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Christian van der Stap
Posts: 12
Location: Netherlands, NB
solar urban
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I want to start creating my own compost in the backyard. For this I did research online but there are a couple of things that are not clear to me:

- Hot compost requires about 1m3 of materials a part (sources tell me about 30% of the volume) should be green. How can I "bank" enough greens to get that volume without it becoming a real mess? I saw one account of freezing the scraps but that feels like a total waste of energy.
- Why is dairy, meat and manure of meat eaters not allowed on a hot compost pile in some sources while other tell me "everything that has lived" is fine ? Since I do have a ferret pet and his litter is basically recycled newspaper it would be a great source of both carbon and nitrogen, but it is a carnivore.
- Can I create a pile on a paved surface ?
- Is the 1/3 green 2/3 brown mix a good measure of thumb to start out with ?
 
Todd Parr
Posts: 969
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Christian van der Stap wrote:I want to start creating my own compost in the backyard. For this I did research online but there are a couple of things that are not clear to me:

- Hot compost requires about 1m3 of materials a part (sources tell me about 30% of the volume) should be green. How can I "bank" enough greens to get that volume without it becoming a real mess? I saw one account of freezing the scraps but that feels like a total waste of energy.
- Why is dairy, meat and manure of meat eaters not allowed on a hot compost pile in some sources while other tell me "everything that has lived" is fine ? Since I do have a ferret pet and his litter is basically recycled newspaper it would be a great source of both carbon and nitrogen, but it is a carnivore.
- Can I create a pile on a paved surface ?
- Is the 1/3 green 2/3 brown mix a good measure of thumb to start out with ?


I don't freeze greens or anything like that.  In summer, my greens go into the compost pile, or to the chickens.  In winter, to the chickens.  If I didn't have chickens, I would just throw them in a pile outside and add carbon.  They won't do anything until spring, but that's fine with me

I compost everything except dog waste because of worms that can infest humans, and the waste from the cat box because of worms and the clumping litter turns into bricks.  I would compost my ferret litter, but I'm no expert on that.  I do compost waste from my chickens and reptiles.

I have never tried composting on a paved surface.  I would think it would work, but might take longer to get going, because it seems like a lot of the compost good guys would come from the ground.  Nothing to lose by trying it.

1/3 green and 2/3 brown will work fine.  I never get dogmatic about ratios.  Everything in nature rots.
 
Troy Rhodes
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The reason some sources recommend no meat, bones, dairy is that they may attract raccoons, possums, dogs and other scavengers.  They all compost fine and won't hurt the pile at all.

 
Tj Jefferson
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Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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I got some expired milk and put it on one of my piles. Sometimes you can get it for free from stores and use the jug as seedling protection if it is the translucent stuff.  Honestly if you have lots of carbonaceous material it will absorb and you won't even notice it. Blood is good too. These piles are a couple cubic yards/meters in size though, mostly tree leaves, so the acid in the leaves is neutralized by the milk too.
 
Jimbo Shepherd
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Location: Virginia
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1) How can I "bank" enough greens to get that volume without it becoming a real mess?  A: I bag my grass clippings from my mower and that gives me lots of greens.  you can also get some grass fed cow manure if you have access to that.
2) Why is dairy, meat and manure of meat eaters not allowed on a hot compost pile in some sources while other tell me "everything that has lived" is fine ?  A: Many folks believe that composting meat will draw rats and maggots to your pile and also make things pathogenic.  That said, people do compost whole dead animals like cows.  I think your ferret newspaper would be fine as long as you fully compost it.
3) Can I create a pile on a paved service?  A: Yes you can.  Personally I prefer to have good ground contact so earthworms can move in and help out.
4) Is the 1/3 green 2/3 brown mix a good measure of thumb to start out with? A: Sure you don't have to be exact. 


