Starting a compost pile?

nostalgicfarm(5)May 4, 2011

I have a compost pile that hasn't ever done anything. I am thinking about starting another compost pile either inside or outside the garden. I love the idea of having a HOT compost pile that has some redworms at the bottom and sides.

I have or can get the following:

chicken manure in straw

grass clippings

wood chips

My neighbor has horses, so I could get some horse manure.

And of course veggie scraps

What is the best way to get a compost pile started? How often does it need watered/turned?


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curtludwig(New England)

Oh man, such a loaded question... ;)
Mix it all together and watch it work is my general answer.

For watering it depends mostly on where you are, here in MA the answer is probably never if its in the shade as we get plenty of rain. In an arid area you might need to water but you're going to have to watch it and find out.

How often you turn depends on how soon you want compost. I run 2 piles, in the spring I turn the working pile into the resting spot, thats all the turning my pile ever gets, the following spring it'll be compost. If you want compost more quickly you'll need to turn more often. Turning will also give you a good opportunity to judge if you need to water. It'll also tell you how good your mix is, you'll judge that by smell, if its stinky put in more wood chips or straw. I try to run just to the edge of stinky, too heavy on the wood chips will take longer to make compost.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 4:12PM
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Curt-I have been throwing it all in and just watching it :) Problem is that it keeps getting higher as I throw more stuff in, instead of breaking down. I think there is even a dead cat or two in there, and hoping they will break down before the investigators come ;)
My pile is and a new one will be in the I guess I don't know how moist to keep it?
All I know at this point is that I have a lot of tools at my disposal, but am not good at this gardening stuff yet.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 8:17PM
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First of all, I'm a lazy composter, so I never do anything except for throw stuff in and wait.

However, I found the Florida composting site to be useful, and the virtual pile is fun and gives you an idea what your ratio is.

Go to:

Good luck =:)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 10:52PM
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A hot compost pile will not have worms in it, because the environment would be too hot for them and would cook those worms. A compost pile that does have worms in it would be too wet to get hot.
The best way to get started composting is to read a good tutorial (linked below) and then pile up your material with 6 inches of vegetative waste and 2 inches of animal manure in layers about 4 feet x 4 feet until that pile is 4 feet high, or keep the ratio of vegetative waste to manure (or your nitrogen source) to about 3 to 1.

Here is a link that might be useful: Online Composting tutorial

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 6:43AM
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After years of not getting a hot pile, I finally got one. Here is what I did:

Made a bin from free wood pallets (mine is just a 2 bin system).
Used my lawn mower to shred leaves and collect grass clippings (I was lazy with the fall raking in the backyard, so I had plenty of brown leaves).
Piled it as high as I could with the grass clippings and shredded leaves (probably 4 feet high)
Add water,
and, urinated on it several times (I know some folks might take issue with this, but it has worked great for me...and it brings back childhood memories).

Last week I went out on a cool, spring morning and pulled back the top few inches and saw hot steam escaping. Pretty cool moment (as far as this composting stuff goes).

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 2:07PM
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" urinated on it several times "

I have a 3 1/2 year old boy that could be trained in that direction :)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 3:19PM
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Great idea ! The 3-1/2 year old would love it.

I had a friend whose mother-in-law would let and even encourage her grandson to urinate off the front step, even if he was inside and closer to the washroom, LOL ! She had nice green plants.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 8:17PM
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I do not urinate on my compost, it works better to keep deer out of my beans & sunchokes!!!
But I bet the 3.5 will love it.
My link below is so you can see the photos of 4' X 4' X 8' bags of coffee chaff in my garden plot. See the steam(smoke) & John H. has a better photo then mine, a better every thing then mine.
Any ways, wanted you to see what the right elements will do with no help from me. The chaff is wet, then most of the water is removed & it is bagged to be sent to the Landfill.
I got it instead & it will rot to peat moss consistency in 10 to 12 months without me touching the bag. In the photos I am spreading it to smother weeds, under 14-18 inches of chaff & later turn it under to finish composting.
But get thing right & you will be rolling in compost in no time. The above posts are full of good information.:-)

Here is a link that might be useful: hot compost with no help

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 9:12PM
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