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Help, how do I start my compost? Toplef10Help, how do I start my compost? 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Help, how do I start my compost? I22gcj10Help, how do I start my compost? 14dhcg10

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Help, how do I start my compost?

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Too Tall Tomatoes
camprn
kbb964
quiltbea
Hoggar
rowena___.
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hopeless151
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Post  hopeless151 4/25/2012, 9:33 am

Big lots had compost bins on sale a few weeks ago. I was so excited, I ran out to get on right away, got home, set it up and THEN realized that there were no instructions for actually filling it or getting it started. This is what I got...

HOW TO COMPOST-placing the composter in the sun will accelerate the speed of composting.

YOU CAN'T COMPOST-meat, fats bones, fish, dairy products, cooking oil

YOU CAN COMPOST-leaves, dry grass, weeds, garden plants, soft plant stems, fruit and vegetable matter, egg shells(crushed), tea bags, coffee grounds

WHAT KIND OF INSTRUCTIONS IS THAT?!?!?! No

I know there is alot to know about composting and it seems to get a little complicated, by what I have read, with getting the mixture correct.

Can anyone give me a simple yet effective way to get my STILL EMPTY compost bin started?
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Post  chjbr63 4/25/2012, 9:37 am

In the white search bar on the top left type in "composting 101"
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Post  rowena___. 4/25/2012, 2:18 pm

i want to reassure you that it really IS that easy. mother nature is doing it every day without any help--nobody is layering, turning, measuring--nothing. stuff just piles up and in a while it is composted.

the only reason for all the composting "rules" is to help speed the process up, and to keep animals from digging into your pile. but animals die in the wild every day, and their bodies DO decompose, with the help of the same things that will invade your composter if they are allowed to do so.

i myself do put dairy and cooking oil into my composters. i sometimes put meat or fish or bones in as well. i just put them in the middle of the composter and put the lid on.

FWIW, i have five composters--one is a tumbler, completely enclosed and elevated off the ground--one is a bin that sits directly on the ground and has vents, a lid, and a door at the bottom--two of them are big rubbermaid bins with holes drilled into the sides and bottom--and one is an old trash can that got cracked on the side. they all work, but at different speeds.

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Post  Hoggar 4/25/2012, 2:27 pm

Not to be morbid, but to just accentuate Rowena’s point, some
of the richest growing fields in Europe and America are where major battles were fought before the mechanization of war.
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Post  quiltbea 4/25/2012, 2:41 pm

Just start layering with mowed grasses, weeds, last year's leaves, kitchen scraps, shredded newspaper, coffee grounds, eggshells, what have you. Whenever you use kitchen scraps and if you don't want critters visiting and stealing the bits or to have a strong odor, cover them with dried grass or leaves. Pour on some water. Leave it til the next supply of kitchen scraps. Then do it again.

I try to keep my browns a lot more than my greens (kitchen scraps). Other than that, Mother Nature does the rest. If you can toss it with a pitchfork now and then, all the better. Aerating the pile makes it compost faster.
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Post  hopeless151 4/26/2012, 9:59 am

Thanks so much, I am starting it today. My neighbor will be happy that I am going over to get her leaves since I really don't have any!
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Post  kbb964 4/26/2012, 11:24 am

Fantastic , good luck! By next Spring you will have the most awesome 'black gold" to put in your beds!
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Post  camprn 4/26/2012, 12:50 pm

@hopeless151 wrote:

Can anyone give me a simple yet effective way to get my STILL EMPTY compost bin started?

Throw some food scraps from the kitchen into the bin. HOORAY! That's the start! cheers

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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes 4/26/2012, 2:14 pm

Try to get some manure.

Check craigslist for some sources if you don't know where farms are nearby What a Face
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Post  Chopper 4/26/2012, 5:54 pm

Start with what you have.

Next time you mow: compost bin
Saved veggie scraps and coffee grounds: compost bin
Next time you rake: compost bin
Pass horse farm and get a few bags of manure: compost bin

Start by starting. It ain't complicated. The engineers among us have taken the time to figure out optimum levels of everything. The artist I am tosses it in and waits without worrying. In time, it happens. I never even bothered to aerate or turn the pile. Sometimes I would shake blood meal into it to make sure there was plenty of fuel, but for the most part I ignored it. Compost was happening before humans, so we really only serve to goof it up.
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Post  VJ72584 4/26/2012, 6:40 pm

I was reading about composting on line today. It suggested adding a small layer of dirt in between the green and brown layers. That part is going to work well for me. I still have plenty of dirt dug out of the raised bed that I put in last year. All those lovely bags of "garden soil" that barely grew anything. My son bought me the SFG book for Christmas and I am proud to say everything is growing so well. I'm going to have to add another one next year. I think I am just going to make a bin with hardware cloth and go from there.
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Post  plantoid 4/26/2012, 7:19 pm

@VJ72584 wrote:I was reading about composting on line today. It suggested adding a small layer of dirt in between the green and brown layers. That part is going to work well for me. I still have plenty of dirt dug out of the raised bed that I put in last year. All those lovely bags of "garden soil" that barely grew anything. My son bought me the SFG book for Christmas and I am proud to say everything is growing so well. I'm going to have to add another one next year. I think I am just going to make a bin with hardware cloth and go from there.

May I sugest that you go steady on the earth soil thing . It will bind into your MM and stop it being so light & easy to work over the years .

I don't recall Mel suggesting using earth in his compost making chapters/pages. But I can see that there might be certain beneficial bacteria in it to kick start your new MM beds but not being needed ater the initail use as the beds wil develop from there on with out further input of it .

I know some folks use a compost heap that gets all garden waste put on it regardless if it has soil on it or not and it will have a soil content because of this .
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Post  yolos 4/26/2012, 8:37 pm

My understanding of the reason to put soil in the compost is because, if this is your first compost, it helps get the beneficial microbes into the mix. After your first compost pile, use a little of the first pile to start a second pile. Someone told me this is called a "starter" to help jumpstart the pile with the microbes. These same microbes are on the leaves and grass you put in the pile, but the soil helps. But putting potting soil in the compost does not seem to be helpful for adding microbes??
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Post  Hoggar 4/30/2012, 12:29 pm

Here is a good video on Composting.

Backyard Composting in the 21st Century
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