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COMPOST 101

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Turan on 5/5/2015, 2:08 pm

I think Sanderson has it pretty well.  I would double the worm castings and take out one peat.  I am suspicious that the forest humus is too similar to peat.  I wish you had one source of poultry for its nitrogen content.  The forest humus will have excellent microorganisms in it to bring the whole mix to life.  The more I learn about organic gardening the more essential this seems.

5 vermiculite, 2 manure mix, 2 forest, 2 worm, 2 sea mix and 2 peat is my modification.

Best of luck!

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  jimmy cee on 5/5/2015, 5:09 pm

Richard, regarding Dr's advice to rest.
Many years ago I had a case of pneumonia, doc told me to take off 4-5 weeks and do nothing.
Well it was spring, I needed to build a stone wall and felt ok so I proceeded to build it.
Fortunately for me I did not wind up with any problems, years later I found he told ne to rest because with pneumonia any exertion can damage the lungs, as I said I considered my self very lucky.

Also , may not be many farmers in your area, I bet there's lots of stables
I use mucho horse manure in my compost
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Triciasgarden on 5/5/2015, 10:38 pm

Sanderson and Turan, that is great that you broke this down for Richard!

I agree that you should take it easy!

After you rest like you should and then you get your sfg bed made and planted, you should post how to make wood look like old barn wood as a new post so we can find it at any point.
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Richard L. on 7/25/2015, 12:08 am

Hello to you all!
Long time you no see me Smile
but I have been lurking and keeping an eye on you here.

So I installed my first 4x4 SFG late this spring,
cold spring that was, and as of today summer is not torrid to say the least.
Of course I have mixed results, but so far I like what I am doing. 
I think I had at least 7 different types of compost in, it looked great. Sometimes I'm wondering if it's not a bit crusty on top, but I don't think it's a real issue. 
Generally speaking, I find that my vegetables' growth (from seedlings) is slow. I don't know what part of that is attribuable to bad weather, unbalanced compost or growers' anxiety. Shocked
My tomato plants are healthy and strong, huge leaves and stems, but they are certainly not overcharged with fruits. Radishes are slow to grow. And I think I have pruned my pepper plants too soon. I also think I have watched too much videos on YouTube.
But guess what, I am not that anxious really. I know it will be better next year.

The one thing I wanted to share with you is the kick I experienced with my home made compost. I started with one bin last year and, still  in April, it looked ugly and frozen forever. 
But a few days ago I took the shovel out, had the... stuff go through a screen and, voilà, mesdames et messieurs, it happened, a near mystic experience for me to discover that beautiful black, moist, fluffy, earthy material. I marveled. I kept looking at my wheel barrow as if it contained pure gold! And I have so much of it!!!
I am rich Very Happy I feel like a golddigger when I shake this screen.
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  boffer on 7/25/2015, 12:27 am

Yep, compost is definitely black gold!  

Mel's Mix can get a little crusty sometimes when the surface dries out.  It's not a problem unless you just planted seeds; then you want to keep the surface damp.

It sounds like your first year is off to a good start.  Be advised: looking forward to next year means you're getting hooked!  
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 7/25/2015, 2:18 am

@boffer wrote:Yep, compost is definitely black gold!  

It sounds like your first year is off to a good start.  Be advised: looking forward to next year means you're getting hooked!  
+1  and congrats on your black gold, it's a great feeling.

PS: Canada is a really, really big country. When you have a moment, please modify your "Location" to include a better definition by including the "state" ( are they Regions or Territories there?) and a city or town. That way, folks will have a better idea of the climate in your area. Thanks

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Kelejan on 7/25/2015, 5:43 am

Welcome back, Richard L.  Happy to see you again and hope all is now well with you.

Looks like to have caught this bug; the nice bug that gets you hooked.  Keep going; as you say, it will get better next year.

P.S. Where in Canada dis you say you were?  Pop over to the Canadian thread if you get time.

Kelejan :canada:
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/25/2015, 12:14 pm

NICE, Richard L., beautiful compost! And welcome back! I had a compost "hole" earlier this spring, in a tree root hole where an apple tree uprooted and died. NOT a good thing, especially with the wet wet spring and summer we have been experiencing here. It just wasn't going to work. So, my son filled it in, tamped it down, and I am starting over, hopefully by next year I will have the same experiece as you!

I had a really good compost pile where I used to live, so I know how to do it, I just had the wrong location and situation for my starter!

