I just happen to be here in the wreck, and was about the open IE and enter
"grass composting forum" , with words like low-odour, etc.
I have about 1700 sq. ft. of lawn I cut weekly, and I need to create a
composter, for grass only. I want to keep it small as possible. I have
done a little reading in the past about making the composting process an
efficient one, about adding the right kind of things, and turning it all- to
make it dirt as quickly as possible. I used to have a small round black
plastic igloo-shaped one. It walked away one day. It had only been one
summer season here in Toronto, but I could tell it was going to take little
time for grass to become usable dirt, something else I could use around
here. But it will need to be located within 10 feet of a pool. And there
was definitely an odour coming from it. So its time to get or make a new
one, as small as possible, and if it is possible to be specific about the
fact that it be a low-odour model, then that is what I need. I could use
wood, sheet metal, or plastic, or a combination.
I guess I can start in this ng with the question:
Is it possible to make a smallish grass-only (or mainly grass) composter. A
low-odout type. I am just wondering if the black plastic is a better way to
go for the added heat build-up from the sun, whereas wood not be as hot, a
key ingredient. Or maybe slats of wood with a sheet metal, or plastic
boxing inside. I think circulation is important too iirc. And any clues
what I need to do to make it a low-odour version, for at least as long as
anyone will be swimming (close it up temporarily).
Any plans tidbits thoughts thanks
Toronto isn't San Francisco, but here's what I've done:
Part of my back fence is a concrete block wall. I built side slats from
scrap 2x6 PT, old, about 5' wide, and 3' tall. Grass cuttings, trimmings
from the garden and the kitchen, and occasional barrels of woodshop dust
collector trimmings go into the pile. I turn it every three to six weeks,
and empty the bin every spring into the raised beds. Works pretty well. No
obnoxious odor or critters. The hot tub is 15' away, though. ;-)
The dust collector can overwhelm the compost bin, if I let it, so some of
that goes directly to much for weed control or mud/dust coverage.
I am religious about some things, but composting is easier than ignoring
You don't need anything fancy to compost. I suggest mixing grass
with an equal amount of sawdust to make at least a cubic yard of
material--anything less than that won't "cook" well. It should give
off heat and steam and have an earthy smell, not sour. A round bin,
4-foot in diameter, 4 foot high is ideal. Make two bins. Rabbit
fencing will last longer than chicken wire. Turn the pile over 1 or 2
times per month for a faster decay. The pile should be in direct
contact with the ground.
I found that it is easier to turn the pile with two bins, although
this is not necessary. Speed of composting increases when you have a
50/50 mix of green/brown materials. To make a bin, use 15 feet of
wire fencing, form it into a tube, and fasten the end. No frame
needed (the fencing holds itself up). I recommend rabbit fencing and
you can purchase a 50 foot roll at a farmer's coop or maybe at the
BORG. Use wire cutters and gloves. Be careful--the cut wire can
create a nasty scrape or cut! Near the bottom you will eventually
want to cut an opening, just large enough to fit a long-handled shovel
so you can scoop out the compost. If your compost bin is too dry it
will not "cook." If it is too wet, it will stink. After awhile you
will know how to keep your compost bins "alive."
Auick and easy way is to use large plastic garbage cans with lids.
Just drill in some holes for air and drainage and then place in on a
couple of pcs of 2x4's to keep it off the ground. I live in central NY
and this works fine for me.
If I don't get a solid idea of what I'm doing I may just end up starting
with garbage cans.
I was talking with a neighbor who said its taken him now two years and no
dirt yet. I'm betting the heat is critical to any set-up, and I'll
definitely take this into primary consideration. And with high heat, good
usable dirt is assured in one season!! I have to re-acquaint myself with
the process, but I've got grass already. Seems sawdust is a common item
coming from the wreck. Something that probably works fine for the formula.
Can you comment on location, size of can and holes, type of holes, colour of
can, lid on /lid off, how efficient. I bet a dark colour garbage can with a
lid is a very good unit. Have you experimented, found it necessary to use
more than one can, for stages, or other reasons?
: If I don't get a solid idea of what I'm doing I may just end up
: starting with garbage cans. I was talking with a neighbor who
: said its taken him now two years and no dirt yet.
Another approach is to use earth worms. Earth worms will also convert
organic material (grass, leaves, wood, paper, kitchen scraps, etc)
into dirt, but they don't heat up the dirt and they don't smell. In
my experience, they don't convert teh material as fast as a good
compost bin, but they are pretty fool-proof. They will work in almost
any size container; some people keep a plastic bin under the sink for
kitchen scraps. The worms need air, water, shelter from the sun, and
they like a little calcium (egg shells or tums).
You can just use the worms you find around, or you can buy them.
Search for "vermiculture" on the web for detailed advice. Don't buy
any fancy equipment or bins unless you like buying things - it's easy
to make something. Most of the suggested designs for compost bins
will also work for worms (including the hole in the ground). As long
as the worms are happy they won't wander off.
Our compost pile doesn't seem to emit that much odor, and it's all grass,
weeds, and bits of food scraps. It's just a pile on the ground, but for
aesthetics you'd probably do good to build a border of some kind around
yours. Another reason to build a border is that when someone's mowing
they don't have to attempt to discern where the pile ends and the lawn
Once you get your compost pile started and going, it'll start working
relatively quickly. It just takes a while with no added assistance to
get it going.
You might want to take a look at the rec.gardens hierarchy of Usenet.
Wise is the man who attempts to answer his question before asking it.
To email me directly, send a message to puckdropper (at) fastmail.fm
I have had a number of compost piles that were just holes in the ground.
And no matter what I threw in them, they never filled up. It just kept
digesting things. Of course, I removed some of the completed compost from
time to time.
I like this answer. I don't know if I'll have a lot, a little, enough, not
enough dirt. I wonder if I could have a combination inground/aboveground
unit? I could just as easily attempt something like this as something to
fall back on, maybe if it takes to long to turn to dirt. Its gonna ruin the
surface anyway. I'll have to research this all again first, but its good to
have options. Its a necessity. Any other comments like depth, size, heat,
turning, etc. wrt your experience with this type of hole?
: I just happen to be here in the wreck, and was about the open IE and enter
: "grass composting forum" , with words like low-odour, etc.
: I have about 1700 sq. ft. of lawn I cut weekly, and I need to create a
: composter, for grass only.
The radio show, "You Bet Your Garden" just fielded a question about
how to compost grass without making a smelly mess. Their answer:
"don't compost grass!". Instead, get a mulching mower that cuts the
grass into very small pieces without a bag, and just leave the cut
grass to be absorbed back into the lawn. This will reduce the need to
add fertilizer to your lawn, and won't make a smelly mess. If you
don't have a mulching mower, just take the bag off your regular mower
and let the grass clippings fertilize the lawn directly.
The caller kept asking, "but what can I add to the grass compost pile
so it won't smell?" and the host kept responding, "don't put the grass
into a pile!"
Compost requires four elements: air, water, carbon, and nitrogen.
Grass is very high in nitrigen, like manure and kitchen scraps.
That's why it stinks, just like manure and garbage stinks if you just
piled it up. Carbon comes from fall leaves and woody plants. If you
absolutely must compost the grass, mix it with fall leaves, sawdust,
or fallen branches (preferably run through a chipper). I've heard
that you get better compost if you let the wood sit for a while before
composting it; fresh wood binds with the nitrogen in a way that can't
be easily used by plants.
Some people save their fall leaves so that they can mix them with
their grass clippings to make compost.
I don't know why we're talking compost in rec.woodworking when there
perfectly good gardening newsgroups, but I'm willing to play along.
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