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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just thought I'd share some of my success after failure. About 3 years ago I started a compost pile in a corner of our property, but didn't think about what I used, so ended up getting grass clippings that I had sprayed weed killer around, a layer of moss that I had scraped off an area of the front yard (also with traces of chemicals), and a lot of pine needles from trees we removed.
Needless to say, I never got it to "cook" like I read about, and it didn't seem to be active at all so I got rid of it and started over in another corner. As of last year, all we use to compost are kitchen scraps, grass clippings, mulched leaves, etc. As I was planting my garden this year I noticed about 40-50 squash plants of some kind started volunteer, so I moved them to a row in the garden and brought a couple shovel fulls of the compost to cover the roots and stems. In one small shovel full, I counted 6 3-4" earth worms that looked fat and happy!
My neighbor bags his grass clippings, so I asked him to start dumping it behind my garden for me to use since I don't have a bagger for my tractor yet, and that stuff gets hot compared to the compost, so I may still need to change something, but at least I've got something to work with. Eventually I'll buy or build something above ground that I can turn, but for now this will have to do.
A bit of a late start, but the corn and peas are peaking out now.
Grass Soil Compost Hay Grass family


Soil Hand Compost Finger Grass


Grass Lawn Soil Land lot Yard
 

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So that's what the car-boy will be used for. Put cinder blocks under it, enough to put a watering can under it or have gravity flow to the garden.
Keep turning the pile, add a bit of lime, add in some fall leaves.
My compost pile consists of 3 boxes made from cinder blocks (3'h x 5'w x 8'l), bin #1 new from lawn, bin #2 chipped once (6 mos), bin #3 final chip (12 mos total), all covered with a tarp. Bin #2 & #3 usuall are full at planting time, and full of worms.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Now do you actually move the compost manually (shovel, scoop, etc.) or do you have a liner or something that contains it within the box that comes out an open end? Any pics you'd care to share? I really like the homemade barrel compost style, but don't think the 55 gal. capacity will be enough once I really get going. leaving it on the ground definitely isn't hurting anything, but my wife would like the area cleaned up eventually.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
So that's what the car-boy will be used for. Put cinder blocks under it, enough to put a watering can under it or have gravity flow to the garden.
I planned on actually building a 3-4' tall support from lumber, but the blocks are a good idea. I have only to buy the rain gutter and downspout and adapters and I'd be ready for testing a gravity feed system I have planned. I have a 4 way manifold and soaker hoses, but I'd assume gravity isn't enough to push the water through the small holes so I might have to drill them out or use plastic lines. A buddy and I calculated the rain water potential off my house a while back (though this would be on a much smaller shed), and 1" of rain would net 800-900 gal if I remember right. With a 300 gal tote I'd expect to fill it within a few spring rains.
 

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Careful with your translucent (lets sunlight in) water container.

Sunlight equals algae,,:hide: either cover the container, or add bleach.

I got tired of waiting for compost, I hauled it in,, :fing32:




That is a pic half way through compost addition.

We have great soil for growing hardwood trees, but, notoriously poor soil for gardening.

I am trying to change that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Careful with your translucent (lets sunlight in) water container.

Sunlight equals algae,,:hide: either cover the container, or add bleach.

I got tired of waiting for compost, I hauled it in,, :fing32:

That is a pic half way through compost addition.

We have great soil for growing hardwood trees, but, notoriously poor soil for gardening.

I am trying to change that.
CAD, I have had both horse and cow manure dumped on my garden area in the last 3 years. I have no problem with fertility, but I do with keeping weeds down. I have no bagger for my new tractor, but I now get the grass clippings from the neighbor that mows 1 acre with a bagger. I wouldn't say I compost because I need it to build up the soil in that particular area, but with rooting out old half dead pine trees, I did have to deal with some acidity problems initially after choosing that spot. So far any plants I've surrounded with 2+ inches thick of grass clippings mulch are doing amazing without dealing with weeds. I like to compost my own stuff because it keeps us from filling trash bags with kitchen scraps, and it's free fertilizer. I've found that if I get the occasional load of manure and leave it to age through a winter, the amount of compost we produce from our house and lawn (very little leaves from trees as we are nearly bare of mature trees) is about enough to lay around plants or mix into the soil for an extra boost.

The reason I was so excited this spring was that I have never seen activity (bacterial heat and earthworms) on any of my previous trials. Now to have 3-4" long earth worms crawling everywhere in the compost, volunteer squash plants growing like crazy in it, and the grass clippings by themselves reaching 140° in the middle of the pile, I like seeing something actually happening. I'm wanting to do a 3 bay cinder block "cubicle" compost system now if I can get together the money and time to put it together.
 

