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COMPOSTING in Canada 101

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COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  msensi on 5/6/2015, 9:51 am

I noticed that several other newbies were confused in what to use for composting. Here is material I found on line. This first set deals with the best combinations to use to build a starter compost source quickly for phase 1. It includes materials to avoid.

I have a couple of other goodies dealing with expanded materials for the longer term, once the compost pile is up and running. Some of the "stuff" is surprising.

About three years ago, I saw an ad from newfoundland offering to buy all the dryer lint they could get. I am from the Maritimes myself (Saint John, N.B.) and often exchanged friendly jibes with Nfld buddies I made, especially when I lived in Halifax.  But dryer lint - a new one on me.

The article says that the lint is a highly inflammable substance and burns with intense heat. They say that, stuffed in used paper center rolls from toilet paper, paper towels, etc, it makes an excellent fire starter for campfires, woodstoves, fireplaces, etc. So, beware.- treat the stuff with respect and take special care to ensure that your lint traps are cleaned out. Who knew.

The article contained a number of clickable links to other sites. I removed those and inserted (LR), meaning link removed to indicate why the text reads sort of odd in spaces. The first time I tried to send this information, the system kicked back because of the links.

Having had a website or two up myself, I understand that management does not want hard earned traffic to be redirected to another site. Lesson learned.

Here is the first list
Composting Ingredients

Organic waste is the best raw material to make compost from. This can come from your garden, your kitchen (visit Starbucks’ page on (LR) and even your home at large.

Note: According to the (LR) yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 23 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. That’s a lot of waste to send to landfills when it could become useful and environmentally beneficial compost instead! (LR)for good compost include:


Materials to Compost

Browns = High Carbon

Greens = High Nitrogen

Ashes, wood

Bark

Cardboard, shredded

Corn stalks

Fruit waste

Leaves

Newspaper, shredded

Peanut shells

Peat moss

Pine needles

Sawdust

Stems and twigs, shredded

Straw

Vegetable stalks

Alfalfa

Algae

Clover

Coffee grounds

Food waste

Garden waste

Grass clippings

Hay

Hedge clippings

Hops, used

Manures

Seaweed

Vegetable scraps

Weeds*

*Avoid weeds that have gone to seed, as seeds may survive all but the hottest compost piles.
Materials to Avoid

Coal Ash – Most ashes are safe to mix into your compost pile, but coal ashes are not. They contain sulfur and iron in amounts high enough to damage plants.

Colored Paper – Some paper with colored inks (including newsprint) contain heavy metals or other toxic materials and should not be added to the compost pile(LR)

Diseased Plants – It takes an efficient composting system and ideal conditions (extreme heat) to destroy many plant(LR) If the disease organisms are not destroyed they can be spread later when the compost is applied. Avoid questionable plant materials.

Inorganic Materials – This stuff won’t break down and includes aluminum foil, glass, plastics and metals. Pressure-treated lumber should also be avoided because it’s treated with chemicals that could be toxic in compost.

Meat, Bones, Fish, Fats, Dairy – These products can “overheat” your compost pile (not to mention make it stinky and attract animals). They are best avoided.

Pet Droppings – Dog or cat droppings contain several disease organisms and can make compost toxic to handle. (Can you believe the state of Alaska actually spent $25,000 on a study to determine the effects of composting (LR) – PDF format)

Synthetic Chemicals – Certain lawn and (LR) (herbicides – pesticides) can withstand the composting process and remain intact in the finished compost. Poisons have no place in the natural micro-community of your compost pile.


Last edited by camprn on 5/6/2015, 6:44 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : expand title)

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  has55 on 5/6/2015, 12:13 pm

very good info. thank you msensi. Cool

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  trolleydriver on 5/6/2015, 1:31 pm

Thanks for the list msensi. It will be useful as I go forward.

I see that you are in south-eastern Ontario.  Would that be somewhere along the St.Lawrence River ... maybe around Cornwall?

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Composting 101 - Part2- fini.

