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#113685 July 2nd, 2005 at 12:21 AM
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I've been reading all the posts about composting and the questions about how fast, greens vs browns, and it occurred to me that we needed a compost documentary. I actually did one a few years ago (I've mentioned it in a few of the posts), but I never put it in a web format. I've been working at it for the past month, and I figure it's time to release the beta.

Compost Journal

teech I'd like to note that I was in the process of perfecting my hot composting process at this time. The compost was not ready after the 16 day period of the journal, but it was ready shortly after that. Since then, I've been able to get compost in 10 days. The amount of time varies depending on material, how often the pile is turned, etc. Depending on the response here, I'll try to do another documentary with my improved techniques.

This is my first venture creating a web page, and it's not where I would like it to be. I'm sorry if it takes too long to load as there are a lot of pictures. I'm thinking that I don't need the pictures of the compost thermometer, but I like the proof it provides. Like a garden, I will continue to improve and grow the site. You'd think that a UNIX admin would have more experience with this, but we've all got to start somewhere.

I think it is most interesting to see how much the piles change from beginning to end. I need to create a page that just shows the pictures from one pile from beginning to end.

I'm including this link since it is a great reference on composting:

How to Compost

I hope this is educational and interesting to everyone. Let me know what you all think, as I value your opinions.

#113686 July 2nd, 2005 at 02:38 AM
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Par - Fantastic page! Thanks for putting that together. I have it bookmarked and plan on reading beginning to end. This is my favorite topic these days, and I can't read enough about it. I guess I'm fascinated by the process, and the 'magic' of it.

If you do decide to continue with your documentary, could you link your thumbnails to larger pictures? I'm such a visual person and want to inspect as much as I can wink If you need help with any html coding, I'd be glad to help. Not a pro, but self taught and doing it for awhile now.

Thanks so much for the effort and for sharing this with us!

#113687 July 2nd, 2005 at 10:26 AM
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Mary,

Linking the thumbs to higher-res pictures was one of the enhancements that I wanted to do before I published the page, but it had taken me so long to get as far as I have. I actually stared with much higher-resolution pictures, and I had to spend the time reducing them to smaller files.

Thanks for the offer to help. I may take you up on that. I understand the concepts of putting a page together. It just takes me a long time to make it happen. I'm going to start playing around with FrontPage to see what I can come up with.

Do you think I can do away with the thermometer pictures? That would make it less work.

#113688 July 3rd, 2005 at 09:16 AM
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Quote
Originally posted by PAR_Gardener:


I'm going to start playing around with FrontPage to see what I can come up with.

The problem with Frontpage is the IE only extensions it uses, those of use that use Opera on Linux may not be able to properly view the page.

smile

#113689 July 4th, 2005 at 09:33 AM
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PAR - whatever I can do. Just PM me. I've gotten to where I can automate picture resizing in batches to make thumbnails that point to full size pics.

I think you can do away with the temp pics. We believe you laugh Seriously, if you're recording it for your own record, that should be good enough...though I can see why in the beginning you'd want to take a picture of it - I probably would too if I had a nifty thermometer wink

#113690 August 23rd, 2005 at 03:43 PM
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how can i view your compost journal? i hope it's already done by now. you will certainly help so many persons out here.

#113691 August 23rd, 2005 at 03:47 PM
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i'm already viewing your journal right now. sorry i'm just new in using this thing called computer.

#113692 August 23rd, 2005 at 07:37 PM
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I've read your journal before and read it again to refresh my memory. I would like to see a revamped journal with your improved technique. Especially about getting from the pelletized grass clippings stage to the final stage. My pile seems to get stuck at that point.

#113693 August 24th, 2005 at 10:39 AM
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TK,

I haven't done much composting this summer because I use grass clippings for my "greens", and I haven't had to mow the lawn because of a 3 month drought in Northern Illinois. It finally rained three weeks ago, and I had to mow the lawn last week. I started three compost piles that day. I wanted to start an updated journal, but I'm lucky if I get out to turn the pile every other day (9 month old baby)
[Linked Image] instead of the every day that is required to process the compost in less than 21 days.

I've found that the ingredients make a big difference in how easy it is to turn the pile. The longer the grass clippings the harder it is to turn a pile using my bulb auger method. I have excellent browns in the form of rabbit litter (All Pet Pine after the rabbits are done with it). I also save my kitchen scraps in 5 gal buckets until they are fermented, stinky and mushy; essentially all broken down. Not pleasant when opening the bucket, but the odor dissipates quickly once mixed with everything else.

Turning the pile every day that first week is very important. There is no way to mix everything up perfectly when you start the batch. Even if you do an inch of green to two inches of brown, you still have layers of grass that will compact and form a solid moisture impervious layer. Mix, mix, mix. You can't let the grass clump up. This is why sawdust (or in my case the rabbit litter) is a great source of brown. It disperses in the pile quicker and easier coating the grass and keeping it from clumping. If you shred/mulch dried leaves or hay, it will produce very small particles that will help break up the grass layers. You can buy a hay bale from most nurseries, especially in the fall, for like $3. It will keep over the winter as a bale, or buy your bale in the spring. If you're using newspaper, shred it as finely as you can. Use one of those cross-cut paper shredders if you have one.

I also found that you want to keep the pile covered. Don't let that moisture evaporate. Yes you want it to have some exposure for fresh air, but the core (where most of the action is going on) is only going to get air when you turn the pile. There's that daily mixing again. If you look at the wire bin in the journal, I ended up covering the top with an old shower curtain. There were no holes in the plastic that I used to surround the wire. The only down side to the shower curtain, is that I had to keep it in place with a brick that compacted the compost reducing the air that the core had.

I've written a novel, but the real tricks can be summarized very quickly.

1) Get your ingredients as small as you can. Smaller things compost quicker than larger chunks.
2) Get your C:N (brown to green) ratio as close to 30:1 as you can. When you get it right, you don't need to add water unless your pile is over exposed to the air. This takes practice, but it's not too hard to learn.
3) Mix thoroughly once a day every day for at least the first week.


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