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Composting

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

I need Help. This spring i bought eight chickens and planted a decent size garden from my perspeective, about 30' by 50'. i've been daydreaming ( i know allittle weird) but still, i would like to do something with my chicken and garden waste. Something like composting. I was wondering if any of you educated elders out there could help me out with some of my questions. What can i use to compost, where to locate the pile, i've heard about using pallets, is that efficent? how many bins to have, 1, 2, or even three? What I can't use, can I compost year round. Or am I overextending my self, should i just buy bagged mulch? Any input is greatly appreciated. If i missed any important questions please feel free to tell me about those too.


Edited by TheChickMan - 8/3/12 at 1:14pm

 2 easter eggers, 2 black australorps, 3 barred rocks, 1 red sex link, and 1 black sex link, and 1 heinz 57 chick

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 2 easter eggers, 2 black australorps, 3 barred rocks, 1 red sex link, and 1 black sex link, and 1 heinz 57 chick

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post #2 of 34

I throw everything plant based in my compost.  My dad brought over a HUGE pile of straw this past winter and I just turned it over yesterday to get at the super wonderful composted stuff underneath.  I put the dirty bedding from the chicken coop, the shavings from my brooders, leaves from the yard, dead plants and any kitchen scrap that the chickens won't eat.  No meat products tho.  Mine is nothing fancy, just a pile out by the garden.  I do have to  re pile it on occasion becasue the girls like to scratch through and they flatten it out some.

post #3 of 34

Compost happens.  Pile it up.  Let it sit.  Wait.  Dig in!

 

Any techniques for compost are to make the process faster, possibly slightly better, more efficient.  But composting in and of itself is something that is unavoidable.  Most people over think it.  (And do way too much work IMO.  Yeah yeah yeah it can make beautiful compost.... but my lazy compost is pretty darn good and a whole lot easier.)

 

BTW: Locate the compost pile not far from where you collect it, not far from where you'll use it.  We like to move our pile around.  Beds that have petered out are a good place to start piling.

....waiting waiting waiting for the day when my eggs aren't costing me $500 a dozen....

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....waiting waiting waiting for the day when my eggs aren't costing me $500 a dozen....

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post #4 of 34
Thread Starter 

s there any certain ratio of diffrent things  can use to make the compost better. Anything you would not suggest putting in it besides meat?

 2 easter eggers, 2 black australorps, 3 barred rocks, 1 red sex link, and 1 black sex link, and 1 heinz 57 chick

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 2 easter eggers, 2 black australorps, 3 barred rocks, 1 red sex link, and 1 black sex link, and 1 heinz 57 chick

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post #5 of 34

I normally have 3-4 compost piles on the go.I make sure they get alot of sun and if they start to dry out i give them a good soaking. Here is a little list of stuff you can use. (not sure where i grabbed this from but has been sitting in a folder on the computer.

 

 

  • Aquarium water, algae, and plants (from freshwater fish tanks only) add moisture and a kick of nitrogen.
  •   Chicken manure has high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
  • Dead houseplants add a dose of nitrogen, but don't include thorny or diseased plants.
  • Fresh grass clippings should be mixed with plenty of drier, brown material, or you'll risk creating a smelly pile.
  • Green garden debris, such as spent pansies, bolted lettuce, and deadheaded flowers, can all be recycled in the compost bin.
  • Horse manure contains more nitrogen than cow manure.
  • Manure from pet rabbits and rodents (e.g., gerbils and hamsters) can be composted with the accompanying wood or paper bedding.
  • Vegetative kitchen scraps (carrot peelings and the like) should be buried in the pile so they don't attract animals. Eggshells are okay, too.
  • Weeds can be composted! No joke. Just remember never to add weeds that have set seed or weeds that root easily from stems or rhizomes.
  • Brown garden debris, such as corn and sunflower stalks, dried legume plants, and dried potato and tomato vines, adds bulk to the pile.
  • Hedge prunings and twigs help keep a pile fluffy but should be chipped first so they decompose faster.
  • Leaves are an abundant carbon source and full of nutrients. Stockpile them in fall so that you have them on hand in summer.
  • Pine needles decompose slowly. Add only small amounts to your pile. Use excess needles as a mulch.
  • Straw bulks up a pile, but it should not be confused with hay, which often contains weed and grass seeds and shouldn't be added to compost (unless you want to deal with the potential consequences).

