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Recommended Composters

Posted by blessedfrog texas (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 26, 09 at 23:10

Hi - I fear I am walking a 'commercial promotion' line of fire here

But ~

I am looking at all those gizmos that you put your kitchen scraps into and they turn into nutrient rich soil

Does anyone have any recommendations?

I live on a half acre (almost) and have TONS TONS TONS of veggie kitchen scraps and lawn mowing clippings

If anyone has one and can offer some advice or kudos for one or the other - please offer it

My grandad used to compost himself in wired in spaces but I can't really do that as I am in a very urban setting

THANKS :)


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Recommended Composters

I compost in wooden bins on a small urban lot. I find it difficult to understand that you cannot find a spot on 1/2 acres to put up acceptable compost bins. Here is a link to the construction of the bins I use. These bins are also used in school composting projects.

Here is a link that might be useful: Compost Bins


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RE: Recommended Composters

The FAQ here has details on several types of composters you can read about. They all have advantages and disadvantages and there is another FAQ too called What type of composting is best for me? that might help.

tons of veggie kitchen scraps and lawn mowing clippings

Do you also have a ready supply of brown/carbon materials like straw or fall leaves, cardboard, etc. to mix with all those greens/nitrogen sources? Otherwise you may want to consider Vermicomposting instead. Just a suggestion.

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting FAQs


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RE: Recommended Composters

Hi cowgirl - I guess I was just enthralled with the enclosed systems because I tried a compost in a wired in cylander last summer - right after we moved in - and everyone's dog was digging in it - sniffing it - clawing at it and the neighbors said they saw rats so i was a little chastened about it - of course I wasn't too knowledgable about the right methods - just sort of did it

I will take a peek at your wooden bin instructions

Hi Dave - oh ok - hmmm - I saw something on another thread here about a mix of browns and greens - I will look up vermicomposting -


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RE: Recommended Composters

Very few, if any, of the commercial "composters" have enough volume to make enough compost for your gardens. Far better and much less expensive is to build you own and the least expensive method is to simply pile up your material to compost since a bin, or container, is not necessary, no matter what the ads may try to tell you.


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rotating ones

Oh yes - on Dave's FAQ's - the caveat:

Rotating Tumbler
Tumblers advertise quick and easy compost but often beginners have problems with them. For best results, tumblers require filling at one time, and carefully measuring the moisture and green/brown ingredients. They are a poor choice to start with unless you are willing to devote considerable effort to monitoring the inputs. After some experiance you may choose to add a tumbler as an addition to your efforts.

I guess I will keep it simple

oh ok Kimmsr - so they are more fun in the commercial than in actual practice

When y'all are composting - do you just throw the coffee filter in with the grounds?

I still have what I composted (or as my MIL says - trash I threw in the back yard) from last summer - is it ok to just add that to my flower beds or must it all be pure soil?


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RE: Recommended Composters

I use 2 biostack bins and would recommend them highly.

My husband thinks a bin looks lees objectionable in our suburban yard than a pile of rotting garbage. My neighbors probably agree. With 2 of these I can customize the size of 2 stacks. Here the smaller stack of 2 tiers is holding almost finished stuff while the taller stack of 4 tiers containes the hot, actively composting stuff.
compost

Karen

Here is a link that might be useful: biostack bin


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RE: Recommended Composters

That is a nice set up Karen.

Yes I guess I can do an old fashioned compost -
Some of the neighbors just made comments last year
and so I recoiled a bit. But I suppose I could build a clean wall around it or plant some bushes around it.

My grandad had his in the woods behind his house.


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bins

I find it difficult to understand that you cannot find a spot on 1/2 acres to put up acceptable compost bins

oh and it hadn't occured to me to build a wooden one.


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RE: Recommended Composters

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 27, 09 at 9:59

Too many unknown parameters for moi to make a recommendation on a type of system to use. I would recommend seeing if there are any compost demonstration sites in your area that have the different methods on display and talking to the folks that maintain them.

Absent a demo site, there are lots of pictures available online. If you absolutely know what you don't want to have, it can help with the decision.

Lloyd


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RE: Recommended Composters

To keep rats out, you have to raise the floor off the ground. There are no rats in Alberta but we still use the design with the floor since it makes each unit self-standing and portable.


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RE: Recommended Composters

  • Posted by ajpa z6 se PA (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 27, 09 at 10:43

Karen, that looks so neat. What is the biostack's structure inside? Is it just basically plastic frames that stack on each other, with a cover? Is there a bottom? Do you mix/turn the compost manually with that rake?

Thanks!
aj


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RE: Recommended Composters

OH hey - just doing some research

If anyone is in Fort Worth Texas as I am

Evidently the FW Botanic Gardens have a huge compost and weirdly produce more than they can utilize so one can have all they wish FREE - load it and take it home


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RE: Recommended Composters

ajpa: Those bins are made of 3 separate bottomless tiers. To turn, you lift off the top tier, put it on the ground next to itself, and fork in material from the bin. When that's full, add the 2nd tier to the new stack and fill, then the bottom one. That's a 10 tine fork that I use, not a rake in the picture.

Karen


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RE: Recommended Composters

  • Posted by ajpa z6 se PA (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 27, 09 at 15:27

Thanks Karen!
(oops, fork, my bad)


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RE: Recommended Composters

Karen -
hi :)

how long from apple cores + banana peels to ready to use soil?

