Only 48 hours left in our kickstarter!

New rewards and stretch goals. CLICK HERE!



  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Compost Bin Recommendations  RSS feed

 
Norm Deplume
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've been lurking here for a year or so, as I am indeed both cheap AND lazy.  And I am looking for an inexpensive starter compost bin. I hate the odd and expensive plastic composters I see in the online stores. I'm happy with rebar and chicken wire, but I jsut don't know exactly how to go about it. Do I need something beneath the leaves and grass, or plop it all straight on the ground? How do you go about turning the compost if it is in an enclosed homemade bin? etc., etc., etc.

Any and all advice is welcome.

Thanks in advance,
Robin
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21351
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I prefer to plop it straight on the ground. 

The thing I think is lame about all the contraptions is that they are all too small.  To get some good compost going, you want something three to four feet wide - or more! 

I suppose that the compost bins they sell are okay if your primary mission is to hide your compost or keep the critters out of it. 

If you have a mountain of composting materials and you want some first class compost really fast, I really like the compostumbler.  It's big (although not big enough for my taste - but bigger than the others) and it is rigged up to be turned once a day.  You can get a super hot compost really cooking in this baby! 

The most important point:  the worst compost made at home is almost always better than the best compost you can buy (which is often somebody's industrial waste).
 
Norm Deplume
Posts: 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:
I prefer to plop it straight on the ground. 


Just the answer I was looking for! I have a 8' x 10x space beween my shed and my fence, and no grass griows there. It's going to become my compost heap.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21351
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
my compost bin is open on one side and enclosed on 3 sides..8x8x8..

this way you can get a tractor bucket in to turn it.

mine was started over an area where a bunch of brush was burned..so the land was bare..other than some char and ash.

we piled some decaying aspen on it..to make a base for the compost..and then began to pile our leaves, scraps and grass clippings on it..we usually would have manure too but were not up to getting it on there ..

son turns it with the tractor..which mixes in the rotting wood..

if you have to turn it by hand don't use the sticks or wood..as it will be impossible to turn by hand..all tangled up.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i have read of using perforated pipe through the large piles instead of turning them....I wonder if a similar design could be applied at home? I'm pretty lazy. when I had large piles of poo to compost I would send my husband out to turn them. he likes doing anything with the tractor. not I. might be more fun if we had aloader but the box blade makes it tedious.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21351
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Instead of perforated pipes, how about a few criss-crossed sticks? 

 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
that might work too! but I imagine that some 4" diameter pipe with some holes on the bottom would bring in alot more air. maybe too much!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i did use some small sticks and some char and some rotting aspen in the bottom of my compost pile..which is fine for aeration..but it does make it a real bugger to turn..thanks to the tractor that was solved..but there is still a lot of woody stuff that hasn't broken down in a year..so i don't think i would do that again..

one nice thing here..the neighbors that bought my MIL's house last Oct..have started putting their scraps in our compost pile..i had offered as they don't really planning on farming..or gardening..and i had a gap in the fence between us 20' from my compost pile..so i went out there to garden yesterday and there was all kinds of fresh scraps thrown in..i was tickled..lots of corn on the cob leavings..(wish they had invited us over for the corn though)
 
Susan Monroe
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I first started composting, I read about 'aerating' it with branches on the ground.

FORGET THAT!  It's a real mess.  So what if you've got a little air under the pile, if you're not turning it, the center will soon get anaerobic, anyway.  And once you try to turn it with a fork and keep hitting those sticks, you're not going to want to turn it because it's just too much trouble.

A.  It's all going to rot no matter what you do.  If you don't turn it to incorporate air into the center, it will take longer.

B.  If you want it finished sooner rather than later, you have to turn it.  Period.

A compost pile should be at least 3 feet across X 3 feet deep to heat up to pathogen-killing temperatures.  It helps if the depth is sort of even across the pile, which is why I use a simple circle of 2x4" welded wire fencing.  It also helps to keep the chickens and pets out of it (but not the raccoons and opossums).

