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Old 05-31-2009, 08:09 AM   #1 (permalink)
I'm not a blonde! I'm knot! I'm knot! I'm knot!
 
raeanna74's Avatar
 
Location: Upper Michigan
Composting

I have searched the web for any info I can find on composting. Most of the sites are trying to sell you SOMETHING, from how-to books to composting barrels and things. I am looking for tips and suggestings from any of you who have tried composting.

Here's where I'm at so far. I have 'built' a box out of square concrete blocks with plastic lattic for two opposite sides so that I can slide them out and get a shovel in to stir things up. I have put lots of leaves, grass clippings, and weeds in there. I've already discovered lots of big nightcrawlers living in there. I have not added any kitchen peelings or things that would draw animals since I'm not sure how to deal with that. I am guessing I should have a more substantial box with a lid but not sure how to go about that. We have raccoons in our area, but haven't been visted by any that I know of; bears, although not reported IN town we still live within 6 blocks of woods and a couple miles from a national forest; and we'll probably have other rodents like skunks.

My main questions are:
1. How much open area (like with the lattice) do I need for the pile to breathe.
2. How sturdy should I make it. A garbage can with holes, concrete blocks, or wood slats.
3. How do I avoid drawing critters.
4. How do I avoid getting a smell.
5. How often should I turn it over.
6. What materials are recommended for me to put in it. - I know, no meats.
7. What ratio of materials - I read in one place that it should be half and half brown and green materials.

Thanks for any input you have.
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Old 05-31-2009, 09:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
Eat your vegetables
 
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Location: Arabidopsis-ville
1 - experiment with it. I've only had success with compost in heaps. I can never seem to get the balance right when I work in a confined space (though a horizontal oil drum that I could spin worked great until it rusted out). I like your concrete block lattice idea, anxious to see how it works out for you.

2 - A garbage can with holes doesn't seem like enough space for all of the yard waste that a typical home will produce. You'll have years of debris stacked up in there. Besides, the garbage can would be a confined space that would make it difficult to aerate.

3 - I'm not sure about this one. The few extra squirrels that our compost attracts have never been an issue. Perhaps we have so few critters because we have a high brown:green ratio.

4 - Add considerable "brown matter". This includes dried leaves and general yard clippings. Including all of your grass clippings will aid considerably. Another thing you'll want to do is make sure that your compost doesn't go anaerobic. You want it to breathe - stir it up every month or so, then sprinkle it with the hose when it's hot out. Remember, you're trying to create a living ecosystem.

5 - Every month or so. You can do it every day if you'd like.

6 - Some things that are not usually recommended include pet feces, clumping clay kitty litter, meat, and cheese. Honestly, pet feces are great for the mix, as long as you don't mind the smell and allow them to decompose completely. Here's a list of things that are usually in our compost:
- grass clippings
- leaves
- other yard waste
- bunny poop
- neighbors' dog poop
- neighbors' horse manure
- bird-pecked or rotten fruits from our trees
- egg shells
- banana peels
- coffee grounds
- used tea bags
- odds and ends of vegetables, apple cores, orange peels, etc.
- moldy leftovers
- vegetable oils from frying
- steak, chicken, turkey, and pork bones
- napkins, sullied paper that can't be recycled

7 - If you want to minimize smell and animal infestations, I'd go for 80% brown, 20% green.

I was about to recommend the organic gardening website, but it looks like they've added a bunch of advertisements and downgraded their content since I last visited. Bummer.
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Last edited by genuinegirly; 05-31-2009 at 09:31 PM..
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Old 06-01-2009, 04:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
A Storm Is Coming
 
thingstodo's Avatar
 
Location: The Great White North
We have a container by the kitchen sink for vegatable scraps and put most in there other than anything that has any amount of animal fat. That slows the process and also attreacts animals. Then we have a larger bucket on the porch. From this we drop materials into the actual compost bin. Mine is about 40 gallons or so with a trash can like lid that vents and also has vents on the side. There is a slide up door at the bottom to pull out good compost. I also found a device with two wings on the business end and a t-handle at the top. You push it down and then pull it back up. The wings open and help you effectively turn the compost as you pull up, like a fish hook but the collapses when you push in back in the pile.

We've been using this container, puchased at Whole Foods for about $30 for several years and love it. It sits right on the ground using nail-like tent stakes. When I first started the thing I added grass clippings, leaves and some household materials along with some grass fertilizer (I read you should do that to get things started). I've never noticed much difference with grass clippings and keep them on my lawn anyway for fertilizer. Leaves in the fall are awesome! I had a 4X4X4' wooded bin in NC that I literally filled several times over each fall and had great compost just from that material. Now I mainly use the household stuff with some leaves.

We've never had a odor problem and you shouldn't. We live in MI and dump stuff in all winter when it is frozen. As soon as spring hits it is nearly full but then quickly begins working and is reduced by half in just a week or two. Pretty amazing. We've never actually filled it other than by adding leaves and it just keeps processing. And we dump everything from the house in there, coffee grinds, tea bags (no staples) all uncooked veggies scraps...I say uncooked because we sometimes use butter but mostly use olive, walnut or canola oils ut I just don't like the thought of cooked food scraps unless they are really just the food. I haven't paid attention to the percentage of brown vs. green so can't comment there.

If you sure just starting my key advice other than the previous poster is to add fertilizer.
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Last edited by thingstodo; 06-01-2009 at 04:28 AM..
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