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Old 08-24-2009, 08:56 AM   #1
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Let's Discuss Composting

I started a compost pile this weekend. I am very excited about this. I am ashamed to say that it took my town going to a pay as you throw trash system (we have to buy certain town branded trash bags and the trash truck will only pick up trash in those bags) for me to start to get serious about recycling and cutting down on my waste. It is shameful that it took that monetary incentive to get me off my butt to do this, but now I am glad it happened.

I bought a rotating compost bin as well as a small container for the kitchen. I taped a list of what can and can not go in the compost bin to the kitchen container so that anyone can look and see what to throw in there. The outside bin is on rollers so you can spin it to mix everything up. This is great because the kids love to roll it so that is something they can help with to be part of this project. They are also having fun figuring out what they can put in the bin and also walking around the yard collecting leaves and grass and twigs to put in the big.

Who else here composts? Share your experinence, tips, troubles, and stories.

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Old 08-24-2009, 09:11 AM   #2
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That's great, GB!! You will be rewarded with a lot of great garden soil!!

Grass is OK, and limited quantities of leaves at first are OK, but sticks don't compost well. Any kitchen vegetable material will compost - NO meat or dairy products should ever be introduced. The one exception is egg shells. Coffee grounds are wonderful!

I keep a small trash can outside the back door in order to immediately dump scraps until I am ready to make a trip to the compost bin.

The reason I said limited leaves at first is because it takes a lot of certain kinds of bacteria to break down a leaf, and those need to grow into a large colony without being overwhelmed when starting a compost mix. A couple of weeks will make a difference and then you won't have to worry about it.

Have fun!
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:16 AM   #3
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It's Great, that your doing that, GB....I've been composting
and organic gardening for over 25 years...It's a way of life
for me...Not a day goes by that I fail to cook veggies and
meats directly benefiting from practice of composting &
the impression you may be giving the kids may direct them
to do the same in their lives...
There are few problems associated to the practice outside
of alittle time, effort & alittle common sense...Mix alittle
dirt with your compost from time to time...helps to make
things break down faster/better.................................BH51
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Old 08-24-2009, 09:34 AM   #4
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Selkie, good info, thanks. I actually bought some compost starter which contains the kinds of bacteria that will break down leaves and get the ball rolling. We do have a few sticks in there, but we broke them up as small hoping that would help things along. I will try to limit that though. Of course the kids love throwing them in so I just may have to let them

BH51, my 4 year old daughter is teaching ME about recycling, not the other way around. Whenever she eats something out of a plastic container (like her yogurts) she always looks at the bottom and tells me if it can be recycled. If we accidentally throw something out that can be recycled she tells us and has us pull it out of the trash and put in the recycling bin. I could not be more proud that my daughter already has these good habits and is teaching me to do the same.
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:51 AM   #5
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My mom finally talked me into composting this summer. I started adding to the bin a week ago. I got in tough with someone who will get me some worms this week. I'm trying to add about half vegetable matter and half leaves. I've already got lots of food for the wigglers.
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB View Post
I started a compost pile this weekend. I am very excited about this. I am ashamed to say that it took my town going to a pay as you throw trash system (we have to buy certain town branded trash bags and the trash truck will only pick up trash in those bags) for me to start to get serious about recycling and cutting down on my waste. It is shameful that it took that monetary incentive to get me off my butt to do this, but now I am glad it happened.

I bought a rotating compost bin as well as a small container for the kitchen. I taped a list of what can and can not go in the compost bin to the kitchen container so that anyone can look and see what to throw in there. The outside bin is on rollers so you can spin it to mix everything up. This is great because the kids love to roll it so that is something they can help with to be part of this project. They are also having fun figuring out what they can put in the bin and also walking around the yard collecting leaves and grass and twigs to put in the big.

Who else here composts? Share your experinence, tips, troubles, and stories.
GB:

You are going to love what you produce in the way of gorgeous soil. I've got a different stationary composting unit that I must aerate with a composting tool myself. It works well. DH and I are in a small housing development with strident homeowner covenants about all sorts of things. I needed one that is covered luckily I found a cool one online. The unit is manufactured in Germany. The unit isn't even a year old yet, and the composted soil I've got is wonderful. I plan to use it to replenish my dead plants lost in the scorching summer we have had here in AZ. New house, no, or few trees, we face west, and once we complete our monsoon season, I'll replant a few things that perished in the triple digit temps. I've spread some of the compost around my citrus tree.

