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BS: Composting

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BS: Gardening 2010 (745)


Raptor 16 Oct 10 - 10:25 AM
bobad 16 Oct 10 - 10:29 AM
GUEST,Russ 16 Oct 10 - 10:58 AM
Stilly River Sage 16 Oct 10 - 11:44 AM
Steve Shaw 16 Oct 10 - 12:01 PM
The Sandman 16 Oct 10 - 12:21 PM
bobad 16 Oct 10 - 12:21 PM
Janie 16 Oct 10 - 12:25 PM
JohnInKansas 16 Oct 10 - 01:25 PM
Janie 16 Oct 10 - 01:41 PM
Raptor 16 Oct 10 - 02:20 PM
The Sandman 16 Oct 10 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,number 6 16 Oct 10 - 03:59 PM
Steve Shaw 16 Oct 10 - 04:33 PM
terrier 16 Oct 10 - 07:57 PM
Stilly River Sage 16 Oct 10 - 08:10 PM
GUEST,mg 16 Oct 10 - 09:43 PM
ragdall 17 Oct 10 - 06:39 AM
The Sandman 17 Oct 10 - 12:11 PM
Steve Shaw 17 Oct 10 - 12:37 PM
Stilly River Sage 17 Oct 10 - 01:02 PM
GUEST,number 6 17 Oct 10 - 01:05 PM
bobad 17 Oct 10 - 02:44 PM
Steve Shaw 17 Oct 10 - 07:07 PM
olddude 18 Oct 10 - 01:27 PM
Bettynh 18 Oct 10 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Oct 10 - 05:50 PM
Bobert 18 Oct 10 - 07:38 PM
The Sandman 25 Oct 10 - 08:59 AM
paula t 25 Oct 10 - 04:06 PM
open mike 25 Oct 10 - 06:59 PM
Joe Offer 25 Oct 10 - 09:02 PM
catspaw49 25 Oct 10 - 09:15 PM
The Sandman 26 Oct 10 - 06:39 AM
Stilly River Sage 27 Oct 10 - 01:14 AM
Roger the Skiffler 27 Oct 10 - 09:38 AM
Steve Shaw 27 Oct 10 - 09:47 AM
Donuel 27 Oct 10 - 09:47 AM
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Subject: BS: Composting
From: Raptor
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 10:25 AM

I'm revamping my system for composting. I've built a new compost bin. I was wondering how many of you actively compost for your gardens and how.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: bobad
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 10:29 AM

I've been composting for many years - nothing fancy, just pile it up and let it go, but then I am in the country and have a lot of space.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 10:58 AM

Been doing it for years.

I use cylindrical cages similar to my tomato cages.

Build them myself from plastic coated garden fencing from Lowes Home Depot.

I anchor the cages to a steel post from the same source.

I just dump the stuff in and ignore it until the spring.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 11:44 AM

I also have a lot of space, on the edge of a wooded area in an urban setting, so I make a point of not letting it get too stinky to annoy neighbors (the yards are big, but if the neighbors to the north come out to the garden shed at the back of the property they are within range of the compost.

I had an informal chicken wire fence set up to keep it stacked a little higher, but when I got dogs they started breaking in. So now, the compost in the back is only leaves, weeds, lawn clippings, etc. and I use a covered bin for kitchen waste. When it gets full I set it aside to break down more, then bury it in the middle of the pile.

The last time I tried this I didn't let it sit long enough; my system actually involves 2 bins, and the one left to sit for a while somehow got filled up with water during the hurricane that passed over and was too heavy to lift by myself. I'd been slowly draining out the water (I didn't want to pour it off all at once, the stink would be awful and the bins are at the side of the house). I needed room for more table scraps, so I took the newer one back and buried it - and the dogs broke in and a skunk came investigating. The dogs this summer have learned how to avoid getting skunked when they confront skunks (but the smell of a full discharge back by the pile and the frantic barking told a tale all its own).

So, other than this glitch, I have three compost piles. The food stuff rots and gets buried in the active pile. There is another pile back there that I built last year, that is still breaking down. The pile from two years ago has since been all scooped up an used in the gardens. I'm thinking about building a bin, with three sections, high enough to keep the dogs out but that will let me turn it easily and will also let me move the contents from one section to the next as the compost is used and the working stuff needs turning.

