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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I finally got a riding John Deere for my 3 acre yard. Been bagging the clippings and wondering who uses what for composting. I have A LOT of clippings and need a good composter.

Any help/thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

Steve
 

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I use leafs and grass clippings. I make 19 bu each week. I have three composters and one needs filled each week. It takes three weeks for a complete cycle. I use the original compost tumbler and like them very much. I mulch my leafs in the fall for next years composting. This is my set up for gathering grass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I use leafs and grass clippings. I make 19 bu each week. I have three composters and one needs filled each week. It takes three weeks for a complete cycle. I use the original compost tumbler and like them very much. I mulch my leafs in the fall for next years composting. This is my set up for gathering grass.
Could you show me a link and/or picture of the "original compost tumbler" you are referring to?

When you say you make 19bu are you saying you make 19bu of compost or dirt each week?
 

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Could you show me a link and/or picture of the "original compost tumbler" you are referring to?

When you say you make 19bu are you saying you make 19bu of compost or dirt each week?
Yes. Each week when I empty a tumbler it has been working for three week.There is one week when I don't get any compost be cause I only have three tumbelers and I would need four in orderto get one each week. . I start off only filling one tumbler per week. Google original compost tumbler.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

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You can get 55 gallon plastic barrels off of craigslist around here for $10.00. Enough galvanized (so it won't rust) steel pipe and fittings to make the frame would be another $50.00 or so new.

Around here everything metal rusts unless it's galvanized or stainless, and everything wooden rots, even pressure treated, just a little slower, so I'm all about spending just a little more for things that will last.
 

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Looks to me like taking a 55 gal barrel with a lock on top, drilling holes it in and then put it on its side and roll it around would accomplish the same thing and be a whole lot cheaper.
 

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I've watched "composters" over the last 40 plus years: magic this and super that. Close to me in Portland the city requires composting...

Reality always eliminates the fanciful barrels and rollers and such and what's left is the best: a pile. You can turn the pile weekly if you want, that will speed the composting process, but all serious composters end up with either a free form or "fenced" compost pile. The fence is often pallets, connected to form a series of compartments and the compost is turned from 3 to 4, 2 to 3, 1 to 2 and the new stuff goes into 1. Or a round wire fence pile ( hog wire lined with hardware cloth is my favorite ) where the pile composts a while then the fence is removed and the standing pile is placed into the reassembled fence.

All these are fine if you have lots of leaves. And you aren't old and out of shape. My favorite compost pile now is the commercial nursery supplier just around the bend where I can get a yard of commercial quality ( fit for their potting mixes ) for $30. In my truck. Thank you very much.
 

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I recently made one from a 55 gal. plastic drum. Don't have much invested in it. Had everything to build it but the wood and castors. We use this mainly for kitchen scraps. Leaves and grass for the most part go on the ground and I turn it occasionally. Never tried one of these barrels before and thought we would try it this year. I put a piece of 4" PVC through it with a lot of holes to get air into the compost. It is in the bottom where the compost sits and I put air vents on both sides at the top. Rotate it about once a week so far. Still new at it.
 

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Several years ago I did the barrel on a roller stand. Kid's wagon wheels on Rebar axle atop a pipe stand. Had the hinged door like Larry has in his pix. Vented with round soffit vents. Worked some, but problem was getting alarge amounts of stuff in the barrel, and then you need to wait till a load is done or else sooner or later it is stuffed. So didn't want more barrels so just went to the piles. Actually one big honking pile about 20 feet long and 10 feet wide on the side of a hill. So at top its about 1 1/2 feet deep and bottom is about 5 feet deep. That's right, when I work the pile I'm up to my#@% in compost. Move stuff with a pitch fork from one end to the other and from top (where we dump) to the bottom. Use the TroyBilt to chop up the pile. I have a higher rate of carbon, because of all of the leaves, need more green, but usually just mulch that back into lawn. Once every 4th cutting or so I use the bagger to add green to the pile. It doesn't do it in three weeks, but I do get about 2 - 3 cubic yards a year out of it.
BUT, like ThomasB said, it's a lot of work and at 69, my urge to use a pitchfork and manhandle the tiller over a soft, unstable pile of loose stuff on a hillside is on the wain.
A lot to be said for the the 60 - 90 dollars a year I save on the cost. Of course I still need to dump stuff so the pile will probably remain, but it is certainly getting nearer to being self managed by mother nature.
Mike
 

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I've had an open pile for 14 years of just grass clippings. The occasional leaf or 2 in the fall if they land on my property. The pile is 4 x 10 and does not get much larger as I pull some really nice stuff out of the bottom. The height goes up in the spring and depending on the summer but never over 3 feet. The worms just love that heap. No smell, it just keeps working when it is established.

But alas, I have to get rid of my pile due to a neighbour's complaint. He said it has animals living in it and the city came to check it out. Turns out I can't have on open pile larger than 21.5 square feet in area and no higher than 39 inches. :dunno:

In all the years I've had the pile, never seen anything living in it except the worms. Guess it could happen if I was in a more rural area.

So I went on-line to check our local bylaws. Called up the bylaw guy and asked if I can build a composter around it with no size limitations so long as it is contained. He said he'd have to talk to his manager and would get back to me later. :praying:
He sent me an email saying my solution was acceptable. :thThumbsU

I am currently designing a 5 bin system 16 feet long, 3 to 4 feet wide and possibly 4 feet tall. Contained compost should not be any larger 4x4x4 feet as air can only travel a maximum of 24 inches into the compost.

