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Compost

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Compost

Post  sjallred on 9/19/2010, 1:27 pm

brand new to SFG. I got my 4x4 box built, added some plants. Now lets see what happens... If I am using only Mel's mix, why would I need to compost? Would I compost and then add that to the bed? Should I start my compost with a bag of Mix? What should i put in my compost bin to start it off? Lawn clippings, house scraps? manure? [b]

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Re: Compost

Post  Chopper on 9/19/2010, 2:47 pm

There have been quite a few threads on this as you can see if you search compost, but THIS ONEis probably what you are looking for.

You never HAVE to make your own compost, but at the end of each season, you will notice that the mix has settled. Also, the plants you are pulling out take some of the mix with them AND they have used up a lot of the available nutrients. So, you will want to replace those by adding more compost to the square so the next plant has enough food. This could be "store bought". I just went and got half a yard of compost because I could not possibly keep up with the compost needs of my 8 boxes on my own, Although I do have a compost bin of sorts.

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Re: Compost

Post  LaFee on 9/20/2010, 1:22 am

plus, even though MM is very rich, the plants DO take nutrients from it, which can be renewed by adding more compost.

You can also use compost in flower beds, containers, window boxes, or just scattered across the grass...it's a great free resource that keeps an awful lot of stuff out of the landfill. Many communities even provide compost bins for free or a greatly reduced cost because they want you to compost what you can instead of pitching it...where your taxes then have to pay for transport, sorting, and landfilling...so composting serves an awful lot of purpose for an awful lot of people.

There are a couple of great composting threads on this board, with links to some great "how to" websites....and many communities also give free or very inexpensive compost seminars to teach you how.

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Re: Compost

Post  cabinfever on 3/4/2011, 2:39 pm

@sjallred wrote:brand new to SFG. I got my 4x4 box built, added some plants. Now lets see what happens... If I am using only Mel's mix, why would I need to compost? Would I compost and then add that to the bed? Should I start my compost with a bag of Mix? What should i put in my compost bin to start it off? Lawn clippings, house scraps? manure? [b]

I'm in the same boat. I'm a newbie too, and decided (after a lot of research) it's not worth the hassle for me when I can run to the store and buy a bag compost! The idea of playing with my trash just turns me off. I only plan on having two boxes.
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Re: Compost

Post  Furbalsmom on 3/4/2011, 4:12 pm

@Cabinfever wrote: I only plan on having two boxes.

That's what they all say, until the garden starts producing and you realize all the things you like but did not have room for this year Smile
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Re: Compost

Post  LentilSoup on 3/4/2011, 5:27 pm

@Furbalsmom wrote:
@Cabinfever wrote: I only plan on having two boxes.

That's what they all say, until the garden starts producing and you realize all the things you like but did not have room for this year Smile

I'm not sure. I like the IDEA of a compost pile, but I have a very small property.

I don't think I have enough 'brown' available. Many of the nearby trees are oaks, and that's supposed to be a no no for compost piles? And greens too, other than excess food scraps, the only other green I have is grass clippings, but I've been grass-cycling for years and don't want to stop. (but I guess I could collect some grass clippings maybe once a month?)

So it seems that if I want to start a regular compost pile, I"m going to have to buy my browns (straw bales? shredded mulch?) AND some greens too (not sure, alfalfa meal?). Hmm, seems like a lot of bother instead of just buying completed compost.

OTOH, I did have one big successful batch of compost many years ago when I was younger, and my wife recalls it was great stuff. She's encouraging me to go for it. I guess I will, but I think it will be a year to 2 year project to get a small bit of home compost.
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Re: Compost

Post  Odd Duck on 3/4/2011, 5:56 pm

Once you start composting, you start looking at things in different ways. You might be surprised at how much you will find to go in the compost heap. Oak leaves can absolutely be used in the compost heap, they just shouldn't be the only brown in the heap. I've heard and read that no single ingredient should be more than 10% of the heap, ideally. If you start using your veggie/kitchen scraps, each of those can be considered a different ingredient since they each have different nutrients to bring to the recipe. Even a small amount of homemade compost can do good things for your garden, because homemade is usually much better quality than bagged compost (partly because of the variety of different ingredients that go into it).

There are folks that think compost looses a lot of its value once it's bagged and gets less aerobic. Part of the value in compost is the beneficial microbial population, not just the actual ingredients. The only way to get full benefit (by that argument) is to make the compost yourself and use it on site.

If you're really pinched for space, vermicomposting can be done very compactly with a single plastic bin.

All that said, if you can't compost, that's OK. Buy the best quality compost you can to top off your beds with each crop change and every spring and fall. It's the only way to keep your soil quality and fertility up to the rigors of intensive gardening (SFG). Chemical fertilizers not only do nothing for the soil quality, but will eventually destroy the soil quality and slowly poison your soil as unused salts build up in your soil.

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Re: Compost

Post  LentilSoup on 3/4/2011, 6:08 pm

@Odd Duck wrote:Once you start composting, you start looking at things in different ways. You might be surprised at how much you will find to go in the compost heap. Oak leaves can absolutely be used in the compost heap, they just shouldn't be the only brown in the heap. I've heard and read that no single ingredient should be more than 10% of the heap, ideally.

Well, thanks for the encouraging words Odd Duck! I will go for it! I guess the worst that happens is that it will take a long time to get some compost. But a "long time" is all relative eh?
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Re: Compost

Post  Megan on 3/4/2011, 8:44 pm

It's all relative. I bought a flat-back bucket (to save space) last year and used it for my "temporary compost pail". It lived in my kitchen, or the hall, and got all the odd veggie scraps from prep work and stray bits of cardboard, etc....and also followed me out into the yard as well. (It just becomes a habit after a while.) Then carry out and dump on the main pile. It never smelled or caused a problem, and if something was particularly juicy, a quick rinse takes care of that.
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