Any composters here? I need help perfecting my technique for this year


#1

I got 2 of these types of spin bins last year: http://www.spinbincomposter.com/product/spin-bin-compost-tumbler/

Over the year, we’ve filled both to the brim and spun a few times every time we added kitchen scraps (everyday almost). I also added moisture if it looked too dry until it started raining in November. It’s mostly kitchen scraps with shredded newspaper/paper. However, to the best of my knowledge, it never really heated it like it should have and hasn’t become compost. there is some in the center of the bin but most of the rest has not broken down.

Now this year, I need to add 2 more compost bins because we apparently produce that many kitchen scraps (Vegetable/fruit skins/center and egg shells). What can I do to ensure proper composting this year? What is a good ratio for these types of compost bins?

I have read that I should shred my kitchen scraps and that might be a losing battle with my family. So I have half orange rinds going in there unshredded. I need to call the fact that it’s ending up in the compost rather than trash a win in this situation.

One idea I’ve had is to try the bokashi method with one of the new compost bins to help it move along faster.

Any ideas or ways that I can improve?


#2

try adding some of your native soil to it. compost accelerator helps too. i don’t use bins but i use on the ground compost piles. more work turning but you get quicker results i find.


#3

Is there a good compost accelerator you can recommend?

I have hard clay soil. Is it ok to add that? What does adding the soil do?


#4

I have a compost tumbler and have found that you should not fill it up too full. I like to fill mine about half way full to allow the material to tumble better. If the device is packed too full it will not properly mix when tumbled. Once mine gets half way and starts to look processed I dump it out next to the tumbler and start over. I kakenit a habit of turning the pile manually when I turn the tumbler.


#5

Adding the soil brings in bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that break down the organic matter. Native doesn’t necessarily mean from your backyard, just your local environment. I would reccomend soil from a forest. Look under last years fallen leaves, there should be an earthy smelling dark layer of soil that feels like potting soil, use a few handfuls of that.


#6

To really heat up your compost, you need to have at least a cubic yard of material - like 3’X3’X3’. Then you need to make sure you balanced carbon (brown) and nitrogen(green) materials. And you cook your compost like a pie - add all materials all at once, in layers. Then you let it it to heat up, then you start pocking it to provide air - only aerobic composts heat up. When it cools down, you can turn it to provide more air and to heat up again, though I was never able to reheat it significantly after turning. But turning sure speeds things up. So add-a -little-scrap composts never will heat up. But if you will be balancing your scraps(that are mostly nitrogen materials) with let’s say shredded leaves, you still can get OK mushroom compost(meaning it is made mostly by fungus, not by bacteria) that is still very beneficial to the garden and especially fruit trees.


#7

I think speeding the compost process is highly over rated. You will need the stuff just as much next year so why by big plastic things to speed things up?

I can’t recommend my method because the stink gets pretty bad every year when I dump the contents of 32 gallon garbage cans with holes drilled in the bottom. Some of it having been sitting for about 12 months.

After a year of rotting anaerobically, my meat scraps, including bones (softened by long boils in a swiss pressure cooker to make bone broth) along with the other scraps most people use exclusively in their compost, the stuff gets really funky. Somehow it is like manna from heaven for my low oxygen red worms that become a sizable percentage of contents when I dump the stuff out.

Takes another 6 months to make very useful compost after I layer this garbage with hot urine soaked horseshit infused stable waste.

The point is that stuff rots, and once it rots it’s ready to go. There’s a million ways to do it. Maybe my method preserves some of the nitrogen, but maybe not.

When compost heats up you are sending N to the atmosphere. But it also has a sterilizing affect.

Lettuce grown in my compost has yet to kill me, but maybe I’m just lucky. Honestly, once compost smells sweet I’m confident it is safe, but few things in the garden that touch it are usually eaten raw anyway. .


#8

I am not an expert, but this is what we have been doing.

We have a black barrel-style composter that I fill primarily with kitchen scraps. It’s placed next to our leaf pile, actually more of a leaf corral (about 4’ x 4’, made out of a few old wooden posts and some old wooden fence material; the leaves are shredded or at least mostly shredded). Over the winter, the kitchen barrel progressively fills up (and sometimes I have to start putting the overflow in a barrel in our unheated garage). When things warm up and thaw out, I empty out the leaf corral and rebuild the pile, incorporating maybe half of the stuff from the kitchen bin or a little more.

Over the course of the summer, I will continue adding scraps to the kitchen bin while mixing in some material from the leaf pile. This helps to keep down the smell and flies, which is an issue for us with a small yard and neighbors nearby, and it also seems to yield some nice-looking compost. At some point during the summer I may or may not get around to turning the leaf pile and incorporating more stuff from the kitchen bin. (I try.)

By the fall, a good amount of cooking will have taken place in both the kitchen bin and the leaf pile. At that point, I harvest some of the finished compost and spread it or store it. The leaf pile produces more leaf mould type material that I prefer for spreading around our trees, while the kitchen bin yields more “black gold” type compost that I will spread more in the garden. Most of whatever is left over will get mixed in with that year’s shredded leaves when I build the new leaf pile.

I’m definitely still learning but it seems to work reasonably well.


#9

I looked into getting a compost tumbler and even tried the whole compost in a 32 gal trash bin thing but ultimately found that composting on a small scale is just a lot of work for very little return. Especially when my municipality provides free leaf compost in early spring.

As someone mentioned, you need at least a cubic yard of material to get things going and at a minimum you want two piles - one for compost that’s almost done and one to continue to add fresh material to. So basically you need a 5 x 10 ft area dedicated to composting.


#10

I agree with Galinas, you need at least a cubic yard of composting material to get a good hot compost going. I generally can’t add enough material to get a hot compost going and usually have to just cold compost. It takes longer, but gives you the same end product.