Post  msensi on 5/6/2015, 5:16 pm

Composting 101 – part 2

Browns" for the Compost Pile


  • Fall leaves

  • Pine needles

  • Twigs, chipped tree branches/bark

  • Straw or hay

  • Sawdust

  • Corn stalks

     

  • Paper (newspaper, writing/printing paper, paper plates and napkins, coffee filters)

  • Dryer lint

  • Cotton fabric

  • Corrugated cardboard (without any waxy/slick paper coatings


"Greens" for the Compost Pile


  • Grass clippings

  • Coffee grounds/tea bags

  • Vegetable and fruit scraps

  • Trimmings from perennial and annual plants

  • Annual weeds that haven't set seed

  • Eggshells

  • Animal manures (cow, horse, sheep, chicken, rabbit, etc. No dog or cat manure.)

  • Seaweed


You'll often see recommendations for an ideal ratio of browns to greens. Generally a ratio of three to four parts browns to one part greens is great, but you don't need to be exact about it. Decomposition happens. It's a natural process. Pile your compostables up, turn them (or don't) and, in time, you'll have compost.

 That s all of it. I like this guy. Don't sweat it, it will work. Mother nature's rules.

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Hi trolley driver

Post  msensi on 5/6/2015, 5:40 pm

Glad it might be useful.

I had the guy at the lumber yard cut my frame - good deck lumber. Started to put it together this afternoon and discovered I should have done it myself.

He missed the center and also must have paused for a drink while the saw ran itself and wandered off the line. I will have to trim all four boards and build a 3 ft and 3/4 inch box in order to get it square.

Oh well, my animal critters won't see that in the dark and will probably fall off when they try to crawl on the box.

I am west of Cornwall and Kingston to Belleville and then 25 miles North of 401 on Hwy 7.

Ottawa (Kanata) is just about 100 miles East and Toronto (Markham) just about 120 miles west. So if I every hanker to loll around a big city, they are not far away.

I lived in Ottawa - two separate transfers to NDHQ while in the RCAF, and I spent a lot of time in Toronto on duty assignments in my second career with the Federal Govt. Don't look for me in that madhouse, but I would like to visit Ottawa again, when the tulips are bursting all over the place. Marvelous sight.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  trolleydriver on 5/6/2015, 8:55 pm

msensi ... if you are coming this way and want to visit just PM me.

I know what you mean about the lumber cuts. Home Depot did a good job of finding the 4 foot mark but the cuts are not that straight. I used it as is anyway and the boxes look fine.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  Richard L. on 5/7/2015, 8:22 pm

After a few glasses of some fine red wine, I feel the urge to ask one of those dumb questions I usually wait for someone else to ask:
If it is strongly suggested to put brown and green material in layers in the compost bin, why is it also strongly suggested to mix it all up every week or so?

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  yolos on 5/7/2015, 9:21 pm

I asked that same question a number of years ago.  I don't know how true it is, but here is what I was told.  Use the layers to measure how much of each type (brown/green) material to put in the bin.  Then mix the two layers (one layer of brown and one layer of green) up and water and start over again until you get to the top of the bin.  So when I first started composting, I would put 3 inches of grass, then three inches of shredded leaves, then mix it up and water it and keep doing that until the bin was full.  Actually, I was told to do 1 inch of grass and 2 inches of leaves but this did not heat up for me.  Someone suggested the 50/50 mix and that heats up for a while.

Now I use a 5 gallon bucket.  One bucket of grass, one bucket of leaves, water and mix.  Repeat.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  sanderson on 5/8/2015, 1:16 am

And then in the Berkeley hot method, the browns and greens are layered, moistened while building the pile. Left until the 4th day when temps reach around 160*F, then rebuilt inside to out, top to bottom. Turning allows necessary air (oxygen) to get to all parts. After turning a hot pile, one needs a chilled wine cooler.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  yolos on 5/8/2015, 10:24 am

@sanderson wrote:And then in the Berkeley hot method, the browns and greens are layered, moistened while building the pile.  Left until the 4th day when temps reach around 160*F, then rebuilt inside to out, top to bottom.  Turning allows necessary air (oxygen) to get to all parts.  After turning a hot pile, one needs a chilled wine cooler.