Sue
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
yeah mine is 8x8..i know it is a bit big..but it is doing fine..but you are right about the woody stuff..what a pain..thank GOD for tractors !!! they'll turn it no matter what is in there.

but that doesn't mean the wood rots well..

my fence that is holding my compost pile is made out of poplar lumber..it was scrap and i just screwed  it like pickets to 2x4's across from 4 posts in the ground..8' apart in a square..i left one side open for the tractor and me.

son takes the backblade and pulls all the stuff out of the bin..and then puts it back in in the bucket..dropping it from great heights..tee hee..he gets a kick out of turning my compost pile..

hopefully we'll start getting some gobs of fresh stuff for it..but right now..there is a bit of compost ready to use so i need to get that out and use it first before it gets filled with fresh manure, etc.
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Lazy compost.......
Just let it be a heap on the ground.....Don't turn it let it take two years.

Slightly less lazy compost........
Make a bit of a bin for it to keep it contained a bit.........Still don't turn it, if the ingredients were correct and it got hot, it will probably be ready in one year after you quit adding stuff to it.
(This is what we do with Humanure composting)

Neither of those methods will get you fast compost.

You can also spread some types of compost materials directly on the ground (sheet composting) but you generally should not do this with fresh manure or other things that really need to be composted before exposing your garden to them.

Some people just dig holes/trenches in the garden pathways and bury the kitchen scraps there, next season the pathways become the garden rows and so on.

I don't turn compost because it is just too much work for only minimal benefit, I don't have a tractor and can usually get mushroom compost to use while I wait for the home compost to be ready.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
TCLynx wrote:
Lazy compost.......
Just let it be a heap on the ground.....Don't turn it let it take two years.

Slightly less lazy compost........
Make a bit of a bin for it to keep it contained a bit.........Still don't turn it, if the ingredients were correct and it got hot, it will probably be ready in one year after you quit adding stuff to it.
(This is what we do with Humanure composting)

Neither of those methods will get you fast compost.

You can also spread some types of compost materials directly on the ground (sheet composting) but you generally should not do this with fresh manure or other things that really need to be composted before exposing your garden to them.

Some people just dig holes/trenches in the garden pathways and bury the kitchen scraps there, next season the pathways become the garden rows and so on.

I don't turn compost because it is just too much work for only minimal benefit, I don't have a tractor and can usually get mushroom compost to use while I wait for the home compost to be ready.


Yeah I find that spreading most of my compost directly in the garden beds is also the easiest for me..as well..but you are right..the uncomposted manure and some other things just are better allowed to go into a compost pile until they are really ready  to be friendly with plants.

i sheet compost all the time..i don't generally do many paths..i just leave a spot here and there where i can step into my gardens..a rock or a bare spot..to walk..in a few areas there are paths..but they are generally Lawn paths..so i don't have to worry about weeds..and they get mowed..so composting in the paths would just be a waste of compost for me..

I try to match the ingredients I'm putting out with what is growing in the area..where there are solidly acid soil plants, like my blueberries, etc..i use bark and sawdust and oak leaves and pine needles constantly renewed around them ..piling it on pretty deep..just making sure the plants can peek out..

and then in the other areas where the plants aren't TOO SMALL..i use other types of bark and leaves and debris right in the gardens too..as well as composted manure and grass clippings.

sometimes my gardens look a bit awful to some people..cause i tend to compost around the house as i eat..gross..i throw my eggshells..crumpled up in the garden each morning..a different spot..so othere are bits of white all over on top of the ground..and then all my banana skins and other peels are generally tossed right in to the garden beds..

my gardens by June have grown up enough to where what is on the ground is fairly invisible..but in april and May it can look kinda bad..but the plants don't mind how it looks.

