5 Gallon Bucket Composting

Michigan_Nick

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Good Sunday Afternoon!

So I'm a couple weeks or so into my 5 gallon bucket composting project. I believe I've done enough research to grasp the basics to composting, but would like others' opinions on a few things. I keep an empty coffee can in my fridge with fruit and veggie scraps and incorporate into my compost 1-2 times / week.

1. I drink coffee everyday and have seen some mixed opinions on adding coffee grounds into the compost. How much is too much coffee grounds, if any at all?

2. How quickly should my compost start heating up? I don't feel much warmth to the touch, but it's also not 'cold'. Would it be okay to leave out in the sun regularly?

3. I've also seen mixed opinions on acidic foods (lemons, oranges, etc.). Is it alright to put in peels of those fruits or stay away entirely?

Thanks for any input, as always, guys!
 

flowerbug

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fun topic, i'm short on time at the moment, will come back later, i use worms:

biggest issue with daily coffee grounds in a compost bucket would be it getting too wet. so if you can dry them out a bit first before adding them... i don't have drain holes in my buckets, i control moisture by what i add to the bucket.

http://www.anthive.com/project/taters/
http://www.anthive.com/project/worms/
 

Michigan_Nick

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fun topic, i'm short on time at the moment, will come back later, i use worms:

biggest issue with daily coffee grounds in a compost bucket would be it getting too wet. so if you can dry them out a bit first before adding them... i don't have drain holes in my buckets, i control moisture by what i add to the bucket.

http://www.anthive.com/project/taters/
http://www.anthive.com/project/worms/

What I was more worried about was the natural acidity of the coffee grounds. I did drill a dozen or so holes in the bottom of the first bucket to drip excess moisture into the reservoir bucket underneath.
 

flowerbug

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What I was more worried about was the natural acidity of the coffee grounds. I did drill a dozen or so holes in the bottom of the first bucket to drip excess moisture into the reservoir bucket underneath.

i guess i don't understand what you are doing...

are you keeping worms or just hoping things will rot in a bucket? they will rot in a bucket eventually, if there's some moisture and suitable bacteria and fungi in there, but it will be a pretty slow process and most of your interesting nutrients are going to be in that reservoir bucket instead.

if you are keeping worms in that bucket then used coffee grounds aren't going to be majorly acidic, but they should not be the majority of what goes in there. you can use them in other ways to distribute them around a yard or mix them in with a regular compost pile along with some dirt.

if you're really worried about acidity you can add eggshells or crushed limestone powder or some other basic mineral to balance.

as for heat, i don't know if a bucket is going to hold much heat in there. if you're keeping worms you don't want it to get too hot anyways. they're best kept at room temperatures.

for citrus peels there is a limit to how many worms will tolerate, but a compost heap is a different thing entirely. my recent experimentation is that the worms will adapt to a high citrus peel mix, but it may take some time to get them acclimated to it and since my own mix of soils/partially decayed wood chips/paper/food scraps doesn't maintain a constant high level of citrus i don't want to put a lot of them in all at once, i space it out instead, just a few peels here or there and keep the rest back dried until i can put them through.

i'm currently keeping 12 buckets. just restarted them the end of May so they're in high gear now making a lot of new babies.
 

Michigan_Nick

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Flowerbug,

What I have currently is a 5 gallon bucket with about a dozen or so worms crawling around. Everything I've been doing is small scale (especially compared to some of the pros on TEG). I understand it's a long process that typically takes months to create usable soil. I don't water it whatsoever and has kept solid moisture inside the container itself.

Okay coffee grounds will be incorporated once or twice a week then and will avoid overly acidic fruits in general. I typically have banana peels, berries, lettuce greens, tomatoes, peppers, eggshells, etc. being tossed into the bucket once a week or so.
 

flowerbug

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it will take a while to build up the worm population. are you using the red wrigglers/aka composting worms? they are quicker to expand their population than the earthworms (and night crawlers take even longer and aren't really worth the time to raise in captivity because they need so much time and space).

note that the night crawler you find in the wild here in MI is not the same as the belgian or european night crawler which is sold at the bait stores. those are excellent multipurpose composting worms which also live in the top layer of garden soil. red wrigglers stay closer to the surface. but you can easily add many more red wrigglers to the worm bin to get it going faster by searching under pieces of wood sitting on the surface or under leaves or rocks.
 

ninnymary

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If I understand correctly, you are using the 5 gallon bucket as your composting bin so to speak? Do you add all the other usual stuff like leaves and grass clippings?

As far as citrus and coffee grounds, I add these to mine. But my composting is done in big composting bins. I notice that when I add the coffee grounds that my pile will heat up and steam. Once they are broken down which is around a few weeks, that the pile cools back down.

Mary
 

flowerbug

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If I understand correctly, you are using the 5 gallon bucket as your composting bin so to speak? Do you add all the other usual stuff like leaves and grass clippings?

As far as citrus and coffee grounds, I add these to mine. But my composting is done in big composting bins. I notice that when I add the coffee grounds that my pile will heat up and steam. Once they are broken down which is around a few weeks, that the pile cools back down.

Mary

if you are worm composting you don't want it to get hot and there is not enough thermal mass or insulating going on in that small of a container (unless it were wrapped in something to insulate it). you may get some fermentation going if you put in a lot of fruits or green stuff, but that's about all you can expect. once you get enough worms in there you won't see much of that either.
 
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