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badtheba, the manure brings in weeds, but, heck, fertile soil is gonna make the weeds grow, well, like weeds! :swow:

Fertile soil means more weeds, hauling in weed seed is meaningless IMHO.

2 billion seeds or 4 billion seeds, what difference is there? :dunno:

I gotta have a reason to run my tiller, I went through the garden with it today,, :bananapow

 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yeah, I used a hoe and a Husky weed eater with cultivator attachment today. I don't have regular access to a tiller narrow enough to go between my rows. I kept delaying starting my tomatoes and peppers indoors, so ended up direct sowing, so I've had to spend a lot of time identifying the seedlings before digging around or laying down the mulch. Every year I change up something, this year I changed the direction of the rows and spaced them apart further so the cultivator wouldn't throw dirt all over my lettuce. :banghead3
 

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Sounds like somebody has got his hands dirty, playing in the garden.

Keep an eye out on your local Craigs List for people getting rid of old cinder or concrete blocks. I got all mine for zip, just alot of sore muscle work. My 3 bins will probably have a 4th added this fall, the finished product is more than the 2 smaller bins can hold.
I don't bag my clippings, so most of my compost comes from the fall dropping leaves. When they are sucked up, some dirt comes up usually, and wood chips, so the pile has a little bit of everything, even beer bottle caps and coffee cups.
Have you tried digging into your compost pile on a cold day, seeing the steam rise up from the pile.
Something is pulling up all my newly planted plants, so I've got to make a bunch of wire screens to go around each plant. First it was the corn, now it's the Cukes and pumpkins. Most everything is being brought back into the house.
I hand dig and turn over by hand. I planted some stuff, now I got to work around it, can't move it.
I used horse manure one year, about a yard of it. Had the nicest and the biggest pumpkin crop in years. This year, I have tomatos coming up everywhere. Must have put some tomato plants in the compost pile last year and chipped them up.
 

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Here, Crows are good at pulling up young plants, especially sweet corn. They have been seen nipping off tender young plants also. My buddy set out about 8,000 onions in plastic, and every 5-6 feet, one would be laying on top of the plastic. I suspect Crow's there too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I have only had something nibble off the plants at ground level, never pull them up. Sometimes they continue to grow, sometimes I have lost them. Last year we planted 16 decent sized strawberry plants, and they sent shoots off that rooted for another several new plants. I went out one morning to water them, and they were all bitten off an inch above the ground. This year I have 4 of the original ones...
This is the first year I've planted onions sets, always planted from seed before (not always successful), and I have an abundance of them. I was hoping to have my neighbor till up most of the back acre to plant some kind of crop but we never got to it. Maybe I'll do onions next year and try to sell to our local grocery store!
 

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Yeah, I used a hoe and a Husky weed eater with cultivator attachment today. I don't have regular access to a tiller narrow enough to go between my rows. I kept delaying starting my tomatoes and peppers indoors, so ended up direct sowing, so I've had to spend a lot of time identifying the seedlings before digging around or laying down the mulch. Every year I change up something, this year I changed the direction of the rows and spaced them apart further so the cultivator wouldn't throw dirt all over my lettuce. :banghead3
You can always do with your rows what I've gone to and that's rows that are 6ft wide on center can take a 4ft tiller right thru with no problem.Even gone to 6ft on my field corn so I can plant Crimson Clover between the rows in August for a cover crop and still have plenty of time to let the corn dry out before shucking
 

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black plastic

I don't really like using black plastic but I found my best compost ever came from a pile of leaves and grass that I put in sunny spot then covered with black plastic. A refrigeration thermometer told me that the pile had hit 140 degrees in just one or two days. I never turned it or watered it, it just magically turned the material into usefull compost. This year I'm going to try and get some of the white one side black the other covers that come to the lumberyard on piles of new pine or other materials that are meant to be kept dry. The yard just takes them off and then throws them out. These covers are much less affected by UV rays and last a long long time in the sun unlike a typical tarp. Oh and they are FREE.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Re: black plastic

I don't really like using black plastic but I found my best compost ever came from a pile of leaves and grass that I put in sunny spot then covered with black plastic. A refrigeration thermometer told me that the pile had hit 140 degrees in just one or two days. I never turned it or watered it, it just magically turned the material into usefull compost. This year I'm going to try and get some of the white one side black the other covers that come to the lumberyard on piles of new pine or other materials that are meant to be kept dry. The yard just takes them off and then throws them out. These covers are much less affected by UV rays and last a long long time in the sun unlike a typical tarp. Oh and they are FREE.
The grass clippings I've collected from my neighbor have easily hit 120°+. I still need to figure out how to keep it cooking. Something easier to rotate above ground, or 2-3 stage bins like I was thinking before.
 
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