I'm sure i couldn't get awa with this type of stuff if i lived in the city..garbage throw on my gardens..good grief....that crazy woman !!! but i don't live in the city and if anyone is walking in my backyard they know me and know why i do it.

i always throw banana peels under my rose bushes..in a few days they are brown and look like the mulch..

as for the shredded paper..i kinda draw the line there and compost it first with the fresh manure and fresh grass clipings..they are a bit hot to go right on the garden anyway..so it gives a nice pile..i also put the more gross looking things in the compost pile..like citrus rinds..corn shucks..etc..to break down.
 
                              
Posts: 461
Location: Inland Central Florida, USA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know I'm kinda the crazy lady in the neighborhood.  Run out and steel the grass clippings and leaves that other people spend all that time raking and bagging and I haul it over to my place and dump it on my yard <imagine the furtive look either way and then dumping bags while laughing with glee >
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
argh the frustration of watching people throw away good 'future dirt'. I know someone who burn gobs of oak leaves every year. then they wonder why they don't have any dirt to grow fescue! ack your robbing the soil!!!
 
Gwen Lynn
Posts: 736
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was just thinking about this the other day. They have acres of oak trees at the barn, particularly in the front of the property. Stablehands raked up all the leaves. There were bags & bags of them. I'm guessing they got hauled off to the dump. I never know when this chore is going to be done. Really wish I could find someone that would come and get them, I feel bad about them going to no use. Problem is, there never is enough notice for me to make arrangements with someone, and once their raked up...he wants them gone! I love the guy I work for, but he isn't the most environmentally concerned person I've ever met. He makes up for it in other ways though.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 21351
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My experience with compost:

12 to 15 years ago I was obsessed with it.  I gathered materials from far and wide.  I owned a compostumbler and I turned it every day.  I had mountains of compost that I used for everything.  My gardens loved the stuff and just kept eating it and eating it. 

A lot of work. 

A lot of work that I really enjoyed. 

And then I started getting spoiled hay for free.  And I would use it instead of compost.  So much easier.  Not quite as good, but close. 

And then I got chickens and pigs.  They took in all of the compostables.    And they ate most of the weeds.  And a lot of the scrap wood/twigs that might have gone into a compost pile before went into hugelkultur or was used as a direct mulch.  Or firewood.  Or something else.

Since I rotated the chickens and pigs and other animals, then stalls never needed cleaning. 

There was no materials to make compost piles.  And there was no further need for compost.  And I was enjoying other stuff. 

Living in the city with no chickens:  I would just throw the compost in a pile.  If it ever smelled, I would throw some carbon on it.  I probably wouldn't turn it anymore.  I would probably leave it near something that would eat it (just beyond the drip line of a fruit tree perhaps). 

A bin?  I used to make lots of bins.  But now - I wouldn't.  I suppose a lot of folks would want a bin so things can look tidy.


 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
lots of ways to do it and none of them are wrong! my dogs will pick out and crunch the eggshells and stuff so I can't just put them in the garden. otherwise I think I would to that. I toss all kitchen scraps in a wire cage and right now I have a wire cage with some stall cleanings in it that were just a little too woody for my taste. I still love hay directly in the garden and it is my primary path to increasing organic matter in the soil.
 
                            
Posts: 30
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have two spots about 3 to 4 foot wide and I usually build almost a square on the ground right over the fence from the horse and goats and just down from the chickens. I just shovel the poo over the fence and add grass clipping, leaves, etc mainly from the neighbors and here in the desert it will dry out quickly so I need to water it every few days to keep it cookin.

About the only thing I use the tiller for anymore is to turn the compost pile. I just let that thing climb the mountain and dig. I pull it back out…just like a rowing machine at the gym and then do it again. It gets all spread out but that lets me build it back up with a good amount of water all throughout and then with the shoveling or pitch forking to pile it back up I have just had an incredible workout!

In the summer I can turn a big pile with hot manure, usually mixed with a little straw, and fresh clippings into almost perfect black gold in 3 weeks if I turn and water it every couple of days. I really do love that stuff, the natural soil here leaves a lot to be desired.

One reason for the two piles is that I take several shovels from the middle of the pile that is almost completed and mix into the middle of the new pile to kick it off with hard working organisms. When I started doing that the piles went much faster.
 
