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trash can compost  RSS feed

 
Posts: 56
Location: Zone 7a, Paulden, AZ
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I chatted with someone today with a compost idea that was new to me.  She drills holes in trash cans (presumably plastic kitchen type) and puts them in her garden beds.  Then, she put her compost directly in the trash cans and fills them with water to water the bed.  Has anyone here tried anything like that?  It reminded me of the worm towers people were doing awhile back.  Would it actually compost or would it be too wet?  Would it really filter down into all the soil if your not spreading and turning it into the bed?

Bonnie
 
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Hi Bonnie,
I have tried a very similar version of this, I had seen a technique on a website where the guy grew his tomatoes around the can, and then used a large circle of wire remesh around all of it to act like a giant cage. Didn't work for me, I drilled the holes according to his specs, "planted" the can to the recommended depth, and the water ran out of the can so fast, it made all the ground right near it a soupy mess, and it was difficult to get at it to fill because of the remesh cage. The stuff didn't compost well, that was part my fault from not being able to access it and give it much attention, but it just kind of decomposed till I took down the cage and cut the dying tomatoes back at the end of the season, I dumped it back into my regular composter. I have now turned those bins into planters for potatoes. Maybe it would have worked better if I had easier access to it, and if I had drilled really tiny holes, maybe my soil is vastly different than his and accepted the water a lot faster. Good luck if you try it, you'll have to let everyone know if it works for you.
Denise
 
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I tried something like that last winter in the greenhouse and had a similar problem.  The water just ran out of the can too fast.  I was thinking if I buried half of it, it might work better.  But then I made a keyhole garden which is a raised bed around a compost bin. 
 
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Here is a link to Whole Foods Market where they show how to make one.  They don't say anything about putting it in the garden and using it to water plants.  The watering method reminds me of compost tea.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/make-trash-can-composter
 
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Then, she put her compost directly in the trash cans and fills them with water to water the bed.  Has anyone here tried anything like that?  It reminded me of the worm towers people were doing awhile back.  Would it actually compost or would it be too wet? 

  Sounds like a recipe for facultative anaerobes, which isn't terrible, but not ideal... not really composting things properly, but it could be useful for people to experiment with.   By filling the bin with water, I would imagine the 'compost' or compostables are likely floating around and then the bin rapidly drains and flushes the surfaces of the compostables clean, giving a good dump of bacteria to the surrounding garden, but that leaves all of the compostables wet, rather than damp.  Damp is ideal for composting, wet is not.  Wet will cause anaerobe to flourish, whereas you want aerobic bacteria to flourish.  Even if you are adding a lot of straw and other carbon which will absorb moisture, allow for air spaces, and generally balance the system, the system will likely not provide your best bang for the buck when it comes to compost to plant growth.  I really like the keyhole garden bed idea that R Ranson posted.  That I think would be preferable.  Skip the trash can.    
 
Bonnie Kuhlman
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Location: Zone 7a, Paulden, AZ
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Thanks for all the replies.  This was about what I suspected, but I appreciate hearing from you all.  I don't think I'll try it.  I think I'll keep my compost where it is, letting my chickens help work it

Bonnie
 
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The trash can method being talked about does not work as advertised.
It will, however, work super if instead of waste you substitute finished compost.
This makes it a great way to introduce compost supernate and microorganisms.
Think of this method more as a giant Olla set up and you won't be disappointed.

Redhawk
 
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I've done something similar to what Redhawk is describing:

finished vermicompost from worm bin (where all kitchen scraps go)
good sized clay pot, buried to just below the lip of the pot
add vermicompost, then water directly into the pot.


I have very thick, clay-ey soil and live in a more arid region, so the pot helps me water and water deeply without splashing on the surface or losing much to evaporation.This method also inoculates the soil with great microbiology.

I find it drains pretty quick (under a minute), but I'm okay with that. For one it ensures no anaerobic conditions arise in the pot. For another, a pot is small enough that filling it never swamps out my garden bed.

I do remove the compost after this (dump it on the surface of the garden bed, cover with mulch)
 
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