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Leaves, compost, leaves...

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 12/10/2012, 7:51 am

[quote="webbee"]I compost mostly pin oak leaves, which can take two years to compost, (even if you add activators) in three foot diameter rabbit wire cages. Just a thought - wonder if a larger 4x4ft enclosure would give you more mass, microbes and heat to break things down more quickly? ......
If Rodale's data is correct then we could probably use a leaf mold compost as a replacement for pete in the mix. i hope to try that as soon as I have enough leaf compost for a four by eight bed. I would love to know the results of that, it sounds terrific. Does anyone else have experience/thoughts with using leaf compost as a pete substitute? So with good leaf management one would not have to buy peat again, considering the peat and vermiculite should be replenished in about 10 years from what I read on this forum somewhere. Certainly gives people time to produce the leaves if they have the space for its production.

This year I have a huge mixed content leaf pile sitting on the ground. Me too, have about 70 bags left to be un bagged and put into #5 pallet heap and the rest into leaf corral #2.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Triciasgarden on 12/10/2012, 11:58 am

@floyd1440 wrote:My piles, which started 48 inches high, is now at 32 inches. I need to get out there and turn it but has been raining here for the last 4 days.

How big is your pile?

My first pile started at about 32". The second about the same but I built it more dense and mounded it up, if that makes sense. By the next day the second had shrunk down several inches already. The first shrunk down to about 18" high by week three. The second pile, which was built two weeks later had shrunk to about 26-28". I then combined both at that point and switched from a wire fencing to two pallets to form the outside edges and the two inside edges are a fence. So the outside dimensions are different because of the slight change in the structure of the fencing. The outsides of both piles, mostly leaves, were dry and the leaves were still quite large because I didn't get a chance to shred them for the second pile. The insides were quite mucky and I could still smell the manure. I moved the first pile out of the area and put the outsides of both on the insides and the inside mucky stuff on the outside. I watered, as needed, as I went. Well all of this gets mixed up quite a bit doing this so it is basically outside to inside and inside to outside. That combined pile two weeks after combining is now about 26-28" at the most. Sorry I answered your question and added more. I can get too wordy.

I have started my third pile and didn't finish before we got snow and then more snow.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Triciasgarden on 12/10/2012, 12:49 pm

Webbee I think I would agree that it is not necessary to turn a pile once a week. From reading and re-reading composting topics here, it seems to me that it is best if you are trying to get fast compost to let it get hot, when it cools then you turn it. I don't think there would be a set time. I have also read that going with the hot composting route, that after the third cycle of hot, cool down, turn, then you let it sit and finish up composting. That is what I have come away with in my reading and feel it is the best way for me. For composting there are many ways to do it. Turning once a week works well for some people. I am not able to turn my pile once a week.

With pin oak leaves that take so long to compost, your situation is totally different since they take so long to totally compost. Llama Momma's idea of a larger pile is interesting.

Talking about using composted leaves instead of peat, I read that those who cannot get access to peat can use composted leaves instead. I don't know exactly what thread had that information right off hand. I know Mel researched and tested for lots of years and came up with his formula which is the best. Sometimes people have to go with what they have access to. But I do have to put in here (without any authority to say one way or another) that this forum is for helping support the tried and true method of sfg. I just don't want to mislead anyone into thinking that I am endorsing any other way of doing sfg. The way Mel instructs and has taught others to teach us is the best! It's nice to have someone with a scientific mind to do the many years of research for us! He has been unrelenting in his desire to find the best way to get the highest good quality yield in the least amount of space!

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  webbee on 12/10/2012, 4:10 pm

@llama momma wrote:I compost mostly pin oak leaves, which can take two years to compost, (even if you add activators) in three foot diameter rabbit wire cages. Just a thought - wonder if a larger 4x4ft enclosure would give you more mass, microbes and heat to break things down more quickly? ......
If Rodale's data is correct then we could probably use a leaf mold compost as a replacement for pete in the mix. i hope to try that as soon as I have enough leaf compost for a four by eight bed. I would love to know the results of that, it sounds terrific. Does anyone else have experience/thoughts with using leaf compost as a pete substitute? So with good leaf management one would not have to buy peat again, considering the peat and vermiculite should be replenished in about 10 years from what I read on this forum somewhere. Certainly gives people time to produce the leaves if they have the space for its production.

This year I have a huge mixed content leaf pile sitting on the ground. Me too, have about 70 bags left to be un bagged and put into #5 pallet heap and the rest into leaf corral #2.
The pallet bins I am trying to build will be 42" cubed so we will see in a couple of years if adding volume changes the compost time. With this addition I will double my yearly compost output. I was so trying to get this project done but...life intervenes!

Leaf compost as an alternative to pete is an experiment. I would not try it if I didn't already have a MM bed as a control. It really is helpful as a clay soil additive. I am looking at it as a way to add beds without the cost of the pete and also doing my part to help reduce the dependence on mined pete. The green aspect may not be an issue as pete bogs are self replicating in my understanding. I also see it as a replenishment to the MM as a compost item.

