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Homemade Compost

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Homemade Compost

Post  sherryeo on 4/7/2011, 8:06 pm

I joined the forum a few days ago and have been enjoying it tremendously. I thought I'd post my first request for advice here in the regional forum.

I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where our soil can be host to some unpleasant veggie diseases. I'd like to do compost using kitchen scraps, leaves, coffee grounds, egg shells, etc. When reading up on composting, I see that it's usually recommended to either toss some dirt into the pile to start it "percolating" or add some commercially made "compost starter."

The last thing I want to do is add our own natural soil to the compost that will eventually make it into my sfg - after going to all the expense of mixing up the Mel's Mix to keep from using our soil. One of the main reasons I liked the sfg technique is the use of the Mel's Mix to avert those soil born diseases that could kill my veggies.

Is it necessary to add dirt or compost starter? Does anybody have any opinions about compost starter? I do want to try to keep things "organic." Thanks much for any advice.
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Homemade Compost

Post  barmstr on 4/7/2011, 10:12 pm

I had to use compost starter and still do. No problem. Use Mel's mix instead of your dirt from the earth. Hope this helps,
Bruce
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  Blackrose on 4/7/2011, 10:33 pm

From what I've read, you can add some manure to get things heating up in your compost pile.
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  Old Hippie on 4/7/2011, 10:59 pm

Grass clippings work really well, but you can also get a cheap bag of alfalfa pellets at the pet food store and add those. They will get it percolating really quick.


Gwynn
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  boffer on 4/7/2011, 11:00 pm

Pee on it.
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  camprn on 4/7/2011, 11:00 pm

Sprinkled dried blood every few layers really gets my compost pile hot quickly.
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  kerriejo1961 on 4/7/2011, 11:44 pm

Dang. I thought I was doing ok. I have leaves, kitchen scraps, grass, and a dead plant dumped in with its potting soil and all. My composter is a trash can that I've drilled holes in for air flow. I add whatever matter I have for it that day, moisten it occasionally, strap down the lid with stretch cords and roll that puppy around in the yard and set it back up. Is there something more I need to add to it or do? Today I noticed when I opened it to add some dried grass that there was warmth in the can.... what do you think?
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Homemade Compost

Post  sherryeo on 4/7/2011, 11:45 pm

Thanks for all of the suggestions, guys! I really appreciate it and will try to figure out what will work best for me.

barmstr - I'm sure Mel's Mix will work great, but it's a bit expensive! Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound, I guess. I may well have a bit of the mix left over after filling my 2 boxes.

Blackrose - Guess I need to get over the squeamish feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think of my gorgeous veggies sitting in manure, eh?

Gwynn - I really like the "cheap" part of the alfalfa pellets idea - also sounds pretty organic.

boffer - Not on a bet! But thanks for your generosity in offering advice!

camprn - Dried blood is a bit scarce around my house since I gave up my serial-killer ways a few years back - oh! Is that something you can buy in a garden center? Blood meal? I've used that a couple of times in the past, I think.
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  kerriejo1961 on 4/7/2011, 11:46 pm

And boffer... Ewwww!!!... :scratch:
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  boffer on 4/7/2011, 11:59 pm

Sorry, I was in a hurry. Human urine is a catalyst known to increase decomposition rates. Hey, it's free!
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  kerriejo1961 on 4/8/2011, 12:02 am

Are you serious or pulling our legs??? :?:
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Homemade Compost

Post  sherryeo on 4/8/2011, 12:09 am

Yea, boffer, I have a brother-in-law and his wife who do that - well, I think the guys in the family do it. But I'm afraid that my ability to enjoy eating my veggies would decrease in direct proportion to the increased decomposition rates provided by the "catalyst."

But I have heard that it's a legit thing to do - actually my in-laws do that to try to chase the deer away, too.
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  kerriejo1961 on 4/8/2011, 12:18 am

Oh Shocked
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  CarolynPhillips on 4/8/2011, 12:18 am

Cotton Seed Meal is high in nitro (6-1-1) and will get the compost heated up if you can't get any green stuff or manures. If you are looking for more micro organisms, you can buy some commercial bagged compost of different sorts=brands.
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  CarolynPhillips on 4/8/2011, 12:21 am

or you can go to the back woods somewhere===that has never seen a veggie plant, rake back the top layer of leaves and get a few buckets of composted clean leaf compost ==thats full of micro organisms
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  acara on 4/8/2011, 7:27 am

camprn - Dried blood is a bit scarce around my house since I gave up my serial-killer ways a few years back - oh! Is that something you can buy in a garden center?



