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Saturday, January 3, 2009

Spinning my compost

Envirocycle composterI don't know about you, but my compost piles in the past have been not so successful. For the most part, we put our food waste into the city bins where it gets composted for us with the yard waste collection, so I don't feel so bad about not having a compost pile in the backyard.

But, I do throw a lot of my yard waste into a pile in the backyard, mostly because I'm too lazy to carry it all the way around to the front of the house where the bins are. We have rockery (not steps) leading from the back to the front, and the times where I've dragged the yard waste bin down there, I've ended up hurting my back in some manner whilst lugging it back up.

So, I tend to throw all my backyard yard waste into a pile. Most of the yard waste in the pile is stuff from my vegetable garden and weeds, so it's all "green" with very little "brown". Since I leave the grass clippings on the lawn, that doesn't help me much.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm going about it all wrong. The compost sort of tends to break down (except the large chunks like the rose bushes I keep ripping out), which is rather miraculous since I don't tend to it at all, don't turn it and don't make sure I have the correct balance of green/brown to make sure I have a healthy pile. Either way, it's not nice enough to use on my food plants and I'd need a giant screen to sift out the chunks.

I've been buying compost for my garden, but I want to try doing my own compost again and am thinking of getting one of them fancy compost tumblers to assist in any new composting ventures. If I do, I'll be using some of my food waste in the composter, along with select yard waste (read: no weeds) and maybe some bunny poop if my dream of an angora rabbitry comes to fruition.

But, until then, I will still have the issue of having very little "brown" in the pile (we don't have many trees around us and most of them are evergreen). Does anyone else have this problem and, if so, how do you get around it? Does anyone have a tumbler and, if so, do you have any suggestions or tips?

57 comments:

Mariella said...

why don't you just chuck all your cardboard packaging and old newspapers on the compost for the brown waste.

Bobbi said...

I use newspaper and shredded junk mail in my compost - fall leaves also work. I don't have a tumbler or a traditional compost heap - I have possiblity piles. These are basically 2 or 3 holes I dig near the edge of a garden or flower bed. I then fill the holes with my waste, sprinkling some of the dirt on top every week or so. This takes longer to breakdown, but it works beautifully and after 1 or 2 growing seasons, I have perfect compost - or a nice planting hole for a new tree or shrub.

Jenette said...

We use newspaper and shredded junk mail too... I don't tend it and it turns out ok. The best compost is my red worms!

Yvonne said...

I use mainly cardboard and white paper, that is, no glossy printed paper which goes in my recycling bin. I tear big pieces up but that is all I bother with. I haven't got the balance completely right because I take out the kitchen waste more often than I remember to take out paper/card.

Chili said...

Can you buy a bale of straw anywhere?

Alana said...

We use shredded junk mail as well.

We don't have a tumbler (because you have to do batches and we compost our wet gDiapers), but have an earth machine. Basically a glorified garbage can. But it's really neat that it has a door at the bottom to be able to access the oldest compost, which we actually did this week and found great stuff. I'm so glad because my husband had been complaining about it until he saw that it actually worked.
To turn it, we use a compost crank (made right here in town). It's pretty easy! Good luck!

Denise said...

We get excellent compost because we have two pet rabbits. They use litter trays, which we change every morning - a mixture of shredded paper and used straw and hay bedding. We keep three bins on the go, one "active" which gets all our household and garden waste and the rabbit litter, one which is undisturbed for a few months at a time and one which is completely broken down which gets dug in or used as a mulch. I don't think a tumbler is necessary - I just keep turning the contents of the active bin with a garden fork, but when it gets full I leave it alone and let the worms do all the work.

Robj98168 said...

When I took the compost class from WSU Extension- they suggested cardboard, newspaper leaves could all be used in place of Brown material.
On of the turnin barrels would be nice! You get one and I will have compost envy!

Fleecenik Farm said...

You cold also ask friends or neighbors who do get leaves in there yard if you can have them. I built a lovely pile this past spring with someone else's leaves.

knittinandnoodlin said...

I live in an apartment so I can't have a compost pile outdoors, but I've read that you can compost in a bin indoors by layering your kitchen waste (green) with shredded cardboard, newspapers, and junk mail. The layers keep the smell "contained".

Heather @ SGF said...

We don't do anything fancy. It's just a pile in the backyard. It went years without anyone turning it. Now we turn it about once a month (lift and move the fencing around it and then shovel it all to the new space). We get fabulous compost from it. There are lots of fancy gadgets, I suppose, but the old fashioned way works great for us.

ib mommy said...