@Triciasgarden wrote:...it seems to me that it is best if you are trying to get fast compost to let it get hot, when it cools then you turn it.
Unless you just pile leaves and let them sit with no additional green component all piles are hot to some degree. The big purpose of heating a pile is to kill undesirable seeds from sprouting in the bed and I suppose to get certain bacteria/fungal mix conditions.
Turning is supposed to move the less heated material on the perimeter to the center so that it heats to temperature, too. As you know it's a pain in the arms, shoulders, and back to do. I don't really see that a weekly turning shortens the process, overall, with pin oak leaves. This probably isn't true with leaves that don't have the waxy coating. Not that I would know that for sure, as I only get some maple mixed in from my neighbors yard and those maple leaves seem to be mostly broken down in the spring. Chipped leaves are hard to tell what their origin was after being in the pile over winter.

@NHGardener wrote:...What we have in this world is a leaf shortage.

And I wonder if grocery stores would give away their rotting produce to gardeners - has anyone ever asked them?
Too true, leaf storage is what we gardeners and the creator do.

Grocery scraps seem to depend on the individual stores policy. The courts have ruled that once it hits the waste bin it is trash, so fair game to anyone, with no expectation of privacy on the bin. That's probably not exactly correct as I'm not up on all the weasel words that are a part of law briefs/opinions, but is a generally operable principal. Locked bins are probably different so, as a general rule I always ask first. I would think you would have better luck with small produce/farmers stands, local groceries, restaurants and such. Juice bars in larger cities would be a wonderful source as the waste's in already pulped/chopped form. Compostable material is like pallets, once you start looking...it's everywhere. One man's trash being another man's treasure.Very Happy

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  NHGardener on 12/10/2012, 5:57 pm

Now I'm thinking that one concern with getting grocery store/commercial establishment rotting veggies might be the pesticides those veggies were grown with... Hmm.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 12/10/2012, 8:16 pm

This thread reminded me that I have a chipper/shredder that we broke apart in order to move it (2 moves ago) and is sitting in my barn. I didn't have enough sunny area in our last home to do much gardening so I didn't have him put it together. We sat in the middle of a scrub oak forest there and had more rocks than soil, LOL! I think it's time for my sweetie to put it back together for me. It made composting so easy and fast.




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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Triciasgarden on 12/10/2012, 9:18 pm

@NHGardener wrote:Now I'm thinking that one concern with getting grocery store/commercial establishment rotting veggies might be the pesticides those veggies were grown with... Hmm.

Good point! Once it's rotting, you can't wash off what is on the surface!

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  bwaynef on 12/11/2012, 11:29 am

@NHGardener wrote:Now I'm thinking that one concern with getting grocery store/commercial establishment rotting veggies might be the pesticides those veggies were grown with... Hmm.

I think I've read that most pesticides won't hold up in the high-heat of a hot compost pile. (That may've been for household pesticides though.)

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  webbee on 12/11/2012, 8:34 pm

llama momma I was wondering if your user name was true in a farm/pet way and if you were using llama poo in the compost piles?

Since crap is king green in compost and apparently many other places these days. I was wondering if anyone got more exotic than horse/cow manure as activators in their leaf piles? A horse farm friend supplies me with as much 2-3 year old composted horse barn floor as I can use, which works excellently. The manure chart in Rodale's Composting book gives horse a better rating than cow, however, rabbit, chicken, and sheep are all listed as better in terms of NPK. Shocked Could that lead to some kind of miniature backyard farming operation...or would that be twooooobsessive! Rolling Eyes

My thought on the pesticide issue with unknown compostables is not in compost destined for the food growing soil. If you have a pile that was going on non food soil use areas, may be. The whole chemical pesticide issue is a slippery slope, it seems to me. Plus it kills the worms! Does anyone else know what the breakdown rate of pesticides in compost are? That could be very important to know. Very good point NHGardener!

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  camprn on 12/11/2012, 8:42 pm

Pesticide and herbicide breakdown time frames are chemical specific. You should be able to find that insecticide information in the links here.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t6026-pesticide-database

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Triciasgarden on 12/11/2012, 9:04 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:This thread reminded me that I have a chipper/shredder that we broke apart in order to move it (2 moves ago) and is sitting in my barn. I didn't have enough sunny area in our last home to do much gardening so I didn't have him put it together. We sat in the middle of a scrub oak forest there and had more rocks than soil, LOL! I think it's time for my sweetie to put it back together for me. It made composting so easy and fast.




I am soooooooooooo jealous about your chipper/shredder!!! So cool!

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  webbee on 12/11/2012, 9:37 pm

@camprn wrote:Pesticide and herbicide breakdown time frames are chemical specific. You should be able to find that insecticide information in the links here.

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t6026-pesticide-database

WOW! Thanks, that's going to take some time to go through.


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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 12/12/2012, 5:55 am

@webbee wrote: llama momma I was wondering if your user name was true in a farm/pet way and if you were using llama poo in the compost piles?

