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COMPOST 101

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  camprn on 8/15/2014, 3:46 pm

@sanderson wrote:I turned my Berkeley pile (160*F) yesterday and added the spoiled raw milk in the interior.  First time doing this.  This morning it was 174*F.  Does raw milk have this hot effect?  Or did I over water it?  Or both?  Thanks
That piles is too hot. Pull it apart a bit.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  CapeCoddess on 8/15/2014, 3:51 pm

I had to pull one apart that was smoking once.  But milk wasn't the cause coz I don't do dairy.  Can't remember what it was it was so long ago...

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 8/15/2014, 7:23 pm

I emptied the cage this morning, spread everything on a tarp for an hour to cool and to evaporate some of the moisture (some steam), then put everything back in. It's up to 115*F right now. We will be out of town Sunday through Thursday and I need to leave it in a decent condition while I'm gone.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  camprn on 10/27/2014, 12:20 pm

bump

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Richard L. on 5/2/2015, 11:21 pm

Hello all!

Here is one newbie question I have to ask you all before going to sleep tonight.
I am struggling to find 5 types of compost that is not already mixed with peat moss (oh really?) or what have you. So far I have found real composted chicken manure (.5 .5 .5) and wormcastings. I have 5 bags of each. Now, I live right next to a small forest. Went there this morning, scraped out the 4-5 inches of dried leaves covering the ground. With a fork and a shovel, I can easily pick up a healthy quantity of, what? usable forest compost? Beautiful black soil, with great level of moisture, and it smells really good.
Do you think I could use it as one the the 5 elements of compost? That would be nice.

So far, in my quest for the required SFG material, I have had lots of strange looks from local retailers and farmers. A lot of them just tod me: You are making it WAY too complicated. Today's ready-to-plant bags contain all you need to grow healthy vegetables, quality soil, peat moss, vermiculite (which I have already bought 100$ worth of!). And two old farmers told me that composted manure would need at least one year to be efficient.(and some people here have expressed similar opinions) They had me wondering...
I am decided to give SFG and Mel's mix a real chance to shine in my backyard. But starting from scratch and with very little knowledge is not easy. You know that.
I was happy to read some - much needed - very inspirational posts here!
Thank you for that.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  ralitaco on 5/2/2015, 11:59 pm

@Richard L. wrote:Hello all!

Here is one newbie question I have to ask you all before going to sleep tonight.
I am struggling to find 5 types of compost that is not already mixed with peat moss (oh really?) or what have you. So far I have found real composted chicken manure (.5 .5 .5) and wormcastings. I have 5 bags of each...

Welcome Richard. you are definately not alone in trying to find 5 compost sources. Be sure to search compost on the forum and you will find LOADS of threads. Unfortunately I am not a compost aficianado, so I can't answer your free range compost question. But here is a link to a couple of other compost threads.
Best compost ingredients
How strong is your backbone

And last but not least, my thread about the same thing you were asking about...5 composts.
Compost to Re-activate Mels Mix

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 5/3/2015, 12:28 am

Richard, Where are you located?  Canada is a BIG country.  Can you add the closest city or provinence (?) to your Location under Profile?  It will help members help you with locating resources.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Kelejan on 5/3/2015, 2:15 am

glad you\'re here Richard L happy hi from Kelejan also in  :canada: 

Come in and visit the Canadian Regional thread.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  jimmy cee on 5/3/2015, 7:40 am

[quote="Richard L."]Hello all!

Here is one newbie question I have to ask you all before going to sleep tonight.
I am struggling to find 5 types of compost that is not already mixed with peat moss (oh really?) or what have you. So far I have found real composted chicken manure (.5 .5 .5) and wormcastings. I have 5 bags of each. Now, I live right next to a small forest. Went there this morning, scraped out the 4-5 inches of dried leaves covering the ground. With a fork and a shovel, I can easily pick up a healthy quantity of, what? usable forest compost? Beautiful black soil, with great level of moisture, and it smells really good.
Do you think I could use it as one the the 5 elements of compost? That would be nice.



Personally, ME ?  I wouldn't be afraid to use that as my entire compost item. or at the very least try it.
That's some beautiful stuff laying out there in the woods, I only wish I had access to some.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Richard L. on 5/3/2015, 9:43 am

Good morning!
About my location, I live next to the beautiful Montmorency Falls, near Quebec City.  (and you probably know by now that English is not my first language, so please bear with me)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montmorency_Falls
As you might guess, cold-cold, long-long, almost never ending winters.

