Skip to Content

Tag Archives: Turning Units

Compost Happens (Part 4 – Maintaining Your Pile)

BioBag Employee Sharpens The Saw

Once you have decided on which type of compost pile you wish to have – a holding unit or a turning unit – it is time for the fun part – composting!
Composting

Turning the Compost Pile

Composting might appear to a novice as terribly complicated and only for the green thumbed gardener, but anyone can do it! The below outline of how to manage a compost system is mainly for a holding unit.

Location, Location, Location!

How to Make Your Neighbors Green with Envy

Once your compost unit is built and in a prime location, you are now ready to add the ingredients! It is recommended that you add mixed green and brown materials in 4” layers, making sure to water each layer separately as you add them. If you need a refresher on what materials can and should be composted, revisit Compost Happens – BioBag Employee Sharpens The Saw (Part 2)

In the early days, your compost pile will be very warm. It might even steam a little, but no need to sound the fire alarm since this is normal. Heating indicates that the material is composting normally.

In order to maintain your neighbors envy with the perfect compost, you will need to turn your pile frequently with a pitchfork, shovel or tool. By turning the pile frequently you are helping provide oxygen to the compost-creating microbes. More microbes = Faster decomposition = Quicker compost.

Check the temperature of your pile on a regular basis and turn the pile when it reaches about 140F+ or below 100F. If it is too difficult to monitor the temperature on an ongoing basis, just try to turn the pile about twice a week.

Also, regularly check the moisture level. Add water to the pile if it looks too dry. A good rule of thumb is to add water every time you turn the pile. If the compost looks too wet, add more dry browns to the pile.

Make sure you monitor the odor as well. Too much water in the system causes overly strong, odorous piles. If this is the case try adding more browns to the pile like mentioned above.

So how do you know when the compost is ready? … Be on the look-out for Part 5: Identifying finished compost and how to apply it correctly.


Compost Happens (Part 3)

BioBag Employee Sharpens The Saw

This is the third part of the Compost Happens – BioBag Employee Sharpens The Saw. For those of you that missed part one & two, you can read it on the BioBag blog, here. I appreciated all the comments and I hope someone learned a thing or two from the previous installments. Let’s now leap into the continuation of Compost Happens.

Part 3 will go over the Two Most Popular Types of Compost Units.

Types of Compost Units

Compost units can be classified in many ways but the two most popular are “holding units” and “turning units”. Holding units include bins which have been constructed from wire, wood, masonry, plastic, or combo of these materials. Turning units normally include barrels that are turned horizontally or end to end.

When setting up a holding or turning bin, make sure it is in an area protected from drying winds and where it can be reached by a garden hose. It is also a good idea to place the unit/bin in a shady area, away from direct sunlight.

Holding Bin Units

Holding Bins are most popular type of home yard compost unit. They are the simplest and least expensive type of bin however, they are slower to product compost. Depending on the maintenance, these can take 6 months to 2 years to produce finished compost.

No matter if you are using wire, wood or plastic, the bin composting units should be at least 3 feet wide, 3 feet long and 3 feet high. Larger constructed units will work even better because of better heat retention.

Holding Bin
It is very beneficial to construct two or three units/segments like the one pictured. These types of units facilitate turning and maturing of the composting material. You start at one end of the unit by adding your mixture of browns and greens (30:1). As the first pile decomposes, you move it down to the second section and start all over in the first section. As the second section breaks down even more, you move it to the third section for final curing. Once the third section is finished composting and the compost has been collected, you move the second into the third, the first into the second and start all over again with the first. You’ll always have compost in its different decomposition stages.

Whether you use the sectional holding bin or a single section holding bin, the best way to go about creating a compost pile is the Sandwich Method.

  • Alternate 3” – 4” layers of green and brown material
  • Water each layer until moist (not wet) before adding an additional layer on top
  • Keep layering until the pile is about 3 feet tall, ending with a layer of browns (Smaller particles decompose faster so try to mulch or cut up the larger yard and food scraps)

Turning Units

The turning units should produce compost more quickly than a holding unit, if they are attentively managed. They can produce compost in two months or less. Barrel units tend to have smaller capacities than most other bins, including holding bins, which make them better suited for people with small amounts of yard trimmings and food scraps. Turning units are a great option for deterring pests however, organic waste shouldn’t be continuously added but stockpiled until the first batch as been processed. As you can imagine, stockpiling organics in itself can be problematic.
turning unit
The most commonly used turning units are plastic barrels like the one pictured. Barrel compost units can be turned on either the vertical or horizontal axis depending on the manufacturer set up or how you build one.

To purchase a holding unit turning unit, check out our Vendor of the Month: mygreenmind.com or gardeners.com

If you are looking to build your own composting unit, check out the step-by-step instructions on The University of Missouri’s Extension Web page here.

Looks like we will be continuing on to Part 4 where we will talk about maintaining your compost pile. Parts 1- 3 and future “parts” will all be archived on our Blog!

If you would like to take a composting class, check out your local county website. My class was put on for FREE by the Florida Cooperative Extensive Service of the University of Florida. There are classes just like this one across the U.S

This Month’s BIG SHOUT-OUT goes to San Francisco, CA!

On November 22, the City of San Francisco celebrated its one-millionth ton of collected organic waste. The city has the highest organic collection rate in the nation. This massive program collects the city’s organic waste, diverts it from landfills and turns into nutrient-rich compost. The symbolic one-millionth ton was collected at Scoma’s Restaurant where Chef Bennett said that they have given tours of their dumpsters to people from all over the world and they recycle 95% of their total waste.

San Francisco-based Recology, the hauler that collects the city’s organics, started collecting food scraps and other organic materials from residents and businesses in 1996. It took 15 years to get to the first million but Recology’s Mike Sangiacomo thinks they’ll do the second in 5.

Currently, San Francisco is recycling 78% of its garbage with a 2020 goal to be a completely zero waste city.

Congratulations to the City of San Francisco and all the participating businesses, organizations and residents of this program. One Million Tons is truly an amazing and inspirational accomplishment.

For more information and the full article visit, NBC Bay Area.