Yes, I put dog poop in the compost. There is nothing wrong with that, despite those who will repeat the old wive's tale that you shouldn't. Ignore them, they don't know how compost works or what they're talking about.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 12:01 PM

Like bobad I have loose heaps. My waste gets mixed with grass cuttings, of which I have an abundance. I might turn the heaps and mix them together once in a while if I have time. I have to be careful as grass snakes and toads both lurk in my compost heaps. I love them both, and the grass snakes love the toads, but the toads don't love the grass snakes. I have reason to believe that the toads love me but that the snakes are indifferent. I find that a thin layer of grass cuttings covering the heaps helps to prevent the outsides from drying out too much and failing to rot down. I collect fallen leaves in big bagfuls all through the autumn and mix them 50:50 with fresh grass clippings in loose heaps. This way I get leafmould the next spring instead of waiting for years as the books say. I think that compost activators are a total waste of money. By far the best way to activate compost, if you really think it needs it, is to pee on your heaps. The great pioneering organic gardener, Lawrence Hills, had buckets hung around his gardens for the very purpose of collecting what he politely called his Liquid Household Activator.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 12:21 PM

heated and crushed or ground egg shells are a good way of reducing acidity in your soil.
yes I do compost, i have my heaps inside a compost container.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: bobad
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 12:21 PM

I occasionally pee on mine when the opportunity arises.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Janie
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 12:25 PM

I'm lazy, have very little time to spend in the garden these days, and humongous quantities of oak leaves every fall. So....I now follow the dictum "If you pile it, it will rot (eventually)."


When I did use a bin I found I often did not have time to do the turning required and had trouble having enough "greens" to add to keep it hot. (Can't add green bermuda grass clippings to compost because it roots so easily.)


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 01:25 PM

After some years of elaborate composting - i.e. specific piles and places to put stuff - I figured out that prevailing soil moisture levels in our recent areas are too low for efficient decomposition, and maintenance such as watering and stirring were becoming onerous.

Converting both my lawnmowers, a 42" riding junker and a 19" electric for trimming, to mulching deck configurations and "composting in place" by just letting the (mulched) clippings lie where they fall now works well enough that I have virtually nothing that I can usefully add to the compost bin.

In our previous home, multiple oak trees would drop about three "full-size pickup truck loads" of leaves each year, but if I "mowed" them to mulch before they got more than about 2 - 3 inches deep they disappeared - in place - much more quickly than if I collected them, ran them multiple passes through the chipper (for a 6 to 1 or more reduction in volume), and piled them somewhere.

I still maintain a small compost bin in a corner of the back yard for the rare cases when I have to crop out occasional taller weeds, and it gives me a place to put stuff that would otherwise just be a load on the landfill (and that I'd have to chip or chop to get into the trash), but the minuscule amount of "compostables" that I find isn't particularly productive. Even if, rarely, we "weed" our few decorative plantings, just throwing the clippings out on the lawn and "mulching" them at the next mowing seems the most effective way of re-incorporating them into the lawn.

We have a rather small lawn now, around 3,000 square ft, and only a couple of fairly small trees; but this system worked about as well at our previous home with around 12,000 ft2 and lots of mature trees (5 oaks and three elms, all 50+ years old, with lots of leaves).

Everyone with "a yard" or garden should have at least a small bin or pile, and those who have food gardens can benefit a lot from composting; but in our case "in place composting" with a mulching mower is definitely the most effective method for handling most of the excess vegetation.

John


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Janie
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 01:41 PM

John,

I agree and I do mulch the last of my leaves "in place." I also sheet compost beds with shredded leaves (put the bagger on the mower, and empty the bag onto the beds.) I have a heavily treed lot, however (22 oak trees plus a handful of other species) on a 145x100 lot.) That is more mulched leaves than the lawn can handle.

Sometimes I think I might just let the leaves lay and let the lawn revert to forest floor. It would be interesting to watch it transition and to see what the birds, squirrels and wind planted over time.

Of course, the neighbors would stop speaking to me in the process.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Raptor
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 02:20 PM

Do you add manure?


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 03:25 PM

yes i do i have donkeys manure so i add that


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: GUEST,number 6
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 03:59 PM

another veteran here ... build myself a compost box ... the results is very rich loamy soil.

biLL


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 04:33 PM

I have a titchy orchard area with about ten trees and I let the leaves lie there in the autumn. The soil's a bit thin and I think the worms dragging down the leaves is a good idea (and I never feed the trees and I always get good crops of apples). Excess grass clippings can do a very good job if you spread them in thin layers on your veg beds or under raspberries, but you don't want them too thick or else they'll rob your beds of nitrogen temporarily as they rot down. Excess grass clippings are also brilliant buried in heaps under your runner beans (which don't need the nitrogen anyway) as they rot into an underground mulch which conserves soil moisture (which the runner beans do need). If you leave beds empty in winter you can, if you have them, spread grass clippings over them in quite thick layers. This stops heavy rain from leaching out nutrients and wrecking the soil structure. It's a pain to dig in the mat of grass in the spring but it does the soil a power of good. Feed soil, not plants, is a good motto!


