Soil and Compost forum→Cold Composting, I.E. little to no turning.

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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Aug 13, 2019 10:58 AM CST
Last year I spread out my compost bin down South after years of sitting there with little attention paid to it other than occasionally adding, by digging a small hole coffed grounds, peelings and a few other things along with an occasional adding of leaves or grass.
When the sides started falling out of the cage to the point it was leaving gaps of over six inches on the side I put it on the garden last year.
It was a wonderful mostly weed free semi-dry compost that made a fantastic topping for the potatoes.

Well I have one up North that now is two years into its not being emptied ( the old one was emptied into a hole dug in the garden, as it was a mixture of many things some far from rotted away) and the one down South now is filling with grass from my neighbor.
This year I filled the North one with a mixture everything from a weed filled mixture of dirt, bird seed sprouted and un-sprouted, bagged mulch residue from under the bird feeder under the spruce trees, weeds and plants pulled from the garden, and excess dirt I had no place to put that would not have screwed up dirt level, therefore ; it is a bit a of a lasagna layered compost bin though I did add some compost booster last week.
It is now technically full and I am deciding if I should just let it sit for a few years, it will settle a foot or so naturally, or next spring dig a hole an bury it as I have done for most of the past thirty years, rarely using it as a compost on top of the soil.

Down South I will let it sit and settle while adding more compost booster and other scraps on occasion as I on average empty that one every four to five years.
I am curious as to what I will get up North if I let that one sit for four or five years as there are layers of genuine dirt, a couple of inches deep and wonder if that will speed up of slow the pile breaking down.

I know some years, quite a few really, I let the North one sit for some years and decided I would try turning it by hand and found in the middle a mass of mostly un-rotted old vines and other stuff which surprised me .
After opening up the middle, it shrank quite a bit that summer though using compost booster probably was the main reason.
Unless I get impatient, time will tell.
[Last edited by RpR - Aug 13, 2019 12:39 PM (+)]
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Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
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cwhitt
Aug 13, 2019 12:31 PM CST
If left undisturbed (turned) it should still be ready to spread the following year. Once a compost pile gets started for the first time, it should not need any booster. When you spread it out, just save a bit of the old finished compost to mix in with your new yard/kitchen waste.
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Name: Dan Scott
Costa Rica
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DanScott
Aug 13, 2019 2:57 PM CST
I'm a big fan of cold composting without turning because I don't have too much time and I'm lazy. I throw my yard waste into round bins made of re-purposed corrugated steel. When full, I let it settle and throw a few inches of soil on top. Then I plant. I find that my raised beds sink pretty fast while my vegetables are growing. Lots of red wigglers eat from the bottom up. But it isn't very cold where I live. Might not work up north.
Thumb of 2019-08-13/DanScott/666708

cherry tomatoes
Thumb of 2019-08-13/DanScott/8907cf

miniature sweet peppers, ginger, and cherry tomatoes
Thumb of 2019-08-13/DanScott/76adf0

sweet potatoes and Panamanian peppers
Thumb of 2019-08-13/DanScott/acf783

Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Aug 13, 2019 6:26 PM CST
cwhitt said:If left undisturbed (turned) it should still be ready to spread the following year. Once a compost pile gets started for the first time, it should not need any booster. When you spread it out, just save a bit of the old finished compost to mix in with your new yard/kitchen waste.

With leaves or other easily crumbled items, or easily rotted such as coffee grounds, one year will do it but I put some heavier stuff such as vines, peony stalks, etc. and it takes a long time for that to totally break down plus without booster you can have stringy stuff years later.
I found this out by trial and error.
I have on occasion put heavy barely digested stuff on as mulch but usually dig a hole approx. 4x4 to 3x3 and bury it leaving a small hump.

Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
Plays on the water.
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cwhitt
Aug 14, 2019 8:40 AM CST
I usually cut the stalks up into smaller pieces so they will compost quicker, but you are correct on that. If they don't compost right away, I throw them back into my composing pot. I use a big pot that a tree came in - it has drain holes on the bottom that the earthworms crawl up into - they start nurseries and eat most of my yard waste - a win-win for both of us! Hurray!
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Name: Sheryl Gallant
Fort Nelson, British Columbia, (Zone 3b)
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Providence_North
Sep 1, 2019 5:41 PM CST
I cold compost, as well and directly on the garden. I, too, am lazy and haven't a lot of time. I usually only pile greens and browns from the yard due to bears. I may consider digging a hole to bury fruits and veggies but haven't done so yet this year. I'm hoping that will keep the bears from zeroing in on it.
Name: Lynne
New Zealand (Zone 9a)
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Orchidoofus
Nov 8, 2019 3:00 AM CST
DanScott said:
I'm a big fan of cold composting without turning because I don't have too much time and I'm lazy. I throw my yard waste into round bins made of re-purposed corrugated steel. When full, I let it settle and throw a few inches of soil on top...


My first ever composting was Yonks ago, produced the best compost, and like Dan's was in a can. Thank You! Sort of. A galvanized drum, with no lid and a rusty bottom. I used a method I'd seen on an Aussie tele show - "Burke's Back Yard". The first thing in was a layer of soil, just to cover the bottom.

Basically, I collected small buckets of kitchen scraps, and very couple of days dumped them into the drum. The lid wasn't the suggested sacking. (It was a piece of carpet left over from adjustments to a cupboard.) This to allow rain through, and out through the holes in the bottom.
I added all sorts of things. Egg shells broke down to calcium or lime (someone correct me here), and baby food cans created pockets of air.
The concept was to drop the scraps in whatever size they were - no chopping the leftovers from chopping the veges for dinner. So, carrot tops n peeling, potato peelings, pumpkin flesh from around the seeds and its skin, garden prunings and fallen twigs or leaves... anything. Oh. And Chook poo n straw.

By the time the drum was full, all I had to do was tip the bin to lean on the fence, and out from the bottom scrape out this dark rich brown compost soil. Any entire cans got tossed in again at the top. (Not too many cans. I made my own baby food.)

That method was So Easy! That compost was So Rich! Would I compost any other way? No. Would I do it again? Well, Yes!
(Will hubby "let" me do it now we live in town? Sadly, no.) Sighing!

Thanks for your post, Dan
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Nov 8, 2019 8:04 AM CST
I've gardened and composted for 30 years here and more at mom's house, 98.6 percent of the compost being cold, with a lot of fall tree leaves. No matter how I try, it's not easy to make it get hot in fall and winter on a suburban lot (trees, small kitchen waste, no manure). Cold is fine with me. But it takes time, and you will want to get into it once in a while and see if you have wet stinky pockets, or dry pockets, and break those up. And big chunks of sticks or vines are hard to work around, so better put elsewhere.

