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To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  trolleydriver on 3/3/2016, 8:27 pm

Thanks for the replies ... I will assume all will be well with my compost. Given the snow coverage it may be a while before I can even see the compost bins

I had a nice surprise today. Without my knowledge Mrs TD has been saving egg shells for the compost. She's been crunching them up and storing them in a plastic bag that she keeps in the freezer.  It looks like I am winning her over to composting. Now if I could only convince her to allow me to do some vermicomposting in the basement workshop.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  yolos on 3/3/2016, 9:00 pm

I started a small worm bin in the early fall and put it on my screened porch.  When it got too cold outside, I brought it into my home office.  No smell or bugs at all.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  jimmy cee on 3/4/2016, 8:48 am

I've been adding loads of rhubarb leaves and never gave this a thought. Never appeared to be trouble as all is doing fine.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 3/4/2016, 9:26 pm

I raced out ahead of our oncoming storm and gathered an entire trailer (1 1/2 cu. yd. aprox) of fresh cow manure and bedding.  Put in on top of our in ground SFG raised potato bed which had begun to sprout.   I have a mix of 4 parts hay straw and one part manure.  I just might be a tad out of shape for this, lol!    

I put it down about 12 inches thick for mulch that will compost right on top of everything and will do well with soaking up the big rains that are coming. The worms will go crazy and start breaking everything down really quickly. 

Just a note: plants that will be cooked and have a long growing season before they're ready to be picked are fine with fresh manure - but be careful with anything that will not be cooked like lettuce, carrots that will be eaten raw etc.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 3/4/2016, 10:13 pm

I also spent the day, albeit in an easier manner, preparing for the rain. I'll post more under Northern California.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Zmoore on 3/7/2016, 8:11 am

So, this weekend was still a bit chilly, but there was a hint of spring in the air.  I decided to get started screening my old/finished pile from the "winter experiment" and get some compost ready to go for spring planting.  My screening operation is a little slow and can wear you out (plan to improve upon it in the future, but for now it works), so I thought I'd just "play" for a little while and get done what I could, once I was too tired, just save the rest for later, still have time.  Anyway, below is a picture of the starting operation.


I was a little surprised I made it through the whole old/finished pile.  I think maybe the cool weather helped, I wasn't cold doing the work and I was hot.  I took my time and just went slow and steady and managed to finish the whole pile in only about 4 beers.  The "pile" on the left is what was left over after screening.  I thought it was pretty good percentage went through.  First few scoops of screening it was looking like I was having a lot of "chunky stuff", but once I got into the pile a lot more went through with less left over.  Anyway, I took the chunky stuff and laid it down as a bottom to flip my "younger pile" onto.  


Here's what it looks like after screening.  I thought it looked good.  Actually I thought it looked real good and was very pleased.  


Here's "close-up" of material.  I think it looks better standing back, but there it is.  That was started end of October last year and I was able to get it to finish using the "cool" method with some flipping (about once a week, except when it snowed or just was so cold it was frozen).  So, I think my "experiment" was a success.  I can get to finished compost over the winter, outside, using basic "cool" composting pile, in Virginia.  I'm tickled.  I didn't think it would work OR I'd have a "mostly" finished pile in early spring and then would have to rush to finish it once weather broke and possibly still miss early planting season.  Now it looks like I can start piles in the fall, work them over the winter, have them ready to go and save having to buy compost for spring planting.  


Then there was one.  After screening the finished pile I flipped the younger pile over over on top of it.  Still chunky and the leaves, especially at the bottom had clumped together.  Pile was a little too wet.  Hopefully the flip did it's thing to get some air in the pile and will help dry out some of the wetter stuff in the bottom.  Only have about a month more for this one to work.  This one was started more in Mid-late November to December time.  There's some "finished" material in it, just maybe not as much as the other one.  We shall see.    

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  CapeCoddess on 3/7/2016, 11:56 am

Bee-you-ti-ful!!! I bet it smells wonderful, too.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  jimmy cee on 3/7/2016, 1:59 pm

It all looks good, even that can of

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Kelejan on 3/7/2016, 5:57 pm

Looks beautiful, and ready to use.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 3/7/2016, 11:47 pm


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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  trolleydriver on 3/8/2016, 8:34 am

That looks really good Zmoore. Thanks for sharing the photos.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Zmoore on 4/19/2016, 7:46 am

Well, I finished screening the last of my winter piles.  
All in all the "experiment" was a success.  I can get finished compost through the winter and two piles is about right for what I have garden wise.  It was enough to put about an inch on all my beds for getting ready for planting and I have this pile to use for planting and/or supplementing around plants as they grow i.e. I already have some compost in reserve instead of just starting now.  

P.S.  Started a new pile yesterday Smile


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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 4/19/2016, 11:48 am

Nicely done everyone!  I love the smell of a fresh compost pile!!!  

My first Hot compost pile is mostly done.  I'm actually going to use it as mulch once I finish with this last batch of seedlings I just started.  It's about 80% broken down and the rest is hay which will finish the process on top of the beds.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 4/19/2016, 2:13 pm

A Berkeley pile by April? You are way a head of me!

Congrats, Zmoore!

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  trolleydriver on 4/19/2016, 2:59 pm

Can I compost corrugated cardboard?

