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Thread: Composting

  1. #1
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    Question Composting

    I am new to the composting idea. am i able to use a worm bin up here? what should i do with it during the winter?

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    Member Ak Bird Brain's Avatar
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    Default I use them

    I have a couple of worm bins. The worm do best at about 70 degrees. You could keep them outside in a nice sunny spot during the summer, but if you want them to survive you'll have to over winter them in a garage or basement.
    Last edited by Ak Bird Brain; 04-26-2009 at 09:37. Reason: Typos

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    Smile composting

    Thanks,
    but i don't have a garage or basement...i can't bring it in because the dog and cats will get into it. looks like I'm doing the regular way, but thanks anyway

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    There are wild worm here you might be able to use. It just wouldn't work in the winter.
    I ran one for several years with wild ones but I kept it in a garage.

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    What kind of stuff do you put in a worm bin? Do you think they would be fine at 50-60 degrees? That is about as warm as I keep my garage in the winter.

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    Member Ak Bird Brain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matjpow View Post
    What kind of stuff do you put in a worm bin? Do you think they would be fine at 50-60 degrees? That is about as warm as I keep my garage in the winter.
    I keep my bins in the garage, my garage stays between 55-65 and they do just fine, I've been told they will breed better the closer to 70 you keep them. The better they breed the more they eat. The more they eat, the more they poo great organic fertilizer!
    My bins are started with moist shredded paper, and a couple hand fulls of dirt (they need the grit to aid in digesting). About once a week I add leftover/rotten fruit, veggies or rabbit poo. They can eat anything organic.
    My bins are made out of 14 gallon rubbermaid totes with air holes drilled in them. After feeding for a couple of months I can screen out a 5 gallon bucket of vermicompost.
    Anyone passing through Sterling is welcome to give me a shout if you'd like to check out my set up.

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    Here's a pasted post I made several months back in another thread. The commercially sold worm bins work great. The spigot produces excellent liquid fertilizer. The only "rule" for worm bins is if you can grow it, you can compost it.

    My wife uses a worm bin to compost indoors. She adds all kinds of plant organics to it and it never smells. The best thing about it is it makes compost tea and has a spigot to drain it to use on plants. The final stage tray leaves perfect soil, too. Google "worm bin" and you'll find some commercially available products and some build-it-yourself plans.

    A good primer article.
    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/n...rmcompost.html

    Here's what wifey uses.
    http://www.agriculturesolutions.com/...uct-flyer.html

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    Member big_dog60's Avatar
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    I used a cooler with a plastic liner. Fed them primarily coffie and tea grounds. The only problem I had was ventilation. If I closed up the cooler completely then the material would rot. so I kept my morm bin well ventilated but moist. I started with about 30 wild caught worms and wound up with several hundred. when the bin started to get full I just sived out all the worms and started again.

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    Can I be lazy and buy the worms that the bait store sells? I thought it would be a good idea.

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    Member Ak Bird Brain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by willowite View Post
    Can I be lazy and buy the worms that the bait store sells? I thought it would be a good idea.
    Bait stores like to sell African night crawlers because of their size (about the length / width of a 2 pencil). The best compost worms are red wigglers or European night crawlers. There a lot smaller but there surface foraging worms. Where ANC's dwell
    deeper which makes them harder to keep in
    home worm bins. I prefer the Europeans myself. They are eating machines and easy to raise.
    I've found both red wigglers and Europeans in the wild up here.
    A good place to look for them is under horse and cow manure piles.

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    Default Here is my 3 day old compost

    This is my second venture this year into composting. My first pile was too small and had no fresh green stuff. This time I plucked about two armloads of fireweed and raked my grass clippings - I started this pile on Saturday. By Tuesday (today) it was at 118 degrees. I was so excited I had to take a picture.

    I did get a worm or two in some gifted trolius. They will reside happily in my flower bed. If they do well I might grow some over the winter for a bit of fun.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Member ksbha4's Avatar
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    Default Lawn Compost

    Does anyone use lawn clippings for their compost. Is there a limit as to how much grass you could use and what kind of containers are you using? I have piles of grass, but it seems to take forever to compost away,...like all winter! Is there a faster way?
    Ask not what your government can do for you. Ask how your government can go away and get out of your life

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    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksbha4 View Post
    Does anyone use lawn clippings for their compost. Is there a limit as to how much grass you could use and what kind of containers are you using? I have piles of grass, but it seems to take forever to compost away,...like all winter! Is there a faster way?
    It's easy...I mean if I can do it anyone can.

