E-Mail 'Composting Your Black Gold - Part 1, by Hobbit Farmer' To A Friend

Email a copy of 'Composting Your Black Gold - Part 1, by Hobbit Farmer' to a friend

* Required Field

Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.

Separate multiple entries with a comma. Maximum 5 entries.

E-Mail Image Verification

Loading ... Loading ...


  1. Good morning

    Spectacular! I’m new to this and I really appreciate you breaking down all the steps to get this going.
    Looking forward to the next part.

    Have a Rockin great day

      1. Krissy,

        Nothing is really bear proof. They laugh at electric fence wire. Setting 4×4 posts in concrete and using hog fencing helps but more for keeping out deer and moose. The bears just climb over, under, around and through everything. A sealed steel container is almost foolproof but I don’t think that makes for good compost.

        What’s amazing is that I would chop up the kitchen scraps fairly small …… yet the bears would daintily paw through stuff and pick out the smallest pieces of whatever. Big bears, long “fingernails” = hilarious.

    1. TominAlaska!
      You are so right… In our part of the country, we get bear visitors to the bee boxes. One year a bear lifted our enclosure to access the boxes, toppled those, took off with the honey, and we lost our bees in the process.

      Since that time we’ve been developing supports for wild pollinator colonies (especially given our concerns about the magnetic reversal and coming solar minimum), and we haven’t resolved our honey bee “issue” (although this is in our active thinking and planning presently). We’re doing really well with leaf cutter bees and mason bees among other members of the insect world.

      I do digress… How does that expression go? If you build it, they will come!

    2. Yes, in bear country you will not be able to compost kitchen scraps. I would think you could still composite yard and garden waste (grass clippings, plant debris, weeds). Anyone from bear country feel free to chime in if you have successfully composted.

    3. Our local NH bears are trainable. Electric fencing will not affect them EXCEPT through the nose and mouth. Bears are territorial so once you train your bear most issues stop.

      How do you train a bear? Place a bit of bacon on a very strong electric wire (I like the 30 mile chargers around my chicken house) around the area you want protected. My neighbors do this every spring because the Bear seems to forget after hibernation :-). It’s a local thing to show off the FIRST Training session MARKED by a Pile of Bear Scat.

      So far our chicken houses, bee hives and such have been kept safe from our local bear. It’s been almost 20 years since a Training Wire protected item has been bear visited.

      Shooting the bear just means a NEW Bear will take over your area.

  2. Hobbit Farmer!
    What an outstanding article… Such an enjoyable read. Thank you!

    From your article: “The biological life in the soil is supported by this organic matter and a myriad of biological and chemical processes are triggered by this diversity of life and unlocking the nutrients in the soil.”

    This statement resonated with me given my own interest in plant bioaccessibility of nutrients. Well said!

  3. A question, Hobbit Farmer!
    From your article: “I do not recommend open sides.”

    In reading through this section, I wondered about a few small “holes” rather than open (wire mesh) sides or entirely enclosed sides. In your experience… Any benefit to this, or better just to stay with the enclosed sides?

    1. Thank you for the nice comments Telesilla! I think small holes in the sides would not be a problem. It would allow some additional oxygen in the pile, but with a small 4×4 bin I do not think it would be necessary. If your pile is getting up to temperature you don’t need the additional airflow. My oldest pile has been holding at over 120 for about 5 months now as I’ve built it over the summer without anyholes. I’ve also been using straw for the brown layers and that traps a lot of air in the pile as it is built.

      1. Thank you, Hobbit Farmer! Your follow up is greatly appreciated! In fact, the idea that gave rise to the question of small holes in the compost box siding was the air flow created by growing plants in containers like Walmart bags! I remember that from years ago, and it came to my thinking again in reading about your compost box design and experiences with various options.

        Really looking forward to Part 2!

