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I have two black bins from City of Mesa for composting, but get almost no useable compost.  I add all my household useable waste and garden stuff (both dry and green), egg cartons and some torn up paper and cardboard bits. The bins are full. Recently I began leaving them open and watering them occasionally. They are sitting underneath huge pine trees so they get some sun, but not all day. The lizards, roaches and beetles love them. But I'm lazy and don't want to have to chop up the kitchen waste - or use electricity/gas for a chipper-shredder just to make compost, but what I'm doing is obviously not working very well.  Help please?!

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Comment by netty wisbaum on May 14, 2017 at 5:55pm

searching for chipper/shredder to breakdown my garden compost sooner...know anyone?

Comment by bryanwhitebeyondthekitchengarden on October 3, 2014 at 3:00pm
The overall volume of either of the two bins pictured appears to be inadequate to equal the minimum 'cubic yard' (3'x3'x3') of material required to sustain a 'hot composting system' (bacterial colony) ... I would suggest you combine the contents of the (2) barrels into just (1) of them and start again ... Happy composting!
Comment by Powell Gammill on October 1, 2014 at 7:57am

Erica beat me to it.  Upside down cone easy to lift off the "pile."  Then pitchfork or shovel the breakdown product into another upside down empty to mix and aerate.  Set the lid on top to hold in moisture, heat and smells better and help exclude insects.  Not perfect at this obviously.  Home owners don't generate that much compostable waste unless you really concentrate on what is compostable.

Others have already commented on the importance of moisture (especially here), aeration and carbon:nitrogen ratio.

 As to Chan's comment on shredded paper be aware the carbon ratio is VERY high.  So sparing use.

Comment by Ericka on September 26, 2014 at 12:32pm

A trick to these type of bins in the photo-flip it up side down so the larger "top" becomes the bottom, and the bottom becomes the top. You will need to take off the lid to do this of course. Keep the lid that is now unattached and simply place it on top of the bins. Way easier to pull off and turn the heap. 

Comment by Justin P Chan on September 25, 2014 at 3:35pm

curious what your C:N ratio is.  I'm just starting to get started on my own compost bin (also a converted city trash bin) and a lot of what I read stress that the C:N ration needs to be 30 to 1.  

I also wonder if just to get the pile started you may want to go with finely chopped material.  I would venture that this might help get the "cooking" going and then you can go with just throwing in your material with out needing to chop them down as much.

I know I did invest in a micro dot shredder to really break down my paper and cardboard material for composting.  I got a great deal on a clearance model from Office Max for $80.00.  But I also plan on using it a lot to chop up paper for my vermicomposting project as well. 

Comment by MaryMcP on September 25, 2014 at 9:17am

".... garbage cans with hole drilled"  should be HOLES drilled, plural.  Lots of large holes like yours.

Comment by MaryMcP on September 25, 2014 at 9:16am

Everything will eventually break down but if you don't turn it and keep a reasonable balance of greens and browns to keep it 'cooking' it will take a long time.  And become sour and smelly which will then attract undesirable critters.

The holes are not enough to allow air to flow, it really needs turning.  Sorry.

I used to have a setup similar to yours but used plastic garbage cans with hole drilled.  They are lighter than those bulky bins but it was a lot of work - all that dumping out and reshoveling to the empty bin.  Last year I had a good year in my business and cash was plentiful so I bought a second composting barrel from Gardener's Supply.  I had one that I'd picked up at a yard sale.  This, imo, is the best system.  When one barrel gets full and is hard to spin, I stop and start the second barrel.  By the time that barrel is full, the 'resting' barrel is ready for the garden.  And so on.  I also vermicompost (red wiggler indoor worm farm)  and use this compost for plants in containers..  Hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any other questions.

Comment by Barbara Middleton on September 25, 2014 at 6:41am

Thank you, Mary.  We do put my husband's coffee grounds in it from his daily coffee pot, but I didn't know it helped like that - I can do the Starbucks thing - thanks.  The cans have holes drilled in them, I guess to push a stick/rebar through to give it air, but I've never done that.  Will the bigger things break down too without shredding?  Do you have a container for yours or use a compost pit/ ground area?

Comment by MaryMcP on September 22, 2014 at 5:12am

You must turn it, it needs air.  One method is to keep one barrel empty and occasionally (once a month minimum), move the stuff in one barrel to the other.  When I'm getting ready to do this, I stop at various Starbucks on my way home and grab bags of coffee grounds to layer as I move the compost from one container to the other.  The coffee grounds help to heat up the mixture and get it cooking.  Fall is just around the corner so layering dry leaves  along with the coffee grounds really helps too.

Good luck, gardening is hard work!!  

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