                                  
Posts: 99
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have three large piles that I turn 3x weekly, with my front end loader. It's composed of leaves, kitchen scraps,  shreaded paper and grass clippings. I may add a little manure next month.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
thats great marty! I do miss having centralized poo and bedding and a nearby compost area. I used to be set up so that I could shovel the poo into the compost pile that was  in the garden just over the fence. someday I hope to get set up more efficiently again. I have few centralized poo areas right now because of the increase in space and my garden feels like its a mile away from my critters anyway. 
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i am getting a kick out of the new neighbors..they have been bringing wheelborrow loads of stuff over and putting in my compost pile..all organic too.

she had several large rhubarb plants that she wanted to harvest and then move the roots..so all the excess was piled into a trailer yesterday and piled on my compost pile..and some of the seaweed they are digging out of their pond i guess will end up there too !!! go figure..Joel can turn it with the tractor and the neighbors can keep filling it..i love it.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
lucky you brenda! i am depressingly short on compost material. I have been trying to talk hubby into getting a bag for the mower so that I can sometimes collect clippings a little easier. so far no luck.  I rake up a nice neat little pile get this nice feeling then I look up at 4 acres of mowed grass spread out over an equal area and get a little discouraged.

our adult pony is doing well ground driving and its time she starts dragging things around for real. I think I will try and put together a large rake so that as I am working with her she can be getting something done for me. I still need to actually get a real harness and set up for her. right now I am just making do with makeshift tack for the most part. that won't work for actually pulling something. I was sure I could find a utility cart for her size but so far no luck. I guess I will have to make one.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I learnt about composting in england and then lived in Spain and everything i put in to compost just dried out in a day, so i put it in a rubber bin i made some holes in , i only weekend occasionally so i don't have much rubbish, it cetainly does not get hot but it turns into a nasty mess the plants seem to quiet like. No one else is talking about how different it can be composting in a dry climate instead of a wet humid one, does no one else have problems composting in dry places?
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I can see where a hot dry climate might slow things down. your plastic with holes idea is great. anything to help slow the loss of moisture. here it gets hot and dry in july and august and I can really affect how fast things break down. I think you can do some things to mitigate such as having your compost in the shade and trying to incorporate some things that might hold onto water a bit longer as well as watering it some. using left over dishwater might be best (or somethinglike that) I am assuming that in a dryer climate water conservation is even more important than elsewere. also try to find some grass clippings or hay or manure to mix in (if you don't already) something to help distribute thing through out the pile. a pile of nothing but old vegies turns slimy and gross without a bit of something more fibrous or something real 'hot' like a manure mixed in.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leah thank you for your answer, i shall have to chop up some grass and put it in my my compost to give it something fibrous.
    My soil was so poor i just left the grass where it fell so it could help add vegetable matter to the ground. I have a big for a garden garden, small for anything else piece of land, for more than ten years now and have been  letting anything that would grow, grow and enrich the land it grows on, and the soil is better now. This has stopped me wanting to add things from the garden to the compost.  the garden to the compost.
      letting everything that grew enrich the soil has really made a difference to the land, i used to only be able to dig it with a mattock, the many stones in the soil  used to stop the spade.  I think what they use here a sort of light triangular bladed pick axe like object is called a mattock and now years later the the stones have disappeared in many places and i can use a spade this suprises me , i think maybe it is not only because of the accumulation of organic matter on top which has been that vegetable matter the ground produced but also that insects or worms  maybe bring up finer mineral particles from below. Not all parts of the garden have got better equally fast.
    Where i have the compost bin Artemis grows. It is strange, it dries in winter and springs up and stays green all summer, dry as it may be. It seem to be a good plant for countries with a dry season but it seems to only really grow where the compost is, it can do without water but wants nutrients.
      Here the bread dries in a two or three days  summer and winter, so dry that it does not mold  and you can keep it for a year or as many years as you want as far as i know and then turn it into bread crumbs.  In england it is damp and bread gets sort of half dry and molds instead of turning into dry bread.
      The English answer to the idea of keeping Simone on dry bread and water would be to keep them on mouldy bread and water. The humidity of a country changes things a lot. Maybe they put some really tremendous preservatives in the bread.
 