We give small cardboard pieces to the gerbils to keep their teeth healthy. They chew it to bits and we toss it into the compost every few weeks along with all the poop that's accumulated between cleanings.

jewishfarmer said...

I know a couple of people who instead of those drums have made compost tumblers out of garbage cans with holes drilled in the side. You just roll them along - maybe not aesthetically pleasing, but a lot cheaper.

I'd second the call for newspaper - could a neighbor or friend save you some leaves? We go leaf rustling - we hunt out bagged leaves and steal them away during the autumn, since we don't have a lot and they are such good mulch.

Sharon

Michelle said...

I have compost tumbler - back from more affluent days! It works, but not as well as advertised. They're designed to be filled completely at one shot, then tumbled for 14 days, then emptied. I use mine as a compost 'pile' and it does work, but slowly. Now, you live where the ground doesn't freeze, so yours would cook all year long.

You might want to bag your grass clipping periodically. They're great for heating up a compost pile. The suggestions about cardboard and newspaper are great, too. I just put my rabbit poo directly into the garden, since it doesn't need composting first. However, I'm sure it would be a bonus to the pile.

The pile you're describing is more or less cold composting. It does work, but it is slow. I had a pile like that in NW Florida, and it was fine. And it'll be even better for you if you add in some of the things folks have suggested like leaves, newspaper, or cardboard. Rabbits like to chew, btw, so maybe they could pre-chew, or at least pee and poop on, your cardboard.

JAM said...

I ended up buying two of the round compost bins, and putting our food scraps mixed with shredded paper or leaves in one until it's pretty full, then ignoring it and starting on the other, then by the time the other is full (about 6 months) the first one is ready. We do some turning over of it, but only if the weather is nice and we remember, so it's definitely not consistent. We never had luck with getting good compost when we only had one bin, since we were constantly adding to it there was never time for it to get finished.

Abbie said...

We use rotted manure from my husband's family's cows. For our own compost, we just chuck things in the woods in a pile. Sometimes we refer to it as throwing things "over the edge of the world" because we never see compost from it. But the way I see it, it's better than throwing it in the trash. And the animals enjoy eating from it.

If we didn't have the manure, I'd be more inclined to try to work out the composting thing.

Greenpa said...

Be careful your compost heap doesn't end up owning YOU. I've seen it happen. Lust for compost can become obsessive, and you wind up spending huge amounts of life energy finding stuff to feed the heap. A couple of the commenters here seem to be on the verge- :-)

Years ago we had an intern who'd grown up in an old Biodynamic community- they are the archdruids of compost, as you probably know. She built us a two chambered wire bin. You feed one side at a time- anything and everything you can put your hands on, when you feel like it or need to dump it. And when side A is full, you harvest side B; then start dumping there, while A digests.

Works well enough, though don't spend much effort on getting it into the garden. Basically, our garden works more on volume than precision; we've got plenty of land.

I do worry that a huge PLASTIC tumbler could look a little incongruous for a hyper greenie-

Green Bean said...

I'd skip one of those tumblers. Had one for a few years and nothing ever came of it. I now have a backyard compost bin subsidized by the city. I don't have much in the way of browns (which reminds me that I should go rake up those leaves in the front) and I'm sure the compost in it is so so (never gotten any out of it) but at least it diverts waste. Our food scraps composting program starts in April so I may end up putting most food scraps in that, like you do, and try to produce some real compost them. We'll see.

Joyce said...

We've used a two bin system that we made by using free wooden pallets that were being tossed behind a business. We wired them together; you would need five pallets for this. Then just stapled chicken wire across the front of them to keep the stuff from spilling out. It was a good re-use of the pallets, I thought. We also don't do anything special with them, except try very hard to keep weed seeds out of them. We fill one side, then when it's full start in on the other side. By the time it's full, the first side is done. Food scraps, shredded paper, small bits of cardboard, leaves, and anything from the garden goes in, and it makes beautiful compost, but it takes about a year. I only turn the one we're filling, occasionally.

FoodRenegade said...

I once read a little blurb in Mother Earth News about a man who built his own compost tumbler for $40. If you or anyone you know is handy, that can be a good alternative to buying one.

Maeve said...

I subscribe to 'lazy compost' and don't care if it takes the turning of a few seasons to break down. The whole "get compost in three weeks!" stuff sets my teeth on edge. It's just yet another manifestation of our culture's obsession with "fast".

