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COMPOST 101

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Roseinarosecity on 7/20/2012, 6:30 pm

I have a pallet compost bin, a tumbler, and every Fall I have an area for a heap compost. I use one compost system at a time only. When the pallet compost is big enough, I let that compost and start collecting for the tumbler. I then concentrate on the tumbler by adding to it until it's full and then turning it. Meanwhile I let the pallet compost sit there to cure then I sift. When the tumbler is ready I then go back to the pallet compost and repeat until Fall when all my corn is done and that area needs to be replenished, so that becomes my heap compost. I then just concentrate on my heap compost and eventually let that rest and go back the the tumbler or pallet bin.

You would think I would have enough compost but I usually don't because I end up adding another raised bed so I need more compost! Plus, I give some away, too. I can't have all the composter going because I don't have enough material, unless I put extra effort to finding material. Sometimes I do hit the jackpot but I usually save it for my pallet bin because it's the best compost with the most earthworms and decomposing bugs. Even though it is the hardest to turn over for us, it is the most rewarding.

I hope this helps. I bet others are more efficient than me but I am in an urban environment with a small backyard. I also hope this doesn't scare you away from composting. I'm sure it will get easier for us when we maxed out our gardening space.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  floyd1440 on 7/20/2012, 8:30 pm

I just checked my temperature of my pile and it is down below 100 degrees so perhaps Sunday or Monday i will turn it again.

Have added rabbit food and it picked the temperature up over 120 debrees for two weeks but still see some rabbit food intact so I think there is still some hope that it will decomposition ahead.

This is my first time composting but am learning from my mistake; unfortunately I though all I had to do is add material and I would have finished compost in a short time. Now I know it is more than what you put in your bin, although that is VERY important, you have to turn and add more components to get it going but if one continues to add fresh ingredients it will never finish; IMHO

:scratch:

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Composting Question

Post  Ericka2385 on 7/21/2012, 12:57 pm

Well, I **thought** I posted this yesterday, but I guess it didn't stick. So here is take two...

I have a tumbler style compost bin the sweetie put together as a part of the honey-do list a couple months ago. He's awesome like that. It's looking like compost, it's smelling like compost, and I'm ready to start putting it down in the garden.

Here is the root of my question... Is it bad for the garden to put 'unfinished' compost in the beds? Right now there is compost in the bin, but there is also bits of not completely broken down matter in there too. As of now, the plan would be to grab a scoopful out and pick out the bits that are there. I'm not super excited about this extra step, but if it's what it takes, then it's what it takes.

Now, we were debating buying a second tumbler so I could have one bin 'finishing' while I'm adding to the other bin.... if that makes sense. Does anyone do this? It seems like it'd be easier, but I think I'd really only do it if there is an issue with little chunks of veggies or grass finishing breaking down in the beds. I really like the idea of dumping the contents of the finished bin into my garden cart and adding a big shovel full or two to each bed every few weeks...

Any thoughts, ideas, or experiences anyone would care to share?

As always, thanks you.


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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  RoOsTeR on 7/21/2012, 1:08 pm

Here is your question from yesterday. I moved your topic and thought I had pm'd you to let you know. My apologies.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1738p90-compost-101#133777

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  littlesapphire on 8/4/2012, 9:57 pm

Ericka, can you put the stuff that's in the composter into a bag or a couple of buckets? That way it's out of the composter but it also has a chance to rest a while before using it, which I've read helps stabilize it. You can probably get away with using it as is if you sift it first and throw the big bits back into the composter.

Ok guys, I have a comment and then a question. My comment... I got lazy with my compost pile from last year. I piled it all in and then just let it set for a long time. About a month ago, I decided to turn it and see if it was actually doing anything in there. The answer was yes and no. Most of the pile looked just like it did when I piled it in, loose leaves and some twigs and old veggie stems, etc. However, as I dug down, I realized the middle of the pile had become the home for a colony of ants! I was freaked out, because although bugs don't generally bother me, swarms of them do. But as I dug down, I realized that the parts of the pile they had been living in was the most beautiful compost I've ever seen! They had done a better job of composting that stuff that I ever could! So if you find a colony of ants in your compost, first make sure you're watering enough, and second, don't freak out because they're doing you a favor.