Since crap is king green in compost and apparently many other places these days. I was wondering if anyone got more exotic than horse/cow manure as activators in their leaf piles? A horse farm friend supplies me with as much 2-3 year old composted horse barn floor as I can use, which works excellently. The manure chart in Rodale's Composting book gives horse a better rating than cow, however, rabbit, chicken, and sheep are all listed as better in terms of NPK. Shocked Could that lead to some kind of miniature backyard farming operation...or would that be twooooobsessive! Rolling Eyes
Yes I have a small herd of llamas. Had them for years before discovering sq. ft. gardening. Turned out to be a lucky combination. Llama poo or llama beans as its called affectionately, does not burn so it can be used without aging. It rates extremely well compared to other manures too. Seriously considered bagging and selling the stuff online at one time, not sure of the demand vs. personal desire to be in a poop business. Part time might be ok, full time would mean literally up to my elbows in poo.... Shocked So for now anyway, when my husband unloads the stuff, I get all I want fresh or aged. All the excess he trucks to the back of the farm where its piled up and Mother Nature eventually takes care of it.
Curiously the other day I picked up another load of couple hundred pounds of spent grapes (pomace) from the winery up the road. The stuff is filled with nutrients when I searched online for info. One person on another forum swears pomace is like rocket fuel for a compost heap. Added with llama beans I don't know what to expect next growing season for sure but I am quite hopeful and excited. I've written down all the ingredients that goes into the heaps and with the grape pomace its now up to 18 ingredients. Layering all this stuff takes time but its fun for me. Wood palled heap # 5 is being built and filled today, thank goodness the weather is still cooperating suppose to be daytime 40's all week bounce sorry this was so long but you see I love my composting playground.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  NHGardener on 12/12/2012, 7:40 am

Wow llama, that's impressive. I knew someone with sheep who was glad to give away her sheep manure last summer, altho it was only one bucket at a time. To have mounds of it, I'd be in heaven.

It will be very interesting to see how you compare your garden next season with last season! I definitely hope you'll post your observations on that.

Another thought this all brings up is compost tea - anyone doing that? I saw a youtube video of a really neat aerating operation for compost tea, didn't look that hard to rig up, just some components to buy. One of these days...

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 12/12/2012, 8:01 am

Yes, and there are other threads that discuss making compost tea. Great way to spread out the nutrients. But it's something I haven't tried other than throwing straight llama beans in a bucket and stir. Like you said, one of these days.. Once you start the basics of sfg there are so many offshoots to learn about. Composting, seed starting, worm bins, tea, learning about bugs, extending the growing seasons, heirloom seeds, so much fun!
Next season will hopefully have pictures of lush gardens, the dreams have already begun..

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  NHGardener on 12/12/2012, 8:12 am

Building a compost child is like raising kids - you heap every beneficial thing you can on them, and hope they turn out well.

haha.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 12/12/2012, 8:15 am

..and don't smell too much
Razz

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  donnainzone5 on 12/12/2012, 11:20 am

Llama Momma

Please share your list of 18 compost ingredients!

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 12/12/2012, 11:52 am

ok here goes
grape pomace,
llama manure,
dried grass saved from summer,
150+ bags of leaves,
home grown worm castings(added at planting),
variety of kitchen scraps,
spent garden plants(both flowers and veggies),
loads of coffee grounds from starbucks,
diluted urine,
straw,
hay,
eggshells,
cardboard,
shredded paper,
buckets of grape stems,
old llama pellet food(14% nitrogen),
over 30 pumpkins large and small,
corn stalks many with corn still attached(from a village Fall display). Other stalks from a local farm stand without corn on it.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  donnainzone5 on 12/12/2012, 11:58 am

Thanks! You've inspired me to make a late-summer trip to the Willamette Valley (many vineyards there) to collect some grape pomace. I'll also scour my neighborhood for rotting pumpkins....

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 12/12/2012, 12:07 pm

Good for you! If you google composting grape pomace think you'll be pretty impressed with all the things it adds to compost. Smile

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Triciasgarden on 12/13/2012, 10:30 pm

@NHGardener wrote:Building a compost child is like raising kids - you heap every beneficial thing you can on them, and hope they turn out well.

haha.

So true! We cover them to keep them warm and take their temperatures!

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Triciasgarden on 12/13/2012, 10:36 pm

@llama momma wrote:Good for you! If you google composting grape pomace think you'll be pretty impressed with all the things it adds to compost. Smile

I will have to find some good place like this local, it is such a good source. I doubt there is a large scale grape vineyard but something like it.

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  Triciasgarden on 12/14/2012, 12:08 am

I am wrong. I found listings of some wineries here in Northern Utah! I will have to contact them about getting grape pomace for my compost piles! I don't want to get my hopes up too soon!

Update: One of the places that actually has a website gets its grapes from California.


Last edited by Triciasgarden on 12/14/2012, 12:13 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : I may have gotten my hopes up too soon, lol!)

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

Post  llama momma on 12/14/2012, 10:26 am

If you are able to get pomace, this article claims:

N 2.0
P 0.5
K 2.0
calcium 2.0

http://www.arec.vaes.vt.edu/alson-h-smith/grapes/viticulture/extension/growers/documents/composting-grape-pomace.pdf

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Re: Leaves, compost, leaves...

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