So my pile is a mix of things like kitchen scraps, yard & garden waste (we usually mulch when we mow the grass, but a few times we bag the clippings and add them to the compost heap), leaves in the fall (and spring. I use them to mulch flowers in the winter, and then rake it out when the weather warms up again, and have another batch of leaves for the heap.), shredded junk mail, and if you're worried about dry materials, just let some of your kitchen scraps dry out before adding them.

It is not a hot heap. I have oodles of nifty bugs and crawlies and worms and things that thrive in the fresher organic matter, helping break everything down.

I don't fret about the weeds. Seriously. I have to walk the garden and assorted patches anyhow, and it's not that big of a deal to pull a few weeds. I avoid putting things like thistles and dandelions in the compost, but stuff like common mallow is both edible and medicinal.

The only reason I would want a tumbler is to make it easier after I've celebrated a few more birthdays.

Besides, most of those are made out of plastic.

heather t said...

I have the opposite problem - surrounded by oak trees and I also leave my grass clippings on the lawn.

Even with that, we are able to get decent compost by filling our 4-pallet bin with leaves once or twice a year (spring & fall yard cleanup, usually), then whatever veggie scraps get tossed in. My "stirring" consists of pulling some dead leaves over the food scraps as I dump them in.

Last spring, I did one lawn mowing using the bagger (this was when I was still using the gas hog mower), and WOW. Adding the grass clippings made the compost pile break down much faster, and it seemed to be more efficient all summer.

So I'd say that green/brown mix is not critical, you don't need a fancy bin, certainly not a plastic one, and you don't even need to stir it much.

And I WILL offer my leaves on Freecycle next fall - I thought it was a crazy idea but maybe there are people who need leaves for their compost!

J and J Oxrieder said...

I have a link to a wonderful couple who built there own compost tumbler. I followed it and have one working great in my back yard. However with all this snow I can't turn the thing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcPz4XF-yUM

Farmgirl Cyn said...

My concern about throwing it all out on the side of the property would be the wild things that come in the night. Coons...coyotes...skunks...weasels...you catch my drift? If it weren't contained, wouldn't the critters be a huge problemo?

Kristijoy said...

I have the same problem, and since I am a renter, I don;t have the option to build lasting structures like a three bin system in the yard. So what I ave done is move the pile every spring and plant in the ground where the pile was. It's sort of like crop rotation and it seems to work really well. It's a bitch to do, I must admit. but it makes for a great fresh planting bed.
I also keep it covered to keep all that rain off so it doesn't get to moist. I have been thinking of buying a hay bale in the fall when the co-op sells them, and I do have a bunch of free leaves on the street in the fall I could add, but they get soggy before I think to add them. ..leaves aren;t the best brown material anyway I have read. I think old newspaper can work. I'd have to check on that. But we don't read the paper.

Di Hickman said...

Built my own compost area out of pallets like another commenter mentioned. I just built one containment area, but am looking to expand :) Hooked on composting now!

Definitely look into the paper, and ask neighbors for grass & leaves! Right now we have leaves all over the place in our street, I'm just gonna pluck up the weird looks and go sweep them up from neighbors lawns/paths lol.

Jan said...

We're about where you are - just started keeping a few chickens back in August as well as a compost pile. Chicken poop, pine shavings, leaves, grass clippings and food waste goes on the pile. We have turned it twice, I think. :-P Seems to be breaking down okay.

P.S. Chickens are easier to care for than dogs.

Kim said...

We use pizza boxes. They can't be recycled because of the grease. It isn't so much grease that the compost pile can't handle it.

My mom really likes her tumbler.

Stephany said...

For what it is worth, even the Master Composter who taught my Master Gardening class on compost has a screen and sifts his compost. The compost you get from stores has been sifted as well.

I think it is a bit of a fantasy that you are going to get tiny perfectly sized compost out of a pile unless you are able to let it sit for quite some time.

We made our bin out of old palettes and re-cycled chicken wire and I am sure it holds ten times what one of those little tumblers take up.

We do use our bagger to mulch up leaves and grass together in the fall and all of that gets dumped on the raised beds or in the compost. We also use shredded paper and all of the bags that our bulk food comes in.

The best method, I have come up with for balancing things out a bit is to keep a couple of ice cream buckets in the kitchen. We fill these about half way full of shredded paper and then dump food scraps on top. This balances the mixture as it goes into the pile.

Stephany said...

