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Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

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Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  jerzyjen on 3/21/2010, 11:14 pm

Ok, so I contacted a local alpaca farmer in my town and he offered to let me have some manure. We ended up talking and got a chance to learn a bit about these animals, so went for a bit of poop and got a bit of an education.

Anyways, so let me just double check my thoughts, cause i thought i was doing my compost pile right before and i clearly was not.

So... the bottom couple inches is my failed compost. Its a combo of leaves, kitchen scraps (that did decompose over the course of almost a year), dirt and probably a little grass clippings. Then I added a layer of leaves, a layer of dead pine needles, then today added a thick layer of fairly fresh alpaca manure.



Something I didn't really expect to be adding to my pile came with the manure


So now what? Layer more leaves and grass clippings? Let the new wormies do their job? Any thoughts are much appreciated.

Heres a couple pics of our new friends.


This baby was just born a few days ago - it was totally adorable.


Softest fleece I ever felt. The big ones are too shy to be pet but they were very curious about us.

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  Kabaju42 on 3/21/2010, 11:17 pm

That is so cute, I love it.

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  choksaw on 3/22/2010, 12:10 am

the worms can be very benificial to your compost pile they will help decompose the materials faster and because theres a huge supply of food they will probably stick around for a while and invite some friends over maybe even have children of thier own to help out with the work load check this site out its very imformative on the home composting process
http://www.composting101.com/


and btw did the owner tell you that alpackas (how ever its spelled) like to spit if you surprise or aggrivate them theres a scene at the end of the movie "dave all mighty" i think it is where they show them spitting

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Quick Compost

Post  WardinWake on 3/22/2010, 5:55 am

Jen:

On page 93 of Mel's book, "ALL NEW Square Foot Gardening" is a formula for quick compost.

Keep everything moist, make a big pile, and keep turning it.

Follow the 4 M's, Mix, Mash, Moisten, Move.

God Bless, Ward.

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Pine needles

Post  kghouston05 on 3/22/2010, 8:42 am

FYI, in my limited experience, pine needles take forever to compost. You're better off with leaves.

Love the pictures though!

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/22/2010, 9:51 am

You are still young enough to do this.

1. Get a short handle, 4 tine compost fork (they might be called a manure fork) it has a short handle and a D handle at the end.

2. Dig in. Start forking the pile from where it is at; to where it will go. Make an effort to get the stuff that is on the outside of the pile to the inside of the pile. If it seems too dry when you are done, turn the hose on it. If it seems to wet, cover it with an old square of plywood, a window you have recovered from an old building or a garbage can lid. You can use plastic but it has to be all tucked in to keep it from flapping in the breeze which does not give the pile good circulation.

3. Repeat the process every 2 to 4 weeks. (Did I mention put away the fork so you know where it is next time you need to do the job?)

Basically what you are doing is making a good environment for the worms and bugs who make the compost. They will not hang around the edges, just in the middle where they are safe from Mr. Robin and Ms. Mole. I could get my husband or sons to turn the pile for me during fishing season, but otherwise it was “my garden-my job”.

Even if the pine needles don't want to break down that is just fine. As you turn the pile they will do for your compost what vermiculite does for Mel's mix. They keep it crumbly or frighable (sp?) as my well educated gardening friends like to say.

The moisture level is for the worms. They will not thrive in slop and they will not squiggle through a desert waste land.

What worked best for me was keeping a balance between green manure and brown. Brown is not just poo. It is your pine needles, dry leaves, straw and other bedding. (If you have a choice choose poo that has been mixed with straw rather than sawdust or flakes, straw makes a higher nitrogen compost) Green manure is grass clippings, kitchen scraps and weeds from the garden. Green manure is like worm snack food. Brown is like a sit down dinner. They need both.

Does that help or TMI?

Deborah .....who has come to love her little bins in her old age.

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  jerzyjen on 3/22/2010, 10:37 am

All good stuff thank you everyone for your advice. So now that I have my compost pile "lasagna" i need to mix it all up. When I add small amounts of kitchen scraps every other day, do I dig a spot out and bury it in or just throw it on top and cover with a few leaves? I don't want to upset my new friends.

I'm really trying to give this pile a try without having to drop a hundred or two on those fancy turning bins that makes life easy. Its really tempting, but I'm trying to do my best for the environment and my budget!

Oh the alpacas from what i heard will spit, but not usually at people. They are pretty shy and its hard to get near enough to them to get spit on. The farmer said in a few more days that baby will probably be too fast for him to catch!

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/22/2010, 11:00 am

@jerzyjen wrote:snip.... So now that I have my compost pile "lasagna" i need to mix it all up. When I add small amounts of kitchen scraps every other day, do I dig a spot out and bury it in or just throw it on top and cover with a few leaves? I don't want to upset my new friends.

