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Unfinished Compost

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Unfinished Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/26/2012, 1:02 am

What would happen if compost isn't finished? Can it still be used in MM?
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Re: Unfinished Compost

Post  Chopper on 3/26/2012, 1:30 am

I hate to admit it, but I did that once. It was mostly finished and I let the bed sit a couple of weeks before planting. It was very productive. Ideally, I would say no and depending what is unfinished and what your environment is, you might attract critters.

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Re: Unfinished Compost

Post  camprn on 3/26/2012, 6:30 am

If it is almost done composting I will use it in the garden beds. The worms will finish it off.

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Re: Unfinished Compost

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/26/2012, 7:46 am

I've used it. As long as it smells good. The less finished provides worm food (someone said that already, sorry). Sometimes you get weeds, usually that is not an issue.
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Re: Unfinished Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/26/2012, 7:56 am

While turning my compost yesterday, I noticed that for the most part, it had a real nice smell. If I could put a scale on the stink factor, with 0 being stink-free and 10 being super stinky, I'd say the compost was around a 2. The compost did have identifiable bits to it, but what I could identify were some pine needles, dried leaves, a couple of small woody bits. There were no fruit or veggie scraps or anything like that.

My target date for using this compost is May 1st. That's when I want to fill the boxes.

I'm pretty sure it'll be fine to use but at the same time I am not certain. Being my first time doing any gardening on this grand of a scale, I'm sure you can understand where I'm coming from.
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Re: Unfinished Compost

Post  llama momma on 3/26/2012, 8:11 am

I turned over the first of three bins yesterday and I don't think the majority of pieces will fit through the hardware screening that I usually prefer using. But I've got 64 baby strawberry plants waiting to go into a new tabletop. And the worms were gigantic like baby snakes stretched out, maybe 7+ inches. What the heck?
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Unfinished compost

Post  BertieFox on 3/29/2012, 8:58 am

I think it's where you use unfinished compost that matters and incorporating it in a mix is probably not a good idea.
Why is unfinished compost or compost that has not been heated to high temperatures undesirable?
1. It will contain weed seeds which will still germinate.
2. It may contain disease and fungal spores still active from composted plants and weeds.
3. It will contain a lot of unrotted large woody particles which will continue to rot in the soil and may rob nitrogen.

However, this kind of compost is 'Nature's way', but if you have to use it, why not put it as a mulch around your plants to keep in moisture rather than trying to use it in the MM compost mix?
At least that way you can use up what you have rather than having to put it all through the composting process again. On the surface worms will take it down and it will add nutrients to the soil without robbing nitrogen.

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Re: Unfinished Compost

Post  llama momma on 3/29/2012, 9:22 am

Excellent thoughts, Bertie Fox, thank you. Got Rick to bring up some 2 yr old llama manure from the back pastures. Together with some garage-stored compost over the winter should be enough. And I'll use the newer compost as mulch. Great advice all the way from France, love this forum! Very Happy
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Re: Unfinished Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/30/2012, 11:43 pm

@BertieFox wrote:
However, this kind of compost is 'Nature's way', but if you have to use it, why not put it as a mulch around your plants to keep in moisture rather than trying to use it in the MM compost mix?
At least that way you can use up what you have rather than having to put it all through the composting process again. On the surface worms will take it down and it will add nutrients to the soil without robbing nitrogen.

If I can't use this compost of mine for Mel's Mix, then I'll have to kiss my gardening plans goodbye.

I'll have no choice but to make sure it is finished.
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Re: Unfinished Compost

Post  plantoid on 3/31/2012, 12:15 am

I've turned the last of three rough fibre heaps today and I have the same signs of uncomposted material as you.

( I have several other ones of straw based composts )

Seeing as you still have a month to go .. turn the pile another three times , five or six days apart . Damp it down in four inch thick layers with a spray head each time and cover the pile to keep the heat & moisture in ...most of what you have left will be then sufficiently decayed for MM

The oxygen and moisture will get keep the bacterial action going , keeping in the moisture will allow it to continue for dry material will not readily compost.

Now we have warmer air temperatures the three times turned heap will also have a shorter composting period as things will be at ideal temperatures .

It is truly amazing what another three heap turnings will do to the pile . Two or three days before you make the beds , spread the pile out a bit and leave it open to the air to sweeten it up before making your MM

.
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Re: Unfinished Compost

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/31/2012, 12:33 am

@plantoid wrote:
Seeing as you still have a month to go .. turn the pile another three times , five or six days apart . Damp it down in four inch thick layers with a spray head each time and cover the pile to keep the heat & moisture in ...most of what you have left will be then sufficiently decayed for MM

When I turned it on Sunday, it quickly heated up to just over 160F. Now it's right at 120F. I've noticed the temperatures don't hold as long as they did in the turning before. That tells me the compost is nearing completion. I'll give it a good mix on Sunday and see what happens over the next few days.
I originally thought that I should probably screen my compost but thinking back to Sunday when I rebuilt it, there were identifiable parts in it but nothing bigger than a very black pine needle or maybe a kidney-bean sized object. I might not have to screen it. That'll be a definite back-saver.
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