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Will this work for compost?

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Will this work for compost?

Post  CmcLaws on 1/29/2011, 3:45 pm

This will be my very first garden, I'm so excited. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and want to do the compost just like Mel suggests. All I can find around here is Black Cow Manure, and Mushroom. Since that's only two varieties, I'll need three more. Here's what I was thinking:

20% Black Cow Manure
20% Mushroom
20% Brown Leaves
20% Recycled (ink free) Computer Paper
10% Coffee Grounds, and
10% Mulch (Does this depend on the type of mulch? If so, what should I use?)

I want a bin for each so when I measure it out, it will be as close to perfect as I can get.

Will this formula work, do you think??
-Carrie

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  miinva on 1/29/2011, 6:09 pm

I've read great things about putting coffee grounds in compost piles, so I bet it will work well in your compost mixture. I'm not expert, just wanted to share what I'd read online.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  camprn on 1/29/2011, 6:36 pm

I'm confused. thinking Nothing unusual there Wink
Would you please clarify, are you trying to find alternatives to compost so you can make Mel's Mix for you garden boxes? Or are you asking about what you may add to your compost pile to make your own compost?

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  Furbalsmom on 1/29/2011, 6:58 pm

@CmcLaws wrote:This will be my very first garden, I'm so excited. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and want to do the compost just like Mel suggests. All I can find around here is Black Cow Manure, and Mushroom. Since that's only two varieties, I'll need three more. Here's what I was thinking:

20% Black Cow Manure
20% Mushroom
20% Brown Leaves
20% Recycled (ink free) Computer Paper
10% Coffee Grounds, and
10% Mulch (Does this depend on the type of mulch? If so, what should I use?)

I want a bin for each so when I measure it out, it will be as close to perfect as I can get.

Will this formula work, do you think??
-Carrie

Carrie,

You bought Black Kow and Mushroom compost and those are two good varieties of compost. Are you looking for three more varieties of compost to have five types for your Mel's Mix? Some suggestions might be Composted Chicken Manure, Worm Castings, or plant based compost. It is a good idea to read the ingredients list from the bags of compost. You are looking for a blend of at least five different ingredients. Coffee grounds can also be added, but depending on whose article you read, some suggest no more than 10% of your compost be made of used coffee grounds. Others suggest using the coffee grounds as a top dressing.

The remaining items you are suggesting need to be composted before you add them to your garden.(Composting is the controlled decomposition of organic materials by microorganisms. Compost is partially decomposed organic matter. )

If you use the raw material like leaves, computer paper and mulch to add directly to your beds, they are not going to provide the nutrients you are looking for. In fact, uncomposted or partially composted materials may deplete some of the nutrients in your Mel's Mix, especially Nitrogen.

If you are trying to create a blended compost pile, you will need to add some greens, such as vegetable trimmings from your kitchen, to your pile of brown leaves and shredded computer paper. Check out this particular thread

WHAT IS IN YOUR COMPOST PILE

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  CmcLaws on 1/29/2011, 11:41 pm

@Furbalsmom wrote:
Carrie,

You bought Black Kow and Mushroom compost and those are two good varieties of compost. Are you looking for three more varieties of compost to have five types for your Mel's Mix? Some suggestions might be Composted Chicken Manure, Worm Castings, or plant based compost. It is a good idea to read the ingredients list from the bags of compost. You are looking for a blend of at least five different ingredients. Coffee grounds can also be added, but depending on whose article you read, some suggest no more than 10% of your compost be made of used coffee grounds. Others suggest using the coffee grounds as a top dressing.

The remaining items you are suggesting need to be composted before you add them to your garden.(Composting is the controlled decomposition of organic materials by microorganisms. Compost is partially decomposed organic matter. )

If you use the raw material like leaves, computer paper and mulch to add directly to your beds, they are not going to provide the nutrients you are looking for. In fact, uncomposted or partially composted materials may deplete some of the nutrients in your Mel's Mix, especially Nitrogen.

If you are trying to create a blended compost pile, you will need to add some greens, such as vegetable trimmings from your kitchen, to your pile of brown leaves and shredded computer paper. Check out this particular thread

WHAT IS IN YOUR COMPOST PILE

Are you looking for three more varieties of compost to have five types for your Mel's Mix?
Exactly - I want to have at least 5, good quality composts.

Coffee grounds can also be added, but depending on whose article you read, some suggest no more than 10% of your compost be made of used coffee grounds.
I was going to try to measure out 10% coffee grounds and 10% mulch to make 1/5 of the total compost pile.

need to be composted before you add them to your garden.
I was going to compost each item individually prior to adding them to the peat moss and Vermiculite.

