Win a copy of For the Love of Paw Paws this week in the Fruit Trees forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

Need tips for a small composting operation

 
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Friends,
I'm running a small, new composting operation in East TN. I know that the situation of my set up isn't ideal, but I'm hoping to make some improvements. The site itself has essentially been a mud pit, which is unhelpful. When I started here they had windrows that were 2/3 old (basically already composted leaves) and 1/3 wood chips. It seems to me those ratios should be switched as well as adding a better N soure. I dried using mulch rather than wood chips and using cotton seed tailings as a green, but now that it's gotten cold and wet, I can hardly get my piles above 70 F. We're not permitted yet to take food scraps and my bosses don't want to use any manures, so for now I'm confined to yard waste type raw materials. I'm thinking when I get a couple dry days that combining the rows into bigger ones would help to better insulate. Also, I use an aero master turner. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
Clare
 
gardener
Posts: 6274
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1028
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
You want the windrows to just fit the inside dimensions of the aero master first, then try to get spent coffee grounds for the nitrogen source, you will get a lot more N from them than from yard waste this time of year.
Be sure the moisture is not soaking the windrow, what you are looking for is material that feels damp but not being able to squeeze any water out with your hands.

Wood chips are more for fungi than for bacteria so the ratio of leaves to wood chip is pretty good.

Manures and food scraps are best incorporated once ambient temp is above 60 f.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
Posts: 3125
Location: Toronto, Ontario
383
hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sounds like you have it surrounded: you need more nitrogen. Are there any areas on-site that could be repurposed to grow green manures, lawn space and marginal areas and such?

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 2409
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
151
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Feedstock
Use the freshest feedstock before most of the moisture and nitrogen leaves.
I would recommend that you limit your inputs to just raminal woodchip aka woodchip from branches that are less than 2 inches thick and all of their leaves. Another idea is to reduce the amount of woodchip even more and include more grass clipping and smaller diameter yard waste. they have a lower carbon to nitrogen ration even bone dry (thing straw or hay).

Other Variable.  
Rain/Temp. If you can keep off the cold rain, the compost will be more active.
Time/Temp. Wait until Spring/Summer to do 80% of your composting and just coast thru winter.
Oxygen. Turn the piles to get enough oxygen everywhere in the system
Soil Life. Maybe you have to get he bring some soil life mix from somewhere that is doing better locally.
Water. If the compost is setting in water, you have have to dig ditches to send the water elsewhere
Elevation. You could also raise the elevation to keep the compost drier.
 
Let's go to the waterfront with this tiny ad:
A rocket mass heater heats your home with one tenth the wood of a conventional wood stove
http://woodheat.net
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!