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Permies Poll: How do you compost?

 
master gardener
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Following the great participation with Permies Poll: Do you compost at home? I feel the next question that should be asked is HOW do you compost? There is a myriad of ways, and not every way is a good fit for everyone.



There will be only one apple to apply to the choices, please pick your main compost setup. Feel free to reply with other compost piles you may maintain as well.

Please feel free to share details and pictures of your compost setups in the replies below!

If I have missed the type of composting that you do, leave a reply and I will add it.

 
Timothy Norton
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I have ever intent to have a hot compost pile but my lack of turning doesn't help out any. The majority of the compost I have on site is made with a cold composting method.

I'm planning on letting the chickens peck through it when I'm 'finished' for some extra weed seed removal.
 
gardener
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Location: South of Capricorn
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I threw my apple at bokashi, since i'm always encouraging other people to try it, but i also trench, and cold compost, and use a worm/soil bin, and occasionally hot compost (though I don't usually have the space for a hot pile). it's all good!
 
master gardener
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Location: Carlton County, Minnesota, USA: 3b; Dfb; sandy loam; in the woods
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Several cold piles that sometimes heat up over 140F when I add a bunch of fresh stuff all at once, but I don't manage them to stay hot. And also a couple of small home-scale worm bins in the basement.
 
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Leaf mold pile, hot/cold/lazy pile and worm bin in basement.

Peace
 
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I have 3 Garden Gourmet Composters, the town had a deal on my first one, way back when, the other two were given to me, I use these to compost the fallen soldiers in my war against my neighbors Japanese Knotweed, barely holding my own. They make great compost. I started Vermicomposting again in March of 2024 with the purchase of two pounds of Eisenia fetidas, I have a 7'x11'x3' leaf bin along with two 6' diameterx3' chicken wire enclosures also for fall leaves. All of my outdoor composting is down at Nature's pace and once the pipeline was full a constant supply. No carbon biomass leaves The Crazy Half Acre. I am also taking a hard look at Composting as a Final alternative behind Burial and Cremation in a program called "Grow with Grandpa". I can only compost with bokashi in the garage now, my first and only attempt was in 5 gallon buckets with screw on lids, I forgot the plate to keep everything submerged and ended up a fruit fly production plant.
 
Posts: 249
Location: rural West Virginia
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First of all, I might prefer a hot compost pile to kill disease and weed seeds, but I rarely achieve it. And second, I have three different kinds of piles: One beside each of my garden spaces, and in the case of the main garden, a pair of concrete block bins--the final turning is onto the ground, and the chickens peck and scratch at this lot. I also have several woodrot piles just within the woods that surround my clearing--these take years, but I have extracted several buckets of good wood-based compost out of the oldest couple--I think this stuff is especially good for fruit trees and berry bushes. And then there is another pair of concrete block bins, covered, in which humanure decomposes; I empty four or five buckets about ten times a year, cover with leaves, and then in spring I clean out the side that's been untouched for a year, use the proceeds in my orchard and maybe some in my flowerbed, and then switch to dumping buckets on that side again. Urine is collected in a separate wooden arrangement with a toilet seat in the house. This bucket gets dumped, when half full or so, on all the compost piles in a rotating sequence. Urine contains most of the nitrogen and phosphorus we secrete so it's important to use it--the nitrogen helps the woodrot piles, especially, work faster. Oh, and one more category: I collect leaves on our mile long lane every fall and winter, chop them, and put them in wire bins (these get the urine in turn too). Leafmold is excellent compost.
I wonder if everyone would agree with this statement: THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH COMPOST. Or at least, surely never too much.
 
pollinator
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I 'compost everything' (so that's called a 'cold pile'), following the advice of David the Good
 
pollinator
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I use a slight variation of the Johnson Su bioreactor, adapted for materials at hand and a much wetter climate. It ends up essentially being a large worm bin and makes excellent compost, based on the eye and nose test, results, and microscopy by some Elaine Ingham students.
 
pollinator
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Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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I am disappointed that the creators of this poll didn't include an option for "composting in place." There are many of us practicing a diversity of techniques that eschew traditional composting methods - and all of the extra labor they entail! - and I would wish that we might be represented in this discussion.

Ruth Stout-style gardening, sheet mulching and other mulching techniques, crimping or plowing in cover crops, or just tossing your kitchen scraps out across your property - one can argue the pros and cons of different methods, but so long as you keep organic waste on your own property and it ends up back in the ground somehow, you are effectively composting.
Staff note (Timothy Norton) :

I added a new option to the poll.

Thank you for the addition!

 
Matthew Nistico
pollinator
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Location: Clemson, SC ("new" Zone 8a)
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Staff note (Timothy Norton) : I added a new option to the poll.

Thank you for the addition!

~ Thank you for taking my suggestion seriously and with an open mind.
 
pollinator
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Current future goal is doing aerobic no turn composting mixing in a bunch of other things.  The eventual goals are 3 fold.  1. generate a high grade potting soil mix replacement for the tomato float.  2.  Generate fungaly dominant compost to make tea with for treating soil and plants.  3.  generate some other compost for other gardening projects.
 
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Humanure? 💩🥗
 
gardener
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Location: Zone 6b
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We have a BB for Ruth Stout style composting. Is this method considered a type of trench composting or composting in place?
 
pollinator
Posts: 418
Location: West Linn Oregon, USA zone 8b
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We have a bucket we toss things in and we take it down to my MIL's house because she has cold piles in the backyard, + chickens, and she gives us compost that is finished in which I plant my plants.  Its hard because we have two buckets, the bucket to take down and the bucket of finished compost, that's all we can do in our dinky apartment on our patio.  Once, if?, I ever get a place to live with my own yard I will try and create something so we don't have to cart things back and forth.
 