Do we know why they are layered and not mixed up until day 4.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  Zmoore on 5/8/2015, 10:35 am

Just for fun:
I checked on my compost piles yesterday evening and when I opened one up to check if it was getting hot, steam came out.  Woohoo!!!  My other pile wasn't doing as well, but HEY!  I got one cooking  bounce

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  sanderson on 5/8/2015, 1:51 pm

Yolos, I really don't know why and this is the only method I use. But the internal temps get way up there and hold through a couple turnings, slowly lowering through the rest of the turnings. Hot, hot.

http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/

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Composting 101 in Canada

Post  msensi on 5/10/2015, 7:57 am

Hi Richard

I make no claims to expertise in composting - or many other subjects. The Berkley project is a fine example of the scientific approach to solving a problem for farmers using regular soil and covering a large area of real estate.

That is not a 4 x 4 box. They are not using Mel's mix.

According to the material I read in his book, I will use the compost to replace a small amount of soil from a square as I harvest a plant and plant a new one. A pinch of seeds is the expression used. How much compost will I need to mix in to look after a pinch of seeds - one square at a time?

In building the compost pile, each element in the formula plays a part in interacting with all the others - just like baking bread. Each part is mixed well to ensure that all parts have a good chance of doing their job. When done this way, you get the best results. Turning is necessary to ensure that the mix is really mixed and that all parts are used efficiently.

Even if not done so effectively it will still work - just takes longer.

So, if I have read Mel's work correctly, I will not even need compost until harvest time. Plenty of time to have it broken down if I am prepping the compost now.

As well, in my bumbling attempts to make the soil mix, I just know I will have some left over. Even if my composting is a failure --- I can still present my pinch of seeds with a small quantity of fresh Mel's mix instead of compost.

This first season is a learning experience for me, so I am only planting one box. I will build more boxes of different shapes, sizes, and for various purposes over the winter. More fun than blowing snow, and have a leg up on next summer.

I am going to plant heirloom seeds exclusively - to avoid Genetically modified seeds. If other crops grow like the heirloom tomatoes I grew two years ago, I want a handle on how many boxes I might need, or how few, depending on how you look at it.

Don't sweat it -- relax and enjoy yourself. I expect that the produce coming up from this first box will be all the motivator needed to promote a fury of flying sawdust this winter.

Happy gardening

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  Richard L. on 5/10/2015, 11:13 am

Hi msensi,
Seems to me like our respective SFG experiences have much in common.
I built and filled my 4'x4' box this week with my homemade Mel's mix. At first, I wanted to build 2 boxes but finally settled for just one due to my mini surgery. I finally used 8 different composts - yes, 8 - and shoveled the final mix in my 10'' high box. I know it's kind of a waste but I like it to be deep! I did place it on a platform made out of wood pallets and it is waist high. And I will also be using a 2'x6', three feet high box I built last year, when I knew nothing about SFG. I just poured in some newly made Mel's mix.
I will try to avoid some mistakes I made last summer. Take a look at these pics. Last year I planted tomatoes next to some pepper. Looked nice at first, but just look at what happened a few weeks later, the tomato plant grew like a monster and I had to take everyhing else out of the box!  Ah ha! Like they say, if you ain't worth a good laugh....

http://i19.servimg.com/u/f19/19/21/68/54/boite110.jpg
http://i19.servimg.com/u/f19/19/21/68/54/monstr10.jpg

This year, I will try to grow larger vegs in separate containers. I grew stevia last year with some success and plan to grow a lot more this summer. I love it. Bought some seeds from a guy in Greece and had  very good seedling (60%) results with them. I now have some tomatoes, pepper, herbs seedlings indoors and have to wait till the last frost threat is behind us up north. Along the way it came to me that starting SFG is like entering religion: you've got to have faith and go by some strict commandments Shocked. And of course lots of new friends (even though we don't have any in our profile pale)
I hope we both have a fantastic debut with Mel's mix and SFG!