The above question probably has been asked and answered many times on this forum. I did as search but I could not get a definitive answer either on the SFG forum or elsewhere on the Interweb. In fact there are people in both camps ... yes and no. I can get plenty of corrugated cardboard but I'm hesitant to use it in the compost bins.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 4/20/2016, 12:01 am

@sanderson wrote:A Berkeley pile by April?  You are way a head of me!

Congrats, Zmoore!
Only got done already because I had to grab the fresh cow manure before they took them to higher pasture!  It shrunk a lot more than usual - cow manure and hay for the most part I guess the hay takes up a lot of "space" being basically a straw and once it breaks down the volume goes with it.  

My next batch will have chipped garden waste and small branches as I have a lot of clean up to do around here after a wet winter!  

My large cold pile from the winter is done, but somehow it hoodwinked me into planting lots of squash in it  Laughing so I'm glad I have this pile ready to go for my SFG beds!

Trolley - I don't know the answer to that but would assume if you chipped or shredded it then it would work fine as a brown.  It's used under wood chips and breaks down over time nicely.  The worms love it.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 4/20/2016, 4:16 am

For my quick, hot compost piles, even paper won't compost.  When a piece dries out I can read what is printed. How ever, leave some on the ground and it's disappearing before you know it.  Shocked  I think worms and fungus do a better job on it than composting.  Wood and wood products (paper, sawdust, cardboard) are high-carbon products.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  jimmy cee on 4/20/2016, 7:15 am

@sanderson wrote:For my quick, hot compost piles, even paper won't compost.  When a piece dries out I can read what is printed.  How ever, leave some on the ground and it's disappearing before you know it.  Shocked  I think worms and fungus do a better job on it than composting.  Wood and wood products (paper, sawdust, cardboard) are high-carbon products.
Material is much better at composting when shredded. It gives microbes much more surface to work on.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Zmoore on 4/20/2016, 8:07 am

@trolleydriver wrote:Can I compost corrugated cardboard?

I suggest shred and soak, but if you have a whole lot that may be a pain/too much trouble.  I've only done little amounts, like a box or two at a time.  I cut it up to smaller chunks and put it in a 5 gal bucket, hit it with the garden hose and let set until nice and soggy (takes awhile, over night works, but it does get a bit "mushy").  Open the pile or toss on a layer as you're building a pile (i.e. don't toss directly on outside as it will dry back out quickly) scoop the bits out of the bucket and sprinkle around.

I suspect amounts of cardboard can be a factor like amount of paper has been for me.  I've used nice shredded paper I scavenge from the office paper shredder hopper.  When I'm putting in my pile at about a gallon at a time and spreading it out in the pile it works great, "disappears" pretty quick.  I was offered a whole garbage bag full from the secretary at work and I jumped at it.  Took it home and dumped onto my stock pile and just kind of "kick spread" it out before covering with other material just to hold it in place and make sure the wind didn't carry it off.  Long story short, there was so much of it that as it got wet it just kind of massed together in clumps.  I think I should have spread it out more and used it as a "sprinkle" on layers rather than a full layer by itself.  
I think the cardboard will be similar.  It's fine spread out, just soak it good because it can resist water/saturation more than paper because it's thicker.  Avoid putting down an entire mass of it, even cut up, because it will tend to clump/congeal back together as a solid mass.

My 2 cents.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  CapeCoddess on 4/20/2016, 12:27 pm

@trolleydriver wrote:Can I compost corrugated cardboard?

The above question probably has been asked and answered many times on this forum. I did as search but I could not get a definitive answer either on the SFG forum or elsewhere on the Interweb. In fact there are people in both camps ... yes and no. I can get plenty of corrugated cardboard but I'm hesitant to use it in the compost bins.
I put whole boxes in my pile, then I can fill it with more donations to the pile, covering with compost from the bottom of the pile each time.  The boxes are gone when I go to use the compost, but mine's a cold pile.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  trolleydriver on 4/20/2016, 12:41 pm

Thanks all for the feedback concerning cardboard. Much appreciated. I will go ahead and use some in moderation. I'm also going to put some on top of the grass then topped with weed barrier where my new SFG box will be located.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  sanderson on 4/20/2016, 5:07 pm

I think worms and fungus do a better job on it than composting.
My statement sounds a little stupid.  "than hot composting, which is mainly bacterial."  Sounds better

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  Scorpio Rising on 4/20/2016, 10:32 pm

I do use boxes, as a brown, which I need, and it has broken down very reliably. Cold pile.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  ralitaco on 4/21/2016, 12:15 am

@Zmoore wrote:  Anyway, below is a picture of the starting operation.
Ok, so I'm late to this thread too, but...
Zmoore, who does your sifter work? Do you just shovel it on and work it through the screen or do you shake it some how?

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

Post  CitizenKate on 4/21/2016, 8:59 am

@jimmy cee wrote:
@sanderson wrote:For my quick, hot compost piles, even paper won't compost.  When a piece dries out I can read what is printed.  How ever, leave some on the ground and it's disappearing before you know it.  Shocked  I think worms and fungus do a better job on it than composting.  Wood and wood products (paper, sawdust, cardboard) are high-carbon products.
Material is much better at composting when shredded. It gives microbes much more surface to work on.
I've been shredding paper shopping bags to go in my (hot) compost bins, and they seem to disappear pretty fast. I have a heavy-duty paper shredder I use just for shredding stuff to go in the compost.

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Re: To Compost or not to Compost that is the question...

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