Ok, now my question. I took all the stuff from the pile that hadn't broken down and used it to start a new pile. Then I added kitchen scraps, lots of grass and weeds, and some shredded paper. It's been going well, heated right up, but now it's cooled down even though I've been turning and watering it and there are a lot of things not broken down. Like its still pretty chunky. If I tried sifting it, I wouldn't really get anything. It's beautiful and brown and smells really nice, but it doesn't look like compost. How do I get it to heat back up? Should I add more well shredded greens or some coffee grounds? The pieces weren't well chopped when they went into the pile, so I was thinking, can I chop and shred the pieces now? I took the temp of the pile today, and even though it was 90 outside, the pile was in the 80s.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  plantoid on 8/5/2012, 4:49 pm

@Ericka2385 wrote:A few months back, while the garden was being built, we bought a compost bin. It's a squarish shaped one, had a lid, and is easy to turn. We started with a bunch of grass/lawn/hedge clippings and have been adding veggie scraps for about two months now. It looks as though everything is breaking down nicely, and has a rich earthy scent to it. I hear this is a good thing.

We were debating buy two of these compost bins, and have one that we add to while the other 'finishes'. Does anyone else who uses purchased bins use a two (or more) bin method?

I'm not sure how easy it is going to be to pick the pieces of not yet broken down items out of the shovel fulls of finished compost? Would it be bad to add things that aren't quite broken down all the way, or does this encourage worms?

How do the rest of the gardeners on here run their compost operation at home?

Thank you

Erica ,
I run seven dalek style close fitting lidded plastic coned bins, it is one of the better decisions I've made.
As we live in a semi rural & I have neighbour that seems to have complaining about anything that is not big city correct as her birth right I've used these to compost neat animal manures & beddings .
Once the composting got underway pleasant aroma of country life all but disapeared except for the days when the bin contents got turned over to revitalize the composts
As the composting really got going I was able to reduce the number of bins in use by filling them up with the partially composted composting materials
Seven bins went into five bins and five bins into three bins.

I've used the empty bins to restart new batches but this time one bin was soley of kitchen veg waste and flowers mixed with torn up carboard boxes , clean straw and all roots that came out of the original MM bed fillings so I have a soil free growth medium in the making. The now three now empty bins got recharged with seven different animal manures and their associated beddings , they have reduced to two bins worth so I've reused this spoare bin for all the green garden and kitchen veg waste .. we have had it full three times over the last two weeks but the warm weather onn the fleshy green matter has soon got it reducing .. this afternoon it was half full so we still have plenty of room to use as we start the late summer garden clearing & cropping in readiness for the late summer veg and flowers.

Of those initial fully finished bins of animal manure & bedding they have turned into a fine dark barely smelling rich compost this has taken from beginning of Feb to the first week of August. some of this has been well mixed with teh original veg matter compost , weasthered a week for a bit of wind rain and sun then used in the emptying ANSFG squares as required . The front flower raised bed and gardens have also had several buckets of it scattered lightly over them and watered in .

Because space is limited and I have to keep " The Moaning Lisa " happy they have fulfilled things beyond my wildest dreams .
Our bins came from the local authority recycling scheme at a cost of £10 each ..in the garden centres they are on sale at anythiung from £36 to £70 ish so I made a big saving , the local authority didn't make a loss either for they buy them in at less than £ 2.40 each
Here's me sitting and shovelling the proverbial from one bin into another to make space with my specially adapted kiddies sand shovel


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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  littlesapphire on 8/5/2012, 7:50 pm

Well, I'm impatient, lol. I went out and tried sifting my compost anyway just to see what I had. I got a good wheel barrelful! I was impressed, I didn't think I would get that much. So what I'm going to do what the big stuff, probably another wheel barrelful, if run it over with the lawn mower tomorrow and add it to my working compost pile. It could use more browns anyway.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  floyd1440 on 8/5/2012, 8:14 pm

@littlesapphire wrote:Well, I'm impatient, lol. I went out and tried sifting my compost anyway just to see what I had. I got a good wheel barrelful! I was impressed, I didn't think I would get that much. So what I'm going to do what the big stuff, probably another wheel barrelful, if run it over with the lawn mower tomorrow and add it to my working compost pile. It could use more browns anyway.

