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compost pile

Post in 'The Gear' started by wahoowad, Jun 1, 2006.

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  1. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Eric, I'd like to see pics from your "3 bin" compost system mentioned in an older thread. I think I need a "system" to move my pile around because I am not getting any compost from one giant pile.

    I throw a couple cubic feet of yard debris (leaves, grass clippings, shrubbery, weeds) on my pile each week and turn it with a pitchfork. The pile grows, then shrinks but I never collect any composted material off of it. I guess it washes away in the rain or something. I do know there is compost at the bottom of the pile but i would have to totally move the pile to get at it. I'm thinking of having two large bins to move the pile back and forth to help me get at the compost.

    I have too much for a tumbler - my pile is currently about 4 feet tall and 8 feet across. I just need a better system.

    Thanks!

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    OK wahoowad, here they are.

    Made from oak pallet lumber and spruce 2x4s. The removeable slots in the front have drywall screws in them to maintain a gap. They just slide into the slots as the bin fills and you need more height. I have some old swing-set chain hooked across the front to keep the sides from spreading apart. If that happens, the slats fall out of their grooves and you have to empty the bin to get them back into place.

    The purpose of having three is that you can have a bin full of finished (or near finished compost), another ("working") bin containing fairly fresh veg. matter and a third, empty one to flip one of the other two into. The empty one also serves as a temporary place to put all sorts of crap, from 5 gal buckets to tomato cages to rakes and other garden tools--whatever you need to get rid of in a hurry when your wife starts giving you the hairy eyeball about all the clutter in the yard.

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  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Here's a closeup.

    BTW, your compost isn't washing away in the rain. It's growing under that pile. But you're correct in assuming that you need to move the pile in order to get at it. In addition to the bins, I also have a fairly big pile. In the spring, I excavate it with a shovel, and take all the cooked compost, worm castings, etc. that I need to turn into the garden for the summer growing season. I spend the summer thowing more organic material (including wood ashes) on the top of the pile, and repeat the process again the next spring.

    The bins serve more as an easily-accessible source of compost during the summer for dressing, mulching, etc. They're also where all our kitchen scraps, (and the occasional shot of urea) are deposited year-around.

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  4. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    "when your wife starts giving you the hairy eyeball about all the clutter in the yard."


    LOL, LOL LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  5. wahoowad

    wahoowad Minister of Fire

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    Nice bins. Thanks for the pics. I dump so much yard debris on my pile that I justhave to try and reclaim some of it. I worry mine IS washing away as it is adjacent to a rerouted stormwater runoff area since I built a garage near it. The rainwater is carrying some of it away during heavy rains. I've been adding to this pile for years.

    Did you build a screen to filter out larger debris from your compost? I dug some out once- rich black soil with worm casings - but lots of partially broken down material was mixed in.
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I use an old steel milk bottle crate lined with chicken wire that I shake by hand. Whatever won't go through the mesh goes back into the bin. That's a lot of work. It would be easier to build a fixed chicken wire screen but I've never gotten around to it. My dream rig is a rotating drum mounted on a stand with different size, interchangable screens. If I knew how to weld, I'd make one out of a 55-gallon drum.
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