As an afterthought, many businesses will give you the paper they shred for compost if you inquire. I get giant bags from our county extension office.

blondeoverboard said...

we threw away a good chunk of cash on a compost tumbler last summer. the compost never got hot enough, the smell when it was opened or closed was terrible, it shortly weighed too much to roll properly, was crawling with maggots and ants and, due to the oddly sized door (too small for a shovel or pitch fork) was a pain in the patootie to empty. the solution... a roll of sturdy wire fencing and a few garden stakes. we toss in food scraps, yard waste, small sticks, shredded junk mail, torn cardboard packaging, bedding from the rabbit and chickens (2 small hens and one californian buck). it works so much better.... much like so many other things in life. every now and then we drop the chickens over the fence and let them scratch through the pile looking for scraps and bugs while leaving behind all that lovely chicken poo. that's the only turning the pile gets and it seems sufficient.

Jen said...

We use feed hay that we bought for $6 a bale at the feed and seed store, and old compost. For some reason, we've found it essential to mix in old compost with our new piles, which meant buying some mushroom compost from the home store to start a new pile.

Our compost barrels are just plastic trash cans that we drilled holes in all over. They work great. To start, I bought one of those fancy ones, but it ended up being kind of junk. I just saw it in my seed catalog for $110, too.

Laura said...

blondeoverboard... So funny that you drop your chickens 'overboard' and let them do the pooping and turning. :D Made me chuckle.

Oh please don't buy a plastic tumbler thingie. I mean if you really really think it will be wonderful than I guess you should but it just seems like a waste of money.
Sadly, the city yard waste bin might not be that great of a solution either. http://www.homegrownevolution.com/2008/12/compost-outlaws.html
This was reported from LA and I have no knowledge that it is being done in WA/Seattle. Makes ya wonder though.

I am planning on building an outdoor wooden worm bin before this spring. I am a renter with a yard and neighbors to collaborate with. This is still on the to do list, but it is pretty high.

Mazzajo said...

Another negative vote for the tumbler option - I've been working on my tumbler compost for over a year and it's still no good. Also, those tumblers get HEAVY really fast - if you've got back problems, maybe cold composting in layers would be a better solution. I have a really hard time turning mine and it's pretty small. The only reason I would recommend a tumbler is if you're composting food scraps and hate rodents - they're really good for keeping mice out.

Adding heaps of grass clippings to a compost pile is the best and fastest way I've found of making high quality compost fast.

I've learned from hard experience that disposing of food scraps and making compost are two different problems.

ragamuffin yogini said...

So many comments: I'll be concise.

1. No tumblers...make a pile...we contain ours in three seperate piles surrounded with hardware cloth that opens.

2. Water it when it is dry and turn it frequently.

3. Run the mower over all your big stuff (maybe even those rose bushes) and it will be crunched up enough for the compost bin.

4. I agree that you should find some leaves and some poop...I have access to donkey and chicken poop, YAHOO!

Lisa Sharp said...

I just started composting but I have the one in the picture you used! From what I have read so far you must keep it at about 50% brown 50% green. I try and add some cardboard, paper or dried leafs every time I add green items.

Also be careful with poop! Meat eaters are a big no no and birds are a no no. Rabbits I understand are fine.

Texan Mama @ Who Put Me In Charge said...

Hey I feel stupid telling YOU how to make a composter, but when we lived in the country I made our very own compost tumbler, super cheap. I bought a plastic garbage can with a lid that locked (by lifting the handles). Then I drilled holes in the sides and bottom with a spade drill bit. To "tumble" it, just lock the lid on and roll it around. And, I bought a can with wheels on the bottom so I could roll it wherever I wanted (right by the back door when putting compost in, roll it right over to the garden to empty it). I am gonna feel stupid if you reply back, "DUh everyone knows how to make THAT!" Hope that idea helps.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Texan Mama - No, it's me being stupid this time around. I love your idea and I'm going to steal it. Thanks! No $200 rolling composter for me when I can construct my own... Plus, I love drilling holes in shit. I'll give you my full report.

Also, thanks to everyone else for pointing out the obvious with the newspaper and cardboard. I have no problem securing paper waste so that will work perfectamente! Gracias!

C and G said...

don't have time to read everyone's comments so hope this is not a repeat . . .

for the brown portion of our compost we rake some of the grass clippings from mowing with our reel mower and we let them sit in a pile until they are - well, brown. then we add them.

Village Green said...

I follow the Ruth Stout no-work garden system, which involves no tilling of the soil, mounds of mulch along, with no-fuss composting. Her technique was to simply toss her compostable matter onto the mulch around her flowers and vegetables. I suppose if that doesn't please your aesthetic sensibilities, you could rake back the mulch and shove the potato peelings etc underneath.