Glad to hear you got a good product! I just got back and check the temp and it is 80, I turned it two weeks ago and would have today but the rain hasn't stoppped. Will turn it again tomorrow and hope the temperature goes back up or it might be done....

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  littlesapphire on 8/6/2012, 2:18 pm

I have a random question for everyone. I got my new compost pile pretty high today, but not as high as I hoped I could. It's only maybe two feet tall, where as I was aiming for three or more. So I went out and bought a bale of hay and a few bags of dehydrated manure.

So I know you're supposed to be able to use dehydrated manure straight from the bag, but this stuff reeks! Like very strong fertilizer and like old pee or something. So my thoughts was, it's obviously not completely finished if it smells that bad. I'm going to add it to the compost pile today. My question is, is that stupid of me and am I wasting my time, or is it ok to do that?

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  plantoid on 8/6/2012, 5:05 pm

The barely composted manure ..no probs ... it will be a good pile activator..

That hay .... is is genuine hay or baled straw?
Straw is good and reasonably weed seed free , hay tends to have lots of seeds in it that survive the composting unless you have a darn good hot composting method,

I have both hay as used beddings and neat clean unused straw in my cold / anerobically made composts so have to put up with weeds coming through in the beds .

We've just started using the first batch of quality home made hot compost that we started off in February this year.
What a difference to the four year old cold composted stable muck & newly short term composted poultry manures I had been using for the first six months of the year till this lot was ready . This batch is so fine and a rich medium brown colour like fine partly dried coffee grounds in nstrong sunlight .

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  littlesapphire on 8/6/2012, 6:15 pm

Thanks for the reply, Plantoid! I indeed got straw, not hay. I know the difference, but that doesn't stop me from getting the two mixed up! I'm really glad to know my stinking cow manure will be good for my pile.

Congrats on the compost! That must be a great feeling to have it all done and looking wonderful Smile

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  bwaynef on 8/24/2012, 2:55 pm

@Chopper wrote:Вы русская?
Interesting to see this. Its even more interesting to me that I saw it and immediately understood it w/o having to go to Google Translate. (We hosted a Russian-speaker for 5 weeks this summer and I've fallen in love with the language ...even though I don't know very much of it!)

Sorry for replying to such an old part of the discussion.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  cpl100 on 8/28/2012, 10:46 am

I read that one should not put 'too many' eggshells into the compost bin. But, how many is too many?

I got a bin through the town and have been using it for about 6 weeks. We do not turn it at all, just layer it. I do know something is happening, though, because it has shrunk down. Unfortunately we do get quite a few very small flies in it. When I see those, I try to cover the food scraps with straw in hopes that will make them go seek food elsewhere.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  llama momma on 8/28/2012, 11:30 am

This was from another forum, Garden Web. The person sounded knowledgable, hah, at least its a start, you can of course google your question to get more info. Someone else on that forum said yes, 100 eggs a week would be too much...

"Yes, you can have too many eggshells, essentially calcium carbonate (CaCO3), in soil/compost. It's not so much that you should be worried about an actual Ca toxicity; rather, it's eventual impact on pH and the increase in the likelihood that it will cause antagonistic deficiencies of (primarily) P and K.
Many growers think that because a particular substance is known to be high in a particular nutrient that it is necessarily a good thing. Egg shells/Ca is a good example. Eggshells have the potential to benefit ONLY if the soil is deficient in Ca. If the soil is NOT deficient in Ca and you add eggshells anyway, there is NO potential for benefit - only limitation.

Technically, there is only 1 optimal level of fertility and 1 optimal ratio of nutrients to each other. Both need to be in play at the same time for plants to realize their potential. Additionally, in many cases cultural conditions impact nutrition, which adds yet another layer of intrigue to the business of determining how to best provide for our vegetative charges."

Al

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  cpl100 on 8/28/2012, 11:49 am

Hmm..... in normal week we consume 1 - 4 eggs. What do you experts think about that in the compost bin?

How many do you all put in it?