 

Only things i steer clear from are meats and cheeses.

 

cheers

matt

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Check out our sustainable living project at Working-with.ca and Facebook

 

All it takes are two hands and a plan!

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post #6 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheChickMan View Post

s there any certain ratio of diffrent things  can use to make the compost better. Anything you would not suggest putting in it besides meat?

People mention a certain ratio of greens (fresh) and browns (dried--food will fall in between).  I think the main problem is too much greens--mainly lawn clippings.  Green weeds will heat up the pile, potentially beyond the optimum temperature.  But lawn clippings unmixed will make a pile slimy and gross-- dog-poo-smell gross.  "Too many" browns will slow the pile down, but I don't see this as a bad thing.  A cold pile will be more favorable to fungi, and that is a good thing according to some schools of thought.  You will also host more worms, which can't survive hot composts.  A cold pile takes longer and will not kill weed seeds (not the worst thing in the world, I mean, my compost comes from...... *weeds*!)

 

A hot pile will break down faster and kill more seeds.  It is primarily a bacterial process.  Turning the pile gives the bacteria more oxygen, and the pile heats up again.  Makes beautiful compost when you turn it. 

 

We never turn our compost, and our pile is a little bit of everything (except lawn clippings which are allowed to fall on the grass).  In summer we have a lot of weeds (which the chickens get a great deal of) and vigorous self-sown "ornamentals" (i. e. "pretty weeds").  In the fall and early spring, the pile gets more browns (but most of the leaves are allowed to stay put--except on the lawn-- mostly we rake them into the beds.)  We are not shy about adding woody stalks etc. to our pile.  If we were planning on turning it, these would get in the way and be annoying, but we don't.  So, if they aren't composted by the time we harvest the pile, well..... we just toss the sticks in with the compost in the wheelbarrow.  No putting the sticks back, nothing.  They go onto the beds as if they weren't there.

 

As far as a particular ratio, yes there might be a perfect one, but I challenge anyone to really get it just right.  And "better" is a matter of debate.  Fungi buffs prefer cold, slow piles.

 

Meat and cheese compost in their own way, but they go in the worm bin here.  An open pile is open to everything.  The main reason to keep these products out of your pile is to avoid attracting pests.  But there is nothing wrong with *having* them in your pile.  If you don't mind bones, that is.  Bury them deep in the pile, as deep as you can.  Works better for a slow pile, IMO.

 

Yeah, hay is pretty weedy, but that's what we have locally.  All hay gets used in the chicken coop and yard before being put in the garden.  They clean it up pretty well.

....waiting waiting waiting for the day when my eggs aren't costing me $500 a dozen....

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....waiting waiting waiting for the day when my eggs aren't costing me $500 a dozen....

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post #7 of 34

I compost directly in the floor of my coop. Every 3-4 weeks in winter and every 5-6 weeks in summer (because they're inside less) I add a couple inches of brown (dried grass from mowing, dried leaves bagged and stored from the previous fall, etc.) to the entire coop. Every day or two I add 4 to 8 cups of kitchen scraps (mainly fruit and veg, sometimes bread, never any dairy or meat) onto the heaviest manure accumulation spot, directly under the roosts. The chickens scratch through the scraps and thereby turn under the fresh manure to reduce smell and flies.

 

My chickens do all the work or turning and adding moisture for me. Once a year, in early spring, I empty the whole coop out and put the top layer (4-6 inches) in an outside compost pile to finish while I put the lower layers (from 12 to 20 inches, depending on where in the coop) directly in my garden beds.