    I compost my grass clippings all summer. I have a shady spot where the grass just doesn't want to grow so that's where I put the grass. Just get 12 feet of 3' chicken wire and make a ring. Dump your clippings in the ring. Every 3 or 4 days undo the ring, move it out of the way, and turn/spread the clippings with a rake and fork to aerate your compost. Composting is an aerobic process so this is essential. It takes moisture too, so while it's all spread out lightly spray it with water. Then rake it back into a pile and wrap the ring back around.

    If you combine your compost maintenance with lawn mowing day then add the fresh clippings when you've got your compost spread out. Mix it all together and omit adding water.

    Most years I have to give my composted dirt away.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ksbha4 View Post
    Does anyone use lawn clippings for their compost. Is there a limit as to how much grass you could use and what kind of containers are you using? I have piles of grass, but it seems to take forever to compost away,...like all winter! Is there a faster way?
    Lawn clippings are one of the best things you can put into compost. You want to break up the clumps. If you leave it in one big mass, nothing will happen. I typically take all my yard waste (leaves, weeds, grass) and mix them together. There is a decided difference when I can get a good amount of "green" stuff like grass clippings mixed in. At leats once a week I will "turn it". Just dig in and mix it all up. Add in water throughout and it will get going just fine.

    Keep in mind that not much will happen during the winter. Mine freezes solid. You need to let it build up some heat for it to work. It's always a strange feeling to dig into a big pile of leaves and grass and see a big ball of steam come out and the pile being hot to the touch.

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    Member ksbha4's Avatar
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    Default heat

    I have never investigated the temp of my piles of grass. My first question is this: Do you just keep it a pile in the backyard or do you have a containment box that you keep it all in. 2nd question: How fast does the grass go from "wet rotting grass" to soil and how are separating the two? I know I'm probably complicating this WAY to much, but having never done it, I'm trying to get a good picture of how to efficently do this! Thanks for all your input, I really appreciate it!

    This reminds me of keeping a sourdough pot!
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    Go buy Jeff Lowenfels' new book( my wife's reading it), or listen to his radio show. Composting is his favorite topic. And being a local guy, his discussions are about composting in our climate. I think he'd tell you your pile of wet grass needs to be turned often to develop into compost. His target temperature for the compost pile is 131*. I've never achieved it but I've never tried very hard.

  17. #17
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    yeah, that sounds like a great idea. 131 degrees! Wow, it would be something to see that. As weird as it sounds, I'm looking forward to getting started on this composting idea next spring. My wife has ZERO intrest in gardening/composting so I know that our grass will not get composted this year! Thanks for all the great info.
    Ask not what your government can do for you. Ask how your government can go away and get out of your life

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by ksbha4 View Post
    I have never investigated the temp of my piles of grass. My first question is this: Do you just keep it a pile in the backyard or do you have a containment box that you keep it all in. 2nd question: How fast does the grass go from "wet rotting grass" to soil and how are separating the two? I know I'm probably complicating this WAY to much, but having never done it, I'm trying to get a good picture of how to efficently do this! Thanks for all your input, I really appreciate it!

    This reminds me of keeping a sourdough pot!
    My composting is done in a basic pile. I have an area about 1.5 times the size of the pile so when I want to turn it (about once or twice a week) I can just toss it with a pitchfork to the side and it all gets mixed. I have measured the temperature and seen it in the mid 130's to into the 140's.

    The length of time it takes to "compost" really depends on a number of factors. One is the effort you put into it (turning it over). If you let it just sit there and don't mix it periodically, it will take a long time. Also depends on what you put in there. Things like leaves and grass go pretty quickly. Sticks and more dense things take much longer. Moisture is a big factor as well. I usually have the hose sitting there while I am mixing it. I water it down after each layer, then just let the hose run into the pile for 5 or 10 minutes after I am done. If it's dry, not much will happen. The process could be as fast as a few months to maybe a few years.

    My composting actually saves my neighbor money. I don't collect my grass clippings (I just mulch them in place). From time to time, I will grab a few bags of clippings from my neighbor who would otherwise have to pay the trash guys to collect to mix into my compost.

    Good luck with yours. It is fun to see something that has no outside energy added get so hot.

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    Hi, I know this is an older thread, but for those of you who vermicompost inside with your worms, do you any of you have a problem with spider mites? I have them on my bins and am trying to figure out the best way to get rid of them. When I see them on the edge of my bins, I've been using tape so the mites will stick to it and then I can just ditch them. There has to be a better way to get rid of all of them though. Thanks in advance for any advice on this.

    I'm in North Pole, so my compost bins outside are frozen now, but I can't wait until it warms up to see if anything has happned over the winter...probably not, but I can't wait for those piles to warm up again! I'm ready to get my hands dirty and to get some plants in the ground...June 1st can't come quick enough!

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