I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by the quantity of great posts concerning, among other things, compost, here on this forum. So many great - and sometimes contradictory - posts that my head started spinning, so I thought it might be a better idea to ask my precise question(s). 
In one of these posts, someone wonders if bagged compost may not lack ''living material'' (insects?). That's when I had this idea about forest compost, almost in my backyard, why not incorporate some in my own Mel's mix? Wouldn't that be a good move? All of the bagged forest-sheep-cow-etc. composts I have found so far are mixed with peat moss, calcium, bone meal.
I am confident Rolling Eyes that I will find 100% composted manure when I visit some farms nearby. Wish me luck.
Last year I built a 6'x2' box (3 feet high), with good topsoil - not MM, since I knew nothing about SFG. It was more to serve as a ''sculpture'' in my yard, and actually it looks great as it is made with huge (12 inches large) old grey barn lumber(?). I did put in a tomato plant that grew so big, it actually went out of control! Anyways.
So, after discovering SFG this winter, I had planned to build at least 2 4'x4' beds, but I had some minor surgery recently and have to keep quiet for a few more days,
so I am now planning to build just one and see how it goes.

I know it will be a trial/error filled experience, but I really like things to go well right oof the bat and tend to get discouraged easily, so I'll do my very best to follow all the great advice given here.
I also started a compost bin last year and built another one this Spring, so next year I should be able to use great compost.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 5/3/2015, 10:25 am

Richard, Many English-as-first-language would love to write as correctly as you do. Very Happy

The living organisms are mold and bacterias that further break down compost into nutrients for the plants. The black material in the forest may be nearly broken down (humus) so I would use other composts along with it. But, it should be loaded with micro-organisms and possibly worms and their castings! Lucky you. If all you can find are other composts with peat moss, adjust the 1/3 peat moss accordingly. Also try to stay away from composts with wood pieces if you can. If you have any questions regarding the products you find, please ask. Photos of the bags and closeup shots of the ingredients will help.

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Forest Floors make great humates

Post  Razed Bed on 5/3/2015, 11:14 am

If your woods are like ours, then the top inch or so of the ground should be loaded with humates.  We scrape about 1/8 inch off the ground in our woods to add to our compost tea ingredients.

Not to go environmentally goofy here, but we never scrape the same place twice in one season.  With many acres of woods available to us, we try to go where the ground naturally is built up a little more than nearby.

Because our woods are heavily-populated with deer, we never know when we might get some extra nitrogen in the humus we collect.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Richard L. on 5/3/2015, 4:50 pm

Hello madame Sanderson!

Here's a link to the main provider of composted manure in my region
http://www.fafard.ca/en/produit/sea_compost_with_peat_seaweed_and_shrimp/

I just sent them an email asking for additional information on percentages of manure/peat moss/any other stuff.
Trying to figure out proportions just by looking at the contents of bags might be hazardous.
Maybe someone here will be able to draw conclusions by looking at the ingredients list, I am certainly not.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 5/4/2015, 12:46 am

Hi Richard, Just some food for thought. Worm castings should be less than 1/5 of the total compost. Rather potent little buggers. The seaweed-shrimp with peat moss might be good. Assume it is 50% peat so for each bag of it, eliminate a half bag of peat moss.

How deep will the two 4' x 4' beds be? You only need the Mel's Mix on the top 6" if the are deep beds.

Waiting to see what else you can find. Have you tried Craig's List or what ever is the Canadian equivalent?

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Kelejan on 5/4/2015, 12:46 pm

Ref: Worm Castings.

I believe the ratio to be 1/5 of one of the five composts. I would be inclined to use it as an amendment.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  greatgranny on 5/4/2015, 1:28 pm

@Kelejan wrote:Ref: Worm Castings.

I believe the ratio to be 1/5 of one of the five composts. I would be inclined to use it as an amendment.
I agree.  It is very powerful and too much is not good.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Richard L. on 5/4/2015, 9:12 pm

Guess what I just discovered Smile
SFG'ing ain't that easy Embarassed

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  jimmy cee on 5/4/2015, 9:50 pm

@Richard L. wrote:Guess what I just discovered Smile
SFG'ing ain't that easy Embarassed

Richard...you sure got that one right....It isn't easy, however I wouldn't let anything else take it's place.
The rewards are hundreds of times worth it.
Fortunately , for me I am still able to perform and I admit that projects I do tend to be way over done..
Just take compost, in my humble opinion is the back bone of SFG. To make proper compost many hours of work are involved, I don't buy mine.
Hope your discovery won't upset you negatively.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Triciasgarden on 5/5/2015, 1:16 am

Richard welcome to the forum!

Once your beds are set up, life will be so much easier.  There is that learning curve that you will get through.