Really there are three simple rules on composting, keep it fed, aerated and moist (not soggy). If you detect a smell you've got a problem. It shouldn't have any odor. Don't add meat or any grease, cheese, mostly vegetation (stuff from food prep), you can even add lint from your dryer, dryer sheets, coffee, tea, unbleached filters, lots of stuff.

For information contact your local Agricultural Extension and talk to some Master Gardeners. I'm a Master Gardener myself. They should be able to talk to you regarding any questions or problems you might have. We have information we can send to people and your local Extension office may also have some literature to send you on composting.

Best wishes - the unit you bought sounds great. Mine is stationary and I cannot move it. Yours sounds like a Cadillac, a Rolls Royce, a Hummer???

Let me know how things work. You know what to add, and what not to add?
If I can help at all, give me a growl.

Best wishes and great crops,

Cheers,
Pennsy
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:56 AM   #7
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I've been a long-time organic gardener (& thus automatically a composter) for over 30 years now. Never bothered with tumblers or compost starters - totally unnecessary & really just one way for garden companies to jump on the bandwagon & make some $$. But it does/can help those folks who don't have large yards & thus don't want to go the route of a regular compost pile.

Back in NY I had 3 side-by-side bins made from discarded wooden pallets. They worked GREAT! The slats allowed for aeration, & it was easy to transfer the compost from one bin to the next. Bin 1 was for new stuff. When that started reaching semi-decompostion, it was forked over into Bin 2 to continue "cooking". Then finished compost was forked over into Bin 3 for use. Back then I was raising chickens, so my compost consisted of chicken manure & used henhouse bedding, lawn/garden scraps/clippings, & kitchen vegetable/fruit scraps. NO meat, dairy, fat/grease, or leftover cooked food unless it was completely unseasoned.

These days, now that I have 22 acres to play with here in Virginia, I compost large piles of pure horse manure (with 6 horses I have plenty to play with - lol!), & maintain a kitchen compost pile consisting of a simple welded-wire "ring" into which I layer horse manure, & garden & kitchen scraps (still maintaining the above-referenced restrictions). Every so often I just lift off the ring, move it over a few feet, & fork the original pile back over. Then move/fork back again a couple of weeks later. After a few months - voila! Finished compost.

I also do winter composting by simply depositing my horse manure & soiled bedding directly into my garden in late fall. I stop mid-winter, & by spring everything has composted down beautifully. I end up with terrific rich soil with very little work in the long run.
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Old 08-24-2009, 11:57 AM   #8
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It is exciting isn't it vyapti?

OK so here is my question for those that have composted before. What I don't understand is when you pull the compost out for use. Do you fill the pile up and then at some point stop adding until the entire batch has turned to compost? I thought you were supposed to keep adding material, but if you do that then you would never be able to pull it out because you would have banana peels and apple cores and egg shells and cardboard and whatever going into your garden. Do you really need 2 compost piles going so that as one is almost done you are then adding your new material to the second one?
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Old 08-24-2009, 12:01 PM   #9
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Thanks Pennsy. That is good to know about drier lint. I never would have though of throwing that in too.
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Old 08-24-2009, 12:24 PM   #10
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I don't use a rotating drum-type of composter, so you might check the directions that came with it. For myself, I simply use a circular shape of hardware cloth (welded wire mesh) about the size of an oil drum. As I use it and stir it with a lawn fork, I pay attention to the texture and color. As it breaks down it, you will have smaller pieces and it will turn darker, eventually almost black. That's good! At that point, I simply move my wire basket to another location and use the old compost pile to replenish and nourish my garden beds.

Don't worry about banana peels or egg shells. They too will break down, but I personally would hesitate to add cardboard, paper (Particularly slick coated magazine paper) or like materials. A compost pile (or composter) is NOT a trash dump. It's simply a way of returning vegetable material back into the soil to be used anew. Wood products, unless it's saw dust, should be avoided, and that includes chemically laden dryer sheets. Put it where it belongs... into the trash.
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