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Another Compost Question

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Another Compost Question

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/10/2011, 12:06 am

As most of you know, I have a compost bin. Today on my way home from work I saw a sign on a country road advertising mushroom soil for sale. I thought to myself "I gotta remember this place when it comes time to prepare my SFG. Then I was wondering if I could buy it now and stockpile it in my shed. Not too sure how smelly it actually would be I thought that I could just add it to my compost bin and it would all be ready to go come spring time.

What's the thought behind adding already composted materials to a pile that's still composting? Not only can I get that mushroom soil at a great price, but I could potentially get some already composted chicken manure now instead of waiting till prepping my SFG.

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  pharmerphil on 11/10/2011, 4:46 am

Too Tall, SMS, or Spent Mushroom Substrate is great to add, but in small amounts, Mushroom compost is rich in soluble salts and other nutrients and can kill smaller germinating seeds and harm salt sensitive plants like rhododendrons and azaleas, so it's a good thing.. However, can be too much of a good thing for seeds, seedlings and young plants. I'd compost it for a season at least before planting in it...
about 3 inches of the compost into the top six inches of planting area if you proceed without composting and are sitting in suitable plants

Here's a great link about SMS

USING SPENT MUSHROOM SUBSTRATE

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/10/2011, 7:17 am

Thanks for the link pharmerphil.

I've been thinking way too much about this composting idea of mine. Last weekend I added about 30 gallons of horse manure to add to my bin and ever since then I've been driving myself crazy. I heard something about the possibility of aminopyralid being present in horse manure. Since then I contacted the woman who gave me the manure and she claims it is safe to use in a tomato garden. Then I started to read about different manures to add to a compost pile and how the manure needs to be fully composted before adding it to a veggie garden. Well the temperature of my compost seems to be stuck between 75 and 80F. I have a source for alpaca, rabbit, and chicken manure lined up but now I'm hesitant to add it to my compost.

I remember YEARS ago(I think I was around 12 or so) a man in a pickup truck was driving around my neighborhood selling mushroom soil. My Mom went out and bought some to add to our tomato garden. I don't remember how established the plants were but I do remember they exploded with growth and production of tomatoes.

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/10/2011, 6:08 pm

Does anybody know if I can add the alpaca and rabbit manure to my compost bin even though my bin with recently added horse manure won't heat up past 80F? How long do manures need to compost before they're safe to add to a garden?

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/10/2011, 7:36 pm

Well I'm assuming that the alpaca and rabbit manures I am getting will be mixed with some sort of bedding.

The only time I cover my compost is when it rains. So I should keep it covered at all times?

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  camprn on 11/10/2011, 7:43 pm

I don't cover my compost pile. Wink This time of year I build it and forget it for about 4 months. What a Face

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/10/2011, 10:34 pm

@camprn wrote:I don't cover my compost pile. Wink This time of year I build it and forget it for about 4 months. What a Face

But if I don't keep it covered during wet weather, won't the "good stuff" in the compost get washed away? Isn't part of composting maintaining proper moisture levels?

Or am I just overthinking this as I usually do with any of my endeavors?

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 11/11/2011, 7:54 am

Well this morning I went outside to check the compost pile and the temp is up to 90F! cheers

Yesterday afternoon, the temperature was 80F so I gave it a quick toss, covered it up to keep the rain off. Before I went to bed, the temperature was 85F.

The neighbors probably think I'm nuts for checking on the pile several times a day.

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Mushroom Compost

Post  tomperrin on 1/9/2012, 4:34 pm

Last year I bought 2 cubic yards of mushroom compost, aka composted horse manure at $45 a cubic yard. The first yard I mixed with 4 other kinds of compost, the second yard got mixed with just leaf compost. The compost then went into the standard Mel's Mix configuration of 1/3 ea of vermiculite, peat moss and compost. The only problem I had was I could not complain about bugs, because I didn't have any.

