Composting with the Frame Technique

The Frame Technique was originally conceived as a method of composting without use of a stationary containment. Why? Because back in 1985, a Florida Homeowner Association CCR (Covenants/Conditions/Restrictions) prohibiting use of a composting containment structures was upheld in a District Court.

According to the way this CCR was written, such a 'structure' would be used to contain materials as they matured to become compost. So there was a legal difference between a containment that you might use to collect yard or garden refuse in preparation for collection pickup, and a composting bin.

Not only that, but I found out that a LOT of homeowner's associations had 'outlawed' composting in a variety of different ways, almost all of which could be 'gotten around' by using the Frame Technique since once the pile is made, all that is left is a "...pile of dirt...". That's what compost is. It is not soil. If you don't like it being 'dirt' then call it a soil amendment. Either way, there is not ever going to be any laws enforced that restrict a neatly-maintained pile of dirt or soil amendment on private property.

To have a take-apart bin of any material with sides at least 36" high was a major hassle to try and build a pile inside of it that would stay erect after the sides were removed.

So the Frame was 'born' to construct a compost pile that would stand on its own up to 4' high, immediately after the pile was built.

It required designing and constructing a lightweight, inexpensive Frame that was very stable during the build; easy to take apart afterward and simple to raise as the pile gained height.

It took some experimenting to design a workable Frame, but then it took a lot of experimenting to come up with the procedures that would ensure unsupported pile stability, and at the same time provide a high-quality environment for exponential microbial reproduction.

The frame technique only works on piles that are at least one cubic yard. The basic 'rule of thumb' is this: Decide how high the pile is going to reach (in inches), and ensure that space is available for that same number of inches (or more) for width and length.

Rarely do I construct a pile taller than 40 inches, but I have made a no-bin pile as high as 52" - but that required using a ladder, so won't do that again...

I really do prefer making batch piles pretty much start-to-finish. With only a pitchfork, shovel and wheelbarrows I can make a 3 cubic yard pile in one day. But usually I don't want to work that hard, so it may take me a week to get a large pile made or turned.

But as long as I have feedstock to work with, I do prefer making a large pile rather than two smaller piles.

In the photo you see one of my piles on a 8' x 10' tarp pad with a trench all the way around it. That's to collect the leachate that seeps from the pile when you water each layer as the pile is made.

Collecting leachate means I NEVER need to buy any kind of plant fertilizer. Leachate is the best balanced plant fertilizer there is and won't ever 'burn' a plant's leaves.
If you compost, and you are not collecting the excess water that is not absorbed as you water the pile - you are wasting a very valuable resource.

The Frame Technique could be used with a wire bin also, but in order for a pile to remain intact after construction support is removed, it is necessary to compact (tamp) the perimeter (outer edge) of the feedstock as it was built - quite difficult to do with a round piece of wire without damaging the wire, but if you contact me, I'll tell you how to make a tamping stick that works great and won't tear up your wire bin.

I'll finish this page as soon as possible - but in the meantime, if you want to know more about the Frame Technique, just click the "contact" link at the bottom of the page and ask.

Click Here to see: Compost Containments
Click Here to see:COMPOST PILES