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New SFG box-Humanitarian way

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Post  Roseinarosecity 12/3/2017, 1:01 pm

I'm going to start a new SFG box but I want to try the humanitarian way, as described on page 187 of the ANSFG book, with straight compost.  I'm interested to know if anyone has done it this way and what has been your experience.

My box was built yesterday in a location that used to be my leaf compost location, but because I cut down my 30 foot, 30 plus year old avocado tree, I now get too much sun to keep it a compost location.

All the compost will be made in the box.  I am gathering leaves, coffee grounds, dairy manure, eggshells, old pumpkins, my harvest greens, like my failed fall corn stalks.  I'm considering adding some type of temporary "wall" to hold all the compost material in the 4'x4' box.  I think I'm going to need 4 feet high wall to hold the material.  It is fall now, so I'm thinking the timing is going to help with gathering material and cool temperatures and hopefully rain.

If you have ever done this, do you have any advice?
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Post  countrynaturals 12/3/2017, 1:33 pm

I'm doing something similar with leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, and rabbit poo, but I'm just adding ingredients right now, so I'm too new to offer advice. Good luck. I'm sure some of the experts will weigh in, soon. geek
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Post  BeetlesPerSqFt 12/3/2017, 1:45 pm

I tried to make compost in a 4x8 bed. It didn't work out because
1. I couldn't stack it high enough without it just slumping in to the paths - so: Yes, you will need a temporary wall -
and
2. I couldn't turn it, even though it wasn't anywhere near the volume it should have been. I was probably doing it wrong, since I actually have no idea how one is actually supposed to turn compost, but I was unable to use fork or shovel to actually lift up portions of it. The shovel wouldn't penetrate the layers of leaves and the fork wouldn't bring anything significant out with it - just some larger leaf pieces it speared, then the rest of whatever was on top would just fall between the tines as I lifted. I took a few stabs at it (literally, I think all I managed was stabbing the pre-compost) and gave up. This is probably where my vole problem started - once I abandoned it, they thought I built them a giant nest box. The whole mess of mulched leaves, pulled weeds, grass clippings, food waste, horse manure, and coffee grounds eventually settled enough that I was able to just add my 6" of MM on top of the compacted but mostly unchanged composting materials in my 8" bed and move on. (I have a compost tumbler now and I'm MUCH happier with that -- way, way, easier to turn the compost, no voles...)
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Post  Roseinarosecity 12/3/2017, 10:38 pm

Here's the bed:
New SFG box-Humanitarian way New_ra10

I was thinking of putting old logs around the bottom edge of the bed to hold in some water.  Is this a good idea?
New SFG box-Humanitarian way Logs_o10
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Post  sanderson 12/4/2017, 3:15 am

Nice looking box!

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Post  countrynaturals 12/4/2017, 4:18 pm

Roseinarosecity wrote:I'm going to start a new SFG box but I want to try the humanitarian way, as described on page 187 of the ANSFG book, with straight compost.  
I have the 2nd edition ANSFG. Humanitarian is on p. 200, but it doesn't give any details. It just says you can do it with straight compost when peat and vermiculite aren't available.

I'm layering mine and not trying to turn it at all. Next spring I'll probably add a thin layer of MM or well-mixed, aged compost from my regular heap to plant in. (My bed is 12" high.)
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Post  trolleydriver 12/4/2017, 4:46 pm

For the record, I started a new 3x6 bed a few weeks ago. I just put down a layer of cardboard then layers of compostable greens and browns. I am hoping it will compost down without any turning and I will be able to plant in it next year. The height was about 3 feet when I created it and the temperature got up to at least 140F at the core. There is regular soil below the cardboard, so maybe this will be more like old style SFG when finished. It's just another one of my experiments.
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Post  Roseinarosecity 12/4/2017, 7:08 pm

BeetlesPerSqFt wrote:I tried to make compost in a 4x8 bed.
A 4x8 seems like a big pile to control.  My new bed ended up being 4' x 4' 3".  The depth is 11 1/4"

I thought about creating a wall with cardboard being held up with garden stakes but if it does rain the cardboard will fall apart.  I used to have a compost there made out of bird netting and 6' garden stakes but my pitchfork kept pulling up the netting when I turned it over and the dog kept pushing it in to get to the banana or pineapple peelings and the chicken manure.

I need to think about this wall to hold the compost stuff; meanwhile, I'll continue collecting compostable material.
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Post  Roseinarosecity 12/4/2017, 7:09 pm

trolleydriver wrote:For the record, I started a new 3x6 bed a few weeks ago. I just put down a layer of cardboard then layers of compostable greens and browns. I am hoping it will compost down without any turning and I will be able to plant in it next year. The height was about 3 feet when I created it and the temperature got up to at least 140F at the core. There is regular soil below the cardboard, so maybe this will be more like old style SFG when finished. It's just another one of my experiments.

Keep us posted to see how many inches of compost you get.
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Post  trolleydriver 12/4/2017, 7:19 pm

Roseinarosecity wrote:
trolleydriver wrote:For the record, I started a new 3x6 bed a few weeks ago. I just put down a layer of cardboard then layers of compostable greens and browns. I am hoping it will compost down without any turning and I will be able to plant in it next year. The height was about 3 feet when I created it and the temperature got up to at least 140F at the core. There is regular soil below the cardboard, so maybe this will be more like old style SFG when finished. It's just another one of my experiments.

