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I want to have a compost pile in our newly bought home. We have a crab apple tree that I could not, unfortunately, harvest this year but had about 50-75 apples drop so far. I've saved these in a pile to use for compost.

  1. Do I need to break/crush these down at all or is it okay to let them decompose on their own?
  2. The area I am putting them at used to have rubble and random landscaping ruins that I've mainly cleared out. Can I start compost over this?
  3. Also this is about 50 yards from our neighbors back side of their house and 5 feet from their lot... is this ethically wrong??
  4. Do I need to add anything specifically to get this started? I will be grabbing some compost from the local brush dump to help.
  5. How often should I mix the pile during each of the seasons? We are in Minnesota.

Any other info would be super helpful! Thank you!

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  • Congratulations on the new home, and welcome to the site!
    – MackM
    Aug 30, 2023 at 13:11
  • Depending on scale and area, a bin may be neater and more suburban friendly (and some areas have low-cost or even free bins available as an effort to cut down on compostables going to the solid waste stream.) Manufactured bins do tend to be a bit small by nature, but they also reduce nuisance animal issues.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 30, 2023 at 16:44
  • If you can grab compost from the local brush dump, one method is to grab quite a lot of it, make a big pile, and put your kitchen/yard waste in the middle of the big pile.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 31, 2023 at 12:18

2 Answers 2

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  1. Do I need to break/crush these down at all or is it okay to let them decompose on their own?

It is perfectly okay to let them decompose on their own. Breaking the fruit down will accelerate the process, but it will happen no matter what.

  1. The area I am putting them at used to have rubble and random landscaping ruins that I've mainly cleared out. Can I start compost over this?

Yes, you can compost there. Having 'good soil' underneath the pile can help worms and other critters find their way into your pile, but it will compost either way.

  1. Also this is about 50 yards from our neighbors back side of their house and 5 feet from their lot... is this ethically wrong??

I don't feel that it is unethical. If the neighbor uses the part of their lot right against yours in a way that your compost might be a nuisance, talking to them first might be neighborly but not really an ethical concern in my mind. 50 yards from their home is plenty far.

  1. Do I need to add anything specifically to get this started? I will be grabbing some compost from the local brush dump to help.

Not really. Fresh compost might seed some organisms to get it started sooner, but there really isn't much you can do to stop composting. The relevant players are in the world all around us and will find the compost pile in time.

  1. How often should I mix the pile during each of the seasons? We are in Minnesota.

This is entirely up to you. In the frozen months your pile will probably have a frozen crust at the least that will make turning impractical. If the compost is active at all in these months it will be because of the still-warm inside, so turning would slow the process.

In warm months, you can turn the pile anywhere in between weekly and never. More often than weekly will start to interrupt certain fungi's life cycles and slow the process. But never turning it will also work, just more slowly.

Here is a nice guide on composting if you want to get into the nitty gritty.

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  • Organic, useful, and lighthearted. Like a good compost. In other words, Good Sh!t. Aug 31, 2023 at 14:51
  • The rubble underneath may actually have some benefit for the first few years, by improving drainage so the bottom of the heap isn't too wet (especially if you don't turn, and start with a lot of wet material like apples). Mixing in a few few shovelfuls of garden soil will help get things started, from the least cultivated part of the garden is best.
    – Chris H
    Sep 13, 2023 at 10:20
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My granddad used to compost shit from various animals. It stank almost 2 meters away. If stink becomes a problem(it won't) sprinkle wood ash over.

In my understanding compost is to be deployed at spring. If we accept this axiom then stop adding to the pile at the end of autumn. Burying it deeply (30cm) during spring tiling destroys soil organisms but places it where it needs to be.

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