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Post  ashort on 4/12/2011, 11:26 am

I have seen all different qualities of purchased compost. Mushroom and composted manure seem to be best, as a lot of the other seems to be full of twigs, etc... What say ya'll?
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Post  boffer on 4/12/2011, 11:44 am

I got real serious, real fast about making my own compost when I bought a bag of chicken manure that had identifiable chicken legs and thigh bones in it.
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Post  Ha-v-v on 4/12/2011, 11:51 am

@boffer wrote:I got real serious, real fast about making my own compost when I bought a bag of chicken manure that had identifiable chicken legs and thigh bones in it.

Ewwww, I would have freaked myself. I do have rocks and sticks in my compost, but its my own rocks and sticks from our ash piles. I bought 1/2'' hardware cloth to make a "sifter" like the archeaologists use. 2 sq ft of it in a frame sits right on the wheelbarrel. My husband is so kind to make things for me. I did go back and get 1/8'' hardware cloth, to make it really nice.
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Post  martha on 4/12/2011, 12:33 pm

@boffer wrote:I got real serious, real fast about making my own compost when I bought a bag of chicken manure that had identifiable chicken legs and thigh bones in it.

affraid
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Post  Chopped Liver MM on 4/12/2011, 1:27 pm

@boffer wrote:I got real serious, real fast about making my own compost when I bought a bag of chicken manure that had identifiable chicken legs and thigh bones in it.

Knowing people that have a chicken operation, there's no surprise here. Nasty doesn't begin to describe the work. The chickens and eggs are very clean. The litter has to go somewhere, and it's usually in piles. Sometimes chickens die and I'm told you don't eat those, they just go in the pile.

Somehow this feels like over share.
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Post  camprn on 4/12/2011, 2:13 pm

@Chopped Liver MM wrote:
@boffer wrote:I got real serious, real fast about making my own compost when I bought a bag of chicken manure that had identifiable chicken legs and thigh bones in it.

Knowing people that have a chicken operation, there's no surprise here. Nasty doesn't begin to describe the work. The chickens and eggs are very clean. The litter has to go somewhere, and it's usually in piles. Sometimes chickens die and I'm told you don't eat those, they just go in the pile.

Somehow this feels like over share.
However, it is good to know! :!:
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Post  ashort on 4/12/2011, 2:39 pm

Back to my OP - would the fact that the commercial compost has all sorts of sticks and wood indicate that it might not be all that well composted and not be supplying the nutrients that one would think?
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Post  HPartin on 4/12/2011, 3:00 pm

I have wondered the same thing. I would think that the larger pieces would use up nitrogen in your garden. I am kind of at the mercy of whatever compost I can find to purchase and frankly I am not faring too well in my garden. I am cooking a batch of compost but it won't be ready for at least another season. Sad

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Post  boffer on 4/12/2011, 3:08 pm

lol sorry about that

The rule of thumb for composting at home is that compost is ready to use when then is no longer identifiable 'stuff' in it. Wardinwake likes to say that: 'Commercial compost is ready to be used when there is a buyer for it.'

One thing that is true, is that wood 'steals' nitrogen from the soil it is in to help with the decomposition process. Once it is decomposed, the nitrogen is released back into the soil for plants to use. Here in the PNW 'beauty bark' is a popular mulch for flower beds. But the media gardening pros are always reminding us that laying on top is OK, but don't turn that type of mulch under where it will start to decompose.

I run my compost through a sifter made of ½ inch hardware cloth to screen out the slow stuff and rocks, like Ha-v-v does.
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Post  NHGardener on 4/12/2011, 3:21 pm

Ew about the chicken parts, and compost isn't supposed to contain meat products anyway, so they're cheating.

And about composting, remember Ruth Stout, she wrote books about throwing everything right there on top of your garden and let it compost there. She was famous. So I don't know.

I'm sticking with the commercial stuff for now, hoping I get the hang of getting my pile to break down faster.
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Post  Chopped Liver MM on 4/12/2011, 3:41 pm

@ashort wrote:Back to my OP - would the fact that the commercial compost has all sorts of sticks and wood indicate that it might not be all that well composted and not be supplying the nutrients that one would think?

It could mean several things.

You might be getting a mix of compost and "top soil". The top soil might be the part containing the sticks. It could also mean it's pure compost and you're getting incomplete composted material, or the sticks were much larger and didn't get enough time to decompose. It could be a "forest products" compost which tend to have sticks in them. I've seen bog soil labeled as compost, and frankly it doesn't really qualify to me as compost. The new labels on the bags make me all warm and fuzzy about the sources. "Regionally Formulated" has become far to common. It looks sensible enough, but it really says, we don't care to tell you what's in the bag.

Regardless, I'd venture to guess that anything you compost at home is going to be much better than the bagged stuff. There may be a few places that sell the quality stuff, but at $4 per cf, must of the stuff yo buy in the store can't be all that great. Remember it's probably been from a source (farm, nursery, forest, cannery, etc) , to a composting operation, to a re-seller, to a retailer, via trucking lines and warehouses before entering your hands. Each of these sources has to make a little something on the product, and at $4 per cu foot, there's not much money to go around.

