Compost bin: Easy, simple & it works
3 pallet, hook the back corners together with rope. I stapled 3/4" screen on the inside & wrapped the outside with greenhouse fiberglass but clear plastic works too. 1-1/2 " air pipes on the bottom (drilled several 1/2" holes in the PVC pipe (now I use the electrical plastic conduit, it's tougher & UV resistant). metal fence post on the front to hold the front boards, as it gets full add more boards. I cover with clear plastic & an old piece of carpet to help hold in the heat. I pull the carpet off in the spring so the sun can get to it, it thaws faster. I add air pies every 18" as it fills up.
This bin had all the Green house plants, some raspberry cane & kitchen scraps all last summer & I topped it off in the fall with leaves & fresh grass clippings.
I got 3 wheelbarrow load from it today.
Pulled the stuff of the top that wasn't broke down yet. bottom 6 - 8 " was "done compost"
I put about 4" of the stuff I pulled off the top in the bottom & then laid the air pipe in. I mowed to get some fresh grass clipping to mix in to get it cooking. Mixed in the grass & covered, it was damp, not wet. I'll be adding more to it soon to get it as full as I can then add kitchen/garden & Green house scraps to it thru the year.
Covered it to hold in the heat the green grass clippings & the microbes will be creating & the moisture .
Using the top stuff off the bin is a great source for the microbes (kinda like the yeast to get it working).
A good source for microbes in a new bin is the leaves & organics in the woods. Grab a bag full of moldy wet leaves from the woods & mix them into the bin. Damp not wet is key.
If you just got a bunch of leaves from the wood & mixed some fresh grass clipping together, (70 percent leaves, 30 percent grass) the pile will get hot & make compost by fall.
I've thought about painting the pallets on the outside & the front boards, to make it look better but haven't got "around-to-it"
My big bin in the garden, I do the same just at a bigger scale.
This bin is the one I add to all year. The big garden bin I'll mix & empty the done compost in August..
I'll start saving kitchen scraps now, adding it to the small compost bin,
& start a new batch.
This will get added to the larger bin in the Fall when the GH & garden plants are done.
It'll get some fish carcasses added to it in July too.
Lowes & HD have free pallets if anyone is interested in getting a similar compost bin started.
Grass clipping are good, I'll add some to it, but have some browns to mix in ( approx 60%browns/40% fresh grass)
Damp is KEY, too wet, you get stinky mush & clumps
Hey Mudbuddy...how hot temp wise does your compost pile get? Was wondering if a compost pile would get hot enough to start a fire. Thanks
Edit ~ I see in the other compost thread the temp was 132 degrees.
I've seen a big pile of fresh grass clipping catch fire after a few days in when flipped open.
Like putting up wet hay in a barn, in the right conditions it will ignite.
A large (4' X 5' X 4' & up) compost bin with a good mix of greens & browns, 150° to 160° is about max temp.
That's hot enough to kill/cook any seeds,
Small pallet sized bin, if you get 140°, you are doing good.
I've got covered HM up to 160° here.
Here's typical what I see 140° for a week or so, then 120° :
Compost can get hotter than 131, but it tends to be too moist to catch fire. But, it happens. Large compost piles, dominated by dry grass clippings can catch fire. More typical compost piles can also catch fire. It's not something I worry about, but it happens. One thing to think about is that any pile dry enough to self-combust is also dry enough to catch fire by a cigarette but or flying spark or even the heat of a weed eater muffler. So, you should be careful about such a dry pile of flammable material, regardless of whether or not it is "compost".
Originally Posted by Tearbear
It isn't something that I worry about, but it has happened. Even at the home gardener scale.
Thanks. This may seem like a silly question, but here goes....Would it be a good idea to have your compost in an open area, with a firebreak around it maybe?
If your compost is mostly grass clippings or if for some reason you think that it's likely to get very dry, it might be a good idea to take some precautions. But, it's not something that most people ever need to worry about. In my experience, even if I totally ignore my pile in Southcentral, it never gets dry enough for me to be concerned.
Originally Posted by Tearbear
Thanks for the input, and the compost bin design as well. I think I'll start one of those this year.
Can mudbuddy or somebody else try to convince me that there is a benefit to using a bin, instead of a pile? I am skeptical about the ability to add enough air to the bin via passive air pipes to negate the need for turning the compost, and if I need to turn my pile I want it out in the open where I can attack it from all sides. Also, even if I don't need to turn a pile for air, I need to turn it in order to mix in new ingredients. I can't put all my fish guts on top, but need to layer them. Also, I layer in my grass clippings and I think that works better than putting clippings on top. I probably turn my pile 30 times per season. I can imagine finishing my compost pile in a bin if I want it well degraded and cool for top dressing, but I'm recalcitrant to bin it while it's hot.
I ask, because my lovelier half would really like me to use a bin, as it's tidier. I like to please, but haven't convinced myself. Perhaps I should just try a bin, but it looks like a lot more work for me.
I've got a 2 compartment bin. Something like what Mudbuddy has but two side by side. One has the compost the other is empty. When you need to turn it or add stuff, toss it from the one bin into the empty one next to it. Add your fish or grass as you go so it is distributed throughout the bin. When it's time to turn again, toss it back into the now empty side.
I used to use a pile. IMO, I found it was not near as efficient as a bin (bin size minimum of 3' x 3' x 3' )
Originally Posted by HikerDan
Additionally I add air pipes every 18" of so.
See this thread:
I have 2 bins, (Actually 3, one bin for "done compost" ) the big one in the garden I just mixed .
It was topped off & covered in Sept .
( Cooked well into December.)
Just aded some fresh grass & 22-4-4 & it's heating up & will be done compost (by Aug.)
& stored in a bin ready for next Spring's planiting.
With this system I can make good , "done" compost in 12 months.
With a pile , only the center bottom was "done compost" & took 2 years.
& was a pain to uncover the to get down to the good compost in the Spring.
IMO bins work better
The tumblers I never got to work at all.
The air pipes definitely helped.
FYI some moldy leaves from the woods is a great place to get your starter bugs.
Leaves are an essential part of my mix, they're the browns & lots of Mother Natures composting bacteria
But if you like piles they work fine, over time, MN will break it down to usable compost
A bin is a little more work getting started ,
but as with most stuff, a little more work = better results
Just Damp is key , air is next & the 3' size is min for getting it hot enough to speed up the process.
I really like this idea of 2 bins side by side.. My problem to date has always been pulling the compost out of one bin, mixing it up, then forking it back into the bin… A double bin would eliminate some of the labor. I finished emptying the main bin today (It was falling apart, so I had no choice) and got ahold of 6 pallets. Tomorrow construction starts on a new double bin.
Originally Posted by NRick
How'd the compost turn out,
Originally Posted by Old John
As I recall you had it hot for quite a while
Should've made som great compost.
Yes I had that big stack at 150* for several days.. and except for the kitchen scraps on the top layer most of it's going to be the compost for the next 2 or 3 yrs.. I'm in the process of building a double bin out of some pallets.. I don't need as much compost as I seem to produce. But then the alternative would be to bag it and haul it to the landfill transfer lot… and that kinda goes against my Thrifty (cheap) nature...
Originally Posted by mudbuddy
Good temperature, should be no weed seed issues, prime time stuff !
Never have too much compost :-)
Just need a bigger garden
Being frugal is a retiree's moto .
After a few years, the soil in the beds at the bottom, gets real fine & powdery.
That will spread over the yard well.
refill with fresh compost.