 

This is the absolute easiest way to both compost and maintain my coop bedding. Can't beat cleaning only once a year and can't beat no-work composting. Last year's litter was so healthy I found earthworms living in the bottom! I got a total of 8 wheelbarrow loads out of a 5x6 coop with 5-9 birds in it throughout the year and everything planted in that stuff is doing amazingly well, despite this rough summer.

 

Incidentally, every visitor (especially the picky city kind of relative) exclaims that there is no smell when they enter my coop. It's the best perk of this kind of deep litter management!

 

Good luck with your composting. You really don't have to over think it, as someone else said.

Backyard farming with my flock of super talented manure composters and bug hunters.

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Backyard farming with my flock of super talented manure composters and bug hunters.

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post #8 of 34

I've been composting for a long time.  I have a passive pile (just sits around and gets added to weekly with kitchen scraps) and an active pile (I am not adding to it and it's in a compost tumbler that gets tumbled every week or so which makes it compost a lot faster).

 

My problem now is that I have so much unfinished compost that I don't have anywhere to put what I'd like to clean out of the floor of the coop - but there's no way I'm throwing that poop away. It's compost gold! So right now I'm getting some compost catalyst to make the stuff in the tumbler break down a little faster so I can clean it out and start a new active pile.

 

Yikes!

Living on a micro-mini farm of .14 acres in the suburbs with 2 EE's (Noodle and Kabob), 2 Golden Comets (Marsala and Super), 2 Cinnamon Queens (Nugget and Potpie), one adorable Maltipoo (Mitzi Francesca) and one very suspicious husband.

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Living on a micro-mini farm of .14 acres in the suburbs with 2 EE's (Noodle and Kabob), 2 Golden Comets (Marsala and Super), 2 Cinnamon Queens (Nugget and Potpie), one adorable Maltipoo (Mitzi Francesca) and one very suspicious husband.

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post #9 of 34

SweetSilver, I took a class on composting and as far as a ratio goes we were taught to use 7in of brown, 3in of green, and 1in of black. Just starting a compost pile the black could be a bag of topsoil, then after your pile works and you start a new one you can use your compost for the 1in of black. I've used this method many times on my yard waste, and keeping it turned on a weekly basis keeps it from smelling and makes some very nice compost that I have used for potting soil, seed starting and many other things. My compost pile today is so big that I use a 4ft wide rototiller on the back of a cub cadet to turn it. It's about 50 feet long and I make 2 side by side passes with the tiller to turn all of it. You can see the compost pile in the background of this pic.

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post #10 of 34

Been using pallets for composting for 20+ years. Have one bin that is 4 pallets on end with a few boards knocked out in the front for easier access. Next to it is just a 3 pallet "holding area" where we'll put excess debris when there isn't room for it in the first compost bin. 

 

You can speed up your compost by working on correct ratio's, turning, making sure it's moist, etc. Or you can dump your stuff in, leave it alone, and let Mother Nature handle it. Mother Nature is a little slower but the end result is exactly the same.

 

This time of year - with lots of green matter from the garden - we will turn and work the compost more so that it will break down faster. Primarily because we have more to add to it. I'm new to chickens but one of the reasons I wanted them was for the benefit of their additions to the compost. 

Two old people and two young-adult children. One rescued black and tan American Coon Hound, and a Boston terrier/Chihuahua mix puppy. RIP "Buster Brown", best chocolate lab ever 6/29/02 - 3/31/14. Home of "The Best Mouser In The World", Lily, a calico cat that adopted us. RIP to my lead hen, Lucy. =( 2 Black Star's, 2 Barred Rocks, 1 Buff Orp, 1 EE, and 1 Delaware. New BLRW chick! The...
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Two old people and two young-adult children. One rescued black and tan American Coon Hound, and a Boston terrier/Chihuahua mix puppy. RIP "Buster Brown", best chocolate lab ever 6/29/02 - 3/31/14. Home of "The Best Mouser In The World", Lily, a calico cat that adopted us. RIP to my lead hen, Lucy. =( 2 Black Star's, 2 Barred Rocks, 1 Buff Orp, 1 EE, and 1 Delaware. New BLRW chick! The...
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