If you are trying to create a blended compost pile, you will need to add some greens, such as vegetable trimmings from your kitchen, to your pile of brown leaves and shredded computer paper.
Do I still have to add 'green' if I'm composting each item individually? (See? I have no idea what I'm doing, lol!)

Also, is there a certain type of mulch to look out for? There are slim pickings around here! And one more thing: I found hen manure/cotton compost. Does that count as two different types of compost, or just one since it comes together? Silly questions that I hope I will laugh at myself for asking later down the line. Very Happy

Thanks for the link - heading over to read it now! And thanks for all of the help - I feel so lost not being able to go to the store and just buy this stuff. I just can't find much around here.

-Carrie

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  CmcLaws on 1/29/2011, 11:45 pm

@camprn wrote:I'm confused. thinking Nothing unusual there Wink
Would you please clarify, are you trying to find alternatives to compost so you can make Mel's Mix for you garden boxes? Or are you asking about what you may add to your compost pile to make your own compost?

I want to make it as close to Mel's mix as possible, but I can only find a couple of types here. So, I was wondering what best to add to Black Kow and Mushroom (and the hen manure/cotton I may be able to get my hands on). The leaves, coffee grounds, etc. were things I was thinking about. Would they all work together well? :?:

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cotton compost

Post  ander217 on 1/30/2011, 8:25 am

I haven't seen the combination hen manure/cotton compost here. We tried a brand of cotton "compost" last year that was full of long stems, bolls, and even cotton. I think it may have robbed our plants of some nitrogen while it continued to decompose. I won't buy it again, but if I did I would sift out the whole plant parts before mixing it with the other ingredients even though there wouldn't be much left. That company apparently did not understand the concept of shredding material before composting it.

Do they grow rice in your area? Our local grain elevator offers free rice hulls which have been composting in a field for several years. They are happy to get rid of them and even load them for us into our pickup. We get the oldest we can find in hopes that any residual agri-chemicals will have leached out with the rain.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  LaFee on 1/30/2011, 11:04 am

You'll need to mix the leaves, paper, coffee grounds, and mulch (and kitchen trimmings..and grass clippings, and and and) together to make one type of compost...they don't compost well on their own, as good compost needs both greens and browns in order to make compost instead of just rotting slime.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  camprn on 1/30/2011, 11:15 am

@LaFee wrote:You'll need to mix the leaves, paper, coffee grounds, and mulch (and kitchen trimmings..and grass clippings, and and and) together to make one type of compost...they don't compost well on their own, as good compost needs both greens and browns in order to make compost instead of just rotting slime.
See this previous thread about composting Composting 101 study

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"Perfect" Compost

Post  Cincinnati on 6/29/2011, 8:01 am

Carrie,

Good garden Compost should be comprised of several organic components mixed together. Each brings organisms and nutrients to the finished result that one item cannot bring. I want to encourage you not to be overly focused on making a "perfect" recipe ratio of ingredients. Mix about 1/3 greens to 2/3 browns. I run my lawn mover over piles of leaves, dried grass clippings, thatching from the lawn, and dead plants in bagging mode. I add two bags of this to one bag of freshly mowed grass clippings (Nothing perfectly exact, just a rough measure). Throw in your kitchen fruit and veggie scraps and those that go bad before you eat them. Coffee grounds are excellent. I get them from my local coffee shops. I use them in every batch. I don't use major components that I don't know how they were grown. ie: Brown leaves if I don't know if they were sprayed with insecticides. My store-bought fruits and veggies are not all organic, but this is not a major component.

CAUTION: I would skip the computer paper and paper of all types as a component. I want nutrients in my compost pile. Just because it will decompose, doesn't mean it's good for your garden plants.

ALSO: Be particular about the mulch. Purchased mulches are often chemically treated or dyed for a particular or uniform ground color. Wood chips, even small ones, take far longer to decompose than items like crushed leaves and grass clippings. As they decompose, I recall they consume Nitrogen out of the soil. This is a reason I don't use wood chips as mulch. If you are purchasing mulch, be careful what you are getting. You have to know from where the mulch was derived.

Mantis sells "Mike McGrath's Book of Compost". It is about $10 and is an excellent and easy read to composting.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  Cincinnati on 6/29/2011, 8:06 am

@ander217 wrote:I haven't seen the combination hen manure/cotton compost here. We tried a brand of cotton "compost" last year that was full of long stems, bolls, and even cotton. I think it may have robbed our plants of some nitrogen while it continued to decompose. I won't buy it again, but if I did I would sift out the whole plant parts before mixing it with the other ingredients even though there wouldn't be much left. That company apparently did not understand the concept of shredding material before composting it.