Do you have an estimate or does it just vary/

thanks


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RE: Recommended Composters

It varies so much. First, I don't compost for about 3 months in winter. I fill the bins then put them to sleep around late Nov or early Dec., then get back to it around late Feb or early March. If I'm getting weekly grass clippings to heat it up and keep aerating I guess I turn a batch around 3 to 4 months. I usually do use some straw, and that's the stubborn ingredient that takes longest to disappear. It's generally still identifiable when I spread the compost, everything else looks like soil. Sometimes I screen it before spreading, but not always.

And usually I use a system as above, where after several hot cycles the stuff looks pretty good. Then I flip it what looks about ready into the second bin. With each flip there will be a layer that looks pretty good, that gets flipped to bin 2 to sit a while. I'm happy with that system and it allows me to make and use my compost about 3 to 4 times per year.

Karen


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RE: Recommended Composters

oh ok

thanks so much

for the information

I am eager to learn

thanks karen :)


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RE: Recommended Composters

I use a similar black plastic 'composter' which is basically 4 sides with a cover. I put all the kitchen 'stuff' year round into it occasionally throwing in some leaves etc to cover the paper towels etc. I even put a little shredded junk mail in from time to time. I can not fill get it to fill up, even when I had houseguests (5 of us eating and producing trash). It composts too rapidly.
You could also use a plastic garbage can with a lid..just cut out the bottom. Maybe you will find a damaged one a neighbor is throwing out.

One word about tumblers. I bought one used a few years ago and love it. I had no illusions and didn't expect it to work as advertised producing tons of compost in a 2 weeks etc. I use the contents of one of my bigger compost piles as a base and add some grass clippings to start a batch. And it is easier than turning big piles of compost with a shovel.


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RE: Recommended Composters

Here is the one I use. But these are a bit pricey.
Photobucket


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RE: Recommended Composters

I use the Garden Gourmet composters. I have a small city lot and they line up nicely in the side yard. They are attractive and out of the way and they keep everything nicely contained.

And my friend Greg thinks they look like alien technology! :)

http://www.gardengourmet.com/


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RE: Recommended Composters

I have 3 of the black plastic tumblers. I'm in a urban area and don't want stinky compost bothering my neighbors. 2 of them were bought at Tractor Supply. They are nice large ones for about $150 each.


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RE: Recommended Composters

Soil Saver compost bin available at Sam's Club for (get this) only

$39.99


Basically you get a bin that looks great and is 1/3 of the price of a BIO-STACK. I own 3 of these, as well as 3 Earth Machines. The Soil Saver's are better without question.


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RE: Recommended Composters

wow

thanks for the ideas


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RE: Recommended Composters

A cheap compost bin I use is a plastic 55gal drum....actually 4 or 5 .....cut the tops out , just leave the rim for strength , then cut a hole the same in the bottom , leave the rim also....then every foot up , all the way around I drill 1/2in holes , so 3 rows of holes with 10 to 12 holes.....I just add my kitchen waste , lawn mowing , lawn vacuum/shredder waste , cow manure , sawdust , wood chips etc in layers , until it fills the 1st barrel , let sit and start filling the second , usually takes a month to fill one , and it starts shrinking the whole time I'm filling....when you get one or two full , just turn one over and dump the contents , then shovel into another barrel or combine two into one , it's continuous and there is less turning and labor....usually 3 months to get 55gals worth.....I got my barrels free , but I've seen them for $10.00 each at different places.....just add a little water now and then....cheap and easy.....Rick


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RE: Recommended Composters

Well, I have a few suggestions. I bought two 'gizmos' and your word is a good one. The first was a square black plastic compost bin ($65), and the second was a $350 tumbler.

I would not recommend either one, nor any manufactured product.
First they cost too much for what you get, and many are harder to use than advertising would suggest.

I have eight mesh bins; they cost about $15 to make and take two minutes to put up. (The tumbler took me three hours to assemble, [box thought user could assemble it in two hours]). They are four feet in diameter and 24" high. I found it easier to turn these bins with a fork than to turn the tumbler.

A second advantage of a big bin over a tumbler or a small bin is problematic ingredients. When I add smelly stuff like fish parts to the core of my 130+F pile, there are no concerns about odors and pests. They dissolve in less than ten days, and the dog does not even notice the odor. But you are rotating a tumbler every day and the smelly stuff does not stay in the center.


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RE: Recommended Composters

the smelly stuff does not stay in the center.

Very interesting point you make!


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RE: Recommended Composters

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 10, 09 at 19:41

Finished my nap....

Wouldn't the same principle apply? Put the smelly stuff into the middle of the hot compost in the tumbler and don't tumble for X number of days? Or tumble then throw a few handfuls of C materials back on top to suppress any odors. BTDT.

Each system has pros/cons and each user has to determine what is a pro or con depending on their own situation hence my suggestion to look around the neighborhood.

No rat can get into any of my tumblers but they sure as heck dug into one of the windrows. Doesn't mean I will use either one exclusively, each has its merits.

I would never go so far as to say I would not recommend any manufactured product. Once again, kinda absolutist in my mind. Had I tried a certain device, I might be willing to say it did or didn't work for me for whatever reason.

Lloyd


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RE: Recommended Composters

When I put smelly fish parts in the 130F core of my 48" wide and 24" high mesh bin, it dissolves in 10 days without being turned. I did not put fish in the tumbler, the fruit and veggie waste stuff smelled strong enough.

The larger size of the mesh bin seemed to store and retain the core heat better than the small tumbler.

If I can get enough fish at one time this spring, I'll try a experiment and put them in both composters. The tumbler center bar rusted thru after three years, so it might fall apart, but I'll give it a try.


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RE: Recommended Composters

blessedfrog-Can you give me more info about the botanic gardens compost? point of contact, phone, etc. I'm in the Benbrook area and have a trailer and shovel and love "free".


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