Next year...so much promise....
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  plantoid on 7/25/2015, 7:41 pm

Richard
When  FIL was alive he lived near Niagara Falls @ St Katherins Ontarion at the side of the shipping canal .
When he wanted to add some manure to the compost bins he took the top foot or so of composting material out each conical lidded composting bin and added a bucket sized screw top lidded container of fairly fresh cow muck , spread it out & then immediately covered it with what he'd taken out .. result no smell at all , so nobody knew what he'd done .
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  CapeCoddess on 7/25/2015, 7:44 pm

I was born in St. Catharines.
Very Happy
CC
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Richard L. on 7/25/2015, 10:58 pm

Since we are talking about SFG and composting here...

As a total newbie, one thing I like so far about SFG is that it maximizes space and that it forces you to get organized. I need that. And it looks cool, clean and... organized. My ailing coccyx likes it as I don't have to bend down, it's 4 ft high.

But sometimes I wish I could take that (bamboo) grid out and let my hands work their way in the 4x4 bed as a whole. I feel limited with my hands in 12"x12" squares. No big deal though. I have realistic expectations, this is trial year, I am testing waters with my big toe foot in!

About composting, one quick question: Is it OK to keep fresh/ready compost until next year? It would sit for a while in a big Canadian freezer.
Another one: How about fern in the bin? I have read totally opposite opinions, some saying that it acted as a great accelerator, others warning that mature fern in the box was a bad idea. I have access to huge quantities of fern.

I've been into composting for about a year now. I often say to myself that I am more careful about what I put in my compost than about what I put into my own body Wink. Funny how we get so easily obsessed with things!

I have seen pictures of your gardens, folks, you are seriously obsessed Shocked

P.S. I live near Quebec city, right there 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montmorency_Falls
Come and see us, it's a beautiful place and your american dollar will buy a lot of our loonies!
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Scorpio Rising on 7/25/2015, 11:41 pm

I definitely over winter finished compost here in Northern Ohio, and we are frozen for much of the winter. No problems there at all.

As far as the ferns, I never knew that was an issue, as having no fern experience, but I did find this guidance on the web


https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=445

Looks like you can do it, just with some caveats!
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 7/26/2015, 9:01 pm

I also overwinter compost in the wood bin. I just keep a cover on top against too much rain (when and if it rains). The top also keeps out falling tree leaves and seeds and rose petals to keep the compost clean and ready for sprig use. My composts are the hot method (160*F) so seeds, aggressive roots, etc. would not be a problem.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  ralitaco on 4/28/2016, 12:34 am

Why are these Compost threads all 14 pages long????
I did wise up and jot down some notes this time
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Hot compost.

Post  MrBooker on 4/28/2016, 2:47 am

@sanderson wrote:I also overwinter compost in the wood bin.  I just keep a cover on top against too much rain (when and if it rains).  The top also keeps out falling tree leaves and seeds and rose petals to keep the compost clean and ready for sprig use.  My composts are the hot method (160*F) so seeds, aggressive roots, etc. would not be a problem.

Sanderson. Whats your recipe for getting your compost to 160*F?  Mine never gets hotter than 140*F.
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 4/28/2016, 3:07 am

Proper volume [3' x 3' x 3' min, 4' x 4' x 4' max] and proper ratio of browns and greens (part horse manure).
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t18500-compost-berkeley-18-day-hot-method?highlight=18+berkeley

This helps with the brown/green ratios: http://klickitatcounty.org/SolidWaste/fileshtml/organics/compostCalc.htm

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  MrBooker on 4/28/2016, 3:15 am

@sanderson wrote:Proper volume [3' x 3' x 3' min, 4' x 4' x 4' max] and proper ratio of browns and greens (part horse manure).  
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t18500-compost-berkeley-18-day-hot-method?highlight=18+berkeley

This helps with the brown/green ratios:  http://klickitatcounty.org/SolidWaste/fileshtml/organics/compostCalc.htm

Thanks a bunch. I'll check out the links now. We just had a rainstorm blow through and I had to run out and cover my compost bin.
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  camprn on 4/28/2016, 6:41 am

130°F - 150°F is optimal temp. Any temperature above 160°F is really getting too hot and generally is burning up nitrogen . At least that's my understanding. If you get your pile temp to 130°F, you're  doing it right..


Last edited by camprn on 4/28/2016, 12:42 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : corrected typos)

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  jimmy cee on 4/28/2016, 6:54 am

@camprn wrote:130°F - 150°F is optimal temp. 160°F is really.hot and generally is burning up.nitrogen . At least that's my understanding. If you get your pile temp to 130°F, you're  doing it right..