This is a really good reference for "Hot Composting": https://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/

I like using Heat Treated pallets (only use the ones marked "HT" - the others can be very toxic.  My site has an example of me hot composting using pallets at Tomahawk Permaculture

Lastly, Just go out there and do it!  Don't wory about being perfect and Happy Composting!
 
Marco Banks
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Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Bagged greens/lawn trimmings can get pretty funky pretty fast ---- they just want to turn to compost -- can you blame them?

My go-to is always coffee grounds.  I have a source where I pick up two good-sized bags a couple of times a week.  They are in plastic bags.  I just throw them out on the ground by the pile and they sit there until I'm ready to build a new pile, or re-energize a cold pile.  Used coffee grounds are a great green that you can leave in a bag or bucket for months --- very stable.  Just keep them dry, but when you are ready to use them, they'll jump-start your pile. 

A bale of alfalfa hay is also high in nitrogen, but once dried, it doesn't heat up or stink up until you re-hydrate it.  (That's why farmers work so hard to make sure their hay is dry before they put it up in the barn—they don't want it to mold or catch on fire).  Just bust the bale apart and saturate it with water, and it becomes a nice green for your compost pile.

I've heard that dried seaweed is also a great storable-green, but I've never worked with it so I don't know that from personal experience.

Urine is a green.  Pee in old milk jugs, cap them and keep it around till you are ready to use it.  Know that it'll smell like ammonia after a couple of days—don't know why.  But it's a great way to add moisture and N to your pile. 

Dried cow pies or other animal manures are also great storable greens.  I would imagine that it would only take a day or two to sun dry rabbit poop in the hot summer sun.  Horse road-apples only take a couple of days until they are very dry and non-stinky. 

My ultimate green "storage" solution is the 100 or so comfrey plants I've got growing all over the place.  Comfrey is a prolific producer.  When I'm building a pile, I get the wheel barrow and walk around with a set of hedge clippers, chop up 20 or so big comfrey plants, and incorporate that into the pile.  Instant heat.  I've never been able to dry comfrey because its so wet, it almost melts in a couple of days after you've cut it.  In our climate, it grows 12 months of the year, so I've always got a bunch of it ready to cut and use at any time.

those are a few of my ideas.

As for meat and dairy --- go ahead and use them if you build a big enough pile that is hot enough.  But as was mentioned above, you have to be prepared for rats and other vermin.  Put such food scraps right in the heart of your pile, well integrated with both drier carbon (like shredded paper) and a super hot activator (coffee grounds or comfrey).  A well-built pile will get 140 degrees within 3 days.  That'll keep the raccoons out.  They don't want to put their little snout into a hot pile of coffee grounds and human urine. 

Sure, you can build a pile on concrete or other paved surfaces.  But I like to know that whatever is leaching from the pile (compost tea of the purest sort) is dripping down into the root zone of my trees.  That's why I'm constantly moving my pile from place to place, so I can spread the goodness around.  If you build it on a driveway or sidewalk, it will likely stain the concrete. 

Sure 1/3 & 2/3 is as good a ratio as any, but be prepared to alter the mix.  If it gets stinky, more browns and give it a good mix.  If it's not heating up enough, more greens.  Actually, I'd recommend a ratio more like 1/4 greens, 3/4 browns, or even 80/20.  But I've never calculated my ratios EVER, and I don't intend to begin any time soon.  I just pile it up and keep adding more and more to it.  When I turn it, I'll assess what the pile needs.  (But I'm not making 21 day compost—I'm a slow composter).

Have fun!  What could possibly be more fun than watching biomass rot?
 
Pascal Paoli
Posts: 34
Location: North East Ohio
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Well, almost all questions have been answered.
I just thought of this video here:



It's Joel Salitan showing his compost, that he
a) has on concrete - *so if inspectors come to his farm and are worried about run off, he can show them, that there is none.
b) puts full cows in.

I also agree with Marco to not to worry to much about your ratios.

I personally love to use woodchips as carbon material.
 
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