consisted of making piles around the place as I have stuff to pile. I've also been lucky to get llama manure. It doesn't need to compost and is safe to put on plants without worry of burning.

Since we've been growing pigs, (Hubby does the breeding, farrowing, and growing up to about 60 lbs.) we now have some potentially very toxic stuff. However, hubby found a product on the internet that will neutralize the order and quicken the decomposition process by about 3 times. And, it's fits into my organic growing style! We'll see soon if it does what it says. If it works, we will have some incredible compost. We've even thought about making enough to be worth selling!
Glendale, UT
(Zone 5a)

August 22, 2004
8:21 PM

Post #1013982

I used to have 100 Sows--it is a lot of work and a lot of feed and poop-I fertilized 5 acres of Cat Fish and some farm crops with it--I had a pond [lagoon] and pumped the manure water to all the crops--they all grew great.
Cleveland, GA
(Zone 7a)

August 23, 2004
3:22 PM

Post #1015078

Wow - that is a whole world of knowledge about compost! I have a little composting system that I have been using for about a year since I bought this little 5 acre farm. I made a compost bin out of some leftover bits of fencing material and four posts I got from some small trees we took down last year. Since we have a well and septic system here, we cannot have a garbage disposal. (That took a little getting used to!) I put all the kitchen wastes like tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, etc. in to a little bucket in the kitchen with a lid on it. I have another big tupperware/bucket that I put clean kitchen stuff in, lettuce, tomatoes, corn cobs, fruit.

I give the fruit and veggie scraps to my 4 chickens and they love it! They have even started laying bigger eggs more often since I started giving them all the extras with their scratch feed. I put the other stuff with the coffee grounds and all into the compost bin directly.

When I pull weeds in the veggie garden I load them up in a bin and I toss them on the ground in the chicken run like Michalep does to let the chickens eat the seeds and bugs. After they are done with it, I move it to the compost pile. When I clean out the chicken coop I add the old hay and chicken waste to the compost pile. Aside from my being totally frugal - I have very healthy chickens and lots of big eggs!
Plano, TX

November 13, 2005
2:58 PM

Post #1873011

Well, I started composting about 2 months ago, and did it even before I started to build my first garden. I did it because I have here in Plano TX hundreds of folks gardening around me, putting out the stuff in large recycle paper bags in the alleys every Tuesday for pickup. The pickup is done by the City of Plano, yet I simply go around and 'snag the bags' that I want before the city does. Its great, have unlimited materials of whatever origin I want, or of the mix type I want. I even have gotten to know the people that I get materials from, all are supportive, and I also now get only the organic growers materials to help keep my piles and subsequent gardens organic too.

Whenever I go to visit my wife for lunch at the school where she teaches, I make a 30-60 minute 8 mile round trip to 7 Starbucks. They all know me, and they have it ready to go when I walk to the counter. Its a hoot, and in return I'm writing a story about my experiences for the Starbucks Corporate Newsletter (quarterly called the Quarterly Brew). In return as a nice guesture, I bring some of the veggies to the managers of the stores and the folks I know, they all love it :) I get smiles every single time I go, and we all know we are doing something good for the environment and my gardening knowledge.

My compost system is a simple one bin system now grown to 3 bins. The bin was made from used fence materials on a fence segment I good down. I have 4"x4" posts and 5/8"x5.5" slats as a result. I cut the 5/8" material to 5.5' length, and used the posts as corners in a square design, making for a 5.5x5.5=30.25 square footprint of a bin. Each slat built upward provides about 1/2 cubic yard of compostign material space. Each bin with 3 slats is about 1.75 cubic yards with the spacing of bricks used at the bottom ground level to keep the wood frame off the ground. I can make more of these frames and simply stack them upwards, allowing a mobile, flexible addition and removal pile to any location around the house. The first pile I made, the frame was dug into the ground, I won't waste my time or flexible mobility of the frame for any added benefits to a dug in ground frame.

When I want to mix, I simply take the top frame off and start a pile right next to it (with 4 more bricks as off-ground-stand-offs), put the top frame down on those bricks, garden rake the material off the large pile to the smaller one, and it gets mixed as I do that, aerated also. The last 15 inches of compost is what needs to be 'shoveled on' to the top of the new pile, and that takes about 5 minutes of work, and it helps me keep in shape.

