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Posted: 8/24/2006 11:06:13 AM EDT

Ok, so I set up a compost pile at the beginning of the summer.  So far all I've put in it is grass clippings.  I don't have it completely fenced in yet so I'm hesitant to put food items in there as we have 2 dogs who might get into it.   It's fenced on 3 sides, 4 feet high and it is about 7 feet deep.  I plan to put bagged and mulched leaves in it this fall.  

What's the best way to accelerate the process?  I turned a little over to see what it looked like underneath but all I got was a moldy type powder that came off the clippings and it is a little moist at the very bottom,  the rest is fairly dry.  Should I try to compact the grass more to make the decaying process go faster?  


I cut down 2 large maples and then split them into firewood.  I also have quite a bit of indoor wood trash (baseboard trim/construction trash, etc).  When I split the maple I got probably 1-2 cubic yards of scrap wood and bark that I'm not going to stack.  I've been putting it in the wheelbarrow and moving it to my metal trash can and burning it.  It usually burns down to pieces that are the size of grapes, but I can also toss these in when I'm burning a new batch and they'll get much smaller (pea size to ashes)  After burning half my stuff I have about 1/2 cubic yard of ash and smaller pieces of burned wood.  I have a garden set out for next year staked off with railroad ties,  it's about 100x50 feet.  Would this be good to lay on the top then till into the soil as a fertilizer or just toss it over the fence into the pasture?   Also my dogs have been doing their business in the future garden area.  Should I leave it or toss it over the fence too?  I know cow manure is a natural fertilizer, but what about dog shit?


I have 3 options to water my garden next year.  City water from a hose.  Runoff from the roof caught in 55gallon drums or pond water that is 1/2 spring fed and 1/2 runoff from a 4 lane road that drains through about 200 yards of storm sewers before it hits the pond.  It also filters through 2 other ponds (tiered at different levels)  and I imagine as far as road contaminanents the first 2 get the brunt, while the 3rd (where I'll pump from) gets the least.  Should I be concerned if I pump or carry water up from this pond and water my garden with it?  

Finally.  the garden is full of weeds and crap.  This fall after everything dies off would it be best to dig up the dead weeds or burn them?  Would burning them release the seeds to survive and germinate next season?  Or just dig them all up and toss them then till the soil?

Link Posted: 8/24/2006 11:14:15 AM EDT
your problems are related
grass by itself does not a compost pile make.  what you have is a pile of stinky grass.
you need to mix in some brown, and your wood shavings from your pile would be perfect and get some water and MIX IT UP
you need air to get really good decomp going and one big pile of grass won't do it.  
then, take the weeds that you pull out of your garden (or hire neighbor kids to do it) and throw all that on the pile
water, mix, let rot
mix about once a week

Till your garden a couple tims and get all the weed seed out
then, cover it with black plastic all winter
it cooks the soil nicely and kills anything in it
you'll have amazing soil in the spring with zero weeds plus it will be warm so you'll get good plant growth.
Link Posted: 8/24/2006 11:38:41 AM EDT

Get the grass wet, add your food scraps, turn it over once a week.  Don't breathe in the mold.  If it is dry and moldy you may need to spread the pile out and stir it more often.  Putting your pitchfork right there and using it so that your fresh food scraps are in the middle of the pile may cut down on your dog's desire to eat the scraps off the top.  Or make a little cage for meat and bones and just add the veggie scraps to the pile.

Grass clippings can be added straight to the garden surface as a mulch all summer long and leaves can also be added straight to the garden area and tilled in in the fall.  I do this at my home and it helps with weeds and water requirements.


Those strange pieces that don't stack well make great bonfire wood.  If you just burn it, and burn it by itself or with very little trash (junk mail, newspaper ads, plastic) you can put it on the garden all fall and winter long.  Same with the ashes from your woodstove.  Till it in during the spring.

Garden Watering.

Use your grass as a mulch if you have dry soil.  I assume you pay for your city water, so watering from a rain barrel or the 3rd pond makes great sense to me.  

