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Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

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Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  JenniPC on 9/11/2015, 3:06 pm

Hi! I've never composted or gardened before but feel inspired to do so now. We're in Asia. We get a lot of sun. The past few weeks have been a steady 98 F or 37 C Sad Its usually not very humid though the past month it could get up to 44% humidity. We are on the top floor so there is nothing obstructing the sun beating down. 


We only have a terrace for keeping our compost bin and SFG. We're pretty limited when it comes to brown materials for the compost. Will it be okay if I mostly use cardboard and paper? Cant do soil, have no grass, no straw, and leaves would only be available if I forage so its not sustainable. 

For the SFG I'm just planning to plant everything in our homemade compost and locally purchased cow dung.

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  Scorpio Rising on 9/11/2015, 6:08 pm

Welcome JenniPC! Have you read the Square Foot Gardening books? There are several members here from your realm, Escaped Lunatic being one. I use clean cardboard in my compost, little branches, paper coffee filters and towels. People on this site have great ideas, you have come to the right place! glad you\'re here

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  sanderson on 9/11/2015, 8:16 pm

Hi, Jenni, Welcome to the Forum from California, US! glad you\'re here Asia is quite a large area, what part do you live in (Country, Providence, mountains, riverside)?? That will give us an idea of the conditions under which you garden and resources in your area. Is the cow dung fresh, dry, aged or composted? Many of us collect lots of leaves in the fall (no black walnut tree leaves) and use them as browns when we make compost. Paper and cardboard can also be used but it will take them longer to compost. Veggie wastes are also good.

Square Foot Gardening does not use dirt. Only compost, fluffed peat moss and vermiculite / perlite. Compost alone if the other products are not available. Please read All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Please feel free to ask questions. We are here to help.

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saying hello

Post  kauairosina on 9/11/2015, 8:49 pm

Welcome from Hawaii Jenni.  How wonderful to have another gardener from the far east.

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  AtlantaMarie on 9/11/2015, 11:51 pm

Hello Jenni.  Welcome from Atlanta, GA (SE USA).  Glad you're here.

You'll be able to find plenty of ideas here.  And we like pictures!

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  Kelejan on 9/12/2015, 12:28 am

glad you\'re here Jenni  happy hi

from Kelejan in Canada :canada:

One idea from our Founder is do the best you can with what you have. You can compost on a small scale, using cardboard, paper, for browns, and kitchen scraps for greens.

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  JenniPC on 9/12/2015, 12:51 am

@Scorpio Rising wrote:Welcome JenniPC!  Have you read the Square Foot Gardening books?  There are several members here from your realm, Escaped Lunatic being one.  I use clean cardboard in my compost, little branches, paper coffee filters and towels.  People on this site have great ideas, you have come to the right place!  glad you\'re here

Yes I have purchased the 2nd edition of All New Square Foot Gardening. I'm not all the way through yet. Just read from the beginning through the compost section. 

You use towels? Like paper towels?

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  JenniPC on 9/12/2015, 12:54 am

@sanderson wrote:Hi, Jenni,  Welcome to the Forum from California, US!  glad you\'re here  Asia is quite a large area, what part do you live in (Country, Providence, mountains, riverside)??  That will give us an idea of the conditions under which you garden and resources in your area.  Is the cow dung fresh, dry, aged or composted?  Many of us collect lots of leaves in the fall (no black walnut tree leaves) and use them as browns when we make compost.  Paper and cardboard can also be used but it will take them longer to compost.  Veggie wastes are also good.

Square Foot Gardening does not use dirt.  Only compost, fluffed peat moss and vermiculite / perlite.  Compost alone if the other products are not available.  Please read All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.  Please feel free to ask questions.  We are here to help.

Hi Sanderson! We are in Uttar Pradesh India, so in the North where it is hot and not mountainous or hilly. I have yet to purchase the cow dung. From how it's been explained to me it is dry and possibly aged. How would I know if it is aged?