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: terrier
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 07:57 PM

This thread's just reminded me I need to dig out the midden and spread it on the empty veg beds for the winter, oh, deep joy :)


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 08:10 PM

I mulch the leaves into the lawn in front (they come from neighbor's trees), and grab the bags from the curb when neighbors bag their leaves. Those go into the compost out back. It's the least amount of work for me that way - push the mower to mulch, let someone else do the raking. :)

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 16 Oct 10 - 09:43 PM

I would worry about parasites from carniverous poop...how do we know they are all killed? There is someone here who has a composting toilet and puts it or at least used to grow vegetables he then sells to the public. At the very least they should be informed, which they were years ago because he put it in a book. mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: ragdall
Date: 17 Oct 10 - 06:39 AM

I've composted ever since I've had a house. As far back as I can remember (more than 60 years), my dad composted.

I live in a climate in which temperatures are below freezing more than half of the year and I'm not energetic enough to enjoy turning the compost on a regular basis so I have a three bin system, which means that materials will have 2.5 to 3 years to compost before I use the product which results. Each bins is about 3 feet high and 4 feet square.   

This year I filled one bin, while the other two sat composting. Next week I'll empty the bin I filled in 2008. The compost will be piled for use next spring and summer in my window boxes and flower beds. It can continue to compost if necessary.

Most of the materials going into the bin come from the lawn and flower beds. Kitchen vegetable waste also finds it way there.

rags


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Oct 10 - 12:11 PM

Urine contains urea (amoung other things), a metabolic byproduct and a ready source of nitrogen for plants. Salt is also a metabolic byproduct. So, urine should be diluted when applied so that the salt does not accumulate in the soil.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Oct 10 - 12:37 PM

Just drink beer before you pee on the heap. It saves your having to dilute it and it's more fun.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 17 Oct 10 - 01:02 PM

The myth about "carnivorous poop" is just that, a myth. You can put it on the compost with no danger. All compost should be throughly finished before you use it. That's why many of us have discussed the three year rotation on our compost. Time compensates where there isn't a lot of heat.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: GUEST,number 6
Date: 17 Oct 10 - 01:05 PM

night soil

biLL


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: bobad
Date: 17 Oct 10 - 02:44 PM

From biLL's link above:

"One method that has been successful is known as "humanure" where the material is composted with kitchen refuse and high-carbon materials, such as yard waste, heated through biological activity (fermentation), and kept for an optimal period of time, whereby the pathogens are destroyed. Many people in the United States and other countries have been practicing this method for over ten years now without any negative consequences"

Humanure....great name for a band, eh?


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Oct 10 - 07:07 PM

Animal manure can be very useful. Sheep, goat or rabbit droppings are all great compost activators. Horse manure (not mixed with wood chippings, which is ruinous), stacked up for two or three months under cover, is lovely stuff. The farmer near me allowed me to help myself to cow manure from a huge heap he had. For my troubles I contracted Q Fever from it, which, apart from affecting my long-term health, put paid to my blood-donating days for life in spite of the fact that I'm a rare blood group. If you farm on a large scale I can see the value of human manure, at least several years old, as a soil conditioner, but I can't see why anyone just growing veg in their own back garden would ever want to use it unless they are just trying to prove some obscure point or other. Eat shit. 150,000,000,000 flies can't be wrong.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: olddude
Date: 18 Oct 10 - 01:27 PM

Well I ain't dead yet, but I figure I will compost pretty well when I am


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Bettynh
Date: 18 Oct 10 - 02:20 PM

In Dead Earnest

If I should die before I wake
All my bone and sinew take
Put them in the compost pile
To decompose a little while
Sun, rain and worms will have their way
Reducing me to common clay
All that I am will feed the trees
And little fishes in the seas
When corn and radishes you munch
You may be having me for lunch
The excrete me with a grin
Chortling, There goes Lee again
'Twill be my happiest destiny
To die and live eternally
       Lee Hays, 1981


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Oct 10 - 05:50 PM

I have a small yard. (entire property is only 33 x 75) I have tried composting more than once, wasting time, money and equipment.

My last batch was made in a big trash bin, following the directions in the 'Green Thumb Garden Handbook.' After two years it was virtually unchanged. Now my yard waste goes in paper bags and the city picks it up twice a year.

I am happy to say that a local town composts it in a huge operation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Bobert
Date: 18 Oct 10 - 07:38 PM

We compost everything that is organic...

