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Anyone composting here?

How do you do it and how do you start? How long does it take to get usable soil? Have you had any problems with animals getting into the bins? Bin recommendations? Have you added earthworms? Any recommendations with them? Favorite web sites about this?

I am a complete newbe but want to try to use natural resources better and I am tired of buying potting soil.


Fri. Apr 11, 12:28pm

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I made compost for the first time this past year. I think it can be as hard or easy as you want. I am a lazy gardener so I went with easy. I bought these big wire cages about 4 feet square with a 4" wire tower in the middle (to give more air to the pile) and just put them in the far corner of my yard and filled them with leaves. I read that it would go down fast as it decomposed so I saved extra bags of leaves and added them as the pile dropped. I added grass clippings and kitchen waste throughout the year. I was surprised by how much the volume reduced. I probably could have let it compost longer as some of the leaves were not completely composted, but I needed the bins for this years leaves, so went ahead and spread the compost over my beds. It was rich and dark and full of worms.

Friday, April 11, 2008, 3:27 PM

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Yep. Always. :^ )

Carefully-layered compost (green-and-fresh layered with partially-composted, such as lawn clippings with dead leaves) composts much quicker and hotter, giving it the advantage of killing some microbes and weed seeds.

But a pile or something like that described by the previous poster will still decompose, especially if you can stir it around a bit every couple of weeks. That's how I compost, because I can't be fussing with layers and nothing ever comes in equal amounts anyway!

I've done eisena foetida composting, also (worms) and it's great once you get the hang of it. Here's what I did. I got two large Rubbermaid containers with lids, 30-gallon size or something like that; a piece of half-inch hardware cloth (this is heavy wire grid stuff sold at Home Depot and the like); and some newspapers and cardboard. I cut two large square openings in the bottoms of the Rubbermaid bins--basically cutting the bottom out, except that I left a two-inch-wide lip all around and a two-inch-wide "bridge" between one side and the other. This gave me enough of a support for the hardware cloth, which I cut to the size of the bottom of the Rubbermaid and then set inside, resting it on the lip all around and the bridge that supported the middle.

Put one container's lid upside down on the ground/floor. Put one container on top of the lid, right side up (the lid will act as a tray to catch leakage). Fill the container with shredded newspaper and cardboard for bedding. Put the second lid on top. It should rest on top of the bedding so that there's an air gap all around. The other bin is for when you want to harvest your compost.

Put the worms in the bedding.

When you have kitchen waste, dig a small hole in the bedding in one corner and put the waste in; cover it over. When you have more kitchen waste, dig a hole next to that one. Keep going, clockwise or counter, around the outside of the bin. By the time you return to your original corner, whatever you put there will be transformed, so you can dig a hole right where it was and put in new waste.

When everything starts to look like compost except for the last three or four days' worth of scraps, put the second bin right on top of the bedding, fill it with fresh bedding, put in some scraps, and put on the lid. Feed that bin for a few days. The worms will migrate up into it as they run out of quality food in the lower bin. When you start to see plenty of them around the day-old scraps (dig to check), take the lower bin out of the stack and dump it into the garden. Set it aside for the next rotation.

Saturday, April 12, 2008, 12:38 AM

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Thanks 3:27 and 12:38. Great information here! 12:38...do you worm compost inside in the winter? Any problems with that? I wonder how cold the worms can get.

Saturday, April 12, 2008, 1:33 PM

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