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New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  plantoid on 12/1/2017, 3:12 pm

Perhaps treat buffalo muck as steer muck though from the bull it might be stronger & more acidic .


Re filling the barrel in one go with a compostable mixture ,  I did that but found it sweated so much the browns soaked up all the released water & made it far too heavy for me to rotate by hand .
Feeding it a bit every day allowed the excess moisture to evaporate & help keep weight down .
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  sanderson on 12/1/2017, 3:48 pm

Buffalo would be great, like cow manure. Since they ruminate, or predigest, many of the seeds are destroyed.

There are several charts on the internet showing the C:N ratios of various materials. You can also search for the C:N value of a rare or specific material. I looked at different ones and jotted down the ones I use or might use. Then, if I had 2 that were very close in values, I found the one on the Klickitat calculator that matched best. That way, I came down to 4 entries, the maximum the calculator can handle.

How much room do you have to use for all of the composting activities? Do you have room to make a pile of buffalo chips and leaves? You can make a pile, wet it, cover with a tarp against rain and snow and let nature (microorganisms and earthworms) do their magic. When late spring arrives, you should have some decent stuff at the bottom of the pile. Any intact material at the top without worms can be used in the tumbler.

Can you list all of ingredient you have available for composting and the relative amounts available using a 5-gallon bucket as the measure. Like: unlimited dry buffalo chips, 20 buckets of whole leaves or 5 gallons or mowed leaves, 4 gallons of used coffee grounds, 2 gallons of kitchen waste, etc.

PS: I think that aged chips can be used as one of the five types of compost. What say others??

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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/1/2017, 7:20 pm

What role do worms play in an outdoor SFG since MM is already awesome? They have the benefit of further aerating the MM and helping it hold moisture (due to the body slime they leave behind). They continue the transformation of organic matter into forms of nutrition that are available to the plants. They help create good soil texture - my observations of the change in MM consistency under straw mulch suggests that this benefit carries over even though MM is soil-less. They also help clean up dead leaves and other debris that fall into the bed.

If you put your Jora in the garage, you will want to put some trays or something under it to catch the leachate that drips out of the tumbler. (It's not compost tea, because it's not coming from finished compost -- but it is fine to put on your MM/garden.)

Rabbit manure - you can use it directly (I did), but I'd advise against doing so indoors as you won't have an ecosystem that includes animals like worms helping to distribute the nutrition, and you don't have rain slowly washing it in if you're irrigating from the bottom. I think having it crumbled/tumbled and composted is a better way to go with your indoor container plan.

Spent grain - a "green" with a 15:1 C:N ratio: http://uaf.edu/files/ces/publications-db/catalog/anr/HGA-01026.pdf

Buffalo manure - I don't think this should be used without hot composting first because of the potential of undigested weed seeds. (Presuming the buffalo are out grazing like horses.) I do not believe aging alone will kill the weed seeds. Because it is a manure, it is a "green." The C:N ratio probably closer to dairy cow manure (a grass/hay/cornstalk diet?) than steer manure (corn/grain/soy-fed?) Aging allows some of the nitrogen, the "green", to evaporate, but the loss of moisture may be beneficial. I'm seeing a range of values for cow manure, all the way from 13:1 to 25:1. I'm guessing it varies with diet (lots of green grass vs mostly hay) and aging.

Regarding five types of compost, I found something interesting at the end of the Square Foot Gardening Answer Book. On p179 Mel says, regarding people thinking they followed the instructions but being unsuccessful,
" 'I got five kinds of manure from pig, cow, horse, rabbit, and steer. Is that enough?' They are all manures - that's one source but a good one."
My interpretation is that manure, apparently, is intended to only count as one of the five kinds of compost, no matter what animal(s) it is from (though obviously more diversity in the MM is better.)
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  saganco on 12/2/2017, 10:27 am

You guys are SOOOO helpful!  I'm going to wrap my brain around this completely and get started next weekend on it!  LOVE the "spent grain" link Beetles!  I was struggling with whether it was a green or a brown, so that was very helpful.

Beetles - Regarding worms in the MM - remember that I am using grow bags sitting on damp sand (self wicking container gardening) - a slight modification of the standard SFG.  So given that tidbit, would worms be ok, or will they be unhappy "in prison"?

I had planned on "hot composting" buffalo poo if I can get it.  I'm also adding the rabbit poo into the composter so that all the hay/straw that is in there with it will get processed correctly.

Because I want to get my MM made up sooner rather than later, I'm going to go ahead and try the "full load from the start" Plantoid.  I know it might be harder to work with, but I'd like to get a full batch from both sides of the composter done as fast as possible so I can get this show on the road!

