I 'd like to start composting , I have a wooden grate with a lid would this be suitable to use as a compost holder.
want to start composting dont know where to start?
How big is the 'grate?"
What kind of stuff do you want to compost?
it is about the size of a medium dog house , mostly kitchen scraps and lawn clipping s leaves can you put news paper in it? I have a no manure to put in it do I need manure?
manure is not required. A mix of kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and brown leaves is a nice start. I'd shoot for at least half the moist stuff (grass and scraps). That is on the small size for a pile. It will decay if kept moist/ damp, and will help if the dry leaves are chopped or shredded, and/ or wetted down before adding. Newspaper is allowed but not especialy helpful, unless you have a lot of kitchen and grass, making the pile stay too moist and gushy.
I have plenty of space, I thought if I am successful at all with this and want to go larger, I can have my husband build a larger bin . I have never done composting before and none of my nieghbors do composting , in fact this will only be my second year at gardening so I am a newbie to all of this . but this site has been so great for information and its members are so nice and helpful it incourages me to try it for myself . I think I'll leave the newspaper out of the pile ,I am getting ready to walk through 5 inches of snow to my bin and put my first load in it . oh man wouldn't you know the only drift in the yard is where the bin is.
I built my first compost pile last year and learned a few lessons. Do read the "Composting 101". Size matters. I couldn't get mine to heat up until I had a pile measuring 4'x4'x4'. For my pile, I had a lot of straw and sawdust, very slow carbon,or brown material. Also, I had to add a lot more nitrogen, or green, such as kitchen veggie scraps, banana peels, coffee grounds, etc. I also chose to add more blood meal. Another lesson was to keep it covered to keep critters out and the 'scent' in, so I covered it with weed block and straw. After the heat peaked at 138 degrees F, I turned and watered total of six times, before using it in Oct. The pile was about a third of what I had started with. Manure is not required, but I chose to add. Bagged decomposed manure can be found at any landscaping or home improvement store. Good luck. It's really amazing how nature works.
thanks for the info sarahn, I was wondering ,I have a lot of small twigs on the ground from an ice storm would they be could for my compost pile, right now it is mostly kitchen veggie scraps.
If you want to break up the small twigs they'd be fine. If you lay longer twigs in there and then want to turn it, they can be annoying. The twigs will rot but slowly.
If u want to start out composting in the kitchen, here is an easy way.
No disrespect at all for Bokashi (linked in last post) but there are other threads for that if one is interested.
It sounds great when you just want to handle kitchen waste. Its not what most people call composting, as in heaps and piles.
No disrespect, sallyg, But I put my Bokashi in my outside compost pile. That pile gets really hot after a couple of days.
Hummingtammy, twigs may may take a while, but that's okay, what doesn't get decomposed can go into the next pile. Long twigs, sticks do get in the way. I built my on ground pile on top of sticks for what I thought would be good for aeration, and all they did was make it a lot more cumbersome and messy to turn. I found alfalfa pellets an inexpensive way to add nitrogen if you don't have enough kitchen fruit & veggie scraps.
Another tip is to get the ingredients to the smallest size that is reasonably possible. For example, I chopped up my banana peels rather than throwing them in whole. I don't own any kind of tool that could efficiently chop straw, so I fluffed out into thin flakes as I built the pile. Wet, brown packaging cardboard, I shreaded into hand size pieces, and in the end it was totally gone.
rfonte- I falied to think thru that. Of course Bokashi can 'play' very well with the traditional pile! I'm glad you point that out. It sounds like the 'tammy' has all kitchen this time of year at least. Me too for that matter. I could probably benefit from a B bucket in the basement rather than the frozen scraps on the pile every couple days.
Then again, those frozen and thawed scraps will rot quickly as soon as the weather warms up. It's all good.
I have an old blender dedicated to kitchen scraps for my compost piles. The resulting gooey slop disappears mighty fast once it's poured into the core of the pile.
I havent chopped up my scraps but will from now on. I will check out the links I truly appreciate the help I was wondering how long does it take before you will have useable compost?
Tammy, it takes as long as it takes. . . which is not a particularly helpful answer! A larger "hot pile or barrel composter can create usable compost in a few weeks or months, while a smaller/cooler pile can take several months. If you pay attention to turning and hydrating your pile, as well as creating a good balance of browns and greens, the process goes quicker.
How's that for a non-answer!
For my own style of composting, I find patience to be a virtue. And a necessity.
CapeCod- thats an excellent answer!
Some of us less patient will sift our months old compost through something very sturdy and coarse- I use a bread rack found discarded behind a closed store- and sift out some 'finished' compost from the coarser unfinished twig, leaves, orange rinds etc.
so composting is a case where patience is not just a virtue but a way of life for composters. I dont mind the wait I dont know why but saving my scraps for the pile makes me feel like I am not being so wastefull .
I chop my scraps, usually with a paring knife, and then I freeze them for about 24 hours. Then they really break down faster. But I am retired and have been composting for years so I can wait for my different piles to do their thing.