Composting is easy but you have to have those activators that have the correct bacteria in them to get the compost composting... That means green stuff... Brown stuff don't have it... So if yer composting leaves ya' gotta throw some grass clippings in, as well...

Watch out for manure'... Lots has lots of undigested seed i it which mean when you use the compost on yer garden you are atucally planting unwanted seeds... Horse manure is famous for carrying seed... If you have a real "hot" compost ppile a nliitle horse manure is okay 'cayse the compost will burn 'um up... But manure, in general, ain't all that necessary to make good compost...

You can get compost starter which has bateria in it... A box will last you a life time...

Remember... Green has bateria in it so be sure that you use yer grass clippings... Also be sure to turn your compost regularially...

Happy gardening...

B~


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Oct 10 - 08:59 AM

ash leaves are apparently acidic and will make your soil/ compost acidic


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: paula t
Date: 25 Oct 10 - 04:06 PM

I compost plant waste and vegetable peelings, with the occasional layer of grass mowings, horse manure and guinea pig straw. I have a patch of nettles at the back of our outbuildings and I have found them to be a great activator. Lovely ,crumbly, sweet smelling compost. Much better than the bought stuff, and I know it is completely organic. Helps to keep my wheelie bin a little less full too!


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: open mike
Date: 25 Oct 10 - 06:59 PM

i alternate layers between vegetable and animal (manure) sources.
I do not each chicken, but occasionally come across chicken bones
that have been in the compost or in the garden for many (10) years
from the previous occupants...

I sometimes add worms and dream of doing a project with the local
elementary school with their lunch time food garbage and a worm bin.
creating potting soil for a garden to grow veggies for their lunches...

this would have to be sorted, as i do not believe meat products compost well.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Oct 10 - 09:02 PM

My wife does the composting and gardening here - I just do the grunt labor. She says carnivorous poop (the excrement of carnivores?) is dangerous because of the bacteria involved. We haven't had a problem with animals raiding the compost heap, except for one visit by a bear.

Today, my gardener wife got a book called Lasagna Gardening which is mostly a method of doing soil amendments with layers of various materials. There's a treatise on Lasagna Gardening here (click). Here's an excerpt:

    Ingredients For A Lasagna Garden

    Anything you'd put in a compost pile, you can put into a lasagna garden. The materials you put into the garden will break down, providing nutrient-rich, crumbly soil in which to plant. The following materials are all perfect for lasagna gardens:

    • Grass Clippings
    • Leaves
    • Fruit and Vegetable Scraps
    • Coffee Grounds
    • Tea leaves and tea bags
    • Weeds (if they haven't gone to seed)
    • Manure
    • Compost
    • Seaweed
    • Shredded newspaper or junk mail
    • Pine needles
    • Spent blooms, trimmings from the garden
    • Peat moss

    Just as with an edible lasagna, there is some importance to the methods you use to build your lasagna garden. You'll want to alternate layers of “browns” such as fall leaves, shredded newspaper, peat, and pine needles with layers of “greens” such as vegetable scraps, garden trimmings, and grass clippings. In general, you want your "brown” layers to be about twice as deep as your “green” layers, but there's no need to get finicky about this. Just layer browns and greens, and a lasagna garden will result. What you want at the end of your layering process is a two-foot tall layered bed. You'll be amazed at how much this will shrink down in a few short weeks.

Looks like fun.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: catspaw49
Date: 25 Oct 10 - 09:15 PM

Some of Mozart'sest work was done after he was dead. The guy was one helluva' composter.


Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Oct 10 - 06:39 AM

there is also a theory that if you suffer from a particular weed, the best way is to compost it and the new compost which contains the weed composted helps to get rid of the weed


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 01:14 AM

The "hair of the dog that bit you" approach to gardening?


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Roger the Skiffler
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 09:38 AM

I used to make bins from used pallets when I could get them from work. They gradually decayed so I invested in five modular linked square bins. One is for leaf mould (12 months in pierced plastic sacks & 12 months in bin- oak & beech mostly take an age to break down).The other 4 for general garden & kitchen waste, shredded paper, and cardboard. One being filled, one "cooking", one nearly ready, one ready to use as needed and one empty waiitng. I can bore for hours on this (and many other subjects!). I don't use an accelerator, as these are mostly dried urea, being "caught short" (it's an old man thing!) at the end of the garden works as well!.


RtS


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 09:47 AM

One pet rabbit will produce all the compost starter you'll ever need if you also pee on your heaps. If you can nick the odd carrier-bag full of fresh sheep shit from the fields, that's just as good.


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Subject: RE: BS: Composting
From: Donuel
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 09:47 AM

This is the soil I have talked about dozens of times here


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