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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.

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Compost Preparation

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quiltbea
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Post  Compost_Guy 6/24/2011, 3:08 pm

What do folks use to prepare their compostable materials for composting? Any machines, ideas, etc. Would appreciate lost of feedback!!!! Very Happy
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Compost_Guy

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Post  Mamachibi 6/24/2011, 3:45 pm

I do sheet (cold) composting. Basically, I have a designated area in my yard where next year's garden will be. To break the sod and enrich the soil, I dump my compost in that area.

But because it's a cold pile, I'm fairly cautious about prep. I don't put in anything with seeds because there isn't enough heat in the pile to kill them. I chop kitchen refuse pretty small, sometimes I'll even run it through the blender or food processor before taking it down. I only use dried hay and shredded paper as my carbon source. I'll stop this pile in August to let it finish "cooking" and start a new one for the following year's garden.

Someday I want two nifty composters and perhaps a worm bin. But for now, this will do.
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Post  cachecrashers4 6/24/2011, 8:02 pm

I use scissors and a knife to cut up things from the kitchen into small pieces. I use the lawnmower to chop up the leaves before adding them to the pallet bin. I get coffee grounds and filters by the 5 gallon bucket and wait until the filters have softened a while in the pile before I rip them up. Anything going to the worm bin is stored in a plastic container for a few days and is very soft/nearly rotted before feeding them.
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Post  Compost_Guy 6/25/2011, 6:47 pm

Thanks for your reply. I tried a blender once. Had to add water to get the stuff down to the blades and it caused quite a mess. Then one day, not enough water and the blender burned out. Goodbye blender. Tried a wood chipper also but that turns most kitchen waste into water. Still need some good Sad ideas.
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Post  Denese 6/26/2011, 8:35 pm

Instead of a blender, what about a food processor?
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Post  WardinWake 6/26/2011, 8:42 pm

Compost_Guy wrote:What do folks use to prepare their compostable materials for composting? Any machines, ideas, etc. Would appreciate lost of feedback!!!! Very Happy
:

Howdy:

We use the hot compost method that Mel describes in his book. Generally we do not chop up anything that is smaller that leaves. Just add the greens and brown and turn every few days and the compost will break down the pieces. Each time you turn the pile make sure to check the moisture level and you should get a very hot pile very quickly.

God Bless, Ward and Mary.
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Post  westx 6/26/2011, 8:50 pm

I run the mower over big stuff like corn stalks and squash plants. Wife chops up the kitchen waste in to small pieces and the rest like coffee grounds and such I just throw on the pile. I mix it as we add new stuff then once every couple weeks to a month will turn it into its neighboring bin and start all over. When it is finished I screen it into a third bin to save until I need it. My new bins are pretty big so takes a while to fill them. They are 6ft deep by 3 ft wide by 4 ft high made our of ole 1x6 fence boards I save when I replaced the fence between mine and my neighbors house last summer.
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Post  Compost_Guy 6/27/2011, 12:02 pm

I find that most people find handling their "garbage" to be a royal pain. I appreciate your response. It's pretty much what I do now so it's good to find others out there as dedicated. Very Happy
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Post  Squat_Johnson 6/27/2011, 2:03 pm

I have a board that I put next to the compost barrel, and chop stuff up into 2" pieces with a cheap machete. Easy, low -tech, and efficient. I think the machete was $10.
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Post  Goosegirl 6/27/2011, 2:08 pm

Squat_Johnson wrote:I have a board that I put next to the compost barrel, and chop stuff up into 2" pieces with a cheap machete. Easy, low -tech, and efficient. I think the machete was $10.

And excellent anger management!

GG
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Post  quiltbea 6/27/2011, 2:12 pm

I usually sit with a large wooden chopping board on my lap and a large chopping knife in my hand. I chop up the big roots and veggies and toss them in the compost pile. I also have my scissors handy for the long stuff. I'm on the lookout for a machete.

I gather my fall leaves in black bags and seal them up and pile them behind the composter. Next year when I need browns for the composter, they have decomposed somewhat and are good to go.

I let the composter do most of the work. I just turn the pile with a fork in the first prep pile, and its from here that I add to the tumbler composter in the final steps.

If you don't have a tumbler, believe me, a regular compost pile you have to turn now and then with a pitchfork, will make compost. I still like to chop up smaller pieces so its a quicker process from beginning to end.

The ratio I have the best luck with is 1 part green, 20 parts brown.
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Post  unmadecastle 6/27/2011, 3:49 pm

quiltbea wrote:The ratio I have the best luck with is 1 part green, 20 parts brown.

The big question I have is what do you consider green and what do you consider brown? Are dried grass clippings considered brown or green?

Any input is welcome!
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Post  busygirl 6/27/2011, 4:18 pm

I am a newbie to composting, but I think dried clippings are brown but fresh are green. I am currently not doing any additional chopping of stuff, but most of what I put in is pretty small. The paper I use comes from the shredder at work, and the rest are kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and dried leaves from last fall.


Instead of starting another compost thread, though, can I piggy back and ask a related question? Feel free to slap my hands if this is bad form, this is the only forum I have ever joined.


I saw a bag labeled "soil conditioner" at a local nursery the other day. The brand was Happy Frog. It was labeled as Organic and the ingredients listed in order were: composted forest humus, earthworm castings, bat guano, oyster shell and dolomite lime, humic acid, and granite dust. There was also a list of active microbes, but I didn't take the time to write them all down.

So the question is --would this make an acceptable compost ingredient if I need more MM before my pile gets all cooked into home made stuff?
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Post  camprn 6/27/2011, 4:38 pm

busygirl wrote:I saw a bag labeled "soil conditioner" at a local nursery the other day. The brand was Happy Frog. It was labeled as Organic and the ingredients listed in order were: composted forest humus, earthworm castings, bat guano, oyster shell and dolomite lime, humic acid, and granite dust. There was also a list of active microbes, but I didn't take the time to write them all down.

So the question is --would this make an acceptable compost ingredient if I need more MM before my pile gets all cooked into home made stuff?
I would count it as one type. Additionally, there are numerous previous threads about composting here is one.
Compost 101
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Post  walshevak 6/27/2011, 4:44 pm

I've seen somewhere on the forum another person that used Happy Frog. And since we count wormcastings as a separate compost if we add our own, I would count this as at least 2. Maybe 3 as bat guano is also a different manure.

Kay, broadcasting from Vienna

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