  4. With the smaller volumes of material I typically have for composting, I have found compost tumblers to be very handy. After trying several, have found the “Hot Frog” two bin tumbler to be the longest lasting and most effective. I have no connection to the company. Just passing along info.

  5. As a novice, I’ve come to appreciate the value of of producing compost, especially in these parts of the Rocky Mountains. Turning the pile every 5 days, or so, prevents the the pile from becoming (for a lack of a better term) ‘anaerobic’. If one cannot feel a slight increase in temperature from the outside of the pile after 5 days, it is probably a good idea to turn it and get more oxygen into it, and add more nitrogen contain materials if the pile does not produce heat over and beyond ambient temperatures during the following week… Cover the pile with black plastic and dark colored tarp assists the process. One can even add pine needles without increasing the acidity of the compost product significantly. I would only use saw dust and wood chip sparingly as these materials have the highest carbon to nitrogen ration of 500 to 1, verses straw that is 150 to 1. It is all too easy to add too much carbon (brown) and difficult to add too much green (nitrogen). Weeds will be my primary source of compost material next year as weeds are every where and naturally contain a carbon to nitrogen ratio close to the ideal, or better than, 30 to 1 ratio.

    Wish I had more time to pitch in what I’ve learned this summer, but got to go finish painting a house so I can buy more ammo, specifically 7.62×39, as this ammo is the best stock to buy at this time. It has the lowest risk to reward. Producing compost is critical for the long term production of food. Thus, this is a mucho importanto topic. Thanks…

      1. Not the same and depending on your local soil conditions, may not be of any benefit. It can help on your high acid soils found in the corn belt when applied in the fall or winter. Out here in the western states it actual may be harmful.

  6. Really like this article so far, thank you very much! I have a couple of questions but I will wait for part 2 to ask them in case they are answered there. Thank you again 😀

  7. Hobbit Farmer a question for you about straw and hay.
    I have tried putting starter plants in straw bales sweetened with cow manure as a form of raised bed gardening. None of my plants thrived in the bales. The wife says its because of the herbicides used by the wheat farmer. Hay would be a convenient “brown” for my compost. Have you had any problems with using commercially grown straw or hay. I know all the hay farmers around here (Florida) use broad leaf herbicides (2,4-D) on their hay fields. They tell me not to worry that it (2,4-D & Round-up) dissipates quickly and will not affect my garden plants. I am not so sure. Your thoughts?

    1. Mark,
      The half life of 2,4-D is 6.2 days, which means that in a weeks time at normal temperatures and moisture only half of the active ingredient will still remain. Round-up is a whole new story all by itself as it can be 60-90 days to the half way point or under some circumstances it can be as long as 22 years. Much of the commercial wheat that is grown in the USA is sprayed with Round-up so when the farmer harvests the crop it is at a low moisture percentage. This final spray is NOT to kill weeds, but only to provide a low moisture condition in the grain. This saves the farmer the time and expense of having to dry the grain. If the crop is certified organic then it will be free (or is supposed to be) of any herbicide. There is a pretty good chance that the wheat straw you mention has traces of unreacted herbicide in it. I have a personal friend that killed some plants in a greenhouse with tree leaves that he thought were safe. One small spot from a single bag of tree leaves was contaminated and it killed some tomatoes in a small area in the middle of his greenhouse.

      About twenty five years ago a local county extension agent told me that after three days (yep only three) that Round-up would be inert in the soil. Unfortunately that is NOT true as I’ve proved over and over by comparative chemical analysis of soil samples. Dr. Don Huber has also done a lot of research in this area. There are quite a number of YouTube videos of him available. Round-up is the enemy you have to watch out for.

  8. Mark,

    I’ve mostly been fortunate using straw. Don’t use hay because it imports whatever seeds were growing in someone’s pasture. I have had some problems with herbicide residues I have a stunted raspberry patch to this day from two hay bales a couple years back.
    Read David the Good’s Compost Everthing for the worst case possibility.

Comments are closed.