Sanderson - even if I were to pile up the buffalo chips, I doubt very seriously that we'd have enough worms to matter.  We are in a high altitude desert where it's very arid, and this property has nothing but various types of pine trees on it.  So I doubt that many earthworms frequent this piece of land.  I'll list (as best I can) what I have to work with for the composting using a 5-gallon bucket as the measure:

1.  Likely unlimited dry (or not) buffalo chips
2.  Almost unlimited buckets of whole leaves (they're in huge outdoor bags, and a bunch of them).  I am getting a chipper shredder so I can reduce the volume
3.  Used coffee grounds - around 3 buckets?
4.  1 bucket of kitchen waste
5.  Likely unlimited spent grains from brewery
6.  Unlimited pine needles I can shred
7.  Also, I can go get some wood pellets if needed

Thanks everyone - this is so exciting, and I'm so thankful for such great help!
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  sanderson on 12/2/2017, 3:22 pm

@saganco wrote: 1.  Likely unlimited dry (or not) buffalo chips
2.  Almost unlimited buckets of whole leaves (they're in huge outdoor bags, and a bunch of them).  I am getting a chipper shredder so I can reduce the volume
3.  Used coffee grounds - around 3 buckets?
4.  1 bucket of kitchen waste
5.  Likely unlimited spent grains from brewery
6.  Unlimited pine needles I can shred
7.  Also, I can go get some wood pellets if needed
According to the Klickitat County calculator, this is what you can start with.  You need to start playing around with it and get going.

1.  Four (4) gallons of buffalo chips
3 & 5.  Four (4) gallons of spent coffee grounds and/or brewery waste
4.  Four (4) gallons of kitchen scraps
2.  Twenty-four (24) gallons of mowed leaves

If you have unlimited leaves, you don't need pine needles or wood pellets.  Keep it simple as a beginner.  I researched using wood pellets for the tumbler, even bought 2 bags and, upon further research, decided against them.  Wood takes a long time to compost.  I bought a small shredder/chipper and it ground leaves, alfalfa hay and straw to such fine pieces that there was dust everywhere, even into my neighbor's yard.


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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/2/2017, 4:38 pm

@saganco wrote:Beetles - Regarding worms in the MM - remember that I am using grow bags sitting on damp sand (self wicking container gardening) - a slight modification of the standard SFG.  So given that tidbit, would worms be ok, or will they be unhappy "in prison"?
My comments were in response to your question of "I am curious thought what role the worms play with such rich and nutritious MM that we're working with.  Plus most of the boxes are rather shallow, so I'm a bit stumped as to the true value of the worms."

For indoor growing I wouldn't worry about worms. And if you still want them, I would recommend getting everything else going before trying to add worms to your equation. Also, my comments are more about burrowing earthworms, rather than redworms (composting worms; more of a surface dweller.) I have earthworms in my SFG - I had cardboard under my beds, but it has rotted away so that the worms can climb both over the raised bed walls, or up from underneath - or the other direction when/if they want to leave. I sometimes find what I think are redworms on my plants when I harvest them. For some reason my cabbage, and sometimes my lettuce, has them between the leaves. They didn't seem to be eating the leaves, so I don't know if they were lost, or what.
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  saganco on 12/2/2017, 10:43 pm

Wow Sanderson - you did great with that!  I kept fiddling around with different things in that calculator, and couldn't seem to get the numbers right.  I am finally understanding them better (I'm slow, it goes well with old!), so thanks for that example that helped me figure things out.  I just found out from hubby that we have a local gal who has 200 chickens - so who needs buffalo that's harder to mess with than chicken poo!  So now to recalculate for another species - more practice...  What would you suspect the difference in fresh vs aged to be for chicken poo?

Any chance someone knows how to calculate the AGED rabbit poo/bedding?  The calculator seems to be geared for fresher manure with much more moisture in it...  I am assuming that since the rabbit poo/bedding didn't have a smell, that it's aged to the point of being considered a carbon now, but I can't seem to find the C:N for aged bunny bombs.

Beetles - thank you for confirming my suspicion on the worms.  I can imagine that at some point, there would actually be too many worms in one grow pot anyway.  Plus there's that whole Houdini thing they like to do if they don't like the conditions, and I didn't really want them crawling across the sunroom floor to step on - ewwww!
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Veggie Scraps

Post  saganco on 12/4/2017, 10:56 am

So when calculating the ratios, do I figure the veggie scraps BEFORE or AFTER I chop them up really small in the cuisinart?  I've seen folks on youtube putting in HUGE pieces of food, then getting frustrated at how long it takes to make good compost.  I have a 3 gallon bucket I got from the local organic store - all whole veggies that must be chopped up...

