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2011 Alaska compost pictures

Post in 'The Green Room' started by bogydave, May 12, 2011.

  1. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    If I can compost in Alaska, anywhere in the lower 48 should be allot faster & easier.
    Big Garden compost bin full to the top last Fall (Sept):

    I'll be adding 3 - 3" air pipes on the bottom for the next batch. I know now, the bottom air pipes really help. A much better 1/2 done batch with the small pipes, more air will help. Lots of shrinkage.
    Just pilled the front doors off:
    You can see it needs more time, stringy, leafy, moldy, , I'll mix in fresh grass clippings & let it work (cook) until August, then store the done compost in the "done bin". Then I have compost for next spring ready to go.

    Attached Files:

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  2. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Small pallet bin, leaves grass, kitchen scraps, top 6" will be "seed for the next batch. I'll pull off the top layer that needs some more of Mother Nature's work, & mix in leaves & grass as I get it. When it's almost full, I'll empty & mix in fresh grass clippings, moisten & then add/mix to the top thru the summer with my kitchen/garden scraps, cover this fall. Do it again next spring.
    It compacted pretty good thru the winter. (all today's pics)
    You can see the shrinkage, it was full. I added kitchen scraps to it thru all last summer, mixing in just the top layer.
    Bottom 2/3 rds is "done" good compost. Air spear i use to get air to the middle of the bins n various locations

    Attached Files:

  3. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    Wow Dave, thats great. So, the air tubes help aerate the pile? Do they go all the way through?
    Does that speed up the process?
  4. Mrs. Krabappel

    Mrs. Krabappel Minister of Fire

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    Nice! I like the air tube idea. I wonder what the chickens will think.

    eta when I lived in south florida I had black soldierfly larvae in my compost and they would work through a watermelon rind in about a day.
  5. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Perforated pipe definitely works. A friend does that for his horse manure piles and it helps a lot.
  6. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    Some of the newer composters have the aerators built in. The magazine advertisements make it look so easy. Scraps at the top, black gold at the bottom. Mine just seems like a lot more work. It is cooking away though, we add veg and fruit scraps every day and add mulched up leaves from last fall and it is just great. Our waste to the curb has been cut down greatly. We started adding paper napkins from the dinner table to the pile for extra carbon. It is good stuff.

    I like the tumbling composters on rollers with fins built in to mix it up, but I feel that the composter should remain on the ground so more "bugs" can get up into it. I can't justify spending the dough on one either. My current one was free from a neighbor. It definitely is a learning process to get it to work.

    I use a composter turner that you plunge into the pile, and as you lift, four wings hinge out pulling the bottom material to the top.
  7. Mrs. Krabappel

    Mrs. Krabappel Minister of Fire

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    I have one of those passed on from a friend. I guess it would work well if I wasn't too lazy to open the door, close the door, and turn the handle. I like my strung together pallets where I just fling the stuff in. Chickens like it too.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I'm with you there Kath. We have one sitting idle now. I need to sell this expensive thing, thanks for the reminder. Instead of using it I spent the time and energy into making a large 3 bin setup where I can toss the stuff in. That gets used!
  9. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Thanks
    Air pipes all the way to the back of the bin sticking out the front. I was amazed how much faster I got "done" compost with adding the air.
    Same with adding the microbes, I increased the speed significantly again to a new batch.
    5 yrs ago, I was 3 years to done compost & less quantity, now I get done compost in 1 year. (start Sept, done in August)
    I take a few 5 gallon buckets/lids inside so I have some thawed, for starting seeds in the spring


    What I've learned over several years of composting & experimenting :
    1. My best base mix is when I mow my grass in the fall (Sept) when I get lots of leaves & some green grass. the mower mulches
    mixes & bags it. (more leaves than grass, 70/30 roughly)
    2. I mix in almost done compost, & run the mower through the woods to get some moldy leaves. (**very important step **) This is
    full of the microbes & bacteria that do the composting. I mix this in as I fill the bins. That way I don't have to wait a few weeks for
    the few natural microbes to multiply & get to work (I added billions that are already working with the almost done compost & moldy leaves)
    3. I chop the garden & Green house plants up some with a machete, & mix them in also.
    4 air pipes on the bottom sticking out the front., & I stick some in about every 12 to 16" layer. (lets air circulate up thru the pile, bugs need air)
    I wet it so it's just damp as I'm putting it in the bin, then cover it. & in a few days the pile is hot. Cooks into Dec before it freezes.
    All this is in the big solar heated bin in the garden. I'll be emptying it & be mixing in fresh cut grass in a few week to get it
    cooking thru the summer & by August it will be done compost.
    Also the 3 ft rule, a pile or bin should be 3 ft sq or larger & at least 3 feet high.
    Pallets make a good size, I staple 3/4" screen on the inside, boards for the front.

    Like dry fire wood is very important, 'Just damp compost" is very important :)
    Like air circulation is important to season wood, "air circulation" in compost is important.
    Like smaller pieces of wood burn faster, "smaller pieces" of organic matter compost faster.

    The small pallet bin I'll empty it & get the done 2/3 off the bottom. Mix up what isn't done with some fresh grass clippings &
    start adding to it thru the summer with kitchen scraps, garden scraps weeds etc. Fall I top it off with leaves & grass.
    The middle pic on the 2nd post is stuff that was in there all last summer with the top almost done layer what I added last
    summer: leaves grass, weeds & some scraps.
    Unlike processing fire wood is all our work, composting is allot easier, Mother Nature does the work.
    Went from a 3 year to done compost & less quantity to a 1 year & am getting about 2-1/2 yards yearly now.
    Did I mention compost should be "just damp"? ;)
    "Too wet" you get a stinky, slimy mess. Too dry, it just composts slower, & adding water is easy.
  10. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    How much do you gain from this over just tossing in a heap and throwing in the garden when you turn it over every 6 months?
  11. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    That was my old way, just a pile of organics, plants & leaves That I piled in the corner.
    I never got very warm, I turn it spring & fall. (spring I'd have the bottom as "done" compost & 2 different years layers on top of it)
    With my temps, I'd get about 6 months of it not frozen or near frozen.
    I believe that method is called "cold composting" just let MN do her thing.
    Well MN can do her thing "better & faster" with better conditions. (moisture, air, microbes & a good components ratio)
    Had a "done" bottom layer that was 3 years in the making. It works, just not as efficient.
    Had no or very little success with a tumbler, like I said I've tried many methods, & the above posts works best for me.
    Old compost pile:

    Attached Files:

  12. Wallyworld

    Wallyworld Member

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    My dad could make compost, he'd use a hose and get it good and moist. Mostly it was sheep bedding and sheep manure. It would steam in the winter and hit 150 degrees on the the thermometer. For some reason I can't get it to be like his, Maybe I should have paid more attention:) I know someone in Penobscot Maine who used compost to heat his greenhouse. He had a building with a concrete basement, the compost was in the basement and the greenhouse on top. l. He'd start the compost up in February or so. I never saw it in action. Here is the farm, I see its changed hands http://kinghillfarm.com/farm-pics/
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Tumbler worked after a fashion for me, but it made too little compost too slowly for our needs.

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