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How to make a compost bin
#121216 July 26th, 2005 at 09:34 AM
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Ok so I don't have much money and I was wondering if anyone knew how to make a compost bin?

Once the bin is done what exactly do I put in it?

Clueless laugh

Re: How to make a compost bin
#121217 July 26th, 2005 at 10:15 AM
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Woohoo! You've come to the right place (I'm on a compost-high these days - just discovered it myself a few months ago)

You don't need anything fancy - or a bin at all...that's really your preference. I personally have an open bin, since I have a fair amount of land, and have space for it. All I did was take 3 pallets and nail them together at the corners so they don't blow over wink There's a 4th bin on the right, since eventually this will become a 3 bin system (I'm short a coupla pallets laugh )

my compost bin

There are members who have turned a garbage can, or chicken wire into compost bins. The purpose of the bin is really just to contain the 'stuff' in one place, help it to heat up, and keep it out of the elements. Mine works fantastic right out in the open...and no, it doesn't smell. The trick to that is getting the right combination of greens & browns. I want to say 25% green & 75% brown. If I'm wrong someone please correct me!

There are some great threads in the organic forum archives that will help out with what to put in it

Here's just a sample of some stuff I've put in my bin:
Greens:
freshly mowed grass, coffee grounds, coffee filter, coffee left in the pot wink , spoiled fruit or veggies, fruit peels, tea bags, flat soda, eggshells

Browns:
Dried grass, dried leaves, leftover potting soil, shredded newspaper, white paper, paper towels, napkins, swept up dust/dog hair (even fingernails and human hair is good), hay, twigs
(Don't add any glossy/shiny or colored paper to the pile. There are some people who won't compost napkins and the like because they've been through a bleaching process...I still compost mine though)

Remember the smaller the chunks are that go in, the faster your pile will cook down and be ready to use. You can put as much or as little work into it as you want - either way the stuff you put in will break down - it will just take longer if you put less work into it.

Keep the pile moist like a damp sponge, but not dripping wet. Turn it (if you want to) every few days to keep it aerated so it works faster.

And by all means if you have any questions post away - none of them are dumb (and we've all probably asked them at one time or another) and as you can see I can't say enough about composting laugh It's a fascinating process and it's great for the environment to boot - oh, and the flowers LOVE it wink


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121218 July 26th, 2005 at 10:24 AM
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Thanks for the reply. I don't have as much room for my compost as you. I live in a town house in the San Francisco Bay Area and my backyard is small. I have a free corner in my backyard that I'd like to put it. Does it make a difference if it is in a shady or sunny location? I've always thought about having a compost bin but well I'm a huge procrastinator not to mention slacker *LOL* I'm sure I'll have more questions to come. Thanks! thumbup

Re: How to make a compost bin
#121219 July 26th, 2005 at 10:35 AM
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One of our members TK lives in an apartment building, and uses a garbage can for her compost bin. They're pretty cheap (I just got one at wally world for about $8). You'd want to poke a couple of holes in the bottom for air circulation and set them up on top of some cinder blocks or bricks. You would want something to turn or mix it up with - like a stick, rake or something similar.

We keep an old empty plastic coffee canister in the kitchen for scraps and empty it every few days when it fills up. It's pretty easy to do, and you'll love the results, I promise wink

It can be in a sunny or shady area - if it's in the sun it may need to be watered more often since the sun can dry it out faster than if it's in the shade. Hope that helps wink


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121220 July 26th, 2005 at 11:47 AM
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Mary,

You've become quite the compost expert. I'm so proud of you. thumbup


Composting is more than good for your garden. It's a way of life.
Re: How to make a compost bin
#121221 July 26th, 2005 at 11:54 AM
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shocked Thanks, PAR, see, I was really listening wink I'm still psyched about it...not sure if I enjoy the flowers more or the compost more laugh


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121222 July 26th, 2005 at 06:55 PM
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JustAGirl,
Mary, I don't think anyone who loves compost,
ever becomes UN ~PSYCHED about it!!!
It's magical!!!

My neighbor used an old garbage can and put it on
two stakes and he can turn it....
When I had my camera, I kept meaning to go over
and take a picture of it, talk about behind...
I'm so slow, I have a hundred years of things to
do yet!

I have 3 wooden bins made out of packing crates..
a company gets things brought in on wooden crates,
they take like the top off to get at whatevers' in side, and leave the shell to just throw away,
*Go figure* but, I took those and had my husband take the saw and just make air slats for me..
They work great....

Also, I have one of those twin compost tumblers..
They work good, not the same as a on top of the ground type composter, but still get the job done.


