The Great Compost Project: The Outside Problem

| 10/12/2009 3:24:34 PM

Tags: composting, dogs, compost enclosure,

Compost Problem Solving Day – Before 9 a.m.

A photo of Shannon Saia“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero

I would like to go on record here as saying that I wholeheartedly believe that this is true. I have multiple reasons, but the one that comes to mind at the moment is that if you’re going to garden with any kind of seriousness, you’re going to need the information in that library to figure what the heck to do with the garden – every step of the way. Cicero’s sentiment has particular resonance for me this morning because I also believe that the following (from Mike and Nancy Bubel) is true – that experience can be translated to mean “doing it wrong the first time”.

How do I know? Check it out. Does this look like compost to you?

This is NOT compost. Close up of yard waste inside rabbit guard fencing.

My two favorite books right now are the Bubels' Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits and Vegetables, and Steve Soloman’s Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food In Hard Times. I pulled out Gardening When It Counts this morning because I woke with a feeling of restless agitation, an inability to concentrate, and an un-assuageable drive to DO something. So … today is the day I solve the composting problem – hopefully without too much flexing of the checkbook.

Quite a few years of studying philosophy has shown me that you can’t solve a problem (in the real world OR in the metaphysical one) unless you can define that problem, so here goes.

4/30/2011 1:07:52 AM

I like this idea for keeping the domestic animals out of the compost pile. Excellent !! Now please tell me if I can add paper shreds from the recyle bin and coffee filters? I know that coffee grounds are great for composting but what about those white filters?? Thanks !

s.m.r. saia
10/19/2009 10:30:46 AM

I posted this comment at the end of my first post, but because I don't know if any of those original commenters will even see it there, it's been so long, I thought I would post it again here too in hopes that those who read my first post are still following along. I was having technical issues getting comments posted for awhile there, and now that's resolved, so here goes. First I want to thank you all for the supportive comments. I'm happy to be here as part of this community, and I look forward to learning and sharing much. It looks like Grit doesn't have my bio up yet, so Chad, in response to your question about whether or not I have a blog, yes, this is my blog, but I also keep two others. For garden-specific stuff you can find me at For a running commentary on anything under the sun, but especially our sustainability adventures, you can follow along at Thanks for reading!

s.m.r. saia
10/19/2009 7:47:36 AM

Scott, I should have specified that I don't intended to add everything from the "not compost" pile to the new compost pile...I know it's way too big to ever hope to break down. But I do appreciate the advice! Nebraska Dave, thanks for the inspiring words!

nebraska dave
10/13/2009 10:16:38 AM

S.M.R., I too have this love hate relationship with composting. I read somewhere that all you have to do is use the grass clipping collected off the yard as mulch and it will compost in place. Silly me decided to heed that advice and shortly it started to heat up which decidedly cooked the plants, then it turned all slimy and after a couple more weeks turned moldy. It’s not a good idea to have all green and no brown in compost. I don’t use any house scraps because it’s just too difficult for me to keep all the critters out of the pile. Wild critters are much more adapt at finding a way get into what they want than domestic. This year I expanded my garden and I’m just layering the green grass clippings with the brown fall leaves that have been crunched up by “Chomper”, my lawnmower. I plan on wintering it over to next Spring then do a double dig in each of the beds before planting. I’m still trying to figure out what works for me. I do have a composting area, but right now it’s in a very dormant state and really needs some attentive action to get it going again. Since we have had two snows already and the temperatures are into the 20s every night, I think I’ll wait until Spring to work on getting the compost pile back to composting. Life is like a compost heap. The rotting debris of everyday trials just keep piling up….but if we wait long enough and remain steadfast and strong, even the stinkiest pile will bear good and worthwhile things. ~ Geraldine

scott pullins
10/12/2009 4:49:45 PM

You need to get a chipper shredder of some kind and the bigger the better. I've got one of those smaller electric ones and it isn't enough. If you don't shred some of that stuff, it will take forever to break down. Just my two cents!

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