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Forums: January 2012 Kickstart Forum: Composting
Created on: 02/06/12 03:50 PM Views: 1536 Replies: 7
Composting
Posted Monday, February 6, 2012 at 3:50 PM

I'm looking for composting tips. I'd like to start composting, but in the past it hasn't worked for me.

I'll let you know what I've done in the past so you can see what I'm doing wrong. I made a pile behind a garden shed with kitchen scraps (no meat or dairy) and grass clippings and "brown" cuttings from the yard. I would add to it a little bit at a time and turn it every few weeks, but it never completely broke down and bugs started living in it. I did water it when the weather was very dry.

Thanks!

RE: Composting
Posted Monday, February 6, 2012 at 4:28 PM

I'm interested as well. We had a barrel composter, the kind that is on a pivot so you close the lid and rotate it a couple turns each time you add things so it mixes well. We figured that would be the best way to keep the dog and the neighbor's semi-wild cats out of it. It just ended up attracting ants and other critters. Now, we just take our compostings of kitchen scraps and toss them at the edge of the woods in the back yard behind the shed (where the dog can't get at it) and let it do it's own thing as far as decomposing on its own or becoming food for birds and squirrels and such. Not sure if that's the reason that our garden doesn't see much nibbling from rabbits et al (or it could be that we've got a lab mix who is very protective of "his" yard. LOL)
--Deb R

RE: Composting
Posted Monday, February 6, 2012 at 7:38 PM

Ok, I have several ideas.

It is great that you know to add your "colors", and also that no meat or dairy. The other food items that do not compost well are citrus, and onions.

First thought it that it is fairly normal to attract insects, they are part of the break down process. Cockroaches are new to me though.

The next thing, is this cycle is lengthy. That is what most people get caught up on. It can take a few months or several months to break down completely depending on what is in there and moisture and heat levels.

Before I had my worms (which do about 95% of my composting) I had bins that I built. There were 3 out of poles and slats, the first bin was for fresh items, then in a month or so I would sort out what was mostly on the broken down and shovel it into the 2nd bin. Then in another month (or in some cases 2) I would repeat the process taking the pretty nearly finished items into the 3rd bin, and items from the 2nd to the 1st and so on.

Other thoughts:

Covering can help, the heat will break things down more quickly and also kill seedlings if the cover is dark. Also retains moisture.

The size of what you are adding can be a factor in how fast this process is. Like what we eat, the better chewed, the faster our body can grab it. Same with composting, the smaller the bits, the better. Which is why a lot of people put the big stuff through a chipper. So branches take a looong time.

Each type of item gives off various elements, nitrogen, etc... so if your compost is too heavy on grass and less on browns or foods, you get the idea, that can play a factor. Grass clippings seem to take forever to breakdown.

I would also recommend some reading on lasagna gardening. It works wonderfully, and can really help with composting items.

All this said, I no longer keep a compost pile. I rent now, so I don't have yard clippings and I put all my mail, paper and food scraps in my worm bin. I have had the absolute best of luck with this method. Hands down! The soil it creates, and the "compost tea" (read worm pee and food breakdown juices) does wonders for my plants and for a garden.

There are tons of websites for composting and there maybe ideas there for you that is specific to what you are trying to break down.

All this being said, keep up the TREMENDOUS work of keeping this out of a landfill!!!

Always offer kindness and a soft word to the beings around you; You do not know their journey. Your words can be the hug they need or the shove that breaks them.

RE: Composting
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Just found an interesting article about composting on the BBC's website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13495705

Wash your back

RE: Composting
Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2012 at 2:32 PM

If the link above doesn't work, try this one:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/techniques/soil_makecompost1.shtml

Wash your back

RE: Composting
Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 at 1:57 PM

My problem in Colorado is that they dry out. They want you to keep them the consistancy of a wrung out sponge. Impossible here! I have a plastic shoe box on my kitchen counter. I throw all scraps in that. Every few days I take it out to the composter. At the end and beginning of every season, I dig a trench and dump what is in the composter (beginning to break down)into the trench and cover it with soil. Then the ground does the work.I plant on top of these trenches.

RE: Composting
Posted Monday, February 13, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Thanks for all the tips!

RE: Composting
Posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012 at 12:51 AM

I dont have a regular compost but I have a worm farm and they get my veggie scraps. Everything but onion and garlic which are no-no's for the worms. They get my scraps and I get the worm 'wee' for the garden. It's a win-win situation as the plants thrive on the liquid fertiliser. I highly recommend if you are interested.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food - Hippocrates.

Edited 02/14/12 12:53 AM


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