Composting : LUSENET : garden project : One Thread

I am diving into the world of home composting this weekend. I plan on the 3 bin side by side thing. Stuart wanted to make a rotating thing that you just turn with a crank but I don't want that! I am geekily excited about this! Any advice or anything?

-- Renee (, March 15, 2000


Sure, I'll tell you what we've learned over the last year. You can also see what I wrote at
  1. If you want it to break down fairly quickly (i.e., you're going to be adding a lot to it on a regular basis and you have a use for the compost), you should either turn it once a week or every two weeks, or spring for some compost starter. I've found that it breaks down at about the same rate if I do one or the other of those things. If I do neither it takes forever. If I did both it would happen even more quickly, but I am (a) cheap and (b) lazy, so I can only overcome one of those obstacles at a time! Oh, yeah, and definitely layer a little bit of good dirt in every foot or so, preferably with worms. Works great.

  2. Big leaves like maple or sycamore, gourds, fibrous stalks like tomato plants, woody prunings, and that sort of thing take forever to break down unless you've shredded them first. With leaves, we leave them on the ground in the back yard or in a pile which we turn now and then (or let the dog play in, works the same) for a while, until they've started to break down a bit. THEN we put them in the compost bin. Otherwise they mat up and don't let any air through, and then the pile gets stinky.

  3. NO GARLIC! Unless you want garlic all over your yard. I keep forgetting and tossing in cloves of garlic that were brown or whatever. Same with avocado seeds, parts of potatoes that include an eye, and even carrot tops sometimes. I have a whole vegetable garden happening out there.

  4. I have never used a compost sifter and I've been just fine, but some people swear by them. I just put on gloves and pick out the big stuff.

  5. If it rains a lot where you are, you might want to cover the bins a little, especially in the winter time. We just lay big old palm fronds over the top (we have a surplus of those), and that lets air in and a little moisture, but not too much.

-- Beth (, March 16, 2000.

Grow some comfrey. It helps break down the compost and what you don't put on the heap you can use to help heal your bumps and bruises. I don't know what's available in the US; I had Russian comfrey and it grew like a weed. You had to put the seeds in the freezer for six weeks to trick them into thinking they were in Russia. A neighbour made a liquid plant feed from comfrey leaves by rotting them down in a tub of water. He swore by it but I wouldn't recommend it -- the stink was vile beyond belief.

-- Barbara (, March 16, 2000.

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