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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.

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To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

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Post  trolleydriver 10/26/2015, 4:58 pm

Yup, it has given me a push to do more composting. You can read about and see what I did today by looking at my post in my "A First Time SFG in Canada" thread. Here is a quick peek. As you can see my composting operation is quite small.

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Post  CapeCoddess 10/26/2015, 5:03 pm

New pile started yesterday: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question... - Page 2 01411

'Holding pile' that was waiting on the leaves these last few months and is now getting layered into the new pile: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question... - Page 2 01113

This is my finished pile that was started last fall.  I'll be spreading it about once all the beds are finished for the season and cleared out: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question... - Page 2 01311

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Post  Scorpio Rising 10/26/2015, 5:41 pm

I posted a pic of my little pile under N&C Midwest thread, along with my sleepy beds! Nice piles all!
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Post  sanderson 10/26/2015, 5:43 pm

Fun looking at everyone's compost piles!

Zmoore, one of these should solve your "problem."  :  http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=cup+holder+photos&qpvt=cup+holder+photos&qpvt=cup+holder+photos&FORM=IGRE

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Post  Scorpio Rising 10/26/2015, 5:55 pm

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OK, hope this works! My meager pile...might stage mine, I just keep adding, think I need a new and mature pile maybe?
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Post  Marc Iverson 10/27/2015, 1:40 am

stage?
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 10/27/2015, 1:57 am

Due to a recent back injury that exposed some degenerative disk disease going on, I'm reduced to passive composting.

Here's how I'm doing it.

I have a lot more garden space than I use at any one time - I simply am piling about 12-24 inches of material on top of beds that I'm resting.  I have a large population of red wiggler worms and they simply do the work of turning it in for me.  One benefit of this kind of composting is that when it rains, it isn't wasting material, it's just going right into the ground where it's going to be used.  When spring roles around it's rich, loamy and ready to plant.  Because I'm not getting the high temps to burn up seeds, I do get a bit of hay growing and some other weeds, but nothing too hard to deal with.  I'm also very careful to keep any diseased material out of the mix.

For my table tops, I have a large cold compost pile that has been sitting for a year now and I'm pulling from it.  I'm going to have to work hard to get that replenished and I'm not sure how well that's going to happen.  So far I seem to be okay to go gather my fresh cow manure and bedding.  I'm doing one large wheelbarrow load every day or two to rest my back, yet still get good exercise.  I just need to be careful not to do any further damage so I probably shouldn't be turning a large pile every other day as I've done the last 3 years or so.
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Post  sanderson 10/27/2015, 4:36 am

SR, I'm thinking it might to be good to build one pile, then start a second one. The date of starting to compost for the first one would be the last day of additions. It should be ready next spring or summer. Meanwhile, you have a second pile to toss things in.

Audrey, Take care with the wheel barrow exercise. I have one finished cage (1/2) for the SFG, the usual hot compost method. I started a second cage for the flower beds. I'm tossing scraps, used hay, leaves, lawn clippings, coffee grounds and horse manure in it. I used the manure fork and found worms in the bottom already. bounce I'm really looking forward to improving the flower beds (everything that isn't a sfg box or lawn). Feeding the soil and it's critters.

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Post  Scorpio Rising 10/27/2015, 7:43 am

Yes, that is what I was thinking on the "staging" thing, one that is just "cooking" and one that I am actively adding to. The one cooking would be ready by Summer I think, and the other then hopefully by Fall. When I use the Summer pile, the Fall pile becomes the "cooking" pile and the other becomes the actively adding to pile.

Audrey, take care! Ouch!
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Post  jimmy cee 10/27/2015, 10:33 am

I chopped up these discarded veggies using  my poor mans shredder.
Dug a hole in my working compost pile.
Added shredded veggies and covered with about 6 inches of stuff from the bottom.
In 2 days it's very hot, just on the upper new matter I added...and still working below.
I've been doing this quite frequently and it seems to be working nicely for me.
I do keep my pile aerated with wings about twice a week...
Leads me to believe a compost pile is like your garden, do not forget it's there..
And it isnt easy.
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Post  sanderson 10/27/2015, 1:48 pm

Jimmy, I've been meaning to ask how you keep from chopping a hole in the bottom of the bucket.

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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 10/27/2015, 2:00 pm

I have three "piles" in various stages of composting in this picture.  The newest was yesterday's work and was at 120 degrees this morning.  There is a section in the pasture where the cows are fed and it's about 6 inches deep in left over hay straw, cow urine and manure that has been there for 6 months to a year.  There will still be seeds in it but it's nicely begun to break down already.  