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/28/2012, 12:22 pm

I put in about that many egg shells - 1 to 4.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  plantoid on 8/28/2012, 12:27 pm

Adding to Llama Momma's post .. there is generous tollerance for most nutrients that plants can sucessfuly grow and crop from so don't get too concerned . Bust up the egg shells into small bits once they are dry , it's not so messy if you do it in a paper bag then sprinkle them over the surface of the heap , using dozen or more a week will not wreck things unless you are adding another source of lime such as spent mushroom compost that uses lime as the activator.

The calcium in the shells is oft quoted as being beneficial because it releases other nutrients from the soil/ compost that would otherwise be locked up or very slow to get out.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  camprn on 8/28/2012, 1:48 pm

@llama momma wrote:This was from another forum, Garden Web. The person sounded knowledgable, hah, at least its a start, you can of course google your question to get more info. Someone else on that forum said yes, 100 eggs a week would be too much...

"Yes, you can have too many eggshells, essentially calcium carbonate (CaCO3), in soil/compost. It's not so much that you should be worried about an actual Ca toxicity; rather, it's eventual impact on pH and the increase in the likelihood that it will cause antagonistic deficiencies of (primarily) P and K.
Many growers think that because a particular substance is known to be high in a particular nutrient that it is necessarily a good thing. Egg shells/Ca is a good example. Eggshells have the potential to benefit ONLY if the soil is deficient in Ca. If the soil is NOT deficient in Ca and you add eggshells anyway, there is NO potential for benefit - only limitation.

Technically, there is only 1 optimal level of fertility and 1 optimal ratio of nutrients to each other. Both need to be in play at the same time for plants to realize their potential. Additionally, in many cases cultural conditions impact nutrition, which adds yet another layer of intrigue to the business of determining how to best provide for our vegetative charges."

Al
You know, some folks just way overthink things....


If you are just eating a few dozen eggs a week go ahead and chuck all the shells into the compost bin. If you are making omlets for 200 people a day, I would probably not put all those eggshells in my home compost bin.

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Precomposter kitchen scrapes

Post  efirvin on 9/7/2012, 8:25 pm

I have read all the posts here and reviewed all the links and greatly appreciate everyone's comments. I learn so much from this sfg forum!!
I have been saving my kitchen scrapes in an old black plastic "action packer" on my deck while waiting for the tumbler composter I bought thru Amazon.

Now my question. The peach peelings, corn husks and other such scrapes are all moldy. Is this how they are supposed to be?
I haven't really stirred them up but will mix them when I get them in my tumbler composter.
I do have more "brown" scrapes I will add too.
Thanks,
Evelyn from Casper zone 4

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  camprn on 9/7/2012, 8:29 pm

In composting, mold and fungi and bacteria and insects are our friends. Wink









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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  efirvin on 9/7/2012, 8:39 pm

@camprn wrote:In composting, mold and fungi and bacteria and insects are our friends. Wink
Great! This is good to know.
Thanks!









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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  camprn on 11/10/2012, 7:56 pm

A Way to garden: 12 Composting FAQs Very Happy

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  efirvin on 11/13/2012, 5:40 pm

Thanks camprn! Good site. Still have a question though. Is it ok to add banana peels and orange peels to my compost? I would chop them up some, but don't know how fast they will decompose.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  camprn on 11/13/2012, 6:04 pm

@efirvin wrote:Thanks camprn! Good site. Still have a question though. Is it ok to add banana peels and orange peels to my compost? I would chop them up some, but don't know how fast they will decompose.
I add both to the compost pile no problem. Some folk will tell you that you should not add citrus peel. Really, the only reason I could find to not add citrus peel is that worms are averse to them...

My thinking is there's plenty of other stuff for the worms to eat, What a Face

If you have a hot pile this fall, you will not be able to recognize banana or citrus peel in the spring.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/16/2012, 12:06 pm

I didn't know that worms don't like citrus peels.

Even if there are peels or avacado/mango seeds or such left in the pile when you go to use it, if you sift it they get separated out. I then throw them in to the new pile. Very Happy

My sifter is that pink milk crate in the lower left:



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Re: COMPOST 101

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