Composting - it’s never enough!


I don’t see where rye helps me, although in the past I used a 25 lb bag. I want a clean slate in the spring, mostly because most of my veggies are direct seeded (very few transplants).


I’m considering trying Sunn Hemp.


i buried a chicken i found dead in the coop in mine as well as about a doz. squirrels i shot. by next spring even the bones will be gone. i get wood chips from a local arborist. there is so much green in there the pile actually smokes a few days after its dropped off. i have to flatten it out some with the tractor. it breaks down very quickly.


Depending on where you live, you can always ask your local grocery store if you can get their “waste”. I had along with a friend, a deal with a store in town that only sell organic produce. It’s quite insane how much produce they throw out every day. So every day I picked up 3 35 gallon bins of produce and left 3 empty ones. Doing this for a few months means tons of compost. I save truckloads of leaves every year that I shred which I mix with it.

I have since moved so I need to find a new place that are willing to start a similar system.
No matter how much compost you make, you will never make enough, so keep at it.


How big are your bins? Can you picture the set up? Did you collect worms in the garden or bought special worms? I want to entertain myself in winter with something other than planting too early :grin:


Nowadays folks need to be aware of the ‘persistent herbicides’ that can turn your good intentions into ‘killer compost’. This is becoming more common than when I posted this. So if you use the products cited in that post on your grass/lawn and then turn around to compost your clippings, you may have made ‘killer compost’.

It recently happened to my garden guru, who relies on his crops for income. His soil is unusable for several years and may lose his ‘organic’ label. So tragic.

Bottom line: if you bring in compost, first try growing beans in it to see if you get distorted growth. Otherwise you can poison your garden for a few years from the ‘persistent’ herbicide.


i bought red wigglers and african nightcrawlers online. each composts a little differently. my totes are 20 gal. each. i keep a garbage bag to cover the soil. it also helps to keep moisture in the bin. i drilled some small holes in the bottoms for drainage and they both sit elevated on blocks in bigger shallow bins to catch any runoff. i got the idea from a youtube video and information on how to raise them from many vendors that sell them online. they don’t smell as long as you bury the food scraps. i add some crushed egg shells occasionally to keep ph from becoming too acidic. i water maybe once a month but the moisture from food scraps is sometimes enough they don’t need it. i started this 5 years ago with 100 worms. now i have thousands. the more you feed them the faster they reproduce. i also have a large tote that i grow dubia roaches for chicken supplements/ treats. its fun to watch the chooks run them down.


What scraps fo you use, veggies? Fresh only or cooked too? What if you have something went bad in fridge, moldy?do you need to shred what you feed them with?


its best to break it up some but not necessary. they love moldy rotten stuff. easier to break down. i just pour it on one side of the bin and mound some dirt over it. in 2-3 days it will be all gone. no meats or dairy. they can eat it but it will stink. they can survive on just shredded paper but they won’t grow or re produce. i keep some chicken crumble feed so if i have no scraps i give them that. oatmeal/ cornmeal works good too.


Never enough… here are my compost piles. I have chips delivered from tree services, and get to haul all the manure from a local riding stable. The stable supplies the tractor there and a dump trailer!

I incorporate the two, turn the piles once a week, then spread the following year. Today was breezy and 70. Nice amounts of steam came off the fresh stuff while I turned it… nice!

If you look close, you can see my manure spreader for scale. So far, this plan has worked wonders on my deep sandy soil. (Soil type = “mineral!”) I’m looking forward to results of a new soil test in a year or so. Anecdotally, I can definitely see a difference where this has been going on for a few years!

After posting, the scale doesn’t really show up well. Those piles are 250-300 feet long.


do you deliver? :wink:


I’m not proud.

I use copious amounts of urea fertilizer on a pickup truck load full of wood chips I get from the transfer station. About 1.5 yards. Got the last pile up to 150 degrees for a couple days.

No complaints of odors from the neighbors. No vermin. No weeds. No special precautions against listeria, etc. I have a surplus. Consequently, my stuff is always well-aged. Not too much shrinkage since the volume is entirely wood chips.