I inherited a Rubber Maid compost box which I do use, but never stir it or worry about layers or percentages. It gets household and garden waste. The sun beats on it throughout the seasons. I leave it open during rainy weather so it gets moisture then cover it up so the sun can work its magic.

I don't use paper in composting. I'm leery of the chemicals used in inks and papers, so I send all paper into the city recycling bin.

Every spring, I open up the bottom flap on the compost box and dig out several wheelbarrows full of rich compost. Can't see the need to screen or sift it -- it just goes into whatever beds I'm working on and everything grows just fine.

Ruth was the sister of mystery writer Rex Stout (creator of Nero Wolfe, the orchid growing detective) and her books are still available. Here's a link to an article from Mother Earth:

http://tiny.cc/i7mvS

Anonymous said...

We use grass clipping ,3 bales of straw and leaves along with household scraps. I hvae several pails to put household scraps in and when they are filled I walk half way across the property to dump it on compost pile. It bakes out there in the "field" with straw ,leaves and grss clippings and manure. We get a fairly decent pile but never in 3 weeks! I hesitate to use cardboard or newspaper since I kind of worry about the processing chemicals of both. The straw we get is from a local farm and he doesn't use anything unhealthy on it-we also get the manure from the same farm. My hubby worked on the farm as a kid. Best part is we get both straw and manure free .

TinTex said...

I don't have much to say about tumbling compost (except to agree with others about purchasing a big, expensive chunk of plastic), but have a couple general composting thoughts. If there's any way you can make an extra raised bed, put your composting stuff right on top of the soil, whether contained or not. When you move the compost off of it (maybe into another of your beds), that bed will be extra super; there's a LOT of good stuff that leaches out of compost into the soil beneath. Second, if you eventually do get chickens, make a largish area for them to sort through your compost. I used to have a portable thingie for the hens that went directly over my raised beds (all the same size). Fresh kitchen scraps (no moldy ones, though), yard waste, freshly pulled weeds, etc all went in with the hens who loved it and turned it for me. When I moved the compost, I'd put the hens on the newly vacated bed where they would turn the soil and eat all the insects and sprouting weeds. They're just the best used in gardens this way. If you haven't read "Chicken Tractor", it has a lot more along these lines. And will make you want to go order some chicks immediately!

Celeste said...

I'm a renter in a small apartment so we have a bit of a different situation. We've been composting all of our food waste (even when preserving food from the farmer’s market during the summer) and newspapers for almost two years with a homemade worm bin. It's very cheap to make and our worms create compost extremely quickly – so much so that we plan to continue when we move to some land! We purchased a large plastic pot (large enough to plant a small tree), drilled holes in the side and base, and added red worms. We made a lid for it as well. We've never had problems with odor. The worms live in our coat closet during the winter and on the porch during the summer. To learn more, I recommend the book "Worms Eat My Garbage" by Mary Appelhof.

Sadraki said...

I agree my parents had a tumbler when I was a kid it was a pain.

I live in Seattle and have rabbits. I'm always trying to get rid of rabbit poop. Want some?

De in D.C. said...

I subscribe to the lazy gardener style, so practice sheet composting. I just layer compostable materials directly onto my garden beds throughout the year (leaves in fall; grass clippings in spring/summer) and let it break down in place. Heavily mulching like this always keeps any weed seeds from sprouting (a double bonus for the lazy gardener). We had inherited a chipper/shredder from my grandma a few years back, and use that to chop up any tree limbs and large debris we need to dispose of and then use the wood chips as ornamental mulch (after it ages for a few months). I figure the gas we use in the machine isn't any more than the county would spend in the waste removal trucks driving around and then mulching our yard waste.

I used to throw kitchen scraps on the gardens also (usually brushing some of the leaves or grass aside so the dog wouldn't eat them) but started a worm bin about a year and a half ago. A worm bin might be a great introductory step for you as a way to handle kitchen scraps while you get the pile dilemma sorted out. They little guys wouldn't help with the yard debris though.

Anonymous said...

We are in Seattle and use a worm bin. Couldn't be easier we have two HUGE Rubbermaid locker tubs, drilled with holes on the bottom, and sitting on bricks to allow drainage. We have gorgeous compost within a year. EASY!!!!

Neo@ said...

I do indoor composting with rubermaid and red worms, I just have 1 month, dont be afraid its easy!!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to echo the recommendation for making your own compost bin from a trash can. My homemade trash can composter works just as well as my expensive tumbler, holds more compost, and is easier to empty.

