Thread: Anyone here a composter?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    Anyone here a composter?

    I wanted to build a fast-composter from a steel barrel. I was planning to throw some willow oak leaves in it from last fall and add some fresh grass clippings. I've been reading online about the ingredients, but I'm missing the kitchen scraps part. At least I wouldn't have nearly enough. 1 banana peel to 55 gallons of leaves n grass doesn't seem like it would do much. Any ideas on what I could toss in to get the mix right? Maybe some thick, juicy, stalky weeds that grow around here? Maybe some sugar or honey? Catfood????

  2. #2

    RE: Anyone here a composter?

    Maybe I've been doing it wrong, but I just throw everything in except for meat and fat. If it started out as a plant, it goes into the compost heap. (I keep the sticks to a minimum, but I don't have a problem with some twigs--they break down sooner or later.) I'll sometimes augment it with some manure. But I know of no "recipe" for compost--just throw in any vegetable matter, stir, and wait. (It's kinda like soup. As a matter of fact, I just threw a pot of old [vegetable] soup onto the heap this weekend.)

    One thing I do know: When I see people putting huge bags of garden scraps out on the curb to be taken to the landfill, I get sick to my stomach! The waste! (Pun intended.) (Note that a landfill is _not_ a big compost heap: Landfills are typically sealed so that minimal air gets in. Very little decay actually happens in them. There are stories of people digging 50 year old newspapers out of landfills and finding them still readable.) For one thing, this is a waste of the fuel needed to haul the stuff. For another, it's a waste of volume in the landfill. But worst of all, folks throw away all the processed minerals from their land. They then need to buy fertilizer to take its place. It doesn't just make no sense, it's downright nuts!

    But folks are so programmed to "throw away" their garbage (can someone please tell me where "away" is these days? I think "away" vanished a few decades ago) that I actually have trouble maintaining my compost heap: My neighbors keep trying to be neighborly and clean it up for me! Then, the guy from the county who mows the easement drove right over my heap, scattering it everywhere--it "just" looked like a pile of brush to him (he wasn't supposed to be driving onto my property anyway--we had a "chat"; I didn't quite make him cry, but it came close). Just plain nuts!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    RE: Anyone here a composter?

    People just don't have the time, energy, or need to compost I guess. Of all the people I know, I'm the only one with a need to compost. Everybody else is just as happy having a yard that is about 50% grass and 50% dirt (er,,, red clay). Trees,,, no trees, its all the same to them. The more plants you have, the more raking, mowing, pruning, etc you have to do. So, going to work, raising the kids, watching tv, etc is enough for them. I just happen to have lots of time and lots of nice plants that is already here. And I don't mind doing yard work. I like to stay busy and feel productive.

    Basically, I'm on a mission to make my big willow oaks healthy again after all the damage I've been doing to them. One way I can do that is to make compost as fast as I can so I can feed it to the trees. So, I was reading here: and decided to post this question. According to that site, the best I can do is leaves (50:1) and grass (20-30:1) which would put me in the 35-40:1 range. I need something 10:1 to put in, since I don't have many kitchen scraps.

    How long does it take you to make compost? I have leaves piled up in the back for 2 yrs and its still just a pile of leaves. A month ago, when I planted the fruit trees, I dug some leaves out to use as mulch around the trees. It has earthworms in it, but its all still leaves. And I also read that the way I'm doing it results in the lowest nutritional value compost.

  4. #4

    RE: Anyone here a composter?

    Water the heap and "stir" it regularly and things like leaves will be gone in a couple of months. If it's still intact after two years, it's because the layers are not getting oxygen. The decomposition is, chemically, very similar to burning only at a much slower rate. It needs oxygen to be successful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    RE: Anyone here a composter?

    Not sellin ya on the 2 week composting thing huh?

  6. #6

    RE: Anyone here a composter?

    I've never tried it, but the systems that stir continuously might be able to make the 2 week mark. I don't see a reason to go for maximum speed on this sort of thing, however. There's enough rushing about in my life, I'll try to keep my gardening slow.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    RE: Anyone here a composter?

    Well, I just finished my Sutton Compostumbler replica. Waiting for the paint to dry now. I'll post a pic and let you know how it works (if it works).

    All my trees are hungry. They've been sucking dry dirt now for a couple weeks and the last 2 autumns I've raked up all the leaves and haven't put anything down to replace it. I was pretty dumb back then. But you know what they say... A little knowledge is dangerous!

  8. #8

    RE: Anyone here a composter?

    My attitude: They're called "leaves" for a reason--you're supposed to leave them there.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    RE: Anyone here a composter?

    Yeah, but I want grass. And those willow oak leaves end up everywhere and its a big mess. And there are more bugs with dead rotting stuff laying around. My trees are right over my house and garage. Its a BIG mess if I just leave it alone. Out in the woods, its ok if I leave those leaves there.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Dalton, GA

    RE: Anyone here a composter?

    "Unfinished Compost
    For most uses it is acceptable to have some recognizable pieces of leaves or straw remaining in your compost. However, you should not use partly finished compost either as a seed starter mix or in areas where heavy nitrogen feeding plants are to be grown. Because unfinished compost is still actively breaking down, organisms in the material continue to take nitrogen from their surroundings. When mixed with the soil, the organisms will begin to draw the nitrogen from the soil in order to have the energy to continue the decomposition process. The result is a nitrogen defecit in the soil to the detriment of the plants in the area. Signs of nitrogen deficiency are stunted plant growth, yellowing leaves often near the bottom of the plant, light green or yellow foliage and weak stems."

    Seems like a good thing to know...

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