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Mar 25, 2013 06:05 PM

How to switch from one years compost heap to the next?

I am probably asking a silly question, spinning bin is full, and has been for months. Time to unload and cover my raised garden beds, after removing the whole leaves placed there last year after Hurricane Sandy. There is some recent stuff in there that is still basically whole and I assume I should pick out....I added some goat/horse/chicken manure in the fall to plump it up and hoping overall it will be decent.

So how do you switch over to next years batch, or do you? To me, I'm thinking this is a once a year thing, or something like that?

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  1. I've never used a "spinning bin", but I would imagine you have to empty & use each batch as it's finished & then start fresh.

    I've always used 3 stationary bins or piles - one for fresh stuff that after several months gets turned over into Bin/Pile #2 to continue breaking down, which then eventually gets turned over into Bin/Pile #3 when it's just about ready for use. Sort of a continuous process where something is always cooking at some stage or other.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Bacardi1

      Yeah, I figured some kind of crossover. Guess I need another bin or two!

      1. re: coll

        I have a 3 bin system, too. The how-to design was in Crockett's Victory Garden book. Probably easily found on the internet. Nothing hard about it, just chicken wire and lumber.

        Sometimes I also dig something right into the garden, like it's easy to bury kitchen scraps near a tomato plant.

        The manure addition last fall was a great idea.

        1. re: dfrostnh

          Thanks, I got the manure reminder from dear ol' Mom when I saw her overabundant tomatoes and squash overflowing her garden last year. Horse manure, she says! There is a goat farm nearby that sells the mix of goat/horse/chicken, and I wouldn't give up until I caught them there to pick up a sack. I know it has to sit at least over the winter, so I was on a mission.

          I got the spinning composter because the loose pile I was cultivating was doing nothing, prpbably because while I would try to toss the contents on a regular basis it just wasn't enough to make real compost, plus I was afraid of the varmints it might be attracting. This enclosed bin is making some nice stuff, but the real test will in the garden in a month or two.

          1. re: coll

            I had heard that horse manure wasn't a good idea because of all the antibiotics they are given? I live just a bit away from and horsey area but...?

            1. re: OCEllen

              I don't know the pedigree, they are mostly show horses (jumpers?) and maybe even big work horses, hopefully not as bad as thoroughbreds?

              1. re: coll

                I presumed it meant all 'tame' horses - unless wild mustangs, not the old Ford car ;)

                1. re: OCEllen

                  I can just imagine someone out on the prarie, scavenging for horse manure here and there! I wouldn't want that job.

              2. re: OCEllen

                I believe you are not supposed to use horse manure after they have been wormed. I have been using composted horse manure since 2008. We get it in the spring from a horse owner who mixes kitchen scraps and bedding in the pile all winter. He charges $15 for his tractor time to load our utility trailer with as much as it can hold. You can google for reasons why some people do not want to use horse manure.

      2. What kind of spinning bin did you get?

        I made some stationary bins by drilling holes in Rubbermaid covered-box containers (if you're not diligent about stirring the contents, takes forever and also has a tendency to be too wet). I'm interested in a spinning bin - everyone I know uses the chicken-wire bin method and our in-town small property isn't ideal for that setup.

        As for the question you asked: One is the active bin and the other is the one that is ready to use. You could drill lots of holes into the sides of a large lidded Rubbermaid (or whatever inexpensive brand) and shovel the contents of the full bin into it. Just be sure to keep sticking a fork in it & tossing it around.

        2 Replies
        1. re: eepi

          I'm away from home right now, so I don't know the brand, but I got my bin at BJs for $99; I had to put it together though. It's very sturdy and large. It has holes but also an aeration pipe running through the middle of the bin inside. You do have to remember to spin it every day or so, whether you add to it or not.
          It's pretty good exercise once it gets full.

          Here it is