So, here's what I've decided on for my initial "hot compost" in my Jora JK125 (aka Caddi) figured for 3 gallon buckets as that's what I can get free from the grocery store:

Veggie scraps - 1 bucket
Coffee Grounds - 2 buckets
Aged rabbit poo and bedding - 1 bucket
Leaves (loose and dry) - 20 buckets
Pine needles (or shredded cardboard) - 1 bucket

This gives approximately a 27.49:1 ratio which in theory, should give me a nice hot mix in the tumbler.  Thoughts?
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  sanderson on 12/4/2017, 2:01 pm

Go for it.

No need for a Cuisinart. Just 1-2" cubes with a knife and cutting board.

Cardboard - it may require more time than you have. ?? Anyone else?

Oh, If you want to know if there are any worms in the area, lay some card board down where it can be kept moist and monitored.

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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  trolleydriver on 12/4/2017, 3:42 pm

@sanderson wrote:Go for it.

No need for a Cuisinart.  Just 1-2" cubes with a knife and cutting board.
...
Or use a machete like I sometimes do and try not to cut off any fingers. Actually, things like banana skins I don't even bother to chop up. I use the machete mostly for garden waste, such as cutting up large plants (e.g., long leaves from lilies, spoiled cabbage heads, etc.) before putting them in the compost bin.

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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/4/2017, 5:45 pm

@saganco wrote:So when calculating the ratios, do I figure the veggie scraps BEFORE or AFTER I chop them up really small in the cuisinart?
If the veggies are whole, then I vote for measuring after. I agree with Sanderson, I feel 'scraps' refers to 1-2" pieces. For better or worse, I just put a whole (rotting) baby watermelon in my tumbler. Twisted Evil
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  saganco on 12/4/2017, 7:49 pm

Thanks Trolley, Sanderson, and Beetles!  So the proposed list and amount of stuff to put in (or multiples thereof anyway) sounds like a good quick compost to you guys?  I actually figured that the cuisinart would be faster for a bucket than hand chopping - time is not my friend these days!
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/4/2017, 8:16 pm

I don't have enough experience to say, but I'll cross my fingers for you: I hope that compost cooks up fast! happy smile
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Cardboard and food question

Post  saganco on 12/11/2017, 9:39 pm

Hi all.  Have been collecting my goodies to go into my Jora JK125 tumbling composter (brand new!!).  My questions at this time are:

1.  If you guys use cardboard, do you see the need to shred it, or is getting it wet and letting it kind of fall apart good enough?

2.  If you do the soaking method, do you put it into the composter wet or let it dry out again?

3.  Food scraps...  Is there much benefit in using food scraps vs the simpler and faster "brewery waste" (spent grains)?  Does the food actually impart something to the compost other than just a nitrogen source (as the spent grains are)?

Thanks in advance - Sharon
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  sanderson on 12/11/2017, 10:04 pm

Mel recommends 5 sources of compost for a balance blend of nutrients. Therefore, if making compost, 5 sources of ingredients should be used. For example: Spent grains from the brewing industry. Winery wastes from the wine industry. Spent veggies and fruits from the food industry (including kitchen wastes or culls from farmers, your kitchen or the store). Manures from animal husbandry industry. Kelp, shrimp, lobster or crab shells from the sea industries. Spent coffee grounds from the coffee industry. Leaves from the tree. Grass from the lawn. Alfalfa hay or bedding straw from the feed store. Paper or cardboard from the wood mill industry. Etc.

I don't use wood products in my fast compost piles. Takes too long to compost. So I will let others answer your cardboard questions. Very Happy


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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  saganco on 12/11/2017, 10:14 pm

Thanks Sanderson.  I "think" I'm doing this logically...  I will be filling the composter either tomorrow or Wednesday with: coffee grounds, veggie scraps, rabbit poo, dried leaves, and cardboard as needed.  It's my understanding from the internet that cardboard (when shredded), will break down in only days.  I believe after reading more that I will get a paper shredder and shred rather than tearing wet cardboard though.
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  plantoid on 12/12/2017, 6:43 pm

@saganco wrote:Hi all.  Have been collecting my goodies to go into my Jora JK125 tumbling composter (brand new!!).  My questions at this time are:

1.  If you guys use cardboard, do you see the need to shred it, or is getting it wet and letting it kind of fall apart good enough?

2.  If you do the soaking method, do you put it into the composter wet or let it dry out again?

3.  Food scraps...  Is there much benefit in using food scraps vs the simpler and faster "brewery waste" (spent grains)?  Does the food actually impart something to the compost other than just a nitrogen source (as the spent grains are)?

Thanks in advance - Sharon


  I think that to much fat  will lend to turning things sour
 I seem to recall that cooked food should be minimal as there is little or no bacterial in it . so it has to decay first which can produce unwanted toxins
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Re: New Composter - Need Help Filling Correctly

Post  saganco on 12/12/2017, 9:10 pm

Thanks Plantoid - not sure I understand why you mentioned fat though.  It's my understanding that there is no fat in "spent grains/brewery waste".  If I have misunderstood, please let me know...
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