#11

adds the microbes that do the composting. id remove rocks and break it up some or dig the nice soil from under larger trees. its full of leaf molds and composting bacteria. i also have 2 10gal. totes in my spare room with 500 composting worms in each. i change out their bedding every 6mo. and by then its pure worm castings. i remove the worms, refill the totes with coir and put the worms back. in winter my house scraps goes to them. in summer it goes to my compost pile. i feed the worms chicken mash in the summer as well as chopped cardboard. get 2 kinds of compost this way.


#12

I liked what I saw from OYR on YouTube, he has a tried and true method of composting that I started to employ in the yard and are testing the process for its second year. Using a geobin I add shredded leaves of an entire 70’ oak tree with maybe 40 gallons worth of coffee grounds and yard/garden scraps to keep it cooking slowly. This is a trial and error process now but shredding the leaves this year as opposed to not last may give me better results.
I also have a 55gal compost tumbler for kitchen scraps that I fill rather quickly and add leaves from the pile next to it to keep the ratio correct (no science to it really)
I agree with adding soil from an area in the yard to add beneficial microbes/fungus.
Just had a truckload of wood chips dropped in the yard also that is starting to cook nicely. This will be replacing the grass around all of the garden and future fruit trees. Once composted down this will also be added to the beds and possibly soil mix for the figs and other plants.
Additionally i am leaning toward setting up a flow through vermicompost bin if the castings I purchased this year supercharges my other trees/plants.

One important thing I have found from the first year of trialing all of this is you need to be patient and can not force compost to happen as quickly as you like it… set up other areas where you can add new compost piles where the old ones can lie and finish up completely.


#13

Agreed. Quantity beats quality. You aren’t trying to make fine wine.

I just get a pickup truck load of wood chips from the transfer station (about 13 wheelbarrows full) put a combination of dissolved and undissolved ammonium sulfate and urea on it (7-8 pounds) and keep it damp. It fires right up. After about 3 weeks when it cools down I turn it. Maybe I turn it again.

It tests OK in about half the nutrients and deficient or marginal in the other half. I value it mostly for its structure and water holding ability. If I want to turn it into growing media, I can do that by adding about a dollar’s worth of real chemical name micronutrients. Not exactly Rodale approved, I know.

I view those elaborate tumbler things as being more of an exercise in being a green person or getting a few buckets full for a small garden by the kitchen. If you are reduced to making compost tea, you aren’t making enough.

I also agree that trying to set a land speed record in making compost is a little ridiculous. If you need it that fast, buy it.


#14

Hi, Jesse/wizzard here
I guess I’ll add my two cent in to the conversatioin. Cause i’ve bin doing this for years.Basically you use what you have access to. Every year people drop off all there used pumpkins and bagged leaves. I get 100’s of pumpkins and about 60 to 70 bags of leaves. I feed the most of the pumpkins, and use the leaves for bedding. For my Pheasants.quail, pigs,and chickens etc.The main base of my mulch is the leaves. It doesn’t matter what you mulch in, I use an old sand box,kids swimming pool, barrels and I big wooden box I built. I put in the leaves,all soil from plants that died in pots,coffee grounds, eggs and egg shell, died plants without seeds on them,I pick up buckets of tree bark and mix it in.I add sands,food scraps, some manure from my beasts,but not to much. Mix it all up with a pitch fork on a weekly bases. Then I add the most important thing of all, WORMS. The worms will do the work for you. They will brake down all that good stuff, Turn and churn your heap into to a pile of black gold.
When you start your next batch mix some of the old mulch in with your new batch, and spread them already munching micbros in and kick start the new batch. Well, this is what I do. Hope it helps. May think I’am crazy, Crazy is as crazy does!!! Later Jesse/Wizzard


#15

My lazy way.
1 Make a 4 by 4 and 4 ft deep bin from scrap lumber or cheap green wire garden fence.
2 add plant material and a shovel of dirt occasionally. Water if weather is very dry. When it is full make another bin and add plant material to that one.
3 wait one year and after that there will be a constant supply of compost.

I use to turn it over occasionally but I don’t do that anymore.


#16

i only turn mine once a month. i have 2 4’ x 4’ bins side by side made of pallets. i cover the compost with scraps of rug. 1st bin is less than 6mo old the other is over 6mo. once the older one is finished, i remove it to a covered barrel. i then take the other side which is now about 6mo. older and put in the finishing bin. i then mix up a new batch in the 1st bin. still takes over a year to get the finished product here but it is what it is. my worm bins make up for the difference giving me about 60lbs of worm castings every 6 mo.


#17

That certainly speeds things up. Since I don’t turn mine some of the plant material composts slowly. I put a 1/2 inch wire screen over a wheelbarrow when collecting the compost for use. Anything that doesn’t fall through goes back into a compost bin.


#18

i do the same before it goes into the finished barrel. i then mix some molasses w/ water and pour over the finished stuff to help it cure further.


#19

also, when I’m lazy , ill use my small front tined tiller to till up my compost piles. not as thorough as a good hand turning but works pretty good.


#20

Sharbecr here in the mid south. I’m like mist of these folks. Been composting fir about 35 years. I just keep piling up the scraps between layers of coffee grounds that I get from a local coffee shop. The grounds are heavy in nitrogen. The scraps from garden and kitchen provide the carbon side along with the leaves in the fall. Makes for a slow, rich compost. I tried the tumbler thing and got mostly black soldier flies and their larva. Good if you have chickens or ducks. They love the larvae. I ended up giving my tumbler to my lawn guy. I don’t use the enclosures either. My pile is pretty big and produces quite a good amount of usable compost.