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Medium Scale Composting in Town  RSS feed

 
David Mcgowan Hicks
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Ive been thinking about putting in a bunch of food-producing plants at my house in downtown Columbia, SC. I want to start a composting program, my house is on a fairly deep lot that backs up to a railroad, so I can place the pile a good ways from my neighbors. Nevertheless, I would like to minimize the smell and maximize turnaround. I live right outside an area with lots of restaurants and I simply don't consume enough to produce very much compost.. Has anyone set up deals with restaurants to compost their food scraps? I could get several buckets and leave a couple at a restaurant, bring them fresh ones and take the full ones home regularly. Some of the restaurants in the area are pretty interested in having a green image, so it shouldn't be too hard to get them on board.

I guess the eventual goal is to be able to sell my food surpluses around harvest rather than can them, hopefully to these same restaurants. I dont want to make a living at this, I would just like to subsidize my foray into gardening and build my soil quality in the process.

-Should I limit my restaurant collection to veggie scraps, or are there other things I could use without creating a horrible stink?
- What other materials should I add to achieve the appropriate ratio of "greens and browns"
- Would spent grain from a brewery be considered greens or browns?
-What style of pile will allow me to produce high quality compost quickly without gadgets? I dont mind work, but would prefer not to have to turn the piles daily or anything.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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About the only way to do this on a large scale, is to have a gravity slope, i.e. a hill, and use a chute(s)

Thinking screw fed, 50 ft long, minimum.

doesn't seem to be any other way that doesn't include a bobcat and gas engines.

if the pile, or pipe is "hot" , just about anything goes. bones, grains, paper. Small scale, have to stick with greens and browns.

lots of info here and elsewhere on compost recipes, but it all comes down to temp and time. worms can help, but not enough to keep up.


you will be surprised how much resturaunts go thru.
buckets? figure at least 5-7 a day. and that isn't including waste food and napkins.
you will spend all your time doing pickups.

my local Mex place uses 300 lbs a week of fresh tomatoes.
and busy weekends equals 300 a DAY.
 
David Mcgowan Hicks
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Theres a coffee shop I have in mind that I would use as a jumping off point, not much volume, but good people that might be interested in my project. I've worked in restaurants before, and I do know how much food waste they have, that's why Im not going to approach high volume places. It would take me a year to fill up a 50 gallon trash can with food waste, I just don't produce that much. The hill thing is a good idea though, because I am on a hill. I just you just gave me an Idea for a method of turning down the hill that seems like it would work, Need several tarps though.

My idea of medium scale is apparently much smaller than your idea of medium scale I believe. If the restaurant needs more/bigger buckets to get through the day, Ill accommodate them. Once daily pickup wouldn't be a big deal for me.
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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I'm not one of those 'no external inputs' people. Not even close. We collect about 1000 pounds of green waste a week from only two organic farmer's markets. It takes us two hours two days a week, including driving and shopping. My compost is incredible; Today when I was turning a pile I fished out a pound of grubs for the chickens. The current batch smells like earthy minty plums.
 
David Mcgowan Hicks
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The coffee shop in question is about 5 minutes from my house on foot. Considering getting a radio-flyer wagon and transporting the waste that way. It seems silly to let it all go to a landfill when i need soil amendments!
 
Betsy Robertson
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Location: Central Texas
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David, You'd be amazed at how much compost you can make just with the used coffee grounds. My husband (bless his heart) brings home a 40 lb. bag on his bike after his daily visit to the coffee shop. I stockpile bags of leaves in the fall and combine the two throughout the year. That plus garden and kitchen waste and an occasional load of manure and we have an ongoing supply of great compost. Also, with a good balance of Nitrogen to Carbon, you shouldn't have any smell. I would think twice about the restaurant scraps because of all the meat that would attract unwanted animals.
 
Robert Eiffert
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Location: Zone 8
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Sounds also like you'd be a candidate for The Berkeley Hot Composting method. Uses higher heat and turning to eliminate bad order and completion of the process in 14-21 days.

http://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/compost_rapidcompost.pdf

And it sounds like you have the N side covered with the restaurant inputs so now you'll need to look for a C source - straw, dried vegetation, paper, cardboard, leaves, etc. If you use animal bedding - like straw in the poultry run - the manure N reduces the C/N ratio and can be an issue if you have a lot greens being used also.


Composting does take a fair amount of water, so make sure you have that covered also.
 
David Mcgowan Hicks
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Betsy: I would ask the gals down at drip to use my buckets for veggie scraps and coffee grounds only.

Robert: Thanks for that link! Do you know if I could use newspaper for some of the browns? I could pretty easily secure a truckload of newspaper from the local weekly rag every once in a while.
 
Robert Eiffert
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Location: Zone 8
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Newspaper is a great addition!
It does need to be shredded up and a light crumpling so it doesn't mat up. Thin cardboard like cereal boxes are good also. As is corrugated cardboard.

Just make sure to mix them in will with the greens.

David Mcgowan Hicks wrote:Betsy: I would ask the gals down at drip to use my buckets for veggie scraps and coffee grounds only.

Robert: Thanks for that link! Do you know if I could use newspaper for some of the browns? I could pretty easily secure a truckload of newspaper from the local weekly rag every once in a while.
 
Judith Browning
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Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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I avoid all colored paper, colored pasteboard (as in cracker and cereal boxes) and colored cardboard because of possible toxins in the pigments. Newspapers use soy ink but the colored pigments are not necessarily so benign. I don't want to introduce heavy metals in any amount to my land. Most recycling centers take most papers (inc. glossy and magazines), pasteboard and cardboard (except waxed and that treated with fungicide) now so no one need feel like they should have to recycle or repurpose it at home. I always thought the "browns" in composting were literally that. Just because it will compost doesnt mean it is good for our health...california organic guidelines allow a small percentage of paper for "browns" and no colors or waxed or fungicide treated cardboard.
.
 
Robert Eiffert
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Judith Browning wrote:I avoid all colored paper, colored pasteboard (as in cracker and cereal boxes) and colored cardboard because of possible toxins in the pigments. Newspapers use soy ink but the colored pigments are not necessarily so benign. I don't want to introduce heavy metals...
.....



We gather up papers from friends (exchange for eggs) and routinely just chuck the Sunday ad sections into the recycle bin. That is mostly because of the gloss and in general a bit harder to tear up, though putting them in a separate stream means those inks and papers wind up with the people better suited to handle them.

And that was a point I didn't make in the first post. Thanks for bringing it up.
 
Robert Eiffert
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Location: Zone 8
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Judith Browning wrote:
I always thought the "browns" in composting were literally that.




Yeah, I made a couple of batches of compost using the chicken run straw as my 'brown'...... Wound up buying a new bale of straw so the neighbors wouldn't think I was trying to make ammonia.....

A good reason to stockpile the browns as they come available. I've got a cubic yard of shredded leaves under cover now.
 
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