Oh, and to start a pile, it is simple. Get a 3:1 ratio of brown to green materials, that is leaves to grasses (in my case), and mix it well, along with coffee grinds if you want things to start up quickly. The coffee grinds I get from Starbucks are a god send. Yes, I get 100-300 lbs of the material from the 7 stores in just one week, but you can get more if you like, or less if you are scaling to a smaller design. I'm simply sharing what works for me, and the more grinds the better in my case and experience. Also, shovel in some existing 'hot' compost if you have a multi bin system like I do now, helping then new material/bin get cooking almost immediately. I made a new bin full (about 3 cubic meters of material), mixing raw materials (the leaves and grass clippings), along with existing compost shovel fulls, and new coffee grinds as I went, in about 7-10" at a time building it up. Watered it well as I went, and covered with a vine-based vegetative layer as a 'blanket'. The next day, that pile was steaming like crazy, things really got off to a nice next-day start.

I can move the composting system I have implemented anywhere in the yard with little effort (each frame segment weighs about 15 lbs), and it takes me less time this way cause in the end the material is exactly where I want to use it. Granted, the frame moved to the front yard will look funny, but in the end the results are what I'm after, and I don't care what neighbors think of the intermediate process. In fact, I really don't care what they think at all, however many have mentioned they do like what they see as a result, so all is well. Smile and have a nice day is all I have to say to them.

I have sat down and figured the cost per hour to do this work, and it is about 9 bucks per hour if I produce this material for sale. That said, then it costs me the same to make it and use it, since when I'm gardening and composting I'm having fun and knowing I am doing something good locally and globally. If you make 500 USD per hour, and who doesn't right? :) then it would be best to simply purchase the materials and have others spread it for you. Just call me, I will be happy to assist and charge you for it. :) Its a labor of love otherwise.

I hope this has helped you somehow, for it is what I use to grow a wonderfully enjoyable and rewarding garden of veggies, new sod/grass as well as a flower and bush bed, with a few trees in it to boot.
Brockton, MA
(Zone 6a)

November 13, 2005
10:05 PM

Post #1873639

Yes, I compost almost everything. The only exception is thorny stuff.
Hey, it's free and has all the micro nutrients too.
Andy P


Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

November 16, 2005
12:31 AM

Post #1877808

I compost everything that isn't tied down. The idea of converting refuse to a substance that enriches the garden, appeals to me. I'm a woman on a mission.My non-gardening friends and collegues have expressed concern. I compost leaves, straw, and other garden debris (except rose clippings, weeds), kitchen scraps, occaisional small dried bones, dryer lint, dust and dirt from vacuum cleaner, hair, shredded office paper and some junk mail. At the grocery store, I often buy the 20lb bag of nearly black bananas for 50cents. Sometimes they go in w/compost; sometimes I bury them around the roses. Around my house, when produce spoils, bread goes stale, etc, I feel better knowing that atleast I can recycle it, so it's not a complete waste.

I drag home huge bags of very finely ground office paper - almost dust - from work (about 1 per wk). I put this in beds in my front yard under the mulch. Although shredded office paper is considered safe (from what I've read), I prefer to put this in front yard where it is well away from the veggie garden just in case. This has had a profound effect. 4 years ago the soil in these beds was like cement. I actually bent the point of a trowel while trying to "stab" it into the ground. Now this soil has a wonderful texture, like well tilled garden soil, and is loaded with earthworms.

At work, I am careful to bring home any compostible remains from my lunch, and I collect things from the office like spent coffee grounds, banana peels, etc. This is one of the things that prompts my collegues to express concern. I ignore them. My small office makes 4-5 pots of coffee/day; I'm not letting that go to the landfill. I figure I'm helping myself and the environment.

When I prune shrubs, I either toss the branches in the compost bin or put them in the beds around the shrubs under mulch. While I allow the city to pick up (for their compost) some large tree cuttings, I reuse as many of them as I can. I cut small limbs in 8" pieces and toss them under the mulch around the trees; they break down in a year or 2; in the mean time they support a host of life which in turn feeds "my" birds, butterflies, etc. I use some of the nicer branches to build garden supports and place some in a small brush pile that I maintain for wildlife.

On garbage pick-up day, I have been known to collect bags of leaves and grass clippings from around the neighborhood. I'll be on the way to work and when I see those bags of fresh leaves, I just have to grab them - so there I am dressed in corporate garb, running around the neighborhood snatching leaves.