Keep us posted to see how many inches of compost you get.
It's going to be a few months before I'll know the results. I covered it with a tarp but now I am wondering if I should leave it open to the elements (i.e., mainly many feet of snow coming over the next few months plus some freeze/thaw cycles).
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Post  Scorpio Rising 12/4/2017, 7:29 pm

I don’t know, but my compost just doesn’t cook like some folks.  For one thing, I ignore it.  I just wanna go out and put stuff on there and come out in March and spoon it on the beds...so therefore, all the weed seeds just go nuts. 

I will be really interested in what you guys have happen!  

My boxes are dirt underneath, too.  to fill them I lay down cardboard, but that lasts at best 2 summers.
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Post  trolleydriver 12/4/2017, 7:48 pm

Here is my in-place composting bed. If it doesn't work out as I would like then I have options available such as sifting the material to take out the composted stuff for use in this or other SFG beds then use the left overs as a top dressing or recycle them in one of my compost bins. I have not yet put boards around the new bed. I plan on doing that in the Spring.

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Post  Scorpio Rising 12/4/2017, 7:51 pm

I gotta get some leaves on mine and tarp it, but my compost pile is similar.
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Post  countrynaturals 12/5/2017, 3:12 pm

Here's mine. It's 12" deep, 3x5, with my first ANSFG with MM in the background -- radishes showing. I've added leaves and rabbit poo twice, but it packs down almost as fast as I add stuff, so there's still plenty of room for more. I won't be tarping mine. I'll let Nature do her thing. Razz Something has been digging in it (back center) but there's nothing to find, so whatever it is can't do any damage, now.
New SFG box-Humanitarian way Ansfg610
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Post  countrynaturals 12/5/2017, 3:18 pm

Scorpio Rising wrote:I don’t know, but my compost just doesn’t cook like some folks.  For one thing, I ignore it.  I just wanna go out and put stuff on there and come out in March and spoon it on the beds...so therefore, all the weed seeds just go nuts. 

I will be really interested in what you guys have happen!  

My boxes are dirt underneath, too.  to fill them I lay down cardboard, but that lasts at best 2 summers.
I hired a "team of professionals" to tend my compost, so I never have to worry about weeds. rofl
New SFG box-Humanitarian way Chicke10
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Post  Roseinarosecity 12/21/2017, 1:10 pm

I finally figured out the wall to keep the compost material in without collapsing.  I will be using a Geobin.  I recently retired and I used some of my retirement gift money to buy two Geobins and a compost two-handle turner.  So I have now started the compost.  But, I NEED MORE GREENS.
Here's my set up now:
New SFG box-Humanitarian way Geobin10
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Post  countrynaturals 12/21/2017, 2:25 pm

Great setup, Rose! New SFG box-Humanitarian way 3170584802 Not enough greens is always my problem, too. I'm hoping rabbit poo will make up for it. Rolling Eyes
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Post  Roseinarosecity 1/11/2018, 5:08 pm

Back in December 21, 2017, I was finally able to fill my Geobin -- all compost square.

New SFG box-Humanitarian way Filled10

But it took a long time for me to get it at a high temperature.  I mixed, I watered, and I covered it up when rain was coming.  The rain came and left and today it finally read 140 degrees Fahrenheit!

New SFG box-Humanitarian way Geobin11
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Post  sanderson 1/13/2018, 3:24 pm

New SFG box-Humanitarian way 3170584802

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Post  Roseinarosecity 3/23/2018, 7:52 pm

YAY!  Too much compost! Today I removed the Geobin walls and 46 gallons of extra compost.
I had to remove some of the compost because the mound of compost was past the walls of the 4x4 bed. 
New SFG box-Humanitarian way Compos10


Here's what it looks like now:
New SFG box-Humanitarian way Too_mu10
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Post  trolleydriver 3/23/2018, 8:01 pm

That is really nicely done Roseinarosecity. Congratulations.
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Post  sanderson 3/25/2018, 3:08 am

Rose,  Back in December 2017 and July 2018 you posted pictures of leaves in the new bed.  I am amazed that they look like such nice compost now.  Congrats!!


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Post  countrynaturals 3/25/2018, 11:53 am

sanderson wrote:Rose,  Back in December 2018 and July 2018 you posted pictures of leaves in the new bed.  I am amazed that they look like such nice compost now.  Congrats!!
Geez! Mine still looks like leaves and rabbit poo. At least the peas are happy.
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Post  Roseinarosecity 3/26/2018, 6:22 pm

The compost was turned over with a compost crank aerator when the temperature stabilized. Actually, my husband loved the aerator.  He stabbed the pile, screwed it in, then lifted it out and repeated over and over.  Every time you turn over the pile, you break up the leaves. 
New SFG box-Humanitarian way 21FI9XcuYjL

The pile was too big for a pitchfork and the Geobin walls were too high to work a pitchfork.
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Post  countrynaturals 3/26/2018, 9:21 pm

Roseinarosecity wrote:The compost was turned over with a compost crank aerator when the temperature stabilized. Actually, my husband loved the aerator.  He stabbed the pile, screwed it in, then lifted it out and repeated over and over.  Every time you turn over the pile, you break up the leaves. 
New SFG box-Humanitarian way 21FI9XcuYjL

The pile was too big for a pitchfork and the Geobin walls were too high to work a pitchfork.
That explains it.  Embarassed  Mine is still just the way I left it last winter.  Rolling Eyes
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