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  yolos on 5/10/2015, 1:08 pm

rofl   Those tomatoes sure did take over that bed.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  sanderson on 5/11/2015, 2:35 am

Richard,  Thanks for the chuckle.

Msensi,  
The Berkley project is a fine example of the scientific approach to solving a problem for farmers using regular soil and covering a large area of real estate.
I use the Berkeley method for compost for my SFG boxes.  It's just a faster method for making compost.
I will use the compost to replace a small amount of soil from a square as I harvest a plant and plant a new one. A pinch of seeds is the expression used. How much compost will I need to mix in to look after a pinch of seeds - one square at a time?
When harvesting, shake out all the MM from the roots.  Then add enough compost to restore that square to it's original height/volume.  If your compost isn't ready, a little store bought compost will do for the first replenishing.  Quick-growing and small plants like radishes won't take as much as something that stays in the square for months, where the compost breaks down more and is used up more.  Never add more MM to a square.
So, if I have read Mel's work correctly, I will not even need compost until harvest time.
At first I was going to say that months-long plants will probably need some top dressing of compost as the MM shrinks down.  But, maybe up at your latitudes, the season isn't long enough to be applicable.

What say other Northerners?

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Composting in Canada 101

Post  msensi on 5/11/2015, 10:30 am

Sanderson --- Thank you for the feedback. We Canadians live in a province nearly 2000 Kms long from the extreme South West to the Manitoba Border. Windsor is about 75 miles from Point Pelee National Park, the southernmost point in Canada. I was once on recruiting duties in my Royal Canadian Air Force days and was caught in December with a flat tire in a place Called Kapuskasing, Ont. It is a little south of James Bay. The temp was 75 below zero on that day. There can be adventures in just living, that's for sure.

Richard -- I grew stevia last summer. Bought plants from a greenhouse and grew them in large pots on the deck. They did very well. To use them, I used the simple system. Remove the branches from the stem, leaves intact. Tie a string around bunches and hang them inside to dry out. When dry, strip leaves from stem and pulverize them with whatever means you have to grind them down as small as possible particles. I then put mine in a large pepper shaker to use them. I still have lots of product left. A little goes a long way.

Commercially they boil the plant, after drying to produce a soup. The leaves are removed from the pot and discarded. The soup is dehydrated and packaged for general sales. To make a "high quality" product that costs more, they only use the leaves. The stems are passed to the regular processing pot. Chemicals are also added to both processes. After all, shelf life is the life blood of all processing operations. Like everything else, profit from processing pure product is not enough. They have to beat it to death to drag out that extra buck.

I did a whole lot of research on stevia for the website I had up and running - on health and wellness - at the time. They also had soft drinks - highly touted. I found some and tried them. The chemical taste was very strong - not pleasing to my taste buds. The soft drinks did not catch on around this area.

Stevia plants are popular around here.

I got quite a kick out of your tomato plants. I grew five plants of heirloom varieties two yeas ago. No special soil - just a patch I scraped clear as a test run. They went into orbit. I had 12 foot stakes and old bed sheets torn into strips to support them. One plant sent runners across the entire net and produced  tomatoes while leaning on another plant almost 12 feet away.  I won't be growing these this year. Only intend to experiment with one box. Next time I grow them I will have a box just for them.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  plantoid on 5/12/2015, 3:13 pm

@yolos wrote:
@sanderson wrote:And then in the Berkeley hot method, the browns and greens are layered, moistened while building the pile.  Left until the 4th day when temps reach around 160*F, then rebuilt inside to out, top to bottom.  Turning allows necessary air (oxygen) to get to all parts.  After turning a hot pile, one needs a chilled wine cooler.

Do we know why they are layered and not mixed up until day 4.
 I suspect it is the chemical change that produces the heat as the bacteria get started in the easily decay-able material ..
Mix it too thinly the heat won't quickly build up and it wont be as effective as the layer .