The mushroom compost is hard to find, and I would get whenever I could. It may become difficult to find because there is a rumor floating about that one of the big baggers is adding it to their mix and buying up all the available supply.

I'm now building two huge piles of horse manure & leaf compost. You can see my photos here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/11987465@N00/sets/72157628796227109/

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  boffer on 1/9/2012, 6:02 pm

@tomperrin wrote:Last year I bought 2 cubic yards of mushroom compost, aka composted horse manure at $45 a cubic yard....

I'm not sure what you mean by the "aka composted horse manure" statement. For the benefit of newcomers who may not have heard of mushroom compost; from the PA Dept. of Agriculture:
Mushroom compost is a viable and useful by-product of mushroom farming. Those edible mushrooms found in the produce section of your grocery store are grown in a specific medium. This growth media is a mixture of agricultural materials, such as straw from horse stables, hay, poultry litter, ground corn cobs, cottonseed hulls, cocoa shells, peat moss, and other natural organic substances.

Mushroom compost is a smorgasbord of compostables, and most of us consider it to be one of our five composts. (composted horse manure would be a second compost)


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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Lavender Debs on 1/9/2012, 6:13 pm

@boffer wrote: ....snip....Mushroom compost is a smorgasbord of compostables, and most of us consider it to be one of our five composts. (composted horse manure would be a second compost)



Old time home grown mushroom spoors are grown on sheep or horse poo. Agro business uses a less toxic, easier to control content, growing medium for spores because it is easier (i.e. a sure thing) to grow shrooms in multi-layer warehouse racks without shoveling poo AND modern cooks do not want to bother with washing produce. I'm just saying.... You are both correct.

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Guest on 1/9/2012, 10:02 pm

If they're getting $45 a yard for horse manure, they must be feeding those horses golden grain! Razz

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Mushroom compost aka composted horse manure

Post  tomperrin on 1/9/2012, 11:38 pm

I'm going by what my supplier told me, that his mushroom compost had its origins in horse manure. Leaf compost runs about $18 a cubic yard at the source. The $45 a yard for composted horse manure aka mushroom compost, which fills an 8ft long pickup truck bed, isn't a bad price for a superior product that is extremely difficult to find, and impossible to find in bags when you want it.

There is a significant difference between the price of composted horse manure and the raw product. I get the raw product for free when I can, otherwise I have to pay for the finished product.

But my hauling, lifting, turning and time add value to the original raw product. My first compost bin contains 64 cu ft or roughly 2.35 cu yds of compost when it's done cooking. That makes the fruits of my labor worth roughly $105, which isn't much for my time and trouble. But what makes it worth my while is that a) I've got the time, and b) I know exactly what goes into the compost, and c) I can spend that $105 on toys.

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Furbalsmom on 1/10/2012, 2:52 pm

@tomperrin wrote:But what makes it worth my while is that a) I've got the time, and b) I know exactly what goes into the compost, and c) I can spend that $105 on toys.



All very good reasons.

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Kelejan on 1/10/2012, 3:02 pm

I just love pictures of work-in-progress.

Tom, what space do you have between your SFG beds?

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Goosegirl on 1/10/2012, 7:43 pm

@Furbalsmom wrote:
@tomperrin wrote:But what makes it worth my while is that a) I've got the time, and b) I know exactly what goes into the compost, and c) I can spend that $105 on toys.



All very good reasons.
+1!
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Space between squares

Post  tomperrin on 1/10/2012, 8:22 pm

I started off with the statutory 3 feet between squares. This worked well for driving a wheelbarrow between the rows. Then I built a fence around the squares. Turns out the squares were square but the fence was not. I did build the fence twice as large as I thought I needed at the time. So I bought a fair amount of very nice cedar lumber with honest measurements (1" x 7") and proceeded to fill up the empty space with more squares. My SFG friends took one look at my new squares and said I really needed a lot more space between the squares. So I exchanged a 4' square for a 3' square and made a wee bit more room. Not much of a concession, I admit. That said, I am severely constrained by sunlight and shadow, so need to make use of as much space as I can. I may have to hire small children to run between the rows since the short portly who planned the garden is not going to fit easily, as per Mel's prediction. I did leave enough room by the back gate for a couple of chairs so that my wife and I can just sit and watch the peas grow.

