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Once again Shawn you are one step ahead of me. I too am looking for information on this. I have seen a few videos. But how do you start this on a small scale?

It appears you just pile up a bunch of leaves and etc. Throw in some nitrogen source. Keep the pile wet and "turn it" every week. In a couple of months it is done.

But how much do you need? Can a small leaf pile do or do you need so many cubic feet of it?
What is a good cheap source of nitrogen? Someone recommended rabbit food?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSYbVHOmHog
 

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I bought a composting bin from lowes and threw vegetable trash and dog poop in there. It was a waste of money for the bin and I should have built my own. On one of the videos I put on the site said you should have worms within a few days. Anyway that where I'm at.
 

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Very good subject. I've been composting off and on for years. Great source of nutrient rich soil components for gardening that sincerely decreases the need for fertilizers (especially chemical fertilizers) and promotes good soil at the same time.

What I did was simply build a couple of 4x4 bins with chicken wire on 3 sides. Front is open and I used 4 2" posts to stabilize the wire. Put leaves combined with just about anything green (hard to come by this time of year I know but look around) including kitchen wastes. Basically, anything that's not animal in nature (no fats, grease, bones etc). Try to layer brown and green if possible to help the activity. Keep it aerated with limbs etc and that will minimize the need to 'turn' it. The whole idea of turning is to mix the different elements and provide aeration. Watering is not a problem in my backyard but we get lots of rain. Might be a consideration in very low humidity areas (Arizona for example I don't know).

Over a period of time it will break down the different elements into a loose friable soil component that is nutrient rich and provides great addition to 'regular' soil (topsoil etc) and good drainage for plant roots. Stay on the lookout for bags of leaves and grass clippings that your neighbors put out on the curb. You'll be surprised at how fast you can fill up a 4x4 bin that's 4-5 feet tall.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
From a video I watched it said you will get worms just by putting the stuff out there. Does anybody know if they just show up or do you have to buy them?
 

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It takes alot of vegetative matter to get any appreciable amount of compost.
I have an open area pile that gets all the leaves and grass clippings and such.
To save labor turning it, I use the boxblade on the tractor.
Just be sure to keep it moist during dry weather, and mix it regularly.
Stir in some soil to get microbial action to break it down.

You can also compost directly in the garden. Just bury fresh kitchen vegetable waste whenever you have some.
 
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SE has the right idea. I've made compost from horse poop and left over hay in a dry desert area on the ground and the worms did just show up.
 

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My setup is simple. Old pallets were free for the taking from a local shop. Four of them nailed together to form boxes right in the garden area. One side pallet is held into place with wire to act as a door for turning. Since the bottom is the ground, the worms have free access to the pile which becomes loaded with them very quickly. I just keep tossing debris in there, dump water on it once in a while, and turn it once in a while. When it composts down I fill them up again and keep filling until the compost nearly reaches the top. Adding fresh material to existing compost and mixing it in seems to aid the process. Since it is right in the garden, no hauling away is necessay. I'm not careful about what gets thrown in there but it works for me. Most information I have read on the subject seems to complicate a simple process.
 

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The Bad guy
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leaves and vegetable scraps work for me. i used and old broken refrigerator that i gutted as a box. filled it with the leaves and vegetable scraps then bout 10 cans of worms and dumped them in. kept it moist and added coffee grounds once a week. had more worms and good compost than i had use for.
 

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If you want to go the completely lazy way....

It is possible to compost in place. Thats right, throwing your kitchen scraps and green manure right in your garden plots. The process, known as either sheet mulching or lasagna gardening, involves having layers of compost covered by a thick layer of mulch. The lack of turning and disturbing the soil allows your worms to work directly towards improving the soil in your garden accompanied by the microscopic menagerie of microbes that do things such as breaking down rocks to mineral states usable by plants. Regular composting also allows this to happen, but only after an interruption. Another boon to this method is the temperature increase of the compost. We all know mulching retains heat and moisture. Well, having a layer of active compost beneath your mulch adds an actual source of heat into your plots, which is very helpful in spring and fall.

The only major drawback to sheet mulching is that it is only practical with small plots unless you produce ALOT of bio-mass to compost. If you plan on an acre of active gardens, you will need quite a bit of compostable materials to get going.
 