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  sanderson on 9/12/2015, 1:44 am

Somewhere near Kanpur? North of the Tropic of Cancer. I'm trying to visualize and I'm comparing your climate with Mexico. You should be able to grow peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, soy beans, sweet potatoes, corn, garbonzos, tomatillos / ground cherries in the spring/summer/fall. You may have to erect a semi shade up on the roof in the hottest part of the summer (90+*F). What is your winter like?

I'm picturing the cow dung as dry patties. They can be broken up and added to lots pf veggies, non-citrus fruits, steamed or dried rice, spoiled nuts, grains, and shredded clean paper, paper towels. Wet everything as you add them in thin layers. We have several topics on compost so please browse them.

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  JenniPC on 9/12/2015, 2:07 am

@sanderson wrote:Somewhere near Kanpur?  North of the Tropic of Cancer.  I'm trying to visualize and I'm comparing your climate with Mexico.  You should be able to grow peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, soy beans, sweet potatoes, corn, garbonzos, tomatillos / ground cherries in the spring/summer/fall.  You may have to erect a semi shade up on the roof in the hottest part of the summer (90+*F).  What is your winter like?

I'm picturing the cow dung as dry patties.  They can be broken up and added to lots pf veggies, non-citrus fruits, steamed or dried rice, spoiled nuts, grains, and shredded clean paper, paper towels.  Wet everything as you add them in thin layers.  We have several topics on compost so please browse them.

Yes, very close to Kanpur! We're new to the area. For winter it says the highs range from 12-24 C and lows from 8-6 Celcius. That is just January. It can get a little chilly but I think the winters are pretty moderate. We'll have to be out of country in Nov & Dec. So my thought is to get the composting started between now and then and see about planting in February when the worst of chilly weather tends to be over? I wasn't sure if we could plant before?

I'm not that far ahead yet. Just getting the compost started and gonna make my way through the rest of the book. I figured I could base the plants off of what is often available here. Was thinking to start with a 3 X 3 kid size box Smile Grow eggplants, cucumbers, beets, carrots, cabbage, bell pepper, spinach/callaloo/some kind of green, an herb, a flower.

I'm excited to poke around. The feedback on this first post is a great encouragement cause I was getting overwhelmed by all the compost info and much of it using materials I don't have access to. Thanks!

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  sanderson on 9/12/2015, 4:02 am

Yes, get the compost started now.  Cover when you have rains so the nutrients don't wash out of the pile!!  Then about 6 weeks before you can plant little seedlings outdoors in the spring, you can start your seeds/seedlings indoors under a cheap fluorescent shop lamp.  Little plastic Solo cups, yogurt cups, toilet paper roll cups, etc., can be used.  Start saving thingies now.  Will you be building wood boxes?  Or like Escaped Lunatic in China, use cheap/free Styrofoam coolers?  There are so many ways to build your garden.  Use the Search box for different ideas.  I'm very excited for you.

This is not official, but I have thought that crushed unsalted peanut shells could be mixed with compost to add lightness.  They take forever to compost..  Maybe 1 part crushed shells and 4 parts compost.

PS you will need mulch during the summer. Pine needles, cardboard pieces, straw stalks after the wheat head or rice has been harvested.

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  AtlantaMarie on 9/13/2015, 9:18 am

It's easy to get overwhelmed...  Especially when first starting out.  Just take a deep breath.  :-)

We have some really good archives available here.  You might want to poke around in your spare time to see what's in there.

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  Scorpio Rising on 9/13/2015, 10:27 am

Jenni, just start with your kitchen veggie waste, and coffee grounds with filters, tea bags, and just throw them on there. It will do it's thing! Then as you learn more, and see what you have access to, add that to the pile. When you thin or trim your garden, put it on the pile. At the end of growing season, if the plant didn't have diesease, that goes on there.

You go girl!

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/13/2015, 1:01 pm

Welcome, Jenni!

Do you have an apartment balcony to work with, or a whole rooftop. It's best we don't suggest things out of scale with what you've got to work with.