Leah Sattler
Posts: 2603
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
rose-out of curiousity, where do you live? july and august are hot and dry in the way of very little rainfall but the humidity is oppressive most of the summer. we have more problems with things such as crackers getting stale within a day than we do with bread drying out! it also makes it difficult to dehydrate things to preserve them.
 
jeremiah bailey
Posts: 343
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Rose, it sounds like you've stumbled upon Masanobu Fukuoka's technique for enriching the earth. Basically you skip the time and energy wasting step of hauling the plant matter from your garden to the compost heap. Also the time and energy of moving the compost back to the garden is skipped as well. Even if your compost is in or near the garden, this is still a lot of work. You just let the dead plant matter form a mulch over the area which it grew. The mulch does what mulch does. It holds in water and adds nutrients back to the soil. It breaks down into a nice humus. Nature has been doing it this way since, well, ever since she started doing her thing. Right now, that is my preferred way of composting. I do have a pile that I'm using to get rid of some tree and shrub trimmings, as well as kitchen scraps. I plan to incorporate this pile with larger branches later for a hugelkulture.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jeremaih Baily. I did not get the idea of letting everything grow and leaving it on the land when it dried from Masanobu Fukoaka, though i later read about him. I thought i had seen overgrazing in the country side and looked for a book here on land use and the book that seemed to me best was a book published in mexico in spainish and written by north americans "manuel de conservacion de suelos" suelo, is ground, servicio de consevacion de suelos departamento de agriculturea de los Estados Unidos de America. I could not understand who wrote the book, there was nothing to asay who it was writen by but later, after reading similar books, I reckoned it was writen by different agricultural experts and later i found out who Hugh Hammond Bennet was, a big north americal fighter for soil and he wrote the introduction to the book.
        This  book had chapters on terracing, bettering things with woods, and how cleaning out the undergrowth in woods wasn't really a help to bettering soils, but the farmers have to feels their wood is growing right, growing deep rotted plants like lupins, you later incoporate in the soil, to pull up the minerals from below if crops had exhasted the top soil of minerals, suring up cuttings on roads, etc. How if there was a bad year for pastures you must sell some heads of live stock so that there would not be overgrazing, so as to look after your pastures, you could re-buy live stock the following year.
    It had a chapter writen by a farmer, maybe expert, who said he had a bit of old road on his land and he was going to seed grass and clover and some currant bushes for the wildlife there where there was no top soil, and they would restore the soil.  So i was inspired by a North American.
        I am not a farmer with their equipment so  just let the wild oats grow and tried to plant a few trees, the trees which really went well were the ones already there, the wild plums and willows there is a winter torrent running through the garden,  which is a  slice of ravine with precipices, getting to the other side is like doing an asault course.  It is in the skirts of a mountain.  Dead elms that sent up new trees from their roots that have died again oaks and sloes, a buckthorn.
    The book said that grass restores soils quicker than trees, he reckoned in six years, while trees take decades or centuries.
      That was a inspiring idea, the more important here in Spain maybe because here, the people who are worried about ecology and soils, concentrate their attencion on woods, as if woods were the only way of bettering soiils. This means ecologically conscience people aren't centering their atencion on pasture lands or the exploitacion of cereals and they could better the situacion in them a lot. rose.
 