Thats T-Shirt worthy for sure
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  quiltbea on 4/8/2011, 11:00 am

Soybean meal from the feed store also has lots of nitrogen for your compost pile.

Ratio is important, browns to greens. You need lots more browns than greens in your compost pile or you'll get a smelly, rotting pile.

Whenever you add a bucket of kitchen scraps to the compost, add a minimum of 10 buckets of browns, like straw, dried grasses, brown leaves.
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  sarah in the garden on 4/8/2011, 11:32 am

CarolynPhillips wrote:or you can go to the back woods somewhere===that has never seen a veggie plant, rake back the top layer of leaves and get a few buckets of composted clean leaf compost ==thats full of micro organisms

Lots of woods by my house, I actually did this. Find a group of trees or shrubs and there will be many years worth of leaves piled up over the earth. The bottom layers were already mostly decomp'ed and perfect to add.

I also made the mistake of buying some less expensive cow manure for my MM....less expensive means less composted Sad
I added the not fully composted manure to my bin to help move things along, since I can't use it in my mix.

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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  elliephant on 4/8/2011, 1:57 pm

boffer wrote:Pee on it.

Hmmm...I'll likely be potty training a little boy this summer...

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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  myhouseofBOYS on 4/8/2011, 1:59 pm

quiltbea wrote:Soybean meal from the feed store also has lots of nitrogen for your compost pile.

Ratio is important, browns to greens. You need lots more browns than greens in your compost pile or you'll get a smelly, rotting pile.

Whenever you add a bucket of kitchen scraps to the compost, add a minimum of 10 buckets of browns, like straw, dried grasses, brown leaves.

See this is why I never got anywhere with composting. We have 10 times the green waste than we do brown waste. How do people have such large quantities of grass and stuff w/o buying it or do they?

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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  sarah in the garden on 4/8/2011, 2:45 pm

I personally don't have lots of browns, I go get 'em.

There are a couple of wooded lots on my street. My daughter and I grab trash bags, fill them with leaves and carry them back home. We also walk down to the end of the street, there is a trail into the woods behind our neighborhood. I have also been known to go through the yard waste piles my neighbors put by the street. The more trees a yard has, the more leaves they rake up and try to get rid of!

You could also call some landscape companies. The larger ones might bag and sell theirs, but a smaller, one or two man operation might just be kind enough to give you grass clippings in exchange for some word of mouth advertising? I bring trash bags in the back of my car when I take my daughter anywhere. There are lots of places we go where we can just take our browns.

If you live in a city, I suppose you would have to be even more creative. Good luck!
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  quiltbea on 4/8/2011, 3:12 pm

Let fresh-cut grasses (a green) dry in the sun and when they turn brown, they are a brown for the compost.
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  sarah in the garden on 4/8/2011, 3:23 pm

quiltbea wrote:Let fresh-cut grasses (a green) dry in the sun and when they turn brown, they are a brown for the compost.

Exactly what she said. A lot of my browns are shredded paper, usually toilet paper and paper towels rolls. We go through a lot in my house. After they go through the shredder they are perfect for the compost bin. I have read some people use shredded newspaper, and others say no paper with inks - maybe newspaper ink is different than regular printer ink? Just to be safe, I don't put any paper that has ink on it. But I save everything, and will even cut away half a page if it can go into the shredder for the compost bin.

A breakdown of browns and greens.
http://www.composting101.com/c-n-ratio.html
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Re: Homemade Compost

Post  quiltbea on 4/8/2011, 3:29 pm

Re: newspaper. Torn up or shredded newpaper is fine. These days they use vegetable dyes to make the inks. Just don't use the shiny pages from magazines (they use chemically-based inks) and the colored sale inserts from the regular newspaper are questionable in large numbers.
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Homemade Compost

Post  sherryeo on 4/8/2011, 4:06 pm

Wow! Lots of great tips here, ya'll! I'm taking notes, for sure.

CarolynPhillips - I remember, as a child, going with my parents out into the woods to look for "leaf mold." We'd dig down under the top layer of leaves to find the good stuff. They always said it was as good as gold. I can actually remember how it felt that day - cool under the canopy of trees and there was this pleasant earthy smell to the leaf compost. Thanks for the fond memory, as well as the tip. "Leaf mold" is terrific for plants and I'd like to have a ready supply of it - hmm, I'll try to think of a friend or family who lives near a wooded area.

We do have oak leaves from water oaks that we can use. I've heard you have to be careful not to use too much oak leaves, though - I think something to do with the acidity or something? Not sure.

How great is this to just be able to ask for help and so many kind folks offer their advice!
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