Do they grow rice in your area? Our local grain elevator offers free rice hulls which have been composting in a field for several years. They are happy to get rid of them and even load them for us into our pickup. We get the oldest we can find in hopes that any residual agri-chemicals will have leached out with the rain.

Cotton growers spray their crop to kill the plants before harvest. Many really bad agri-chemicals don't leach out with rain. This is why I don't compost anything that I am not 100% sure hasn't been chemically treated, including free leaves from the city dumping spot because some home owners and the city spray insecticides on their trees.


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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  Icemaiden on 6/29/2011, 10:14 am

@CmcLaws wrote:This will be my very first garden, I'm so excited. I'm a bit of a perfectionist and want to do the compost just like Mel suggests. All I can find around here is Black Cow Manure, and Mushroom. Since that's only two varieties, I'll need three more. Here's what I was thinking:

20% Black Cow Manure
20% Mushroom
20% Brown Leaves
20% Recycled (ink free) Computer Paper
10% Coffee Grounds, and
10% Mulch (Does this depend on the type of mulch? If so, what should I use?)

I want a bin for each so when I measure it out, it will be as close to perfect as I can get.

Will this formula work, do you think??
-Carrie

Hi Carrie
I think you are a bit confused by all the talk of 5 types of compost and compost-making.
For your Mel's mix it is recommended that you use 5 types of compost, mixed together to make 1/3 of the total MM.

You say you can only find two varieties. If you want to start gardening NOW then you will need to try your best to track down three other sorts that you can buy (or beg). I'm sure you can ask for help on here and someone in your area will tell you how to find more sorts.

If you want to make your own compost (for next year or the year after) then you hunt up all sorts of stuff, like coffee grounds, cut grass, leaves etc etc. You put it in some sort of heap or big bin, turn it over often, and eventually it will breakdown to compost which you can use in your garden. You don't have one bin for coffee-grounds and another for leaves and so on, just one big bin for it all.

I think what you probably need is help finding the extra sorts of compost that are ready to go?

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  dmsandlin on 6/29/2011, 3:42 pm

My father-in-law (who is a chemistry/science teacher, avid gardener, and big organic advocate) contacted the maintanance dept at the local high school and asked about their grass clippings. It seems that the maint dept would dump the clippings in a local field (had been doing it for years) so he was able to go get some free compost. He asked whether they used insecti/pesti/herbicides and they didn't.
He also gets manure (already mixed with bedding for a nice green/brown blend) from the local high school FFA program. The manure/bedding wasnt' quite ready but was well on it's way; he piled it up and it was ready in another month with some turning.
Just some more potential sources for free compost! Very Happy

Also remember that even though they're dark brown, coffee grounds are considered a source of nitrogen (a green).

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  Miss M on 6/30/2011, 3:36 am

@Cincinnati wrote:
@ander217 wrote:I haven't seen the combination hen manure/cotton compost here. We tried a brand of cotton "compost" last year that was full of long stems, bolls, and even cotton. I think it may have robbed our plants of some nitrogen while it continued to decompose. I won't buy it again, but if I did I would sift out the whole plant parts before mixing it with the other ingredients even though there wouldn't be much left. That company apparently did not understand the concept of shredding material before composting it.

Do they grow rice in your area? Our local grain elevator offers free rice hulls which have been composting in a field for several years. They are happy to get rid of them and even load them for us into our pickup. We get the oldest we can find in hopes that any residual agri-chemicals will have leached out with the rain.

Cotton growers spray their crop to kill the plants before harvest. Many really bad agri-chemicals don't leach out with rain. This is why I don't compost anything that I am not 100% sure hasn't been chemically treated, including free leaves from the city dumping spot because some home owners and the city spray insecticides on their trees.
We used Back to Nature Cotton Burr Compost as one of our five. This is what they say:
The USDA and EPA now require that all chemicals used on cotton be
biodegradable within a two week period. An additional safeguard with
cotton grown on the Texas High Plains is that early freezes all but
eliminate the need for chemical defoliation. http://www.backtonaturecompost.com/cbc.html

So even if defoliators were used on the cotton, they have to completely biodegrade within two weeks of application.

They also say that the make-up of cotton burrs is such that they do not tie up nitrogen in the soil (or MM, in our case) as they continue to degrade. The compost I got was pretty chunky, but I didn't know much about compost, and used it anyway. Turns out, it's okay to use as is, though it's more of a slow-release form of nutrients if it is coarse. The fine stuff is completely composted, and has its nutrients all available. Cotton burrs are supposed to be even more nutrient-rich than manure, because cotton feeds heavily, and all the nutrients go to the cotton bolls. When the bolls are harvested, the burrs are still high in nutrients.