I remember when I was learning how to build a compost pile.  I was so confused.  I read everything I could and my head was spinning.  I wrote things down on what I felt I could get to put in my compost pile.  When I got my first pile built and it heated up, it was so exciting.  When I finally got completed compost, that was wonderful.  I learned so much.  I still refresh my memory on how to build a compost pile, but most of it comes back to me fairly quickly.

You have some unique possible ingredients that some on this forum have access to, but I don't.  That is close access to the forest.  That is wonderful!  For your five separate ingredients, it is too bad that you can't buy a bag with one sole ingredient, then another bag with another sole ingredient, etc.  Or if they listed the exact percentages of each.  That would sure make things a lot less confusing.  It sounds like you are learning a lot even though it may not seem that way right now.  Keep asking questions because no one here minds.  From your questions and the resulting answers, others learn also.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 5/5/2015, 1:48 am

@Triciasgarden wrote:
Once your beds are set up, life will be so much easier.  There is that learning curve that you will get through.

It sounds like you are learning a lot even though it may not seem that way right now.  Keep asking questions because no one here minds.  From your questions and the resulting answers, others learn also.

Ditto

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Richard L. on 5/5/2015, 8:51 am

Thank you so much for your - much needed - encouragement.
Warm weather has finally reached our region. Yesterday I collected about 60 liters of forest compost (loaded with big worms).. I'll have it go through some screening today, but it is already quite clean and homogeneous.
I was told by local (ex)-farmers to forget about getting 100% composted manure. Local ruling makes it mandatory for cultivators to use fresh manure asap and forbids piling it for future (following year) use. Anyway, apparently there are almost no real farmers left many miles around.
Commercial composted manures containing peat moss come in 30 liters bags. Since I have no exact idea of % of peat moss in my manure bags, it should be somewhat of a guessing (mathematical thinking ) exercise.
Now, to make things easier still, do I have to understand from previous posts that those beautiful (!) bags of vermicompost I managed to find should account for NO MORE than 1/25th of my composted manure? That is 1/25th of 33%? What the hell am I going to do with 150 liters of the stuff?
Today I should be buying my lumber and installing my bed on a platform I built yesterday with pallets. I wanted it to be at least belt high.
I know I should be resting (doctor's order), but there is so much to be done!!!

Oh! I discovered something else yesterday, and I might share it with those of you interested. Do you have new or very pale pieces of lumber that you wish to give an ''old barn'' grey look to in just a few days? Guaranteed success!
I have to go now, but just ask me if you are interested and I will show you how later, with pictures. Easy!
I mean real easy! Smile

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Razed Bed on 5/5/2015, 8:56 am

@Richard L. wrote:Thank you so much for your - .
I know I should be resting (doctor's order), but there is so much to be done!!!

I believe I can speak for many here: take your doctor's advice.  If you go out and make your condition worse when one or two extra days rest would mean all the difference, your garden will only be one or two days delayed.

If you overdo it, your garden may not have a gardener to tend to its needs.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Kelejan on 5/5/2015, 12:33 pm

@Razed Bed wrote:
@Richard L. wrote:Thank you so much for your - .
I know I should be resting (doctor's order), but there is so much to be done!!!

I believe I can speak for many here: take your doctor's advice.  If you go out and make your condition worse when one or two extra days rest would mean all the difference, your garden will only be one or two days delayed.

If you overdo it, your garden may not have a gardener to tend to its needs.
Yes, Razed Bed, I for one am taking it very seriously.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Richard L. on 5/5/2015, 12:41 pm

Thank you, Razed bed and Kelejan! I will be following your WOS advice. Some body parts are talking to me now!

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 5/5/2015, 1:45 pm

You have some interesting compost problems in your area.  Shocked   This is my by-the-4-liter [1-gallon in US) container method for measuring your interesting ingredients: I assume you can find a 4 liter container of some type (small bucket, bottle milk or water with the top removed).

5 containers of vermiculite (simple!)
+
2 of dark forest + 2 of bagged manure with peat + 1 of worm castings + 2 of shrimp-seaweed-peat compost = 7 containers of compost stuff
+
3 of fluffed peat moss (compensating for the peat in the manure and shrimp bags)

= 15 containers to make your Mel's Mix

Anyone else?

PS: [This is based on my days as a health inspector] I think horse manure is great. Spread out (like in a pasture or paddock) is dries quickly. Yes, flies are attracted to it but if it stays dry it won't breed them. Once dried, it can be stock piled but it has to stay dry. If it's stock piled wet, it can breed flies unless perfectly covered with black plastic, sealed all around the edges. Female flies will take advantage of the tiniest tear or hole or loose edge to lay their eggs. The first hatched instar larva will migrate to where there is the perfect moisture content and temp to finish the life cycle. Around here, farmers with melons in the field have to till to break them up so they can dry out fast.

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Re: COMPOST 101

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