Making Compost Using Free Local Resources

This year I tried making compost using only leaves and coffee grounds. I went to nearby Starbucks locations and asked for all their grounds. Some complied, some were even happy to not have to take the trash out themselves, but most were bothered by the inconvenience, and I wasn’t getting enough grounds to keep up with the number of leaves that fell on my property. I managed to get the compost up to 120-130 degrees for a few days, but the nitrogen was quickly depleted while the leaves were still in abundance.

I sought after an easier approach to getting free resources from around town to get my compost piles going before winter.

I drove around neighborhoods around mine looking for bagged leaves by the side of the road. The trash company offers leaf pickup if they are in brown paper bags. I swooped in before they could be taken with my borrowed SUV and trailer. I gathered around 100 bags of leaves. Some shredded, most not.

I then reached out to local horse stables in search of a generous donor of horse manure. I found a location near me that was more than happy to shovel the daily horse waste into my trailer instead of the dumpster. After a week I received a call that the trailer was ready for dumping!

I used one 5′ bin and one 3′ bin to see which one worked better. I filled both up with leaves and manure. I added around 4″ of manure then a bag of leaves. The second one also had excess garden waste from the year.

The thermometer I’m using.

After 24 hours:

After 48 hours:

After 72 hours:

If the temperature continues to climb I’ll need to be turning the pile in under a week. Impressive!

4 thoughts on “Making Compost Using Free Local Resources”

  1. Be careful where you get your manure from. There are certain herbicides commonly used on hayfields that carry through into the manure and finished compost. You’ve probably already used this compost so this batch was hopefully OK, but it’s something worth asking about the next time you find some free manure.

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