Weezie

Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2

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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121223 July 27th, 2005 at 12:07 AM
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Ok so when you say garbage can you mean plastic? Sorry I am totally clueless *L* Thanks for the help. Ok so when you through things in for the first time do you wet it? or does it become moist by just sitting in the bin?

Re: How to make a compost bin
#121224 July 27th, 2005 at 01:47 AM
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Yep, a plastic garbage can. Don't be sorry - you shoulda seen my questions a few months ago wink Depending on what you put in it, you may have to wet it a lot or just a little...depends on how much brown/green you put in. Just remember you want to keep the consistency like a damp sponge...you'll get to know when it's too dry or too moist. If you put too much green and not enough brown it may smell like ammonia after a few days - then you know you need to add more brown. If you go to mix it up and it feels kinda dry, you'll need to add a bit of water. It's hard to explain just how much water needs to be in it without showing you...You just don't want it to dry out, and you don't want it to be dripping wet either. Somewhere in the middle is great. Don't worry about doing it perfectly the first time - it's one of those things you start figuring out as you go ... just play and it'll start getting clearer for ya - and keep the questions coming! wink


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121225 August 5th, 2005 at 08:21 PM
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Ms Reboakly. You are a true breath of organic fresh air. Spread the wealth Mary:-)


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121226 August 5th, 2005 at 09:33 PM
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WOOHOO i just turned my compost bin aka trashcan upside down and guess what......I hae 4 buckets of black gold. Yes compost wonderful wonderful black soil perfect for planting things in. Am I excited? YES, YES, YES sireeeeee. I am excited!!! How long has it been Mary? We started the composting about the same time and I of course can not remember when exactly we started doing this.

Anyway I am typing this with a huge broken blister on the bottom of my thumb where it connects with my palm from the shovel but it's worth it. Soooooooo worth it. And the leaves are dropping leaves so I am ready to get to doing more composting. I told the landlord I could use some more grass clippings but he said he wouldn't be mowing until the weekend after this one. But I can wait. I'll just put the extra leaves in the outside/openair compost area until I have enough green. I'm afraid if I try to just do the compost in the open someone will come along and knock it over again. And that was to heartbreaking the first time to go through it again. Anyway I was really really excited so I just had to share. Sorry for the super long post.


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121227 August 5th, 2005 at 11:38 PM
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Longy! My compost hero - still say I couldn'ta done it without your help...countless PMs with crazy questions you tirelessly answered - you're the bestest! wink

T! LOL! I'm so excited for you! Isn't it the best feeling?! I checked and it was June 8th when I took a picture of my first pile (yes, I took a picture laugh ) and that was when it was nearly ready - so figure about the end of May, beginning June. So, it's been about 2 months...and well worth the wait, I know! wink wavey muggs


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121228 August 6th, 2005 at 02:02 AM
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Thanks Mary. I couldn't remember at all. Yep it is a really marvelous feeling. And it's nice not to have to spend that money too. Now I just have to wait for the blister to heal so I can get out there and mix it up the the soil. I'd have done it today inspite of the heat I was that excited but that broken blister hurts lol. It just woke me out of a sound sleep. I put more neosporin on it so hopefully it heals quickly. You can tell I've always been a desk person and never worked in a garden. I'm not used to these kinds of pains at all. The other kinds like sore shoulders from being hunched over a computer yes. lol

Have a great day.


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121229 August 7th, 2005 at 05:41 AM
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While we're chatting it up about compost, I thought I'd add that I pulled back the stuff on top of lasagna bed #1, and WOW I've got beautiful crumbly soil underneath! wink I think I'll be ready for bulbs in the fall WOOHOO!


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121230 August 7th, 2005 at 07:46 AM
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Woohoo, that is fantastic. net plot map where is bed number one I've forgotten. That's no suprise right. I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached and I'm not sure that's enough for me to remember anymore. lol. Is this where you are moving some of your existing bulbs or are you going to add more bulbs? And the coolest thing is that it will soon be fall and we can start that planting. I of course can not wait.


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121231 August 7th, 2005 at 08:30 AM
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Ok so after much procrastination from the start of this post *L* I want to know if this container will work for my compost bin. Do I just drill some holes in the sides? What about the bottom? I want to get this all set up by tomorrow..I have alot of things from my kitchen to throw in there plus things from out in the garden.

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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121232 August 7th, 2005 at 08:53 AM
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Woohoo! Looks like you're all set to go wink All you need to do is poke some holes in the bottom - a few small holes if you want on the sides would be good to help the air circulation. I would set it up on some bricks, cinder blocks or anything you have that will give it a sturdy support below. It'd be better not to have it right on the ground so that air can pass below it too.