Another POV, what did it cost me to put together the 190ish cf I have cooking now? I had the fence, landscape fabrics, T posts, rebar, and most of the compost material. Staples cost about $10, gas $50 to go get everything, and mow. That works out to about $0.31 per cf in materials. Time is another issue altogether.

Not sure I've even come close to answering your question. I guess my opinion matches Mel's, What you make at home will be far better than store bought compost.

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Post  ashort on 4/12/2011, 4:05 pm

I agree. My problem is limited space. I am trying to put together a compost pile, but I have to use the commercial stuff for now. I guess if it is labeled compost then one should get the kind that appears to have the smallest pieces that looks kinda like dirt. So far, the LBBS (local big box store) has a couple that look better then the others... In the mean time, is there any problem adding some miracle grow or plant food?
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Post  Chopped Liver MM on 4/12/2011, 11:44 pm

How is your space limited? I've got 66 cf cooking and it's foot print is 2'6" x 2'6" x 4' tall. You could buy a big trashcan and compost more in it that most folks will ever use.
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Post  Old Hippie on 4/13/2011, 1:44 am

Ashort, I have come across large chunks in bought compost a few years back when I didn't have much for composting my own stuff. I just screened out the large pieces. It was sticks and large chunks of bark. The rest of it was fine. I just figured they weren't doing a very good job of screening it.

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Post  ashort on 4/13/2011, 11:06 am

@Chopped Liver MM wrote:How is your space limited? I've got 66 cf cooking and it's foot print is 2'6" x 2'6" x 4' tall. You could buy a big trashcan and compost more in it that most folks will ever use.

Got any pics or links? I am curious about how you compost in a big trash can -that would probably be ideal.

I say limited, I live in the typical DFW suburb - large house, small lot. I can probably spare 8-9 square feet in a corner though..
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Post  myhouseofBOYS on 4/13/2011, 12:00 pm

@ashort wrote:
@Chopped Liver MM wrote:How is your space limited? I've got 66 cf cooking and it's foot print is 2'6" x 2'6" x 4' tall. You could buy a big trashcan and compost more in it that most folks will ever use.

Got any pics or links? I am curious about how you compost in a big trash can -that would probably be ideal.

I say limited, I live in the typical DFW suburb - large house, small lot. I can probably spare 8-9 square feet in a corner though..

I am trying this http://video.about.com/greenliving/Homemade-Compost-Bin.htm
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Post  Square 1 on 4/13/2011, 12:33 pm

I built a garbage can compostor a couple days ago. Found the instructions at about.com - very simple. Cost about $20
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Post  Chopped Liver MM on 4/13/2011, 1:10 pm

Ashort,

The garbage can link myhouseofBOYS posted will work. I'd put a lot more air holes in than they have in the video! Remember if you go this route to water, and roll frequently. Rolling every day will only speed things up. Poking the holes can be a real bear and a 40 gallon can will hold about 5 cf if you fill it full. Leave a little room for things to move when rolled.

Below is some regular old fencing with a t-post for some support. This takes about 20 minutes to build and in my opinion is a lot easier that the garbage can. These are 2'6" in diameter and 4' tall. They hold about 65 cf when full. To mix them, lift the fence off the pile once a week, and put the pile back in. It's easier than it sounds.

Purchased compost Pre_2010

If you want something that looks better, you can wrap the fencing in regular old landscaping fabric. This allows water and air in, but hides the ugly process. We sewed two 3' pieced together for the tumbler shown below, but you can buy 6' wide as well. Note this tumbler holds 68 cf of compost when full and finishes fast because I can roll to mix it daily. If built from scratch it'll cover a 5' x 3' area. We move the piles above into the tumbler to finish them.

Purchased compost Pre_2011

Hopefully this will give you enough to get started. Shout if you have any questions, and please post pictures when you're done. Wink

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Post  Popo on 6/16/2014, 1:51 am

I found one after I already made my first square foot garden that looks great and I wish had use it it my MEL'S Mix. It's called Stout-ollie and I'm using it when I replant to a square or add a little to certain squares.It has composted cotton waste,composted catfish trimmings and composted cow manure in it so that's 3 compost already. I'm going to make another box and use it along with earthworm castings and mushroom compost.
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Post  walshevak on 6/16/2014, 6:18 am

@Popo wrote:I found one after I already made my first square foot garden that looks great and I wish had use it it my MEL'S Mix. It's called Stout-ollie and I'm using it when I replant to a square or add a little to certain squares.It has composted cotton waste,composted catfish trimmings and composted cow manure in it so that's 3 compost already. I'm going to make another box and use it along with earthworm castings and mushroom compost.

I'm always picking up new composts I see.  I just add them into my existing blend and mix with my homemade.  

Can you post the company info?  Maybe some of us can get a local nursery to stock.  I did that with another compost.

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Post  Popo on 6/16/2014, 6:29 am

www.stout-Ollie compost.com it says dealers can contact ray@stout-Ollie.com or call 803-928-0035 It's family owned and they raise cattle and grow kiwis.
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Post  VJ72584 on 6/16/2014, 2:03 pm

I bought it at the plant and flower show at our farmers market for $6 a bag. The local feed and seed has it but it costs $9 there. He made it particularly for tomatoes but I just mixed it in with all the others.
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