Come on over to the survival forum and read some of the threads on these topics.
Link Posted: 8/24/2006 5:49:09 PM EDT

Pour a couple of cheap beers on it.  Turn frequently, as has been suggested.

(Hell of a first post on a gun board, even in GD).
Link Posted: 8/24/2006 5:56:29 PM EDT
Do not put meat or fat scraps into a compost pile.  It is a bad idea.  Compost piles should be turned early and often.  Green grass clippings will easily hit 160 degrees in about 24 hours and consume all of the available oxygen.  Turn frequently.

Unless you put in some more woody material, your compost will be consist of very fine particles and you won't have much of it.  It is still good, though.

If you include shrub clippings, they need to be chopped up.  Run over them with the mower and catch them in the discharge bag.

You may have to add some water if you aren't getting much rain.  If you are getting lots of airborne mold spores, then you are too dry.

I was with a commerical composting operation from '86 to '02.  I know compost.

Link Posted: 8/24/2006 5:57:27 PM EDT
I've had one going continuously for about 15 years.  It's very easy and well worth the effort.

I put food scraps in it every 2-3 days.  That includes just about everything, even used paper towels and coffee filters.  I dig a hole in the pile, pour in the garbage, and cover it up.  In a week you can't find it, the stuff has all been consumed.

To keep my ankle-biter guard mutt from digging it up, I throw a couple of unused tomato cages on top of the pile.  That way I can even put meat scraps, pieces of moldy cheese, etc. into it without any problem. Once in a while a rat will try to nest in it, until one of the neighborhood cats takes it out.

You need to keep it watered or the action will slow to a crawl.  Other than that, let nature take its course.  Red worms, sow bugs, and bacteria do most of the work.

I don't bother to turn it.  Every year in the early spring I move the active stuff aside and dig out finished compost from the bottom of the pile.  It resembles coffee grounds, probably mostly worm casts.  Tomatoes love it.

Do not put meat or fat scraps into a compost pile.  It is a bad idea....

A lot of people have told me that, but based on personal experience I call - Small amounts cause no problems.  I wouldn't put a whole pot roast in there because it would take a long time to break down and probably cause a fly problem.
Link Posted: 8/24/2006 6:02:46 PM EDT
True.  And with enough money and effort, you too can fly several times the speed of sound.  But is it worth all the extra work?  Not hardly.

Do not put meat and fat scraps into a compost pile.  You don't gain anything measurable and it certainly isn't worth all the extra steps to keep Fido, possum, and coons out of the pile.
Link Posted: 8/24/2006 6:10:51 PM EDT
It's no big effort for me, Will-Rogers.  Throwing a couple of tomato cages over the pile to keep Ruta the Beast out takes a couple fo seconds.  I've developed a system that works well for me.  My yard is fenced so other peoples' dogs and wandering coyotes can't get in.  I use meat pretty efficiently anyway.  The last spoilage I had was a package of Italian sausage that didn't survive my refrigerator outage over the weekend.  That went into the freshly repaired freezer on Sunday and into the trash today.  There's no way I would bother composting that, with all the preservatives and crap.  But hey, it tastes good.

OTOH I have a friend who is kind of p___-whipped; his wife won't let him put ANY food scraps in his compost pile, not even bread heels.    All he gets is small amounts of mulch.  My well-fed worms produce a lot of good soil amendment.

Big commercial operations like the city of San Diego runs at the Miramar Landfill rely solely on microbial action - bacteria and fungi.  They're turning the stuff with bulldozers constantly.  My backyard pile contains a healthy population of red worms, which could not survive in a large pile getting turned constantly and running at high temperature throughout.  San Diego compost is free to residents BTW, if you are willing to accept whatever your fellow citizens have taken to the greenery dump.  (I'm not.  Too many ornamental plants are toxic.)

To each his own.  A lot of people have made blanket statements that meat and fat are bad.  I haven't found that to be 100% true.
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