All I know is, it's 1/5 of my compost, and my garden has gone crazy! I've harvested my corn, I'm harvesting my watermelons and cantaloupes, my bush beans are into their second round of production, my tomatoes would be literally 8-10 feet tall by now if I had not cut them back, my eggplants are 4' tall and the okra is 5' tall. What a Face

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  NHGardener on 6/30/2011, 12:35 pm

@Cincinnati wrote:ALSO: Be particular about the mulch. Purchased mulches are often chemically treated or dyed for a particular or uniform ground color. Wood chips, even small ones, take far longer to decompose than items like crushed leaves and grass clippings. As they decompose, I recall they consume Nitrogen out of the soil. This is a reason I don't use wood chips as mulch. If you are purchasing mulch, be careful what you are getting. You have to know from where the mulch was derived.

Uh oh. That may be part of why my garden, and this is my first year, isn't particularly thriving. Things are growing, but not exceptionally quickly or robustly. One of the bags of compost I used was a mulch compost. I think this is what it was:

http://www.coastofmaine.com/barks-fundy.shtml

It was a little confusing because it said mulch, but seemed to be a compost material, so I used it. Should I maybe not have used this?

I am really eager to just mix my own compost into the beds in the fall. It's not a finished compost but I keep throwing everything under the sun (that's compostable) on that pile everyday. I think in the fall, I'm just going to spread all of it on the beds and let it sit until next winter. I have a feeling next summer's garden is going to be much more healthy.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  AprilakaCCIL on 6/30/2011, 1:21 pm

What I'm going to do is just make a mixture using several varieties until next year.

By next year my compost bin should be up and going. I for one want to know what's going in my garden.

So far I'm going to use:

Black Kow
Vermiculite
Organic Choice by Miracle-Grow
Black Hen (Only if needed to raise the Ph)
Peat Moss
Black Velvet Mushroom Compost
Worm Castings
Evergreen Top Soil

I plan to have a worm factory soon so I don't have to buy the worm castings.

That's my mixture to start out with. Most items listed above will be eliminated when I start using stuff from my kitchen and yard.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  Kelejan on 6/30/2011, 6:41 pm

Vermiculite is not a compost ingredient, April.

It is an integral part of Mel's Mix. Very Happy

And the peat moss is the second integral ingrediant in Mel's Mix.

Perhaps you do know, if so, then apologies for pointing it out.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  AprilakaCCIL on 6/30/2011, 8:26 pm

LOL I know

I do believe I'll be running back to the store for some Humus though. Very Happy

If my mixture works --it works - if it don't I'll just go completely go bonkers (J/k) Laughing

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  The Cat's Other Mother on 6/30/2011, 9:57 pm

Be aware that the Organic Choice has peat moss in it. I used it in several boxes this year, as part of my blend, but you'll want to cut back on the peat moss to compensate.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  AprilakaCCIL on 6/30/2011, 10:59 pm

@The Cat's Other Mother wrote:Be aware that the Organic Choice has peat moss in it. I used it in several boxes this year, as part of my blend, but you'll want to cut back on the peat moss to compensate.

Good thing you mentioned that...Thank You. flower

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  Furbalsmom on 7/1/2011, 4:39 pm

So far I'm going to use:

Black Kow
Vermiculite
Organic Choice by Miracle-Grow
Black Hen (Only if needed to raise the Ph)
Peat Moss
Black Velvet Mushroom Compost
Worm Castings
Evergreen Top Soil

April, is Evergreen Top Soil a Compost or a Top Soil?

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  AprilakaCCIL on 7/1/2011, 5:19 pm

Top Soil

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  Furbalsmom on 7/2/2011, 12:46 pm

I would not add topsoil to create Mel's Mix.

The recipe is
1/3 vermiculite,
1/3 peat moss (measure after you fluff it, if it is compacted into a bale as you will have about double the listed volumne)
1/3 compost.

Top soil will not have the nutrients your Mel's Mix needs.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  Kelejan on 7/2/2011, 1:00 pm

Hi April. I hope you do not feel despondant Sad at the criticism we are giving you for the makeup of your compost. We only want the best for you and for you to succeed.

But I have a feeling you are welcoming the advice seeing as you ask for it. Very Happy
If you had gone ahead with your origninal list withour asking, then I fear your results would be less than stellar.

What I like about this Forum is that reasons are given for the comments and that is the way that I learn.

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Re: Will this work for compost?

Post  miinva on 7/2/2011, 3:30 pm

I've read a couple of books on composting and they recommend putting top soil in your compost to add micronutrients, etc., so it's great to put on your compost pile as it's cooking, but it's probably less than stellar as a compost component in your MM. That said, I can't find straight mushroom compost, so I use a mushroom soil product and I think it works great.

I have a little container of worms that I'm hoping to expand upon. Smile

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