With the right setup, Dan's way of starting a cold bin and ending up planting on it, is great. In that case, you could put sticks and vines in, too.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
Nov 8, 2019 8:24 AM CST
I do cold compost, and I have found a way to get rid of pieces that may be left is to throw some used chicken litter in it. This heats it up enough to get rid of any remaining chunks. I also use compost starter and 10-10-10 fertilizer on it. This usually takes about 7 to 10 months. I have it on a tarp, and I flip it occasionally. Even though I do all this, I sometimes find pieces of eggshells in it when I use it. I just use it with eggshells still in it.
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
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sallyg
Nov 8, 2019 9:08 AM CST
Eggshells are surprisingly long lasting!
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
Plays on the water.
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cwhitt
Nov 8, 2019 9:29 AM CST
My eggshells disappear right away - I compost in a large black pot that a tree came in - earthworms climb up into the pot from the drain holes - they actually eat those egg shells, and then leave worm castings - a win-win situation. Hurray! They do the same to the coffee grounds. I also empty my vacuum cleaner into that compost pot and the earthworms like that also.
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@Orchidoofus - I live in a condo and that is why I use the tree pot for my compost - you might try that - it's a great way to get compost without taking up too much space. Just leave the tree pot on soil and not on the cement patio, so the worms can climb up into it - they love it there and will turn your yard/kitchen waste into compost in no time at all. Hurray!
Plant Dreams. Pull Weeds. Grow A Happy Life.
[Last edited by cwhitt - Nov 8, 2019 9:30 AM (+)]
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
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gardenfish
Nov 8, 2019 4:35 PM CST
My compost is full of worms, too. I have noticed two kinds; regular earthworms, or what we call just worms, and nightcrawlers, which I remove to take with me when I go fishing. The price at the bait store for nightcrawlers is outrageous, $4.95 for eighteen of them. I used to keep a large leaf pile just for nightcrawlers. As long as the leaf pile is kept damp, they will be right under the leaves, usually until about the Fourth of July here. It gets too hot for them then , and they go deep. I use a LOT of nightcrawlers when I fish!
“ Be kind whenever possible”
14th Dalai Lama
Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
Plays on the water.
Amaryllis Permaculture Sempervivums Roses Bookworm Annuals
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cwhitt
Nov 9, 2019 1:29 PM CST
My grandpa used to put the worms on for me - and take the fish off. I think he just brought me along to hold a second fishing pole him! Hilarious! Just can't bring myself to do either - if I had to kill my own food, I would be totally vegetarian for sure! Whistling So all my worms are totally safe! Rolling on the floor laughing
Plant Dreams. Pull Weeds. Grow A Happy Life.
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Container Gardener Lilies Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Zinnias
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gardenfish
Nov 9, 2019 4:23 PM CST
I started fishing at four years old. I was told that if I wanted to fish, I had to bait my own hook. Of course, I had been picking up all sorts of creatures at that time, like toads, snakes, tadpoles, grasshoppers, crawdads, basically anything that wouldn't sting or bite me! The snakes I were handling were non poisonous.
“ Be kind whenever possible”
14th Dalai Lama
Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
Plays on the water.
Amaryllis Permaculture Sempervivums Roses Bookworm Annuals
Composter Hybridizer Cat Lover Garden Ideas: Master Level
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cwhitt
Mar 20, 2020 7:29 AM CST
I live in a condo, so I do my composting in a large pot that a tree came in - works for me. nodding
Plant Dreams. Pull Weeds. Grow A Happy Life.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
May 9, 2021 7:25 PM CST
RpR said:
2019
I have one up North that now is two years into its not being emptied
I filled the North one with a mixture everything from a weed filled mixture of dirt, bird seed sprouted and un-sprouted, bagged mulch residue from under the bird feeder under the spruce trees, weeds and plants pulled from the garden, and excess dirt I had no place to put that would not have screwed up dirt level, therefore ; it is a bit a of a lasagna layered compost bin though I did add some compost booster last week.
It is now technically full and I am deciding if I should just let it sit for a few years, it will settle a foot or so naturally, or next spring dig a hole an bury it as I have done for most of the past thirty years, rarely using it as a compost on top of the soil.

I am curious as to what I will get up North if I let that one sit for four or five years as there are layers of genuine dirt, a couple of inches deep and wonder if that will speed up of slow the pile breaking down.

I know some years, quite a few really, I let the North one sit for some years and decided I would try turning it by hand and found in the middle a mass of mostly un-rotted old vines and other stuff which surprised me .
After opening up the middle, it shrank quite a bit that summer though using compost booster probably was the main reason..

I emptied out the compost bin up North and found that after 4 years it was not totally composted mulch that the first post of this thread spoke of down South.

The very top was a skin of semi-rotted dry material of God only knows what so I dug a hole and buried that, along with some of the well done compost but was surprised that down about 12 inches it was composed of well rotted compost along with non-composted fibrous material of various plants ; as the middle had sat there for 4 years, I was surprised the center of the bottom was not totally decomposed .
I was actually rather like clumpy dirt.

I put it in a pile and will spread it out and roto-till it in while I have used a couple of five gallon pails worth on some roses I planted today.

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