Molly said...

brown is sometimes white, like the contents of your paper shredder. You can also scour the neighborhood for bags of leaves that your neighbors put out for collection. I've been known to steal bags of grass clippings for some good hot "green".

Jennifer said...

My hot compost pile worked great after I accumulated enough "browns" and "greens." I still need to turn it with a pitchfork every few days. Here in southern california, the weather's great for composting year round. I've gotten used to feeding it my kitchen scraps, but still go over to the neighbors for things like dry leaves. Newspaper works too, but I wouldn't recommend adding your junk mail. Composting will likely be slower where you live.

My dad makes compost using red worms. There's some more work involved, such as taking out some of the worms before you add it to your garden. It's also more tricky caring for them if you live in a very cold climate. From my experience, you do become fond of the critters.

Anna said...

I have a tumbler (not a spinner) for my kitchen waste, to discourage rodent diners (chicken straw, hamster bedding and leaves go in an actual compost pile). The tumbler does seem to work, though I'm not sure it's actually "composting." Somehow a colony of redworms found its way in, so I may have more of a worm bin than an actual composter.

Still, the crumbly (somewhat wet) black stuff is awfully good for the garden.

Alison said...

Well, I have the opposite problem. Since we mulch our grass, the bulk of our stuff is brown (lots of oak tree leaves in the fall). I was seriously looking at a tumbler, but I'm not going ahead for the moment. I plan on doing two things:
1) Get a bokashi composter to use indoors for my food scraps. You can even put meat and bones in there if you have some as waste.
2) I found a really neat idea in "Introduction to Permaculture". Basically it involves setting up wire cylinders. You dig a hole where the inside of the cylinder will be. Then you just pile the waste in. You go ahead and plant stuff like tomatoes around the outside of the cylinder. This way as the stuff rots down the plants growing around the outside get the benefit of the nutrients. I hope that makes sense. I'm pretty much guessing on the details from a drawing in the book, but I want to figure it out and write about it later.

Anonymous said...

http://www.phoenixpermaculture.org/video/2008067:Video:19035

Above is a link for a YouTube video on making your own compost tumbler from a plastic barrel.

You can get the barrels from any feed store; I plan to do this with barrels rescued from the local car wash as I need all the compost that's no longer 'hot' and filling my trash can compost bins.

Susan

jill said...

I like my tumblers because it is easy and convenient but they are pricey. I agree with JAM... I finally got compost after getting the 2nd tumbler. I don't turn it consistently. If it gets smelly, I throw in more brown stuff. I ended up getting a pitch fork because it can get heavy to turn when full (i ended up with tendonitis last summer). I tried the compost tea from the tank, but will never do it again because it was pretty rank. I am sure I didn't brew it right, but I don't even want to try again!

Susan Och said...

It's amazing how just a few chickens solve this problem. They eat table scraps, weeds, grass clippings, and whatever they won't eat gets scratched in with the dirt and poop to become compost before you know it. It sounds like a worm farm would accomplish the same thing, only without the eggs.

psuklinkie said...

Here in LA, they have a wonderful composting class that I attended and they were pretty negative about turners for yard compost. The teacher suggested that turners are A) expensive B) really hard to turn when full and C) fairly unnecessary if you have access to a pitchfork.
He also suggested that you'll keep unwanted visitors (foxes, bugs, etc) away from your pile by visiting and turning it yourself.
In terms of brown, everyone else has made my best suggestions: shredded junkmail, cardboard, etc.

Good luck with whatever you end up choosing!

mudnessa said...

I just go in from mixing my pile and thought I'd tell you what I do since it seems to be pretty successful. I would like to have purchased a rolling tumbler but they are expensive and the apartment management would go absolutely nuts if they knew I had a compost pile.

I have a rubber maid bin(14 gallon size I believe) that I started with equal parts dirt from my Dad's house and shredded newspaper, filling it just a 1/4 full. I started it in spring and I just added more "brown", shredded newspaper, to it today. I think I am done with that one and will not add more to it so by spring I can have some great compost for my poor plants.

It is looking AMAZING for what little effort I put into it. I put pretty big chunks of things in it, I don't consistently tend to it all. I probably mix it once or twice a month and that is being generous. I leave things sitting on the top and mix them in eventually.

I guess the real test will be when I use the compost if it helps or if somehow I made plant killing compost, which actually wouldn't surprise me because I kill plants pretty readily.

I have found it pretty rewarding because now maybe I can actually grow some things on my tiny patio and I have cut down my waste A LOT.

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