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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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Newbie Question #4 Toplef10Newbie Question #4 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.

Newbie Question #4 I22gcj10Newbie Question #4 14dhcg10

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Newbie Question #4

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Post  momvet 3/8/2015, 6:09 pm

Hi everyone. I apologize if this question has been addressed before but I have read most of the stuff on composting and looked at a lot of YouTube videos but am still unsure. I have always wanted to compost but my DH is a little weird about it (thinks it will smell, thinks it will attract flies, etc.). Anyway, I ended up buying a very nice compost tumbler on Craig's List. The only place I can put it doesn't get tons of sun but gets some. I put in grass clippings, dried leaves, some well-aged horse manure, some household leavings and watered it well. I had read not to turn it too often so that heat could build up but then Mel recommended turning daily so I was confused. Everything looked good but I felt I was low on browns so added some dried hay I had (I heard that the heat kills any seeds?). I also added a cup of Compost Starter. The bin is full enough (I have trouble turning it) but only about 3/4 so. Anyway, it has stayed a nice moist, and seems to be crumbling, doesn't smell bad. It certainly doesn't seem "hot" though. The leaves and hay seem to be taking a long time to break down. My questions: 1) How often should I be turning it? 2) Is there a problem with the bin not being in lots of sun? 3)how do I know if it's hot? - it doesn't steam but I only check it after I have turned it.  4) am I supposed to wet it more? It is damp and my gut tells me no, but I don't really know what I am doing. I think eventually I will have good compost but the answers to these questions would be helpful.Shocked
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Post  plantoid 3/8/2015, 6:41 pm

Hi, when using a tumbler it's best to make the filling charge the only fill session till it is turned to compost , adding more things half way into the cycle  merely extends the composting time as you have found out.


Leaves
Lots of folk run the rotaty mower over them ,even better if there is a mulcher fitted as it breaks the leaves down into small bits and helps break  up the leaf surface just that bit more .


 I don't have a tumbler anymore , for I found my home made barrel one had  far too much of a problem of weight collapsing the barrel on the rollers it was supposed to turn on .

 I currently use lidded conical open ended tubs for my composting four of them are always in the coolshade rarely every seeing any sun ... they still compost well ..the oxygen introduced as you turnn the heap /tumbler part of the food for the bacterial & fungal action  & it's these that the produce the heat


 If yo have not yet managed it perhaps looking up " The Berkeley 18 day hot composting method " .. in the document there is several list & links to lists that explain in great detail the balance of the greens & browns as well as lists of things you can use to make the composts .
 It matters not that you use the tumbler to turn the material  or a heap with a fork the end result is very much the same.
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Post  sanderson 3/9/2015, 2:39 am

Momvet, Using a rolling composter and building a compost cage are a little different. The rolling container can be (1) turned over daily, (4) checking moisture every few days, allowing oxygen in. The volume is smaller than a cage so the (3) temps will be warm, not hot like the Berkeley hot method. Chop, mow, shred for finer particles. (2) Sun or shade.

I bought the following book online: The Complete Compost Gardening Book, by Barbara Pleasant & Deborah L. Martin.

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Post  plantoid 3/9/2015, 5:57 am

+ 1 Wink
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Post  camprn 3/9/2015, 6:59 am

If you can get fresh cow or horse manure that will get the heat going. Or a good sprinkle of dried blood will do the same.

If its hot you'll know it.

Moisture level should be on par with a damp sponge, not sopping wet.

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Post  sanderson 3/9/2015, 11:56 am

camprn wrote:If you can get fresh cow or horse manure that will get the heat going. Or a good sprinkle of dried blood will do the same.
+1 I forgot to mention using fresh manure instead of well-aged manure. Also, a little bit of blood meal.

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