I tried the vermicomposting thing, but clearly I did not do it right. My worms ran away! I actually saw them escaping. I think maybe the heat in my sunny backyard was "cooking" them. I'll try again one day - in shade.
Fayetteville, NC
(Zone 8a)

December 1, 2005
3:01 AM

Post #1902050

I can't handle a compost pile anymore, so I bury mine directly into the garden as I work. Haven't had any problems with bugs, flies or critters. The leaves I use in the fall get turned into the soil in the spring as I work.
Johnston, IA
(Zone 5b)

March 30, 2008
11:23 AM

Post #4729252

Absolutely, my garden wouldn't be the same without it.
I use several of the mthods mentioned- sheet composting, trench composting, and
a 3 bin intensive method. I love watching the thermometer hit 140 degrees - very saitsfying.
Cascade Mtns, WA
(Zone 6a)

May 11, 2008
11:04 PM

Post #4938124

IF anyone can tell me how to keep bears out of the compost... I'll try again! LOL
No I do not put grease, fat, meat, etc etc in the compost... but then bears are omnivorous so it doesn't matter.
About all I could compost that they don't eat is grass... but then I don't have a 'lawn' to mow.


Charleston, SC
(Zone 9a)

May 12, 2008
1:12 AM

Post #4938656

I don't know the definitive answer to this one. Thankfully, we don't have bears here; otherwise, I might never go in the backyard again. ; )
I was thinking maybe the 'dig a hole and bury it' method would work. I did that a few times with watermelon rinds and such early on when I was still working on creating my garden. Trouble with that method is you soon run out of places to dig, or at least that's what happened to me. I found that even the lasagna method worked amazingly and surprisingly well to keep raccoons and opossums out of kitchen scraps. In the fall, I raked up all of the leaves from the backyard and put them over a section of the vegetable garden. Whenever I had kitchen scraps to add, I would pull back a section of leaves, deposit the scraps, and replace the leaves. The critters who otherwise get into everything I put outside, never touched the stuff I buried in the lasagna pile. Don't know if it would work for bears but might be worth a try.
Woodbury, CT

December 30, 2008
7:40 PM

Post #5944296

We compost every thing that we feel will break down in one year.I add cow manure,chicken manure and horse manure whenever I can find enough to fill my pick-up.
We have an old two - bin wire mesh composter and also a large drum type.
We use dried beef blood to excite the mixture if it seems to have stopped working.I have lots of nite crawlers and red wiggler earthworms working throughout the mixture and when I can find a nest of Bull Ants , I dig them up and throw them in the bins.
The final product falls out all sides of the bins and is the consistancy of coffee grounds.We use it around the bottom of our nursery plants.We place newspapers on top of the compost to keep the winds from blowing it away.We then thoroughly wet the papers and cover them with about 3" to 4" of fine pine bark chips. In about a year you have to replace the newspapers because the earthworms have just about devoured all of them.
Jesup, GA

July 28, 2009
8:14 PM

Post #6876562

Yes we make our own composte. Any thing thats not nailed down goes in there. Lawn cuttings mainly, eggshells,good for roses. And a little more of this and that. Hubby says if he happens to croak before I do that I CAN THROW HIM IN THERE ALSO. yUCK! I told him no because it will ruin my compost. I told him I'll check into taxidermy. Hey! A new hobby!
Oconomowoc, WI
(Zone 4b)

February 22, 2010
8:05 PM

Post #7579514

Hello All,
Like some, I don't have the sun-space or time to really do it properly. I DO, however, have a horse - hee hee hee. I board her at a 30 horse barn, so Dave is more than happy to fire up the Cat and fill the back of my poor, abused Ford with lovely a 2-3 yr old combination of equi-poo and stall shavings. The shavings are great for my wonderful Wisconsin always-been-a-yard clay soil that I've had to wrest both types of gardens from.
I must say I have a hard time keeping a straight face when I see what the local garden center wants for a 30 lb bag of 'manure', and I just finished flipping a ton or so, for the gas it took to run to the barn and back (about $3), and a bit of sweat. Who needs Vic Tanny when you've got a garden?
My garden waste I burn on site and spread the ashes. I want to get my soil tested this year and see what further tweaking may be necessary, but from the look of my potatoes, I'm doing something right!

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