Perhaps there is an issue with terminology, here?
Some people may use, "above ground" to mean one of those rotating
contraptions that is suspended above the surface.
While others may use, "above ground" to mean a bin set on the
surface, without any bottom, so the stuff has contact.
In the second case, it may be meant as a contrast to digging a
pit, and tossing the stuff down to a level that is under the
Get Credit Where Credit Is Due
For cheap and cheerful, find 5 pallets and arrange them on edge
in the shape of an E. Pitch your working compost from one bin to the next.
Such an arrangement lasted me about 10 years before I had to go foraging for
For fancier: http://extension.missouri.edu/xplor/agguides/hort/g06957.htm
That's a perfectly fine method for composting but not desirous for the
typical home gardener as it's not very attractive but also that method
attracts all manner of vermin... generally livestock farmers use your
"pit" method to compost the large quantities of manure and straw they
muck out of the barns and stables.
IIRC, the person who started this discussion had an acre. So an open
heap should work fine for that. The pile gets hot. Then when it cools
off (or too much rain douses it) tear it all down with the rototiller
and then pile it back up again with a pitchfork. When you add something
nasty to the pile, bury it a little. The only vermin I had a problem
with was fire ants.
For a typical home gardener, two small piles right next to each other,
enclosed on 3 sides with wood pallets on edge to make an "E" (someone
mentioned this a day or two ago) is the best system I've found. When
you're just getting it started, make the pile in one side and then every
once in a while turn it good by forking the compost over to the other side.
I've found that small piles/heaps don't work very well for the same
reason that pallets don't, they don't contain the generated heat very
well, in fact hardly at all (that's why my neighbor's turkey wire
contraption didn't work). What you describe that you have is a rather
large heap, it would be if you need to go at it with a BIG
rototiller... no one takes a BIG rototiller and CLIMBS UP into a small
pile about a cubic yard... you must have had a small mountain there...
too bad as you say you HAD it, would be nice to see a picture, perhaps
you do have one, please post it if you do. Really all I'm saying is
that your system will work rather well but it's not very aesthetic by
many standards. The typical home gardener buys one of the pretty
commercially manufactured bins, but unfortunately there are so many
designs and most folks just getting into composting haven't a clue as
to which. Again, the rotary type (above ground) suck... but they sell
because lots of folk are really attracted to things that whirl and
spin, especially if they get to crank the handle... they're blooming
imbeciles... imagine how many more they'd sell if they made them with
blinking colored lights. There are plenty of blooming imbeciles
posting to this thread too, I don't believe for a second that they own
those composters they talk about, anyone can point to an image on a
web site and say that's what I've been using forever, especially after
the fact that someone mentioned it's the one they use showed it on the
same exact site... they do a lot of lip flapping but they don't show
an actual photo of their actual composter on their actual property, so
far I think I'm the only one here who's posted a photo of the actual
composter on his actual property. Notice how quiet are all those who
do actually post photos of what they say they are about, they know...
res ipsa loquitur.
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