And at this point I haven't decided to move it over about 5 feet or leave it where the pile is now. Although moving it would give me a really nice garden bed.

When I get it built, I'll post some pictures.

Cheers,
Javelin395
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I've had an open pile for 14 years of just grass clippings. The occasional leaf or 2 in the fall if they land on my property. The pile is 4 x 10 and does not get much larger as I pull some really nice stuff out of the bottom. The height goes up in the spring and depending on the summer but never over 3 feet. The worms just love that heap. No smell, it just keeps working when it is established.

But alas, I have to get rid of my pile due to a neighbour's complaint. He said it has animals living in it and the city came to check it out. Turns out I can't have on open pile larger than 21.5 square feet in area and no higher than 39 inches. :dunno:

In all the years I've had the pile, never seen anything living in it except the worms. Guess it could happen if I was in a more rural area.

So I went on-line to check our local bylaws. Called up the bylaw guy and asked if I can build a composter around it with no size limitations so long as it is contained. He said he'd have to talk to his manager and would get back to me later. :praying:
He sent me an email saying my solution was acceptable. :thThumbsU

I am currently designing a 5 bin system 16 feet long, 3 to 4 feet wide and possibly 4 feet tall. Contained compost should not be any larger 4x4x4 feet as air can only travel a maximum of 24 inches into the compost.

And at this point I haven't decided to move it over about 5 feet or leave it where the pile is now. Although moving it would give me a really nice garden bed.

When I get it built, I'll post some pictures.

Cheers,
Javelin395
It is only grass clippings? Nothing else for the most part? It does the job? Do you turn it over occasionally or just when you need to get the stuff from the bottom? I have TONS of grass and this would be my main compost. Would love to see pics of finished product but also the pile before it is contained (if possible).
 

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It is only grass clippings? Nothing else for the most part? It does the job? Do you turn it over occasionally or just when you need to get the stuff from the bottom? I have TONS of grass and this would be my main compost. Would love to see pics of finished product but also the pile before it is contained (if possible).
97.5% grass clippings, 1.5% of what ever blows onto the property plus few the few leaves I have and 1% weeds. The only turning I do is to bury weeds that try to establish themselves in the pile and most of the time that is done by fresh clippings.

I just go into to edge of the pile, turn back a few layers and take out what I need. Like I said earlier, the worms are the only thing that inhabit this pile and they do an amazing job.

I've always said, "Give the job to the laziest man and he'll find an easy way to do it". I am that lazy man when it comes to composting.

I'll get some pictures of the pile and the compost for you and post them here.

Cheers,
Javelin395
 

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I'm with Javelin. I have an open pile in the corner of the yard at the end of the garden. Every week when I just back my lawn sweeper into the pile and dump it. That's the most turning it gets usually through the summer. In the fall I usually get the pitchfork out and give it a good stir and hose it down. Once it gets wet like that it really heats up and the pile shrinks. In the spring I take the pitchfork out once again and toss the whole pile onto the garden before I till it. What ever doesn't break down in the pile breaks down quickly once its incorporated into the garden.

When I start new each spring is usually starts breaking down fairly quick. I have a nice bed of really rich dirt under the pile and the worms and other critters in the ground start working it right away.
 

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Just passing this link along. This in no way indicates what some are doing is right or wrong. It's just something to look at if just starting out. Heck, mine has been on the side of a hill in the shade for 30 yrs. Could I get more if I put it somewhere in the sun? Probably, but then that means cutting the fence to make way to the pile, etc, etc. Anyhow, it ain't going. I have enough to keep me busy. But this makes some interesting reading to get started.
http://www.planetnatural.com/composting-101/
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I'm with Javelin. I have an open pile in the corner of the yard at the end of the garden. Every week when I just back my lawn sweeper into the pile and dump it. That's the most turning it gets usually through the summer. In the fall I usually get the pitchfork out and give it a good stir and hose it down. Once it gets wet like that it really heats up and the pile shrinks. In the spring I take the pitchfork out once again and toss the whole pile onto the garden before I till it. What ever doesn't break down in the pile breaks down quickly once its incorporated into the garden.

When I start new each spring is usually starts breaking down fairly quick. I have a nice bed of really rich dirt under the pile and the worms and other critters in the ground start working it right away.
When you toss the whole pile in the garden, I suspect it is not all broken down and much of it is still brown, probably "wet" grass? Then you till it in and it eventually breaks down. Is that correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
97.5% grass clippings, 1.5% of what ever blows onto the property plus few the few leaves I have and 1% weeds. The only turning I do is to bury weeds that try to establish themselves in the pile and most of the time that is done by fresh clippings.

I just go into to edge of the pile, turn back a few layers and take out what I need. Like I said earlier, the worms are the only thing that inhabit this pile and they do an amazing job.

I've always said, "Give the job to the laziest man and he'll find an easy way to do it". I am that lazy man when it comes to composting.

I'll get some pictures of the pile and the compost for you and post them here.

Cheers,
Javelin395
Got any pictures yet? Do you wait till spring to start putting it in the garden or do you do a little in the fall as well?
 

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When you toss the whole pile in the garden, I suspect it is not all broken down and much of it is still brown, probably "wet" grass? Then you till it in and it eventually breaks down. Is that correct?
For the most part that is correct. It does break down but there is still the issues with matting and clumping you get with using straight clippings. I wouldn't say "wet" grass though. It is dry unless I break the pile down while still wet from the rain and snow. It's usually dry clumps of molded grass with the web like fungus through it. It really seems to break down after its spread out on the garden and released from the suspended animation that occurred in the pile.
 
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