So, whatcha got to put in it? wink


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121233 August 7th, 2005 at 09:04 AM
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Great! I have bricks I can put under it and it already has holes in the bottom because this was the container I had my tomato plants in last year.

I have soooo many things from my kitchen for this compost. Bad carrots and carrot peelings, cut up broccoli stalks, orange peels, onion peels, salad in a bag that is going, bad cucumbers and squash, coffee grounds, we have a new rabbit so the pooh and bedding will be going in when I clean the cage soon as well as the hamsters bedding when I clean his cage, old soil, dead leaves as well as new just fallen, used napkins and papertowels, newspaper. Is this good? I'm sure I can find more. grinnnn

Re: How to make a compost bin
#121234 August 7th, 2005 at 09:14 AM
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Awesome! Your compost will LOVE the poop from your kiddies! Sounds like you've got a really great start! Do you use wood chips for their bedding? That will give you some brown. If you have any grass clippings that have weeds/crabgrass (or anything you want to make sure doesn't rear it's ugly head when you use your compost) you can lay it out on the pavement and let it dry for a few days - grass is considered 'green' when it's freshly cut, but after it dries and turns brown, it's then considered a 'brown'. I've been using this trick lots in the last week or 2, since I'm lacking in the brown department lately.

Cut your paper & kitchen scraps up into the smallest pieces you can if you want it to 'cook' faster. Some people have a blender just for their compost. I don't go that crazy (I don't even own a blender LOL) but I do cut up all my scraps before they go into my kitchen canister (except for the already science-projecty ones LOL) Have fun with it, and please keep us posted!


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121235 August 7th, 2005 at 09:28 AM
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Well don't have to worry about the crabgrass thing cause there is no grass around here hence no grass clippings for me. I do pull weeds but I pull them when they are relatively new will this help prevent things popping up or should I dry those and make them brown? Oh and yeah I use Aspen shavings for the bedding for my pets..plus some hay will be in there the rabbit is messy and hay falls through the bottom of his cage.

I sure will keep everyone posted...I'm pretty excited and just read TK's post about his new soil. Composting is great and I'm wondering why I didn't start it years ago.

Re: How to make a compost bin
#121236 August 7th, 2005 at 09:36 AM
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I think your going to find that your container is very small. I have about a 50 gallon trashcan on wheels with holes in the bottom and with just 380 sq feet of garden I'm finding that I could easily do two of them. As it is I have to let a lot of green go to the dump or get left on the lawn. The landlord won't leave me any if there isn't room for it in the bin when he mows.


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121237 August 7th, 2005 at 09:49 AM
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Well if I have to I may start a second bin..I have another one just like it. Thanks for the heads up..I'm sure your right though. thumbup

Re: How to make a compost bin
#121238 August 7th, 2005 at 10:14 AM
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I had the same thought about the bin being a bit small - but you can 'graduate' to the larger size and always recycle your current bin for something else wink

When I started my first heap, I kept all weeds out - if you can get it hot enough (which you may not be since the bin is small) you'll kill them (including roots) and don't have to worry about them creeping into your flower beds. Once I saw my piles steaming, I knew I was doing it 'right' and will throw in most weeds (but never weed seeds). A 'perfect' compost pile is about 3' tall and wide - I believe the theory behind that is you don't want it so big that the air can't circulate through it, but at the same time you want it big enough to keep the heat in.

Good luck & happy composting laugh wavey


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121239 August 7th, 2005 at 08:10 PM
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Look at you go Mary. You are Queen Weezies heir apparent of compost lol. Bet that isn't how that is spelled. But hopefully you get the idea. 3 by 3 is perfect size huh? Well my bin isn't quite that big but it makes the required height lol. I've been finding that the poplar branches are very brittle so I'm using them on the bottom to keep the air circulating It seems to be working. The other branches I get I used for the bentwood edging of course lol. I've got to say I'm having so much fun witht the garden. If only I had known years ago lol. Well I just went out and watered the compost bin. As you mentioned earlier Mary I definitely do not want it to get hard that would be a big pain.


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Re: How to make a compost bin
#121240 August 7th, 2005 at 08:37 PM
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I always rake a few leaves up beside the fence where the big trees are and leave them there.

There's always new soil under them in spring.

I haven't added things to it though - I know plants like tea bags and I pour tea water into the ones I raise in the office over the winter.

They love egg water and egg shells too.

Maybe this year I'll use one of the buckets for a composter outside.


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