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Pallet style compost question

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Too Tall Tomatoes
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Post  Roseinarosecity 3/21/2012, 4:25 pm

I currently have a pallet style compost. Lately I have noticed Oxalis sprouting in my compost and in my Mel's mix. I never put this weed in my compost pile but it is everywhere in my garden. I think we are digging too deep into the compost; we actually use a pitchfork not a shovel to turn the pile over. I'm thinking we are turning over the dirt base into the compost, thereby adding the oxalis. When I was sifting the last compost I noticed that it was looking like it has sand or dirt. So, my question is, should I add a bottom base in my pallet bin to prevent us from turning over too deeply? My husband said if we add chicken wire or hardware, we will pull it out with the prongs of the pitchfork. We are considering adding wooden slats on the bottom floor of the 3 wall pallet bin spaced about one inch apart. Does this make sense?
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Post  llama momma 3/21/2012, 4:40 pm

I have a 3 bin system all made with wooden pallets. Think you are going to get a lot of answers for this situation. Generally you want the bottom of the compost to sit on soil so all the good little worms and bugs have access to breaking down everything. Others will tell you no, make a bottom and preserve run-off. Others will say to do a slat bottom like your picture for good aeration. If it were me I think I would turn the heap over more often, if possible, to disrupt the growth of the oxalis and keep pulling it out. I had a bunch of weeds come up in my first corn planting when using new compost. Once I gave it one good solid effort of weeding, that was pretty much the end of it. I hope you have similar results.
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Post  llama momma 3/21/2012, 4:48 pm

Also I don't know how vigorous oxalis is or if the openings in the slats will be enough to deter growth to your satisfaction. The slats won't hurt so if nothing else you will hopefully cut down on its growth while giving a little more aeration to the bottom of the pile and still allowing bugs and microbes up into the pile.
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Post  curio 3/21/2012, 6:20 pm

Most oxalis reproduces by runners sent just below the soil level, although the runners will live when buried under a foot of soil and still send up shoots (don't ask). Once it is established, it is extremely difficult to get rid of, since any portion of that underground runner will simply make another plant.

I don't think those boards are going to stop it... slow it down perhaps, but not block it out. The only way you "might" be able to get rid of it organically would be to put an underground barrier about 1' deep all around the perimeter of your bin(s) with the top inch or so above ground and then saturate the soil inside that bin (when empty) with vinegar, dig it up and remove any runners or baby plants that you find. You might have to do this purge each time the bin is emptied for awhile.
Good luck Smile
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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes 3/21/2012, 6:37 pm

@llama momma wrote:If it were me I think I would turn the heap over more often, if possible, to disrupt the growth of the oxalis and keep pulling it out. I had a bunch of weeds come up in my first corn planting when using new compost. Once I gave it one good solid effort of weeding, that was pretty much the end of it. I hope you have similar results.

I'm in agreement with you llama Pallet style compost question 3170584802
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Post  Roseinarosecity 3/21/2012, 7:32 pm

I did more research on what I was calling oxalis and they are called Bermuda Buttercup (Oxalis pes-caprae). They grow from a tiny bulb. I think I can control introducing it to my compost by using the wood slat base. The base will prevent us from turning over the compost too deeply. We turn the compost pile 1 to 4 times a week. Before I had the pallet bin in this location, I had wood chip mulch and that seem to control them. These little bulblets are very hardy. When they grow in my Mel's mix I make sure I dig down to remove the sprouting leaves with the bulb intact. Thank goodness Mel's mix is so friable.

But back to the pallet compost, so it's not unusual to have a base? I will be adding some new composting material and some earthworms I have been keeping separately to re-introduce to the new pile.
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Post  plantoid 3/21/2012, 7:42 pm

British Butttercup bulbs and roots will grow anywhere from usually the smallest of bits they love acid soil . or slightly acid compost. I suspect yours will be very similar.



Carefully ease them out and either burn them or bung them in a light proof covered bucket of water for a few weeks till they rot & no observable plant form is found ,then pour the resultant liquid back on the compost heap.
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Post  Too Tall Tomatoes 3/21/2012, 7:45 pm

@Roseinarosecity wrote:But back to the pallet compost, so it's not unusual to have a base? I will be adding some new composting material and some earthworms I have been keeping separately to re-introduce to the new pile.

Some people have a base to their compost bin and others don't. My compost bin doesn't have a bottom....just 4 sides.
A pallet on the bottom may allow for some airflow through the bottom but I would think that the stuff would fall down the slats and block off any airflow....just my thinking.
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Post  llama momma 3/21/2012, 7:46 pm

[I'm in agreement with you llama Pallet style compost question 3170584802[/quote]

Back at you with Killian's Red Pallet style compost question 3170584802
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Post  llama momma 3/21/2012, 7:52 pm

[
But back to the pallet compost, so it's not unusual to have a base? I will be adding some new composting material and some earthworms I have been keeping separately to re-introduce to the new pile.[/quote]

That's right, I've seen a video of some guy preserving the fluid contents by putting a metal basin contraption on the bottom of his compost. He simply kept a close watch on the moisture level and added shovels of soil to introduce bacteria and bugs.
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Post  Roseinarosecity 3/22/2012, 2:05 pm

Thank you for your responses. I am keeping the wooden slats only because I don't want to incorporate the dirt in our enthusiastic turning. I will return with the pros and cons of this system in approximately 3 months as I will start to load it with compost material this week and hope to have some compost by then.

Thanks again!
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Post  camprn 3/22/2012, 2:53 pm

I have my compost pile sitting on the ground for similar reasons: the bacteria exchange is beneficial, earth worms and other beneficial creatures can come and go. I use a flat edge shovel to get the last of the compost when turning the pile, which limits the amount of dirt that gets lifted.

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Post  yolos 3/22/2012, 4:36 pm

I also set my compost bins directly on the ground. The last time I turned a pile I counted the worms I could easily see as I turned the pile. 250 worms. I am not sure if I would get any worms if the pile was sitting on wooden slats.
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Post  dsfin 3/22/2012, 5:29 pm

From what I've read, glyphosate herbicide (RoundUp or Pronto) will eventually get. It has to be a systemic herbicide to attack the rood system.

Constant weed of it won't be of much help, as any disturbance of the plant will cause seeds to be scattered; which of course will quickly germinated. Probably making the problem worse.

Smothering it by using Black plastic does help but will not kill it at the root level.

I'd also be concerned with a compost pile residing directly on the ground. I assume it would just contaminate the compost and then your SFG beds too.

Myself, I'd try using the systemic herbicide (heavy strength). That should make the top growth wilt (that's how you know the chemical is being absorbed). I'd do additional applications of the herbicide until I saw it wilt. Then I would cover the area with Black plastic. There can't be any holes in the plastic as it will find its way up through it. Maybe even use multiple layers of Black plastic if necessary. Then I would put the compost pile on top of the plastic. Caution would be necessary to ensure the plastic is not punctured when turning the compost pile.

The next year, I'd remove everything to see if it tries to take hold again. If so, start repeating the same process again. Some are saying it can take several years to get rid of it. It's that bad!!!

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