Once the bacteria get to a working range and the brown have been moistened with water and ammonia  they then also start the break down journey  .
Now when you mix the layers it add oxygen which will give the microbes a big boost , add some more water if needs be and it all then become a self exciting heap because all the material have started to decay . The subsequent turnings keep this cycle fueled with air & water till the materials are composted so far that they will not readily go any more whilst in this stage .

It is only when you use this compost in the beds that the decay restarts in earnest and carries on decaying slowly for several years, releasing all manner of nutrient & trace elements as it progresses.

Left in the composter it will still decay and you will lose the nutrients to leeching , if you bag it and add a couple of muck worms to each bag they will breed and work their way through the compost giving you worm casts which are an amazing natural fertilizer . If you do this bagging up don't leave the tied off gathered bag top facing up to the sky for they make good rain funnels and this can make the bag contents far too wet for the worms .
 
Other folk that live the freezer like you guys do for six months of the year , have not that I know of said that your extreme cold winters have killed off the worms when the bags have been left outside .

I covered my tied off bags with a weighted down tarp ..three years on I have seven half filled bags of  worm casts for my onions and the other veg that like a high quality feed dressing..

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Composting in Canada 101

Post  msensi on 5/21/2015, 6:54 pm

Richard L. --- Still have not found all the goodies I need. For seed, I plan to grow "different" stuff than the ordinary and to use organic methods and heritage seeds.

Tried a couple of places outside Canada, but they were not interested in shipping here. Then I came across the following --- Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds -- located in Palmerston, Ont. Sort of mid way between Toronto and Owen Sound. Type that company name in the Google search box and you will see them half way down page 1 of the listings.

Not a sophisticated looking site, nothing slick, but has a lot of good "stuff" - including Stevia seeds. I have some coming, should be here in the next day or so. 

They seem to have  one price per seed pack - $3.50 and have a pretty generous supply in each, considering that they are heirloom seeds.

Unlike the boys with the slick sites, they are happy to include my PO Box in my address, which US guys weren't, even when I explained that the street address is no good because we do not have home delivery and the postal folk get cranky having to look up box numbers.

Also, I am somewhat paranoid about where I leave my credit card info. They have PAYPAL service (Hawthorne Seeds), which is a big deal for me. One of the US companies told me they used it, but would not activate the button for me. Perhaps they did not realize that I could specify payment in US funds and they would not be short-changed on the exchange rate.

PAYPAL also has a conflict resolution service. If you try to fix a pay problem and get no co-operation, they will step in and go to bat for you. I have needed that service only once in more than  20 years, but I finally got a refund from a seller who must have been trained by a used car sales lot. He did not want to let go of the cash once he had a fist full of it.

Once the order was entered, the rest took just about three minutes to complete the order, pay for it and receive confirmation from PAYPAL that it was in process. I'll take efficiency over flashy every time. 

Cheaper also. The order that the folks in the US would not fill was $92.00 - including shipping and exchange. The Canadian one was $52.00, all included. The US seed packs ranged from $1.95 to $4.50 per pack plus the 20% or so exchange rate difference.

Back to the big city of Belleville again over the week-end in pursuit of vermiculite and composted animal waste.

Buying almost anything not in demand by the general population, in this wee village, is an exercise in futility. Beer, spirits and pizza are in abundant supply. Materials for Mel's mix, a pair of socks and almost everything else you might desire to express an individual view on life requires a safari run to a bigger center.

Not complaining, though. I knew that when I retired and moved here.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  FRED58 on 5/22/2015, 5:50 am

Great site. Great selection. (Quinoa! Milkweed!) And, I'm kind of embarrassed that I ordered from someone else. These guys are right in my neighborhood (well about an hour away, but on my way to Toronto, Kitchener, Guelph and Hamilton).

As we Leaf Fans say, wait until NEXT YEAR!

BUT one question: why would anyone BUY nettles? And the PLANT them!? I've been fighting them with everything I've got for years (and, almost nothing short of Napalm seems to work). If you want 'em, come and get 'em.