It's closest to the camera on this side of the volunteer sunflower (this variety will have about 20-30 flowers on it soon).  The next pile is about a month old (from right before my back injury) and the farthest is about 2 months old.  It was Berkley hot composted until my back went out.  This entire garden will be covered with probably 6 inches of new soil/compost when it's all done in the spring.

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Post  trolleydriver 10/27/2015, 3:44 pm

Questions from a newbie:

I just collected 3 bags of leaves from my neighbours front lawn and took another 4 bags from the next two neighbours for a total of 7 bags.  I can't use all of this in my composting bins right now.

Q1.  Can I store the leaves over the winter in the yard bags or on the ground covered by a tarp?

Q2. Can I put some of the leaves on top of the SFG boxes for the winter?  I'll be planting garlic and tulips in a few days and perhaps the leaves will add some protection from the winter conditions.

Q3. Should I shred them now with the lawnmower or keep them whole for storage and/or winter mulch?

Q4. Some of the leaves are from an oak tree.  The one neighbour said they will be a bit on the acid side. Will they be OK for composting?
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Post  CapeCoddess 10/27/2015, 3:47 pm

trolleydriver wrote:Questions from a newbie:

I just collected 3 bags of leaves from my neighbours front lawn and took another 4 bags from the next two neighbours for a total of 7 bags.  I can't use all of this in my composting bins right now.

Q1.  Can I store the leaves over the winter in the yard bags or on the ground covered by a tarp?

Q2. Can I put some of the leaves on top of the SFG boxes for the winter?  I'll be planting garlic and tulips in a few days and perhaps the leaves will add some protection from the winter conditions.

Q3. Should I shred them now with the lawnmower or keep them whole for storage and/or winter mulch?

Q4. Some of the leaves are from an oak tree.  The one neighbour said they will be a bit on the acid side. Will they be OK for composting?

1) yes
2) yes
3) if you have the time & energy, why put it off. You can mulch with mowed leaves.
4) yes, oak is about all I have.
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Post  trolleydriver 10/27/2015, 4:36 pm

Thanks for the answers CC.
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Post  Scorpio Rising 10/27/2015, 5:39 pm

Wow, this is very helpful. After looking at all the various composting pics, I don't think I am chopping my stuff up (garden debris) enough to help the pile heat up. Your piles are much more homogeneous looking, mine has easily identifiable items in there....

And I have GOT to have a camo tarp! Walmart? TSC?
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Post  trolleydriver 10/27/2015, 5:53 pm

I put my hand into the middle of the new compost pile that I set up just yesterday and found that it is already heating up even though the outside temperature was well below freezing last night. Looking good so far.
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Post  jimmy cee 10/27/2015, 10:40 pm

sanderson wrote:Jimmy,  I've been meaning to ask how you keep from chopping a hole in the bottom of the bucket.
These were commercial buckets I've had for 30 years. The only harm to them comes from the sun. I have drain holes in many of them..Slowly they are starting to fade out, however after 30 years of abuse, I would be too.
When I chop I try for the bottom, gets harder to do though every year...wonder why ?
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Post  jimmy cee 10/27/2015, 10:44 pm

trolleydriver wrote:I put my hand into the middle of the new compost pile that I set up just yesterday and found that it is already heating up even though the outside temperature was well below freezing last night. Looking good so far.
Dont need to put your hand in, run a metal rod down into the pile, let it set a minute, pull it out and feel if it's warm, hot, or cold.
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Post  jimmy cee 10/27/2015, 10:48 pm

trolleydriver wrote:Questions from a newbie:

I just collected 3 bags of leaves from my neighbours front lawn and took another 4 bags from the next two neighbours for a total of 7 bags.  I can't use all of this in my composting bins right now.

Q1.  Can I store the leaves over the winter in the yard bags or on the ground covered by a tarp?

Q2. Can I put some of the leaves on top of the SFG boxes for the winter?  I'll be planting garlic and tulips in a few days and perhaps the leaves will add some protection from the winter conditions.

Q3. Should I shred them now with the lawnmower or keep them whole for storage and/or winter mulch?