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If you use chicken wire for the compost cage, you can plant tomato plants around the outside, and use the cage to tie up the plants for support. This allows the roots to grow under the pile for their nutrients and a stable source of moisture.
 

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If you use chicken wire for the compost cage, you can plant tomato plants around the outside, and use the cage to tie up the plants for support. This allows the roots to grow under the pile for their nutrients and a stable source of moisture.
You just gave me an idea for the 2nd bin.
 

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Having several pallet bins as described, I sometimes do not dump the compost out of the pallet bins after it is done "cooking". Often, I will plant potatos right in the bin. The shoots grow out between the slats. Then, when dumping the compost out of the bin, the taters are there for the picking. No digging.
 

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Lots of great ideas.
A little caution about any seeds that get thrown in especally from bags of yard clippings. One year we added our composted material to the garden. When everything started to grow we ended up with stinging nettle growing among everything. It was a torture to weed it all out and now, several years after, we still get a fair amount of it in the spring. The only thing we did different that year was add yard clippings from a friend. No stinging nettle grew near our garden before.

I live close to the seashore, we sometimes collect seaweed that washes up on the beach in fall wind storms. It can easily be collected by the pick-up truck load and it's free. We leave it in a big pile on the ground in the fall and by planting time all of the salt has been washed out of it and it has started to compost. We then just add it to the soil when planting. We have our regular compost bin besides this(same as the one described by varmintstalker). Some people use the composted seaweed to make a "tea", which they water their garden with.
 

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Don't Do It!!!

I bought a composting bin from lowes and threw vegetable trash and dog poop in there. It was a waste of money for the bin and I should have built my own. On one of the videos I put on the site said you should have worms within a few days. Anyway that where I'm at.
NEVER use dog, cat or any carnivore feces in your compost! There are disease organisms that can be very harmful to you if you do so!
Okay, that being said it is okay to compost such feces in certain ways. If you have one of those electric composting machines that get the stuff hot enough to kill these pathogens, you'll be okay, supposedly. It's also okay to use a Doggie Dooley or some such septic tank-like creation as long as it's not near your food producing plants. You can make your own cheaply with a bucket or can with a lid and some septic tank bacteria.
Just cut the bottom out of the container and drill holes in the sides. Dig a hole large enough to bury the container up to the top. Toss in some small rocks or very large gravel in the bottom of the container. It's also a good idea to dig the hole deep enough to put a layer of several inches beneath the container. Dump your pooper scooper into the container, toss on a handful of Rid-X or the like, and add a little water. Repeat for every load, if you'll pardon the pun.
This brings us to the other acceptable way to compost such stuff: As long as you use it only for ornamentals, it should not be harmful. Except for the fact that the mentioned pathogens will be in your environment.
MGSteve:eek:
 

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compost is perhaps my favorite subject! learned about composting at grandpas knee and have practiced it in one form or another for many years. There are tons of books out there about composting, and all good info posted here. In town I now use containers. I have a row of them across my back fence. Each has compost in varying stages of decomposition. when we were in the country, I would start a row and dump fresh compost (I had horses so had loads of bedding and manure) in a stack til it was about shoulder high, then start another stack, etc. By the time I got to the end of the row (about 90 ft and about 15 feet deep front to back)
I could go back, turn the compost at the first end and haul it off to be used, fill with
fresh compost, go on to the next oldest area, etc etc... worked beautifully with very little labor except to feed the pile and shovel/fork it out. Not everybody has the space for that though.. all you need is air, water, a bit of old rotted organic matter to speed up decomposition, fresh organic matter,time and some energy at the end of a fork.
easy, cheap and the best thing for your soil that you can do!
when I die my husband has instructions to cremate me and put me on the compost pile.
it is the cycle of life, complete.
 

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I made my compost bin from some free pallets from Lowe's. They're all matching and heavy duty-er because they held concrete block. It's worked well and it's not even held together, it's just stout. The girlfriend is complaining about how it's an eyesore so I'm going to upgrade myself to the plastic 55-gallon drum homemade tumbler.

If anyone wants an easy to sift compost so to separate and doesn't mind a little DIY, this is an easy build and is fun to operate. The pic is of mine and it links to the instructable.

http://www.instructables.com/id/Trommel-Compost-Sifter/
 
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