I expect a conventional organic pile would have a more complete nutrient profile, but then, it would be much smaller. It’s not a foregone conclusion that it is more complete, either. I’ve had it tested a couple of times. Based on the tests I spike my pile with about a dollar’s worth of real-chemical-name ferts. After all, it’s not organic the minute I threw urea on it.


While I hear ya and understand the weed issues with manure, I can’t find a logical reason to worry about it the way I’m working things. The weeds the manure brings in will be stray seeds from fields of hay. Anything in those fields are already present at a far greater rate in my orchard and will continue to be imported by the local animal population. Ultimately, the trees will live far above the weeds and nothing will get too big, what with mowing. If I were using this in my garden where the tomatoes would get accosted, I may have a different opinion.


When it comes to weeds, there’s nothing worse than the weeds that already seem to exist in my soil.

Any bare square inch of soil in my garden is covered in some kind of vegetation within two weeks during the growing season, if I don’t mulch it.


I use last seasons 1/2 decomposed compost every year. I have too many sticks in the fire these days to turn my pile more than a few times a summer if even. It works really well though. Around 2nd or 3rd week of June I spread it in my vegetable garden(s). Boy does everything explode with growth about a week later! Like mentioned above, the worms work at it more too. I also usually spread a thinner layer of straw in early July, it really helps keep the heat down and conserve more moisture (Colorado air is so dry). By fall, the majority of the compost is gone.
I can’t wait to have chickens again some day to help the churning, and again all the compost from the coop bedding.


I’ve been mulching with the coop bedding i mucked out this spring. if you don’t turn it into the soil or put it against a tree. you’re good. it will break down and fertilize over time. i remember my father putting small mounds of fresh coop bedding in between the rows of his veggies and around his apples and fruit bushes. after he harvested the garden, he would till in the bedding. by next spring the soil was ready to plant again . now that i have chickens, I’m hoping i don’t have to buy fertilizer again.


I agree. It’s not that big a deal in an orchard setting.

I mostly use my compost for non- orchard purposes. On the trees, I use the wood chips as an uncomposted mulch. Consequently I have quack grass or something back there that lives by rhizomes. I’ll never get rid of it.

All things being equal, it’s better to kill the weed seeds, even for an orchard.

The high temp signifies a high volume of material turning to compost in the pile. When the compost temperature is like a banked campfire, that’s a lot of volume turning over.


Been busy the last few days. From where I’m beering, it doesn’t look like much of a difference, but the front left pile has shrunk a TON! I want to believe it’s an acre-inch (less the area in row with my trees) but that hope is likely the results of too many hours breathing tractor exhaust.

Tomorrow morning I’ll seed the alleyways with covercrops and hope the compost helps retain enough moisture for the buckwheat/sunflower mix to grow more than the 8-12” last year!

Also, the astute eye may notice my firewood pile appears a smidge smaller. Alas, the splitting-faries didn’t come, the grass is just growing.


Side note: one may also note the manure spreader hasn’t moved. Out of service for now! Ugh. Everything moved was done one bucket at a time.


So… I spent the better part of four days prepping a football field sized space for next year’s planting. Spread, by my estimation, 200-250 yards of composted wood chips. At 700 lbs per yard and 30% moisture, this comes in at somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 tons of organic matter on a little over an acre. (This was done using a 1/3 yard bucket. I need a bigger bucket!!!)

To stir up some controversy, I plowed it under! Gasp! I know this will bind up nitrogen in the immediate vicinity of each chip (I think I read within a centimeter) for awhile, it should be worth it. My soil type registers as ‘mineral’ with seemingly negligible organic matter. It would take many many years of cover cropping to achieve this spike in organic matter.

I did run a test on incorporating woodchips last year. The spot where I did this showed the best cover crop growth I’ve seen and this year’s planting of elderberries seem to be doing well.

Time will tell!

As an aside, if anyone wants to buy a small manure spreader in northern Michigan…