Q4. Some of the leaves are from an oak tree.  The one neighbour said they will be a bit on the acid side. Will they be OK for composting?
I gather as many bags of leaves as I can, mostly maple and oak. I stuff as much as I can in a bag, and I do mean stuff...Let them set till next late spring or early summer. One bag at a time I open, remove contents and let dry..Then I'll shred them in a barrel with my weed whacker before adding to compost pile.
I have a friend who gets a truckload of towns leaves, already shredded going through the suction up fan.
They sit in a pile and is ready when he plants potato's next spring.
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Post  jimmy cee 10/27/2015, 11:08 pm

audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:I have three "piles" in various stages of composting in this picture.  The newest was yesterday's work and was at 120 degrees this morning.  There is a section in the pasture where the cows are fed and it's about 6 inches deep in left over hay straw, cow urine and manure that has been there for 6 months to a year.  There will still be seeds in it but it's nicely begun to break down already. 

Nice looking pile...
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Post  sanderson 10/28/2015, 3:18 am

One reason to go ahead and chop/mow the leaves now is that you will get a better idea of if you have collected enough for the size pile(s) you plan to build. I have home made cages for storing leaves. When I built a pile this summer, I thought one cage (3' x 2' x 30") would be enough with all the other stuff I was going to add. But when husband mowed the leaves, I ended up with a much smaller pile and had to use both cages. Shredding compacts the volume.

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Post  Zmoore 10/28/2015, 8:21 am

Wow!  This turning out to be fun, love all the comments and pictures.

Jimmy, fess up, where do you get your produce from?  Besides your own garden stuff.  I'm assuming you don't grow bananas in Indiana and I saw a produce sticker on one of the tomatoes. Is all that just waste from your own house and garden or do you have a source?  
I'm just wondering if you have any hints for getting a source for veggie waste.  I tried my local grocery store awhile back and they already have a system for getting rid of their left over produce, sounded like a commercial composter gets it.  
Besides my own stuff I've managed to be able to get coffee grounds from local Starbucks, they have a "first come first serve" policy, so I'm able to get some once in awhile.  It's not a constant supply, but a nice little boost once in awhile.
A little less in amount, I get some stuff from my office.  I was able to bring in what I call a "slop bucket" to work.  It's about a 2 gallon bucket I sit next to trash can in kitchen area, with duct tape on it that says "coffee grounds and filters".  Now people just dump the coffee grounds from office coffee maker in that instead of the trash can each week.  Bonus, occasionally people bring a banana or apple to work for a snack and they'll throw peels in their for me too.  OH!  and we have an office paper shredder.  I raid that once in awhile for a few handfuls of shredded paper.  Hey, it saves the office in cost for trash bags Smile  Haven't had to replace the trash bag in the shredder all year because I keep reaching in and taking paper out once in awhile.  
I have a neighbor who has horses and they were kind enough to allow me to come over and grab manure whenever I want.  I get buckets of manure and sawdust bedding whenever I want. 
Leaves from my own yard is fine.  I have trees, lots of trees.  However, While it is plenty of leaves as far as I'm concerned I do use it all up in a year.  Like now, leaves are starting to fall and I'm ready for them, used up all I got last year.
Anyway, I rant,  
So, I have a little bit of a "supply" chain, but I'd like to add a little more if I can and more vegetable/food "greens" is something I'd like to get a hold of.  Suggestions?  Maybe a type of business I haven't thought of asking yet.
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Post  jimmy cee 10/28/2015, 8:51 am

ZMoore

In my town there are quite a few chain grocery stores, I was lucky when starting SFG to get all stuff from one just 5 blocks from me. Due to personnel change that was lost to me.
The shop I am dealing with now refused me at first, again a personnel change helped me with that store.
Photographs of my vegetables, along with compost bins has helped me also.
I am in the area frequently so I stop in when passing by, sometimes it's good and I get lots, sometimes they have nothing.
Same with Starbucks, I stop in when passing by, however I purchased 2 good size heavy duty cloth shopping bags from Central Tractor, They now know me when I come in and just empty out all of their containers into my shopping bag.
This keeps them from having to bag and seal used grinds.

Horse manure is great, I go to a stable to get some, chicken and turkey manures are great for composting, I'm certain you know them all.
What I'm meaning is, it's all about hustling to get what one needs. Get to know those folk, with a little luck it comes along.
Right now, I am satisfied with what I am doing for composting, that could change, then I go on the prowl again...
Good Luck
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 10/28/2015, 11:38 am

We composters are SCAVENGERS par excellence!!!  You guys reminded me that I need to get to my church coffee shop and trade out my 5 gallon bucket :-)

I get about 2 gallons a week of coffee grounds there - during the big fires I got TONS of coffee grounds as the fire camp was right next to our church and we became a hang out hub for the guys.
audrey.jeanne.roberts
audrey.jeanne.roberts

Posts : 1918
Join date : 2012-12-07
Location : Central Calif Mtns.

http://audreyjeanne-roberts.artistwebsites.com

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