Re paper towels, yup, they can go in, and so can the paper rolls they come in. Cardboard that isn't waxed or finished, kleenex, etc. Many newspapers now use soy-based inks on their black and white pages, so that can work too. But avoid newspaper if you can't find out whether they still use lead-based inks, which are highly toxic.

Cardboard and paper products can take a long time to compost, especially if the compost gets too dry. You'll have to moisten accordingly. It helps to shred them as finely as you possibly can, and that can be easier with cardboard if you soak it in water first. Otherwise getting a few large boxes torn tiny can be a work-out and a half for your arms and hands.

Luckily, it's usually easy to find, at least. I've gone into stores and asked them if I can have some of their cardboard boxes that were just sitting around, and they said fine. They would just as soon not have to dispose of them.

A lot of people who have posted here say they've gotten lots of free used coffee grounds from coffee shops and other restaurants. That might be a source worth exploring, as coffee is very rich in nitrogen.

I wonder if you have earthworms where you live ... they eat rotting compost, make wonderful poop, and aerate the soil with all their little tunnels. Maybe worth exploring?

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  Escaped Lunatic on 10/5/2015, 8:00 am

Hi Jenni!

Are you a local or another expat who fell in love with someplace completely different?

Personally, I'm not sure I believe that "soy based inks" are standard in my local newspaper.   I hope India has better regulations for that sort of thing.

How big is that terrace?  I'm guessing you won't be doing the cubic meter/yard style that a lot of people with wide-open spaces favor.  Personally, I'm a bit off the beaten path in compost manufacture.  I didn't know if just piling the veggie scraps and a few dead leaves from the garden into a large empty clay pot would work or not, but it seems to rot nicely (except that it cools down too much during the coldest month of winter).

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  JenniPC on 10/11/2015, 9:19 am

@Marc Iverson wrote:Welcome, Jenni!

Do you have an apartment balcony to work with, or a whole rooftop. It's best we don't suggest things out of scale with what you've got to work with.
Hi Mark,

I have a balcony to work with. I'm not sure about worms. I have taken to going out with a small bag to collect any dry leaves I see outside and recently found dry corn husks on the side of the road. Foraging has turned out better than expected. 

I wanted to post a pic but every time I select host an image and then choose file...nothing seems to happen Sad

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  JenniPC on 10/11/2015, 9:28 am

Hey Escaped Lunatic!

We're just another set of wandering expats Smile The terrace is kind of big. It would fit a 3x3 or 4x4 box with space to walk around it. I think its at least 10X8 for the main part and then there is a narrower part going to toward to side.  I keep the compost bin  around that side area. Clay pots we get plenty of access to. The terrace gets a lot of sun otherwise. I may have to look into that.

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  Scorpio Rising on 10/11/2015, 9:48 am

Are you using a Mac, Jenni? It works differently if you are. I have to open a word processing tool (I use my email) and copy and past the url from the servimg site to the blank document, then copy and paste it back to here in the body of the reply...no idea why, but that works.

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  JenniPC on 10/11/2015, 11:07 am

@Scorpio Rising wrote:Are you using a Mac, Jenni? 
 No I have windows but it looks like it was a glitch and its working fine now. Thanks for replying!

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  Scorpio Rising on 10/11/2015, 11:13 am

OK, good!

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  sanderson on 10/11/2015, 12:06 pm

Jenni, A 3x3 or 4 x 4 bin weighs a lot. That plus clay pots. Be sure the terrace is strong enough for total weight. Very Happy

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Re: Saying Hello! Compost Tips Welcome

Post  jimmy cee on 10/11/2015, 9:49 pm

There will be items available to you in Asia that we do not have. Being close to the sea opens up a wide assortment.
Above all else...do not allow the technical  percentages of this, percentages of that get to you.
It all boggled my mind, however I just got to it and keeping everything in proportion, mixed and evenly watered .
Yes about the weight on your balcony, I would check in on that one...

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