Tereza Okava
gardener
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May Lotito wrote:We have a BB for Ruth Stout style composting. Is this method considered a type of trench composting or composting in place?


That's a great question. I seem to recall Ruth Stout talking about tucking things under layers of straw, so I guess it is composting in place? Yet when I trench (no straw here) I think of her. I more consider chop and drop a composting in place kind of thing, like what I do with my comfrey.
How are other people composting in place?
 
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Here's a hack I didn't mention before: dirt is necessary for humus formation, and I've been told that humus is more stable than plain rot, which can off-gas nutrients like nitrogen. Ever just watch a truckload of autumn leaves melt down to almost nothing? Well- dirt is necessary, but what's really necessary is clay ions. Now trying to get a good dispersal of clay in a pile is a bit tedious, because it clumps.  But- How about a clay slip (as opposed to slipping in wet clay)  So I mine clay when/where it's available, put it in covered buckets and keep it moist. When the time comes I put the clay in a plastic bucket, put the drywall mixing paddle in my half-inch heavy-duty drill and make mud! (being careful about electric shock around water, rubber boots and gloves) Or if I am feely burly bad, and the clay is good and wet I take my drywall  "potato masher" (which looks just like that but is a 2-hand size tool and a real workout.) When you have achieved a fair "clay slip" mix, as the ceramicists use, you'll have something that coats all the regular compost stock and you will like the results. Currently I live in a valley that was covered with beaver dams and meandering rivers, subject to frequent volcanic ash-falls and so finding good useful mineral soil here is dam easy. You can also get good ideas on working with clay from natural builders, who use clay frequently.
 
Mary Cook
Posts: 249
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Shakin my head, Rick Valley...you're going to all that trouble to get clay spattered into your compost, and my biggest effort is to keep it out of my compost, in excess amounts, coming in on the roots of the weeds. I read once that if you want hot compost, you can't have more than 4% soil ...mine's pretty much always more than that
 
gardener
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I do continuous composting in bins,
does it count as cold piles?
 
Timothy Norton
master gardener
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Location: Upstate NY, Zone 5, 43 inch Avg. Rainfall
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Abraham Palma wrote:I do continuous composting in bins,
does it count as cold piles?



I would consider that cold. Hot in my mind there is intentional turning and maintaining of a hot core.
 
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I use a double bin compost tumbler with large doors. I like having one active bin and one finishing bin. I have had it for over 10 years and it still works great. I also have a cold pile that isn't turned and deep mulch woodchips that compost in place. I guess we are a little of this and a little of that over here.
 
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I just built a Diego Footer 'Device for people who don't compost good'.  I also get chicken manure, household compost from the tumbler, and worm castings.
 
Posts: 32
Location: Western NC, zone 6B/7A
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Cold pile for sure! It gets turned...very occasionally. Funny enough, we do have the controversial/frowned upon (and rightly so, for the most part) electric composter from urban living days. We use it primarily for meat scraps and smaller bones to keep the wildlife from digging through the compost. We just add the electric composter "compost product" to the actual pile. It (the composter) does use quite a bit of electricity and there are charcoal filters involved (I did find refillable ones). Bears don't seem attracted to our compost pile at all, so we will likely continue doing what we are right now.
 
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I want to put together a better composting setup.

I think mine /has/ been a version of cold and Trench composting? There are some old garden beds that were dug out about 6 in to a foot* that I would toss yard clippings (and occasional kitchen scraps) when I had the bagger on the mower. Sometimes I just let it mulch. Into. I really didn't do anything else to it. Neither covered nor watered nor turned. And mostly grass clipping and occasionally leaves.

In now looking up the YT? To find out what A Diego Footer reactor is.

* years ago I dug out beds to put straw bales in for straw bale gardening. Great stuff, I didn't need to water the tomato plants. After a few years of neglect the straw bales had decomposed and collapse down into the trench that was dug.
 
pollinator
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We do a few kinds but our main is a cold compost pile. That's where the majority of the bulk I don't use as mulch goes.

Most of our food scraps go to chickens. Our compost is a mix of chicken litter, rabbit manure, grass and leaves. Before our fire we were growing mushrooms and had a ton of sawdust as well. We throw some ash in every now and then when we have a 'clean' burn. At the beginning of Spring I kind of dig out the underneath portion and stir up what has sat since last year.

The weeds I pull are invasive. Canadian Thistle, Japanese Bindweed and one of the rhizome grasses, assuming crab but unsure. Those all get submerged in water to make weed tea. I'll often add some rabbit poo for a kick.

I have a hot compost started and had great results with one before. This one is only being built/added to now as I mow and clean animal pens. I haven't started the cooking process but might have enough this week.

When I lived in the PNW I never understood why people bothered turning...it seemed we would add food and worms would work it in. A few weeks later, black gold! In this new climate it has been interesting to learn how differently things break down with less moisture. I mean, I understand the concept, but it's been fascinating to watch whole squash turn into hollow shells instead of piles of mush...




 
Deane Adams
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Timothy, I remembered to go check on my hot/cold/lazy pile and found ------- that I have a tator vine growing, its about a foot tall.  Wonder what my yield will be?

Peace
 
pollinator
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I am way too lazy to turn compost, and live in a very dry area.

I use worms for food waste and Johnson-Su bioreactor for farm waste.
 
Posts: 48
Location: Kentucky - Zone6
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Wish there was a "my chicken compost for me" option

M
 
software bot
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Last vote in apple poll was on June 10, 2024
 
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