jeremiah bailey
Posts: 343
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I only mentioned Fukuoka because he seems to be one of the earliest of what I'd call modern natural farmers. And I said stumbled upon to imply that you learned the technique elsewhere. What I think we both can agree on there is that leaving the plants to lay where the lived and died is the simplest way of enriching the soil. To touch on another point you just brought up, diversity in agriculture is a great thing that is all too often overlooked. I imagine that a farm with woods, and fields and gardens would be a much better route than to just focus on one way of doing things.
I have only a 1/4 acre of land including my house. This year, I started a garden that is split between a 500 square foot traditional garden and a 500 square foot "field" of cowpeas and buckwheat that I just planted today. For the cowpea and buckwheat field, I just mowed part of my lawn low and broadcast the seed over the grass. I raked the seeds down in after spreading. I left the grass clippings where they lay. Half of the field I spread clay pellets made from the seed and the other half just bare seed, just to experiment with the two ways.
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My compost bin is made of large stones that I salvaged from an old house foundation (the house had been moved).  It is basically a stone wall in a U-shape, about 8x8.  I originally had flat stones on the ground to cut down on horsetail growing up through the pile, but they didn't really do much and made for an uneven surface so I switched them out for old 5/8" sheets of plywood, which is working great.  The plywood will eventually rot, but it rots very slowly.

I turn it with a pitchfork (no tractor here), maybe 3 times a year when I need some exercise.  Parts of it also get turned when I am digging around for some of the completed compost.

As I mentioned in another thread, I put in about half "green stuff" and half "brown stuff" which works great.  This means I have to find other places for some of the grass clippings, but that is usually pretty easy.

My first experiments with composting were about 19 years ago when I ordered about 30 yards of horse manure/bedding from the local fairgrounds.  I wanted to enrich the clay before planting grass and we didn't have much of a budget for compost & topsoil.  It was in the fall so it was fairly cool outside.  I had read up on how turning really speeds up the process, so I was out there every evening with my pitchfork, turning these huge piles that were as tall as me.  I remember one day it was below freezing, but the pile was so hot that once I dug into it, the heat was intense and before long I was dripping with sweat from the heat, not just the exercise.  Anyway, I got it all composted and the lawn turned out great.

A number of years later I ended up excavating around the basement walls to properly seal them.  Instead of putting the clay back in the hole, I decided to use composted horse manure which I could move by hand and I knew would make for happy plants.  Also I could get it for free, as much as I wanted.  As I mentioned in the other thread, one day I was carrying a particularly "hot" load of it on a warm day, and it blistered the paint in the bed of my truck!  I was more careful after that.  Anyway, after a number of years of settling we now have 7 vertical feet of compost and boy do we have happy plants.  We did have a completely bizarre "earthworm bloom" once which had hundreds of earthworms crawling on the outside of the house during rainstorms, but other than that, it has worked out great.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jeremiah Bailey, I just enjoyed saying that i got he idea from a American and it was true. Sometimes i have an idea and then find someone else has had it first, I find it in a book i am reading and then no one will believe the idea was mine as well as other peoples.  I find that frustrating i know horrible people who always try to make me look silly it has made me really try.
    On the other hand  if i have an idea i always look for it in book, I want to write about it and as I don't have a lab and  i am not a scientist I need to find a solider authority than myself if i want to spread an idea on.
      I suppose talking about other sources  is always enriching in this subject because different people have different ideas anand when you mencion them you pass on the ideas of these people.
    The truth is I thought you just enjoyed mentioning Masanobu as i enjoy mentioning people I admire. I like mentioning him.
    For a smallish plot, as feeding ones self is concerned, the best i read was John Seymour on raised beds with lots of manure and that are never left bare, just plant a weed in them if you have nothing else when you harvest a vegetable from them, which sort of stops bits of the bed drying out because they are open to the sun i suppose and means there are always roots that get left in the soil to rot contributing to its fertility.  He said you can grow an awful lot in a small place by this method it seems to be a practical description of other permiculture methods.  He makes narrow beds so you can work on them without stepping on them so th esoil remains lose.
      I have never managed to grow a vegetable or hardly ever. I don't live in the country and it is so dry in summer here, July to september but really could be June to October or till nearly November  the year before last and vegetables need looking after and more in a drought and I'm not there to look after them and till now my soil has been very poor.
    I  imagine that anything we know and write about here can help those starting out, it is easier an cheaper reading a blog than a book. So i am taking every opportunity to write all i have ever managed to catch in case its usefull. i imagine tat as you read Masonobu you know all i have said already but maybe someone else doesn't and could find it handy.
 
jeremiah bailey
Posts: 343
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I guess what I was really saying, but couldn't find the words at the time, is that I'm glad to see the candles of natural knowledge being lit all over the world. Some spontaneously, some being lit by other candles. I guess it doesn't really matter who lit them, or how they were lit, just that they are lit. Making a discovery on ones own, and subsequently finding others who made the same discovery is a great feeling and helps cement that knowledge for bettering the future.

