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Sep 2, 2013 10:38 AM

Trouble getting my compost pile large enough.

I've decided to get into square food gardening and want to start next spring. Rather than buy bags of compost, im looking to make my own. Problem is, im finding that only sourcing kitchen scraps like egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags, and vegetable peelings to be slow. I want to beat the cold weather and make some hot compost as I want to add sod to mine. (want the heat to kill and weeds and weed seeds). Any advice? I've heard some people go over to coffee shops and grocery stores for their vegetable trimmings. Im curious. How did the exchange go as im sure im going to get some odd looks. Or do you think its too late to start building a compost pile for hot composting at this point? Should I just leave the sod aside? To give an idea of climate conditions, I live in nyc.

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  1. When I had a compost pile many years ago, I kept a layer of grass clippings on top, which acted as an insulating blanket. The grass was raked aside to add scraps to the top. From time to time I would stir it up with a garden fork (but not mixing in the grass). It seems to me that sod would take too long to break down.

    1. Where do you live? That's going to determine probably if anything's going to occur before next spring. I had no problems with grass clippings. It was keeping the 'brown stuff' around like leaves that was my problem. Good luck.

      1 Reply
      1. re: c oliver

        nyc. Its still fairly warm but im not that sure what temperatures hot composting will work in. My pile will probably freeze when winter comes but im hoping i'll get enough deteriorated by the time that time comes.

      2. Starbucks has a "Grounds for Gardeners" program and will give you used grounds. Go in the afternoon. I don't even buy their coffee and they give me grounds if they have them when I ask.

        Some people compost shredded paper (junk mail, etc.) if they need more browns (I haven't done it yet since I haven't needed more but I'm doing some reading about it.) Here's an article talking about it:

        3 Replies
        1. re: weezieduzzit

          Interesting re shredded paper for the browns. I'd have to separate out the colored and glossy but that doesn't seem like a big deal. Thanks. I quit on the composting due to lack of browns. May give it another try.

          1. re: weezieduzzit

            Im happy they wont think im weird as im basically asking for their garbage. I guess i can assume i got 10% of my pile already covered. Trying to reach 64 cu ft for my pile. So I guess I need to collect 6.4 cu ft of coffee grounds which is probably around 160 lbs of coffee grounds (Wow...) Guess i'll stop by multiple Starbucks. Maybe Dunkin Donuts will be willing as well. How much do they usually give you btw?

            1. re: VongolaDecimo

              I just gotta ask: where do you live in NYC that you can have something 64 cubic feet big???????? That calculates out according to a link to "Two feet deep by five feet tall by six foot five inches wide..."

          2. When we lived in Minneapolis & Rockport I'd drive around the neighborhood in autumn & pick up bags of leaves that people had waiting for garbage pickup. In Mpls the leaves would mostly begin to break down in spring. In Texas they'd break down all year. As another reply pointed out, where you live can make a big difference.


            1. We are empty nesters so there are only two of us. The compost pile never gets very big. Only about two feet high. The compost on the bottom is amazing and full of hundreds of worms.
              We used to get grounds from the local coffee shop until they closed. They were happy to help us out but it meant a daily trip and providing strong plastic bags for the grounds. They are heavy and if they leak your car will have a lovely aroma of espresso.
              I am sure fruit and vegetable markets would eagerly help you if you are reliable and provide plastic bags. Less for them to pay to the trash carter.