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Composting 101 in Canada

Post  msensi on 5/22/2015, 6:35 am

Hey Fred:

Yup, I bought some Quinoa seed in my order. Otherwise I have to drive 25 miles to the nearest bulk food shop to find some. Now I will be set for the winter, from my own resources.

Click on their site details section and have a look at their operation. Impressive.

Also, run through the selection of products and note how much "stuff" was sold out early.

I am going to look at those closer well before order time next round and try to get some of more popular sellers. They are popular for a reason. I expect that some of them are started in pots early and transplanted. Most of these customers are more likely to be traditional planters; rather than 4 by followers. 

Nettles are said to have some good medicinal properties and are used by the folks that say what was good enough for great great grandpa is good enough for me. How they are used, I can't say. Digging them our of my dog's coat was a close enough association with them, for me.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  trolleydriver on 5/22/2015, 8:28 am

msensi ... Hawthorn Farm Organic Seeds looks like a great place to buy seeds. It's too late for me for this year but I'll have to keep them in mind for next year's crop (Lord willing).

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Vermiculite? Did you say vermiculite?

Post  Cherbear on 5/22/2015, 9:21 am

The company ULINE is great for coarse grade vermiculite. You can order from their website or go directly to pick it up. They are located in Barrie, ON I believe. Actually located in Brampton. I had some vermi shipped to Eskasoni Nova Scotia and the shipping was not unreasonable. I think they have a 2 bag minimum.


ULine shipping things

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

Post  sanderson on 5/22/2015, 1:52 pm

I added Hawthorne Seeds to the Seed Company list.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t4718-seed-companies#37679

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Composting 101 - The Saga Continues

Post  msensi on 5/26/2015, 11:05 am

Hi All:

This business of filling a 4 x 4 box is becoming as complicated as the dickens.

I drove over 200miles seeking out garden centers and found exactly nothing. They all carried the same products, including Canadian Tire, - if they carried any at all.

So, my five different manure cocktail will be (Bags) 1 - cattle, 2 - sheep, and 2 - chicken,  if the weather ever decides to let me loose. Still cold and wet and thunder storms for tomorrow.

I decided to browse through Amazon. Most of what I needed is there, but they will not ship to my address (Canada), which was what happened when I tried to order Mel's book.

They carry a pre built vinyl  grid for the 4 x 4 box at $20.xx. Tried to order that with the same result. Not shipped to Canada.

Well, I purchased a pressure cooker a month ago and that rascal flew trough the air with the greatest of ease. Conclusion - that which can break, smell and /or, possibly not survive the trip -- not shipped. So I didn't bother to try anything else. Too expensive in any case.

Mel's book is in stock - new at $14.95 (Not to Canada) and used ones are available for as low as two pennies. Before you spend the shipping on that one, ask which of the two books are being offered. 

If you are not in Canada, Mels 4 x 4 frame, as well as many others is on sale. There all the accessories to cover it and to fill it.

The soil mix is $120.or so a bag with 4 bags needed to fill one 4 x 4 frame. It is not the mix we are putting together. It is a type of potting mix. Frames to cover and to allow plants to climb are all available, but, they are likewise pricey. I mean pricey. Bear in mind that if you must pay in US dollars, add 21% to everything for the exchange rate.

For mixing my product -- I am going to hook my little trailer to my little tractor. fill the beggar to what looks reasonable while wearing my painting respirator, mix it to within an inch of it's life, back up to my box, lift the tailgate, tilt the bed and stand back an let the dust storm settle.

I also found a source for vermiculite near Toronto by using the search box on my computer. They can supply all you can use. Perhaps next year, some folks in proximity to one another might want to form a mini buying co-op and pool their needs. It works.

In the 60's, a fellow worker of mine was married to an Italian girl. The Italian community got together and ordered 5 rail cars loaded with grapes. On arrival, a small army was ready. Someone had the invoice and the allotment for each person. In an amazingly short time, the rail cars were bare and a lot of happy folk were headed home to, I presume, get their feet naked and make squishy noises.

Ah the good old days; when folks were much more easily pleased. Be well.

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Re: COMPOSTING in Canada 101

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