I'll add a bit that I discovered this year. If you don't even have a weed to plant in a bare spot, mulch it. The mulch will help keep the soil moist and will break down to help nourish the soil.
 
rose macaskie
Posts: 2134
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No Jeremiah Bailey, you have made me think of something else and i am writting much too much anyway. We leave the car  just inside our gate where there was a bit of gravel till a year or so ago, where nothing grew, natural gravel, the earth there is sand stone and gravelly sandstone and clay,  Last year we concreted it and left a bit at the side to plant a hedge in and my husband put some manure on it and i put in some plums that sprang up from below, some apricots i had grown on my balcony or in the flower bed from seed, they come up easily here. Well, apart from what i planted you can't imagine how the weeds sprang up, a really good thistle, a wild mallow with really big flowers compared to the one that came up in the garden without manure and a few more normal things like dock, i don't know what that might not be called in America. Nothing had ever wanted to grow there before but it seems there was plenty of seed in the ground it just needed nutrients.
  May be the person who wrote what i read had read about Fukuoka i did not discover articles on him till years later. In england the sort of concerns mentioned in this blog are called "which words get you a pi9le of articles but maybe is not as good as permaculture.
  Really with the troubles we have with the climate it is a relief to find others are into curing things. I get quite stressed about the global warming and here about the new fashion for growing wheat in more places that is starting to eat into Heath or scrub land where trees had been growing that had been doing really well, really getting covered with vegetation.  I sort of know others are into it the thing is to get even more people convinced. I worry about the bare hills in the middle east and other places that border deserts as indeed Spain does, where the deserts are spreading. Really my interest comes from my farmer grandmother, farmers just mind about soils if they know enough, though she was not exactly a permaculturist but my mother had a natural dislike of things like herbicides.
        Certainly here the theme pulls you between the interests of the villagers who really aren't very rich, which is certainly to grow cereals and the climate change.
      There is a lot of horribly bad treatment of pasture land and cereal land here that makes me want to better the soil for them as well as because i am concerned about the climate .
      The ecological people here concentrate their efforts on wanting more pine woods and don't seem to think that they could better the situation in pasture land and in land dedicated to cereal crops or in orchards. Here there is no ground cover in olive groves which stretch sometimes for more than a hundred of kilometres, the tops of the trees are severely pruned and so they can't provide much leaf fall  or shade or humidity and it is another situation in which the soils are condemned to get worse and worse.  .
    Many of the villageres weren't owners of land so they looked after their sheep but not the soil except in their vegetable gardens, what was the point, with absentee landlords you might look after a bit of soil and the next year it could be let out to someone else who would ruin it. So politics is one of the elements in land care.
    Here, its just so dry in summer that all meadow plants dry and are a big fire risk and that makes them destroy vegetation there are social pressures in the villages to destroy all vegtacion .  They turn the whole country into a fire break instead of having fire breaks i believe this may be true from here to china and i really want to get the message out that fear of fires is a big reason for desertification. They can control their goats, I have whatched them, they want them to destroy vegetation.  I like deserts but they are growing so and leave people hungry. If experts organised fire breaks and promised to mow any pastures the shepherds had not managed to eat down before the dry season, then, perhaps, they would stop having such a destructive attitudes to vegetation here and in many other places.
      America interests me a source of information on farming more than England because there are deserts in America, things are more likely to be applicable in the two places. Here it is hard to get people to listen to me, i am a foreigner and they hate the English but they might really move if I talk in other countries, they are intensely competitive and love hate America they really don't want to look old fashioned and to have bad farming practices.  Anyway its just nice doing things in English. 
 
jeremiah bailey
Posts: 343
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I find it kind of ironic. Many people in our deserts are striving to make them green!
 
