composting tips

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Acorn, May 19, 2004.

  1. Acorn

    Acorn Member

    we just made a compost pile about 2 weeks ago, and i was wondering what i could do to help it. its about 3ft by 3ft made of a old wire fence and 4 stakes. its already full with weeds and other garden stuff.
     
  2. backtothelab

    backtothelab Senior Member

    You should turn it(i try to go once a week) and if it's in the sun and really dry, wet it. I went the lazy way and just piled a bunch of yard stuffs up giving the occasional turn. Put your hand just under the surface(rattle the pile a bit, to scare away any snakes or freak things that might be living in there), it should be warm and a bit moist. You can get a compost thermometor, but it's a waste of money, imho.
     
  3. sugrmag

    sugrmag Uber Nerd

    Once a week is plenty. It should be moist like a wrung-out sponge. use kitchen waste, coffee/tea grinds/filters, egg shells, RAW veggie/fruit waste. No dairy, oils, or meat. Empty toilet paper/paper towel rolls. we have a gerbil, so we put her old bedding in the compost as well. The smaller the pieces, they quicker they will decompose. Gross, but I blend up my kitchen waste in the blender with some water before I put it in the compost. My daughter calls it a compost-smoothie. It turns to black sludge. If you put leaves in, run them over with the lawn mower first, to break them up. Fresh cut grass is good to. You need to have a good mix of brown and green (Carbon and nitrogen). Though, I always forget which is which! Brown: dried leaves,straw, newspaper (shredded). Green: fresh grass, green leaves, kitchen waste. I think green is nitrogen, and brown is carbon. You need more carbon than nitrogen. 3:1 I think is the standard ratio.

    Ooh, egg cartons (not styrofoam). Is it in contact with the ground? Worms are great for it!

    I hope this was helpful!
     
  4. WayfaringStranger

    WayfaringStranger Corporate Slave #34

    sounds good, although i try to avoid cardboard and egg shells myself. i would also think turning it once a week might be a little too much, i like to let thigs and bugs and bacteria really get a complete reign on the situation before i turn it. but my methods are very experimental with everything and very intuitive, so its hard to explain. worms too, worms are good.
     
  5. moonshine

    moonshine Member

    before you throw weeds in the pile you should kill them by soaking them in a bucket of water until they turn black. you don't want to end up planting more weeds in your garden! happy composting!
     
  6. backtothelab

    backtothelab Senior Member

    Good post, let me add though, not ink stuff. Like you can use newspaper, but not any of the glossy ink add stuff in between, like the jc penny adds and stuff.
     
  7. sugrmag

    sugrmag Uber Nerd

    Yeah, I should have mentioned that, thanks backtothelab.
     
  8. poor_old_dad

    poor_old_dad Senior Member

    For the compost pile, DO NOT put pine straw. It contains some sort of acid, can't remember the acid's name, but it does a compost pile harm. Burn the pine straw and add the ashs to the pile(after they've cooled). I make up large batchs of general purpose organic fertilizer (4 parts kelp meal, 4 parts alfalfa meal, 1 part blood meal, 1 part bone meal, 1 part ground phosphate, 1 part limestone). I keep a tote of it next to my compost piles and when I stir the piles I add a big hand full of the fertilizer too. I have (at least) three piles at all times. One I'm adding to until it's about 6'x6'x4'(then I start another pile), one that's gotten as big as I want it to be and is "cooking", and one I'm using from. Even with well digested compost, apply to the ground a couple of weeks before planting. This prevents "burning". Use the finished pile to make (the best stuff in the world), "compost tea". I use the tea instead of top dressing. And always use lots and lots and lots of kelp meal. Good north sea kelp meal. Look its benifits up on google.

    There's an old gardner's saying that I like, "May the bugs in your garden eat only the weeds."
     
  9. Acorn

    Acorn Member

    its hard to turn it, is there somthing else i can do that will work about as well.
     
  10. poor_old_dad

    poor_old_dad Senior Member

  11. AutumnAuburn

    AutumnAuburn Senior Member

    You can compost just about anything (even radioactive waste) thermophilically. If you add animal products (including manure), it will make your compost "thermophilic" as opposed to "aerobic" and you won't have to turn it, it will get very hot all by itself. Mine actually almost caught on fire, it got so hot...

    Please follow this link for more detailed information and great tips:

    http://www.journeytoforever.org/compost.htm

    :)
     
  12. poor_old_dad

    poor_old_dad Senior Member

    Caught fire!!! Wow, that's cool, I mean hot. I read somewhere that if you don't compost, it's like strip mining your garden. That link may be wrong.
     
  13. AutumnAuburn

    AutumnAuburn Senior Member

    Yep, caught fire. I had my compost in two large garbage cans with holes drilled all over them. Periodically I would dump them out and condense them into one, as it shrank down. One day, when I dumped them out, I noticed that in the very center of one of the piles was a softball-sized area of ash. There was no evidence of anything that could have started it, like cigarette butts or matches (though I don't know where those would've come from, anyway). And I know that thermophilic piles get quite hot, too hot to put your hand into and hot enough to kill weed seeds and any pathogens that might be present.