I'm really trying to give this pile a try without having to drop a hundred or two on those fancy turning bins that makes life easy....


I don't know how close your neighbors are. I just toss my scraps on top and work them in on "turn the compost day"

My bins were a gift to me. I had no idea they were so expensive until just a few weeks ago when I saw them on the Territorial Seed web page. I remember thinking that they couldn't cost THAT much but a web search revealed that TTS price was on the low side. I am thankful. I would still be forking compost if I had to pay for them myself. The group I got them from was going to throw them away because they were too small for all the animal litter they had to deal with.

Deborah ....sometimes you get a gift that is worth so much more then you might think.

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  jerzyjen on 3/22/2010, 11:15 am

Thanks Deborah. No neighbor issues, my brother is the closest neighbor and his property line is about 40' from my pile, the house is about 100'. They didnt even care that I brought home a trailer load of manure which is now in a seperate pile way in the back of my property for future use. My house, backyard and garden are pretty tiny, but i've got 3 acres of land for all my crazy schemes!

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  camprn on 3/22/2010, 11:39 am

From another thread in the forum. Please click on the link. http://www.composting101.com/
and remember, Compost Happens!

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  Lavender Debs on 3/22/2010, 12:03 pm

@camprn wrote:snip..... Compost Happens!

HA! I used to think so Cam....even had a hat that said so, but if you want it in a timely manner before all the good stuff leaches out, it is a whole lotta work.

Deborah ....wonders what happened to the hat

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Fancy turning bins...

Post  kghouston05 on 3/22/2010, 12:54 pm

@jerzyjen wrote:I'm really trying to give this pile a try without having to drop a hundred or two on those fancy turning bins that makes life easy. Its really tempting, but I'm trying to do my best for the environment and my budget!

You definitely don't need one of those. My pile is doing great. It only requires a pitchfork and about 15 minutes every Saturday.

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  camprn on 3/22/2010, 2:49 pm

@kghouston05 wrote:
@jerzyjen wrote:I'm really trying to give this pile a try without having to drop a hundred or two on those fancy turning bins that makes life easy. Its really tempting, but I'm trying to do my best for the environment and my budget!

You definitely don't need one of those. My pile is doing great. It only requires a pitchfork and about 15 minutes every Saturday.
Mine too, but I am going to add some pallets for sides.

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  scotch827 on 3/22/2010, 2:55 pm

I use 2 compost bins that Smith and Hawkin sold. It uses 3 bottomless tiers. When you want to flip your pile you take off the top tier and shovel into it. I like it because it looks tidy. You could build something cheaper if your handy . If I turn it once or twice a week. I usually get compost in about 6 weeks. I have a hot pile that I let finish and a pile I add too. Once the hot pile cools down and stays cool, I sift it. I throw the stuff that wouldn’t sift into my holding pile and start the process over again. I collect coffee grounds at work, I save leaves from fall and add grass clippings when needed. I add manure at the end of summer so it has time to compost before using it in the spring. If you just make a big compost pile you will get compost, it just takes longer. Here is a link to a similar bin at Amazon.
http://www.amazon.com/Scotts-100164-Miracle-Gro-Organic-Compost/dp/B001RUMDCK/ref=sr_1_20?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1269282368&sr=8-20
Scott

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  nancy on 3/22/2010, 2:58 pm

Does anyone else have the "Earth Machine"? I love mine! I don't turn it nearly as often as I should. Now that it's getting slightly warmer, I bring home coffee grounds from work. They help raise the internal temperature of the bin, which makes everything decompose faster. It also adds nitrogen. Starbucks has a "Grounds to Gardens" program, but mine has been out every time I've tried to get some. So I just bring it home - easy as pie.

n.

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

Post  bullfrogbabe on 3/22/2010, 10:11 pm

Composting manure is a popular topic tonight. This is the 3rd time I have been able to share this bit of advice.

If composting manure from grass / seed eating animals, ensure that compost temperatures are getting hot enough to kill the weed seeds.

Manure from sheep, cows, horses, and probably llamas and alpacas contain alot of weeds seeds. Digestion alone does not kill these seeds.

A compost thermometer is likely a great investment to make, some also double has soil thermometers for dual purpose justification.

A quote from an article on "Keep[ing] Compost Weed Free":
Within a week, temperatures in a properly constructed compost pile will reach 130 degrees. That quickly kills many seeds and stabilizes the composted material. But it takes 30 days of exposure to temperatures of 145 degrees or more to kill seeds from tougher weed species."
See the full article "Keep Compost Weed Free" at link below:
http://www.farmanddairy.com/news/keep-compost-weed-free-time-temperature-and-turning-critical-factors/11747.html

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Re: Fixing my Compost Pile - Questions & Photos!

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