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compost

Post  landarch on 7/8/2012, 6:13 pm

Here's a pic of my first batch of compost that should be ready for fall planting. It contains horse and cow manure, shredded bur oak leaves, fish, kitchen scraps, Starbucks coffee grounds, tea bags, lawn clippings, and spring garden scraps (carrot and beet greens). This should blow away purchased compost I had to use earlier in the year. I have tried three composting methods, 1) a barrel type that can be rolled across the ground, 2) compost pile, and 3) blue plastic cattle mineral tubs. I've had the best luck with the mineral tubs as it's fairly easy to turn with a shovel on a daily basis. Everything is broken down nicely, except for the leaf petioles...they take forever.

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Re: compost

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/8/2012, 6:22 pm

Now that's some fine looking compost!

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Re: compost

Post  landarch on 7/8/2012, 7:24 pm

thanks, now I fully understand why it is important for beginners to get their compost going asap...there really is no substitute for home-made compost.

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Re: compost

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/8/2012, 7:25 pm

You are 100% correct!

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Re: compost

Post  southern gardener on 7/8/2012, 7:35 pm

Can you explain how your blue cow tubs work? That is some great looking compost!! congrats!

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Re: compost

Post  landarch on 7/8/2012, 7:57 pm

@southern gardener wrote:Can you explain how your blue cow tubs work? That is some great looking compost!! congrats!

I am basically composting in a plastic container. Theses are blue plastic tubs that are about 24" high and 30" in diameter...I get them from friends who have a cattle ranch...they have many they give away. They are heavy duty plastic and have a drain hole in the bottom. Since it is heavy duty it is easy to slide the shovel blade down between the soil and side wall and pry backwards to turn the soil. It takes about a minute per tub per day. Before my material started to break down I had aobut 5-6 tubs, now hte finished material is consoldiated down to two. This is easier than turning my pile that lies directly on the ground where there is more lifting with a shovel to turn the pile over.

These tubs would be perfect for container gardening as well...although one would need to drill extra drain holes in the bottom as well as up the sides a little.

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Re: compost

Post  southern gardener on 7/8/2012, 7:59 pm

great! thank you!

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Re: compost

Post  floyd1440 on 7/8/2012, 8:36 pm

@landarch wrote:thanks, now I fully understand why it is important for beginners to get their compost going asap...there really is no substitute for home-made compost.

Just started SFGing last summer and have concluded that compost is the KEY to having good soil every growing season. But I am struggling with the best method of making compost. After getting all the components the most difficult part it the constant truning which is brutal in this heat.

Got to be a better way.....

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Re: Compost....

Post  tabletopper on 7/8/2012, 8:48 pm

Advice to beginners making their own compost....Buy a compost thermometer.......It has to cook up at 140 degrees or more....I sifted all mine thru a specially built sift made of hardwear cloth and I wish I could send a picture of thousands of tomato plants and cucumbers that came up in the wheel barrow.....(I didnt have time to add to my squares....thank goodness.....so all my friends in the garden club are taking most of them.....I call the variety....SURPRISE....) Got to order the thermometer myself now..with a long probe.....abt $29....Ruth

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Re: compost

Post  boffer on 7/8/2012, 9:26 pm

Ruth, tomato seeds are survivors!

In the sixties, the Univ of Wash was pioneering in processing sludge from the water treatment plant to use as soil and fertilizer. The city of Seattle purchased an abandoned natural gas facility and turned it into a city park. In the fall, they brought in hundreds of loads of processed sludge, and planted grass. In the spring, the grass couldn't be found, due to tomato plants densely populating the entire park! The seeds had survived the trip through human intestines, miles and miles of sewer pipe, through the water treatment process, and whatever else they did at the request of the soil scientists from UW.

I've always said that tomato plants grow like weeds in our climate, but that red fruit is a precious commodity.


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Re: compost

Post  landarch on 7/8/2012, 10:04 pm

turning is very important in my opinion...I figure the easier it was the more I would do it.

I think I'll keep some aside and mix in some wood ash for fall carrots and beets.

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Re: compost

Post  Cincinnati on 7/8/2012, 10:25 pm

@landarch wrote:...I think I'll keep some aside and mix in some wood ash for fall carrots and beets.

Tell me the benefit of wood ash for root vegetables (I am presuming).