    And yes, not adding compost, or mulch, or other organic material to your soil is, in effect, strip mining. The plants take up certain nutrients and they need to be replaced. Compost is one of the best ways to do that. If you do not replace the nutrients, by composting, mulching, or crop rotation, your soil (and garden and nutrition) will suffer. Eventually, the soil will be barren and nothing but undesirable plants, or weeds (if that even), will grow in it.
     
  14. AutumnAuburn

    AutumnAuburn Senior Member

  15. poor_old_dad

    poor_old_dad Senior Member

    You mentioned manure. Where does yours come from. I have some great arrangements with some of the local "horse people". They clean out the stalls, I haul it out of their way. Two of the largest barns even have front end loaders, I pull up they load the pick-up. Of course, I keep them in tomatoes, peppers, basil, etc. I also have made deals with a couple of the landscaping (mowing) services. They need to get rid of the grass they've hauled from their customers, I'm glad to take it. I have a few piles of compost raw materials. My compost piles are held in cages. Each cage is made of four sections of concrete reinforcing wire (looks like fence wire). Each section is six feet long and five feet tall. The pieces fit together to form a square. I have three pairs of spaces for each of the piles. Each pile will be in its space one, then turned into its space two next month, then back to space one etc. I start the cycle for a pair spaces every four months. The finished compost is moved out of the way, into a fourth area, to make room for a new start. As mentioned earlier in this forum, I add my blend of organic fertilizer as I'm turning the piles. The entire composting area is covered, to keep out most rain, and therefore no leaching (hell, I've put in a lot of work, I don't want a rain storm to wash it away). I keep the piles moist with a sprinkler. Took a little experimenting, well a lot of it, but now 1/4 day once a month (not counting picking up the compost materials) and I've got a (black) gold mine.:)

    ps: that IS A GREAT link. Every one should look at it.
     
  16. AutumnAuburn

    AutumnAuburn Senior Member

    I used my pet feces, dog poo, cat poo... I also used animal products from the kitchen. I was working toward composting humanure. But, I moved, rather abruptly, and never got to do it... :(

    <snippage>

    It sounds like you are very lucky! Great arrangements, great sources! That's awesome. If I decide to make Bend my permanent home (yeah right, like the gypsy in me will ever go away!) I will have to look into getting some sawdust from the local mills. That's one thing we didn't really have in Pittsburgh, it was all steel mills, not saw mills. I was going to have a bit of a haul to get my sawdust... But, well worth it, to me. :)

    My plans were to build compost bins out of pallets, as many as I needed. I was quickly growing out of the garbage cans and it was clear that I needed more space. I lived on a postage stamp, though, but I had great plans for the backyard. I've tried to convince my sister, who lives out here in the woods, to compost. She just really isn't into it and won't really put in the effort. It's sad, too, because she has an acre of land. *sigh*

    I agree. Journey to Forever is an AWESOME site. If I had the money, I'd send them some...
     
  17. hairybuckeye

    hairybuckeye Member

    I live in a duplex and don't have much room. The gaabage can idea sounds really great to me. I'v never even really gardened before but I'm excited about having the chance to grow some of my own food and not depend on comm. food. Any adcice you could give me on composting and/or gardening would be great. I really don't know where to start.
     
  18. AutumnAuburn

    AutumnAuburn Senior Member

    Get the biggest garbage can you can fit in your yard. Mine were the putty colored ones on wheels from Home Depot. Then, drill holes about every two to three inches all over, except on the lid. Put about 3 inches of torn cardboard in the bottom, as your first layer, it will absorb the liquids...

    I got a shredder and shredded all my paper and paperboard. Yes stuff with colored inks and light coatings can be composted. The composting process removes the harmful ingredients.

    I would take out my day's worth of food scraps and put it in the bin. Then, I'd cover it with my shredded paper or torn cardboard-about 2/3 more than the food. Then, I would scoop up some dirt from the yard (about a cup) and sprinkle that over the top. Then I would sprinkle about a cup or two of water over the top. I had quite a bit of yard scraps that I would periodically add to this. But mostly it was kitchen and paper scraps.

    I would also water it periodically, if we were having a dry spell. You want it to remain damp, not wet or dry. About once a month I would dump the bin and stir it up, and combine the bins as it shrank.

    I would strongly suggest you visit the Journey to Forever website www.journeytoforever.org. They have TONS of information on composting, gardening, alternative living, etc. They are a very valuable resource!

     
  19. hairybuckeye

    hairybuckeye Member

    thanks for the tip man. that website is preaty damn cool man. Thanks again man. I don't own a drill but might be able to borrow one. I"m getting ready to plant my first garden. I'v grown some tomatoes last year (in a pot on a patio) but is there anything you recomnd for newbies?
     
  20. AutumnAuburn

    AutumnAuburn Senior Member

    Tomatoes are good. Cucumbers. Peas. Beans. Squash. Peppers. Pumpkins.

    Have fun! :)

     

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