From info I've read this is right on the mark. When compost gets to 160 deg F it is to hot. At this temperature carbon material in it starts to burn. This doesn't necessarily mean a fire, like rust on iron, it is burning,.
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 4/28/2016, 1:50 pm

I finally re-found the original topic where the temps are in Fahrenheit. Yep, 160*F. The Berkeley method is good for a quick batch of compost, but there is some loss of nitrogen due to the high temps. I agree a slower, lower temp method is better. A trade off.

http://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/compost_rapidcompost.pdf

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  camprn on 4/28/2016, 1:58 pm

@sanderson wrote:I finally re-found the original topic where the temps are in Fahrenheit.  Yep, 160*F.  The Berkeley method is good for a quick batch of compost, but there is some loss of nitrogen due to the high temps.  I agree a slower, lower temp method is better.  A trade off.

http://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/compost_rapidcompost.pdf
To be clear, anything above 120F is 'a hot, quick pile.' A rapid compost pile.

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Mother Nature

Post  MrBooker on 4/29/2016, 5:05 am

@MrBooker wrote:
@sanderson wrote:Proper volume [3' x 3' x 3' min, 4' x 4' x 4' max] and proper ratio of browns and greens (part horse manure).  
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t18500-compost-berkeley-18-day-hot-method?highlight=18+berkeley

This helps with the brown/green ratios:  http://klickitatcounty.org/SolidWaste/fileshtml/organics/compostCalc.htm

Thanks a bunch. I'll check out the links now. We just had a rainstorm blow through and I had to run out and cover my compost bin.
    Well, I didn't get the compost pile covered before the rain came and it took on some water. Yesterday morning, when it got daylight, I went out and checked the temp. It was 138*F.  Late yesterday evening before I came in the house the temp had gone up to 148*F.

      In my opinion, the pile was wet enough. Guess I was wrong. After the rain, the temp went up 10*F. Can't wait to check it again this morning. Thanks for your help.
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  ralitaco on 4/30/2016, 9:41 am

So I am trying to understand the 3 bin composting system.
Here is something I found on the web:
Procedure For Managing The Three-Bin Composting System
I think I have it understood, but just want the opinion of the "experts"

1. Since I am just starting out, ALL of my bins are Empty.

2. I will add the ingredients:
    Bin 1: Fresh/New Browns & Greens
    Bin 2: Empty
    Bin 3: Empty

3. At the correct time & temperature:
    Turn Bin 1 by moving the material INTO Bin 2
    Bin 1: Empty
    Bin 2: Browns & Greens
    Bin 3: Empty

4. Again at the correct time & temperature:
    Turn Bin 2 by moving the material BACK to Bin 1
    Bin 1: Empty
    Bin 2: Browns & Greens
    Bin 3: Empty

5. Repeat these steps until the compost is finished & Temp doesn't go up:
    Bin 1: Empty
    Bin 2: Empty
    Bin 3: Finished Compost

Do I have this correct?
I should always have 1 bin Empty and always have 1 bin for Finished Compost, right?
Is the "finished compost" truly finished to the point where I can sift it as I put it into the Finished bin?
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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Turan on 4/30/2016, 1:08 pm

One bin is used for collecting raw materials in (where it will cold compost given enough time).  Then you layer that stuff into a bin adding water and what ever to make a hot pile.  The hot pile gets turned into the third bin and possibly back again depending on how much turning you think it needs.  I just use finished compost and never store it. Or you can let it mellow in the third bin.
Less important than making a system and following it is to adapt your available space to how fast compost is happening, you are using it, and the raw materials are accumulating.  You can sieve fairly finished compost into garbage cans/bags if you need to store it.

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Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson on 4/30/2016, 2:42 pm

@Turan wrote:. . . Less important than making a system and following it is to adapt your available space to how fast compost is happening, you are using it, and the raw materials are accumulating.  You can sieve fairly finished compost into garbage cans/bags if you need to store it.
Turan makes a good point.  Your circumstances and needs will/can determine how you will use the 3 bins.  In my tiny yard, I store the leaves in smaller cages that can actually be moved to trim the wisteria.  For you, 2 bins to flip the cooking compost back and forth with #3 for storage for either finished compost or leaves. Depends on the time of the year for leaves maybe.  Finished compost can always be stored in containers.  Just have fun trying out your new set up.  Sanderson, green with envy Wink

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Re: COMPOST 101

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