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composting questions

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composting questions

Post  dstubbs on 5/16/2010, 6:58 am

Hi,

I'm thinking about trying to make my own compost. I have very little outdoor space, so I'm thinking of getting either a compact drum composter (eg - Envirocycle) or a vermicomposter (eg- The Worm Factory). Anyone have any thoughts on either of those? They're both a bit pricey so I'll have to save up for a while. This would probably have to be on my roof (where my SFG is!). If I get a worm composter, I suppose I'll have to bring the poor fellows inside over the winter. I know you can worm compost in a roughneck note (cheaper!), but I'm a bit squeamish and I want to interact as little as possible with the critters. I'm currently using store bought compost mixed from the few different sources I can find locally for my Mel's mix: mixed farm manures, acquaculture compost, sheep manure, and coffee grinds from Starbucks. I haven't gotten as far as harvesting anything, so I haven't had to add new compost yet after setting up my SFG.

If I do make my own compost using one of the above methods, is it ok to put weeds like dandelions from the yard into it? I don't use anything chemical on my lawn, but I'm worried that weed seeds might start sprouting up in my SFG if I do that.

All advice appreciated as I'm new and clueless!
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Re: composting questions

Post  trustingHim on 5/16/2010, 9:11 am

I have been using an old trashcan that I drilled holes in for aeration. I found several videos on youtube that show how to construct a cheap compost bin. It's not as easy as a tumbling model, but the price was right. I already had an extra large trashcan around the house, so it was free!

Weeds are alright to add as long as they are not flowering. You don't want them to go to seed. The earlier you can catch them, the safer they will be in the composter.

Some sources say that the heat of the composting will kill the seeds, but I'd rather avoid the possibility.

I started my compost bin in late winter and my first batch is almost ready! Woo Hoo!
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Re: composting questions

Post  dstubbs on 5/16/2010, 11:53 am

How do you know when the compost is ready?
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Re: composting questions

Post  Lavender Debs on 5/16/2010, 12:22 pm

I have two drum composters that I was given because they were to small for the organization that had them before me. It was a wildlife rehabilitation place and they had lots of deer poop when they came to the city. I have added EVERYTHING from my yard to them. (except dog poop and rose canes, so I guess it is almost everything). I have composted dandelion and have not had that in the garden. But, I do get plenty of potatoes and the occasional chickweed. Yesterday I even had a tomato. I put worms into mine when I come across them while weeding. They rapidly multiply. I have had mine for two years now and in zone 7 have never brought them inside or protected them in any way. The worms have always survived.

The compost seems to be ready when there is more black muck (not as icky as muck sounds, but it is different from dirt) then clippings and scraps. I used my first batch in spring after a summer of lawn clippings and a winter of kitchen scraps. By late February it had a neutral scent (another sign of ripe compost) and was alive with worms (I probably only added 10 or so). The last three boxes I have filled have bagged compost (the standard 5 different kinds) and get as many weeds as the first box (not really that many) but those weeds are not as interesting as the homegrown. I will be using my own compost to refresh the boxes as I replant for succession planting and probably as a cover for winter if I have enough. Something I have noticed about bagged compost is that it is full of wood shavings. Homegrown is not.

One bonus that I have not used yet is the container of compost tea on the bottom of the bin. But I will try it soon.

Deborah ....who really doesn't know enough about this subject and hopes an "expert" will chime in
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