I have a Primo Grill and I burn hardwood charcoal. Can I add the ash in to all my compost or just to what I'm using for root vegetables?

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Re: compost

Post  landarch on 7/8/2012, 10:31 pm

beets and carrots love phosphorus found in wood ash. I grew some gorgeous beets and carrots this spring mixing some wood ash directly into those specific squares. I use ash from a small twig/branch burn pile out back...not sure about charcoal composition.

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Re: compost

Post  camprn on 7/8/2012, 10:35 pm

I would encourage you to avoid using any ash from products that contain petro chemicals; only use wood ash.

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Re: compost

Post  landarch on 7/8/2012, 10:38 pm

If you know your source for the charcoal is 100% hardwood then I think it would be ok, either mixed into your compost or directly into your squares. I'm not sure how much is too much...too much can make your soil way too alkaline.


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Re: compost

Post  camprn on 7/8/2012, 10:50 pm

Just a little bit is all you need. But to know for sure a soil test and a test of the ash would be required. I will sometimes add a very light sprinkle of fine wood ash to an entire bed and turn it in... A hold over from previous years and teachings from my dad.

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Re: compost

Post  boffer on 7/8/2012, 10:53 pm

@Cincinnati wrote:...
I have a Primo Grill and I burn hardwood charcoal....

Me too.

Not being much of a MM tinkerer, I throw my ashes in the compost.

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Re: compost

Post  Cincinnati on 7/8/2012, 11:02 pm

@camprn wrote:I would encourage you to avoid using any ash from products that contain petro chemicals; only use wood ash.
No petrochem here. All my natural hardwood charcoal has no fire starters or additives built in. Just natural hardwood with no chemicals added.

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Re: compost

Post  plantoid on 7/9/2012, 4:13 am

@floyd1440 wrote:
@landarch wrote:thanks, now I fully understand why it is important for beginners to get their compost going asap...there really is no substitute for home-made compost.

Just started SFGing last summer and have concluded that compost is the KEY to having good soil every growing season. But I am struggling with the best method of making compost. After getting all the components the most difficult part it the constant truning which is brutal in this heat.

Got to be a better way.....
Hi Floyd,


If things are too heavy in the heat make your compost up when it is cooler and just leave it in a damp covered heap it will eventually turn to composted manure will take about a year and you will lose a bit of the nutrient value against the hot composting method
It will also be initially much more compacted as it settles over the year but once you fork it into the new pile ready to use it becomes reasonably light .

As has been said " composting happens " , which ever method you use , it's just some methods are quicker and better than others.

This is my 4 foot high by 5 foot diameter cold composted heap of several dung manures and last years kitchen veg waste plus a couple of barow loads of unbroken oak leaves that were added in Januray this year after clearing them up out the garden , it was started started in October last year . I did managed to turn it four times over four months . Then it has just sat there , looking lonely so I covered it in a poly sheet till recently when I took the sheet off and allowed the rains to wet it throught after spreading it out .. Yesterday I finally took out a few annual weeds and tomato surprises. Then bagged it up in six open topped bags and lightly covered it to keep the rain out and allow the bags moisture to evaporate . This will be my bed nutrient replenishment whilst my other seven x 11 cubic feet of mixed manures compost a bit more aerobically in my " Daleks " .

The cold composted heap as seen yesterday , quite wet and dense well composted , covered up once turned over each of the four times turned and then left covered in a water proof sheet and weighted down to keep it in place most of the time .



Pile of straw and animal dungs ,.... horse , pig , chicken , sheep , geese ,goat ,rabbits and turkey & human urine .
left open to the elements and partly covered in clean straw without any further work on it . This pile was a three foot cone it has shrunk due to wind rain and birds stealing the straw plus our mutt eating a few scoops of it and doing an up chuckie on the lounge carpet a couple of hours later.. Sad


This is me and the hot composted manures , same content as the above recipefor the open heap but done in my " Daleks " . Seven Daleks turned every two weeks or so reduced to four full bins of crumbly fairly moist but easily moveable quality compost that will have maximum nutrients and trace element content . They have been standing since completion of composting save for me decanting the reduced content bins and filling up the spaces in others with the contents to give me some empty space for new batches.



The heap before being demolished .. full of manure worms zillions of them .




Hope these pictures help you decide where you are going to put your efforts.
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