Why do I need so many squares? One reason is that I was so pleased with the results of my initial venture into SFG that I would like to freeze and can as much food as I can in the coming year. The other reason is that I'm just plain OCD.

As it is, I don't have enough room within the fence. I bought a lot of 2-year asparagus crowns and rhubarb for spring planting. These perennials will go in new squares outside the fence. I may have to shorten some trees in order to lengthen the number of hours of sun.

Eventually, of course, I will have to clear more land, buy a house with more available sunlight, or see if my neighbor across the road will allow me to put some squares in his front yard.

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  walshevak on 1/10/2012, 8:38 pm

SFGing is addictive. So says me. Started with 6 boxes. Got my son started with 4 boxes. I want 4 more and he wants a total of 12.



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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  Goosegirl on 1/10/2012, 9:02 pm

@tomperrin wrote:Eventually, of course, I will have to clear more land, buy a house with more available sunlight, or see if my neighbor across the road will allow me to put some squares in his front yard.
rofl rofl rofl
You got it bad, dude. Welcome to the club!
GG

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  janezee on 1/11/2012, 2:53 am

Welcome!

Fortunately, asparagus and rhubarb don't need as much sun as tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplant, beans, etc. They can live with 4-6 hours a day in the spring and fall. They might not get quite as large, but they surely won't die, and will still give a good crop.

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  walshevak on 1/11/2012, 7:25 am

I recently found out the cotton gin in the next town over has a huge pile of cotton boll leavings from the ginning process. And they will load some in my truck free. Unfortunately, I will have to unload and my back is not what it used to be. Has anyone used this in a compost pile and what is the general timeframe for breaking down into usuable compost. Some near the bottom is looking better than the top stuff, but you have to take what the bulldozer can get to.

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  camprn on 1/11/2012, 8:06 pm

@walshevak wrote:I recently found out the cotton gin in the next town over has a huge pile of cotton boll leavings from the ginning process. And they will load some in my truck free. Unfortunately, I will have to unload and my back is not what it used to be. Has anyone used this in a compost pile and what is the general timeframe for breaking down into usuable compost. Some near the bottom is looking better than the top stuff, but you have to take what the bulldozer can get to.

Kay
My guess is that unless the cotton was grown organically it was sprayed with a cocktail of chemicals through its life cycle. Just something to consider.

What gets sprayed on cotton?


Last edited by camprn on 1/11/2012, 8:11 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added link)

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Re: Another Compost Question

Post  littlejo on 1/11/2012, 9:54 pm

@walshevak wrote:I recently found out the cotton gin in the next town over has a huge pile of cotton boll leavings from the ginning process. And they will load some in my truck free. Unfortunately, I will have to unload and my back is not what it used to be. Has anyone used this in a compost pile and what is the general timeframe for breaking down into usuable compost. Some near the bottom is looking better than the top stuff, but you have to take what the bulldozer can get to.

Kay

Hint:buy a cheap tarp to put in truck, and get it loaded, then you can (with Help) just pull it out of truck. I do this when I go get free manure.

I know nothing of the ginning process, is the cotton washed/rinsed during processing? But, you might ask about it. I have seen cotton grown and in the morning the field is beautiful, white with cotton, with green plants holding up the cotton, in the evening all that is left is some dead looking branches holding up the cotton. Looks like they used agent orange to kill the plants, easier to pick with a machine. I would ask about the chemicals, and if they have been washed out. Lots of folks use cotton gin leftovers for compost!

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Re: Another Compost Question

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