Tammy, I think that we all feel an amazing sense of satisfaction when we save our scraps, so welcome to the obsession! It's also very rewarding to think that we can give back to Mother Nature some of that which we take in the form of food crops.
Sharon's process of chopping scraps into little pieces and then freezing them will speed up the process considerably. I try to remember to chop--and this time of year in New England, the freezing is not a problem!
My motivation to compost is more self-serving than anything else, to be totally blunt with y'all: I'm cheap.
Composting my kitchen scraps, junk mail, grass clippings, leaves, yard waste, fireplace ash, and such costs me nothing, and it adds valuable organic matter to my crappy clay soil. That means happier, healthier plants & a nicer landscape than my neighbors. When it's time to sell: cha-ching! Until then I get to enjoy beauty around my home (and tastier fruits & veggies).
Tammy, how long it takes depends on warmth, air, water, and the right green/brown (nitrogen/carbon) ratio. The bacteria that do the microscopic breakdown need temps above 55 degrees F. However, experienced composters who insulate their piles can compost through cold weather. I'm not that motivated so I'm okay with my pile warming up in the spring. Last fall it got up to 135 degrees then cooled off. I can't wait to give it a good stir this spring and see what happens!
Sharon, thanks for your suggestion, I've got huge freezer, so freezing my kitchen scraps would solve my storage problem!
Thanks, but I picked up that idea here on DG someplace. Here in Las Vegas, I have no problem, in the summer, with heating up my compost. LOL.... Sharon.
such great advice I wish something around here would start to heat I am tired of ice , I am going to put my scraps in the freezer it is almost to dangerously slick to try and get to the pile right now. did I understam right , you can use wood ash in your pile?
Do not know. We are not allowed to burn wood in our area.
You might want to hop over to this thread
and try to get wood ash info. The one link looked promising- wood ash as soil amendment.
Really, Pirate? That is extremely dilute. I've spilled wood ash or a slurry thereof on live grass and seen no ill effects short term.
Two fine qualities in many cases!
We in the rainy East Coast have acid soil and the salts and alkali in wood ash are diluted faster than some other areas. Since I only have an inefficient fireplace and not much ash I have not researched for any limits on what to add. But out of curiousity about it 'burning' with salts, I made a strong slurry of ash last year , slopped it here and there, and didn't see any immediate problems. My weedy lawn grew right through it.
I chop my scraps, usually with a paring knife, and then I freeze them for about 24 hours. Then they really break down faster.
Sharon, I've never heard of freeze kitchen scraps prior to adding them to the compost pile. What does freezing do that makes the decomposition of the material faster? That seems counterintuitive to me.
It breaks down the cells so the worms can digest them easier, I think. Docpipe, are you any where around? Mraider, where are you. These two know everything or at least I think they do. Sharon. I will search old posts on composting and vericomposting.
Freezing a piece of fruit or a veggie causes ice crystals to poke through its cell membranes. When it thaws, it turns to mush.
Thanks for the explanation. I never would have guessed that!
So is breaking through cell membrane and break down of the cells the same thing?? LOL... Thank you PuddlePirate.
I deep soaked some bulbs I had dug yesterday and took them out of the thrive and fish emulsion water today. I found worms in the roots. I put them on top of a container of potting mix that I had planted some very very small plants with roots. I placed about three, feeling very bad that I had drowned the worms. When I found the next worm I went to place it on top of the soil and the rest were gone. I watched and this little water soaked worm laid there for a moment and then started moving and slowly disappeared into the soil. Made my day.
Why do I love worms so much????
Have a great day tomorrow. We are getting rain. I will be in the garage with the garage door closed cleaning more bulbs. Sharon.
However, experienced composters who insulate their piles can compost through cold weather. I'm not that motivated so I'm okay with my pile warming up in the spring. Last fall it got up to 135 degrees then cooled off. I can't wait to give it a good stir this spring and see what happens!
Tammy, sarah wrote the above quote, and I'm pretty much in agreement with her about motivation--or my lack of it ;-) -- during the New England winter! However, this last fall I read Angela's (Bookerc1) great article on Winter Composting, and she inspired me to put a dark-colored tarp over my compost pile and then pile on top the several black plastic bags of leaves I'd collected from Fall clean-up. Just this simple effort seems to have kept my pile from freezing up completely, like it used to. Not that I'm out there tossing, but I do know that maybe some microbial activity will start up again, more quickly.
Her article is really helpful; if you want to see the part about insulating the pile, read about half-way down, and look next to the photo of the compost-thermometer. There's also some great info about using straw bales to insulate.
thanks for the info I seem to have an endless supply of leaves so I will get some tarp and try that , that was a helpful article and so was the one on wood ash.
Yup, save those leaves! They are brown gold. I have an endless supply too, which doesn't keep me from collecting more from my neighbors!
I just read Bookerc1's article and it seems like not too much more effort.