                                
Posts: 40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul turned me on to the Compostumbler and I think it will work in our neighborhood and yard size.  However, I'm a little concerned about the availability of our "ingredients".  Table scraps, or the greens, won't be a problem.  But we have limited supply of browns.  Most of our trees do not shed, we leave our grass clippings in the lawn, and don't have things like straw available without buying them.  We don't get the paper, but I'm sure I could round that up from the neighbors.  Owning a home business, we do have a lot of cardboard boxes, but the glues scare me a little, and I don't think they'll break down as fast.  Any suggestions?
 
                  
Posts: 9
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would like to purchase a compost bin, and was wondering if anyone had any recommendations as to which kind I should focus on, or any specific product recommendations.

I like the idea of a compost bin that can be spun or tipped back and forth to make the aeration process easy; however, they feel kind of gimmicky.  In addition, they appear almost air-tight.  I know that composting is aided by all sorts of beneficial critters, and I wonder if they would have access to the compost materials in these kinds of bins.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be most appreciated!
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My father gets a free one made of thick plastic sheeting from the county every year, but they're poorly-ventilated.  He takes an hour or so with a brace and bit, and widens all their 1/4 inch holes to a 1 inch diameter.

I do OK by mixing small twigs into the pile, so that it has enough strength to hold its own sides vertical (even the occasional overhang).  I only turn it every couple of months, though; otherwise this would be too much work.

I am intrigued by the idea of an open, perforated tube down the center of a solid-walled bin, analogous to a Kelly Kettle.  I'm not sure they sell these in a tumbling system, but I think that would work well.  I've mostly seen them built into ordinary barrels. 
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
letterk wrote:
Paul turned me on to the Compostumbler and I think it will work in our neighborhood and yard size.  However, I'm a little concerned about the availability of our "ingredients".  Table scraps, or the greens, won't be a problem.  But we have limited supply of browns.  Most of our trees do not shed, we leave our grass clippings in the lawn, and don't have things like straw available without buying them.  We don't get the paper, but I'm sure I could round that up from the neighbors.  Owning a home business, we do have a lot of cardboard boxes, but the glues scare me a little, and I don't think they'll break down as fast.  Any suggestions?

Couple of ideas:
1. I bet you have neighbors who have trees that shed.
2. After the grass clippings have dried and turned brown on the lawn, rake up some of them for your compost pile.  Or see if any neighbors bag their grass clippings.  But grass clippings really need to be mixed - if they are green they tend to make a matted goo, if they are brown they tend to stay very dry and turn into sort of a powder (probably mildew or something).  But mix them with their complementary material (brown if green grass, green if brown grass) and you'll be good to go.
 
                                
Posts: 40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
adunca wrote:
Couple of ideas:
1. I bet you have neighbors who have trees that shed.
2. After the grass clippings have dried and turned brown on the lawn, rake up some of them for your compost pile.  Or see if any neighbors bag their grass clippings.  But grass clippings really need to be mixed - if they are green they tend to make a matted goo, if they are brown they tend to stay very dry and turn into sort of a powder (probably mildew or something).  But mix them with their complementary material (brown if green grass, green if brown grass) and you'll be good to go.


Suprisingly, there are very very few trees that shed in our neighborhood.  It's mostly palm trees, which don't shed.

All the neighbors bag their clippings, but they all use gardening services.  I have no clue what kind of chemicals have been used on them.

I think our best bet is to haul out brown material from the natural preserve that borders our community.  It's only 100 ft away, so convenient enough.  I'm sure I'll be getting some odd looks, and may even be breaking some HOA rules, but we'll see.
 
It means our mission is in jeapordy! Quick, read this tiny ad!
Learn, Design, Teach, & Inspire with Permaculture games.
FoodForestCardGame.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!