Making and selling compost

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by grassmasterswilson, Nov 12, 2014.

  1. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Fanatic
    from nc
    Messages: 5,117

    Can someone tell me about the composting process? Anyone make and seek their own? Homeowners I talk to around here complain about how hard it is to fine good topsoil and compost.

    I have considered creating a compost pile from my waste and possibly the free leaves picked up by the city.

    Thinking a large concrete pad and a backhoe to turn it every few weeks? If love to hear more about the process length and what has worked.
  2. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    The biggest thing about making compost commercially is keeping the pile hot enough to destroy pathogens which requires active "turning" of the pile along with correct moisture throughout...
    Not something that I was ready to commit to,but with a little research it is not hard as long as you embrace the living mechanisms that make it work and work with those mechanisms...
    I would avoid gimmicks and shortcuts... :)
  3. 32vld

    32vld LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,982

    First problem is too many people are brain washed into only using mulch.

    Second you have not been to a composting business. Other wise you would of not said use a back hoe. The leaves and grass clippings are in rows about 5' high about 100 yds long. They have a machine that rides over the top of each pile. As the machine goes forward the pile is turned over and the pile is reshaped back into a row again. Which keeps the break down going and the pile temperature up to kill the seeds.

    Next it can take a lot of land to make compost on a large scale. Most people live on an acre or less.

    I have my own mulch pile going on in my back yard for my own personal use. My pile will only be as large as I can keep turning it over with a shovel. Grass clippings and leaves. When I weed I screen out the soil and add that soil to the compost pile. The weeds I toss out in the garbage. Because I do not want to risk weed seeds not being killed reintroducing weeds back into the bed. Or that the pulled weeds can survive on the compost pile.
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Skidsters work just fine and a 5' pile 100' long with a special machine is just the gimmickry I was refering to. It can be done with a pitchfork and a hose for any pile greater than 3' high and 3' wide... Don't overthink this... :)
  5. grassmasterswilson

    grassmasterswilson LawnSite Fanatic
    from nc
    Messages: 5,117

    I'm not sure anyone would start out with this investment. Why not start small. Could you not produce the same product with a skid or backhoe and 50-100 yards of leaves??

    We'd all be broke if we decided to start mowing and bought a flee of equipment before aquiring the first job.
  6. AI Inc

    AI Inc LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 27,279

    I have my own pile out back. Grass clippings , leaves and shavings and hey from when I clean out the chiken coop. Turn it with a JD 1023 and have a big loop of drip that's tied to the garden zone to get some water in there. I don't sell it , just use it around the house.
  7. chris@perfectlawncare

    chris@perfectlawncare LawnSite Member
    Messages: 198

    I had this great idea about using foodscraps from local restaurants and combining them with wood chips, leaves, and other green materials to compost and sell back to customers. I'd provide a garbage can for a nominal monthly fee, go collect, and make compost.

    Then I looked at the regulations in Ohio. You have to have approvals. You have to have approvals for your approvals. You can't make too much stink, you have to ensure that your compost doesn't leach into the groundwater, and finally, you have to have every pile tested by a licensed facility (and there really aren't any in Ohio that I could find). Then you have to document how much pollution you're putting into the air because of equipment. And store it. And sell it.

    It would be an excellent opportunity to reduce the landfill stream, but the administrative and regulatory costs associated with the process are quite simply outrageous. :cry:

    As an aside, there are some awesome technologies that utilize piping to aerate the piles (positive pressure) and tarps that reduce the smell and shorten the maturation time quite a bit. It's a surprisingly scientific process that requires a great deal of monitoring to get it 100% right.

    Man I'd love to be able to do it...
  8. AI Inc

    AI Inc LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 27,279

    Seems like a lot of work for something that sells for a little more then dirt.
  9. SRT8

    SRT8 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CA
    Messages: 1,323

    Ive been thinking about making compost as well. In the process of buying a 100 acre ranch. Might be a little side project. There is this landfill about 30 min away that only takes green waste, they pass it all through a tub grinder and shred it to bits. They dont sell it, idk what they do with it but what I do know is that they give it away for free? Now that its shredded i would assume the composting cycle would be sped up? If i went in and asked for 1000 yards of this stuff they would give it me. Any thoughts? Would it be worth it? Oh and they are picky so their is no garbage mixed in, just clean mulch
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  10. GrassManKzoo

    GrassManKzoo LawnSite Platinum Member
    Male, from Kalamazoo, MI
    Messages: 4,214

    We had someone in town here(pretty successful business man) start a large scale compost pile. He would take grass, leaves, food scrap from restaurants, bedding from the county fair when they do their animal events. Well long story short he was shut down for the smell. The permits he had to do it were removed and the city will not reissue any permits to do something like that again
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