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Compost progress with pictures

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Compost progress with pictures

Post  hartge01 on 7/28/2014, 9:33 am

Hey everyone!

Newbie or confused, I don't know...anyway, does anyone know of a post or could someone create one that shows good detailed pictures of what your compost should look like (maybe even the steps leading up to use) when you start to use it? the forum is great, but hard (for me) to search pictures. I have seen a few articles that describe all sorts of criteria form basically what looks like dirt with nothing identifiable, to easily identifiable plant parts. I have read that anything that is recognizable removes nitrogen, so at what point is would it be OK to use?

I have what I think is some really good compost, but if I look closely I can tell that that piece is part of a leaf, or that is a small stick, or a blade of grass, etc. It feels good though is has a consistent look. Nothing bigger than say a 1/4 inch or smaller. 

Thanks!

Gary
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Re: Compost progress with pictures

Post  landarch on 7/28/2014, 11:52 am

I can take some pics of my compost this evening and post...I screened compost last night and everything was broken down completely except for some leaf litter (I use oak leaves and they take a long time to break down).  If I would have turned the pile (aerated) it would have been perfect. 

I think one important thing is composting is to have multiple bins/piles going at once...starting a second pile/bin instead lets the first pile/bin finish composting.

I don't see any of pictures per your post title.
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Re: Compost progress with pictures

Post  sanderson on 7/28/2014, 12:10 pm

I started writing a reply and then lost it!  Here goes again.

Gary,  I know what you mean.  I'm finishing my 4th pile and I still get nervous because I can recognize the ingredients.  I use the fast Berkeley Hot method.  My criteria is when it will not heat up in the middle anymore, and then let it sit for a week or 2 before mixing within the Mel's Mix.  Top dressing can be done right away.  I no longer use wood shavings or chips in the compost as they take longer to break down.  Some material will be still be identifiable.  I sift mine through a 1/4" mesh (hardware cloth).  Others use a 1/2" mesh.  Others don't screen at all.  I think, and remember I am a beginner, that the fine, black gold is found in the lower area of older piles where worms can be found.

Anyone else?

http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1738-compost-101
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t9365-are-you-a-hottie
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Re: Compost progress with pictures

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/29/2014, 1:19 am

My neighbor has a big pile, roughly five feet tall and wide, wired in on three sides, that he adds all his lawn clippings, expired vegetable plants, and fall leaves to, and never turns it or does anything to it. Come spring, he rakes aside the outer layer at the open side and digs in to the bottom and finds fine, rich compost.

So you can do as little or as much work as you want. sanderson's way makes compost very quickly, but is a ton of work, and my neighbor's is zero work but you have to wait a year! To each their own. Me, sometimes I turn and sometimes I'm just sick of it and leave the pile alone.

Screening does seem important. Too much wood, for instance, can steal huge amounts of nitrogen from the soil as it is very slowly broken down, and adding nitrogen in an attempt to compensate boosts the growth of the carbon-digesting microorganisms so much that their population explosion can tie up even more nitrogen in the soil. So you can't fiddle your way out of the problem; it's much better to just screen the compost.

A different neighbor didn't do that this year after buying a pick-up bed full of very woody compost, and almost without exception the plants growing in that soil are severely stunted and unproductive.

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Re: Compost progress with pictures

Post  sanderson on 7/29/2014, 1:56 am

@Marc Iverson wrote:  Screening does seem important.  Too much wood, for instance, can steal huge amounts of nitrogen from the soil as it is very slowly broken down. . .   it's much better to just screen the compost.

A different neighbor didn't do that this year after buying a pick-up bed full of very woody compost, and almost without exception the plants growing in that soil are severely stunted and unproductive.

Sounds like the Kellogg compost in my first Mel's Mix.   Embarassed   Lots of wood..  I had to fertilize to get things to grow.  Now that I'm getting some good compost, no more fertilizing.  Just compost.

I just turned the Berkeley pile for the 8th time.  It is labor intensive!  It's 29 days old and this time it only reached 122*F.  I think it's almost there.  At least as top dressing.  Then one more pile for this year.  Sob!  silly me
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Pictures..

Post  hartge01 on 7/29/2014, 10:41 am

Greetings everyone,

Thanks for all of the input. Sorry I have not been able to provide any pictures of my compost, between work, family, band rehearsals and grad school I simply have not had time. Hopefully this weekend. One or two mornings of "garden time" helps get me right with the garden, life and God.

I think my process is working well, but again, with limited time I use the "annual" approach : )

My confusion or uncertainty is simply how to tell when to put the compost to use and not restrict the growth of crops because it is simply small pieces of "stuff" that still needs to be broken down and not actually nutrient rich compost.

The drunk compost method looks very interesting.

Blessings!
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Pictures

Post  hartge01 on 8/2/2014, 11:34 am

This is several months old...
http://i39.servimg.com/u/f39/16/10/37/27/photo_16.jpg

http://i39.servimg.com/u/f39/16/10/37/27/photo_17.jpg

http://i39.servimg.com/u/f39/16/10/37/27/photo10.jpg

I think it is good to go from many other pictures I have seen, but what do you guys think?

Blessings,

Gary
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Re: Compost progress with pictures

Post  sanderson on 8/2/2014, 1:07 pm

IMHO, it looks good.
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Re: Compost progress with pictures

Post  NHGardener on 8/2/2014, 3:11 pm

@hartge01 wrote:I think it is good to go from many other pictures I have seen, but what do you guys think?

If you don't want it, I'll take it.

The woodchip guy puts inches thick layers of woodchips on his garden and apparently it loves it, so I wouldn't worry about a few tiny specks of undigested material.
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Re: Compost progress with pictures

Post  hartge01 on 8/4/2014, 9:12 am

LOL everyone... well I took what I had and added it to the garden. Once I start replanting for fall I will till it in and add a bit more. It seems obvious to me that I have just been holding on to the compost too long thinking it still had a ways to go.

I added the compost I showed in the pictures Saturday afternoon. We had a nice rain just as I was finishing and by Sunday afternoon everything just looked a little "happier". Maybe is was just me.

Anyway, thank you for all of the input and guidance.

Blessings,

Gary
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