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COMPOST 101

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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Scorpio Rising 12/17/2021, 8:44 pm

How cool is that, inspiring our next generation!
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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  Chuck d'Argy 4/5/2022, 12:55 am

Is there merit in throwing a few handfuls of compost into the pile of new stuff to be composted?
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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson 4/5/2022, 4:42 am

I've read of people doing that. But, my thought is the high temperatures generated in the newly build pile would kill off the microbes that predominate at ambient temperature.

I stopped writing and turn to the book "Teaming with Microbes," by Lowenfels and Lewis for help. Pages 133-137. Paraphrased: The mesophilic organisms thrive between 68-104*F. When the temperatures start to rise in a new pile, they produce spores in order to survive heat. . .During temperatures between 104-150*F, the thermophilic microbes predominate. This is the pathogen and seed killing phase that helps produce safe and weed-free compost. . . By turning the pile to "switch the inside and bottom materials in the pile with the outside and top materials" insures that this killing phase happens throughout the pile. As the pile enters the maturation phase, the mesophilic organisms (spores) start to flourish and take over as the dominant organism, continuing to take over the final breaking down of material.

So, it looks like you can add a couple of handfuls of mature compost if you want, or not. Either way, the microbes on the raw ingredients will provide sufficient microbes to do the job of composting. The carbon to nitrogen ratio of the ingredients should be around 25:1 to 30:1.

I like this calculator: http://www.klickitatcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/3523/Compost-Calculator?bidId=

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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  OhioGardener 9/24/2022, 9:45 pm

Soose wrote:Ohiogardener here seems to make  lots of compost quickly. He has said he goes and collects juice pulp from juice stores, and coffee grounds from coffee houses.  So his volume is amazing to me.  I hope when he sees this that he will consider creating a video or series of little videos on his Youtube channel showing the stages of his process and talking over the steps, for creating quick compost.   How bout it, OG?  I've been meaning to ask recently.

A video or series of videos probably would be too useful. I have two different methods of making compost, one quick and one very slow. I have two dual bin compost tumblers, which make quick compost, and a 3-bin compost bin that makes "cold compost" which can take up to a year to make a complete batch of compost.  The compost bin is simply layers of "green" garden plants, etc., and "brown" leaves or straw. It slowly composts down until it is turned into the 2nd bin, and then into the 3rd bin. A very slow process, but very good compost when it is done.

The two dual-bin compost tumblers, on the other hand provide fast composting. Each bin of the compost tumblers makes completed compost in about 30 days, so I can empty one bin a week and then start a new batch. This takes a lot of input to fill one of the 4 bins every week, though. That is why I pick up pulp from juice bars, used coffee grounds from Starbucks, and free sawdust from the sawmill. And, in addition to our own kitchen scraps, there are two neighbors that save their kitchen scraps in 5-gallon buckets to add to my compost tumbler. These actions allow me to get the 30 to 35 gallons of ingredients to fill one of the bins of the compost tumbler (20 - 25 gallons of "green" material and 5 - 10 gallons of dry sawdust).  The important thing is temperature monitoring. Within two days the mixture described above will reach 160ºF, which is excellent. But, as soon as that temperature starts dropping, the tumbler needs to be turned so that the temp goes back up to 160ºF.  That process is repeated until the temp is no longer able to climb back up to 160ºF, then the tumbler is just turned every 3 or 4 days to keep the compost maturing. After the end a month, the compost is ready to be dumped out and stored in the 3rd bin of the compost bin until it is needed in the garden.

The bottom line is that in order to get a lot of quality home made compost, one must have a lot of high quality material to start composting. Fortunately, between neighbors and community stores & shops there is an abundance of free composting material that otherwise would go into the landfill.

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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Composting

Post  Soose 9/25/2022, 7:18 am

OhioGardener wrote:A video or series of videos probably would be too useful. I have two different methods of making compost, one quick and one very slow.
TY OhioGardener for explaining it again. 

[ I think I'll start another thread, not to co-opt Karen's here. I know there are other composting threads, and later Sanderson or someone might want to move something new to another location and append to an existing thread. But for speed right now, I'm just going to start a new one for my questions.  Thanks! ]
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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  OhioGardener 9/25/2022, 4:04 pm

Talking about feeding the compost tumblers....today I stopped in the Kroger store to get some milk, and the Starbucks counter in the store had a bag of "Grounds for Gardeners" ready to be picked up. So, I added it to the cart.  Then, on the way home I stopped by a Starbucks cafe and they had a bag of grounds available for pickup which I collected. It weighs about 30#.  These grounds will really heat up the compost tumbler. Very Happy

COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Starbu10

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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Tractor Supply alfalfa bales as grass substitute?

Post  toledobend 9/30/2022, 12:55 pm

I live on a lake and use no herbicides or fertilizers on my "grass" which is actually mostly weeds.  Even super hot composting piles seem to not kill all the weed seeds in the compost. Plus, I don't have a bagger for my mower.  Do any of you think there might be anything in the bales of alfalfa at Tractor Supply that might remain after composting that would be harmful to my plants? Also, would the alfalfa be considered greens like grass?
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Post  sanderson 9/30/2022, 3:55 pm

Tolendo, I'm a bit confused. Your lawn is weedy. The hot compost isn't killing the weed seeds. Regarding the hot compost, it needs to be turned, inside to the outside, to ensure that every part is exposed to 140*F to 160*F. Are you exposing the compost to the weedy lawn? Does the lack of a bagger for the mower, throw weed seeds into the bed or the compost pile?

Alfalfa hay is 25:1 for carbon and nitrogen. Right there between browns and green. What exactly are the ingredients in the compost pile and what ratios?

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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  OhioGardener 10/2/2022, 10:45 am

One of the youtuber's that I follow just posted a very good video on 3-bay composting, and I thought it would be great to post it here.  I do the same with my 3-bay compost that he does, and while watching his video it occurred to me that too many people unnecessarily complicate compost making. His video highlights how simple and uncomplicated composting can be: Fill up the left bay to the top, let it sit for months while filling up the right bay, turn the left bay into the middle bay, repeat by starting to re-fill the left bay. (I'll post a link to his video at the bottom of this post for those interested in watching it.)

After watching his video, I decided to check on my compost bin. Yesterday I finished filling the left bay and started filling the right bay. I nearly emptied the middle bay to put the compost onto the raised beds. I put the compost thermometer into the newly filled left bay, and it registered 98ºF - a good temp for a new pile of compost.

My 3-bay compost bin this morning.COMPOST 101 - Page 16 3-bay_10



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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Tractor Supply alfalfa bales as grass substitute?

Post  toledobend 10/3/2022, 10:18 am

sanderson wrote:Tolendo,  I'm a bit confused.  Your lawn is weedy.  The hot compost isn't killing the weed seeds.  Regarding the hot compost, it needs to be turned, inside to the outside, to ensure that every part is exposed to 140*F to 160*F.   Are you exposing the compost to the weedy lawn?  Does the lack of a bagger for the mower, throw weed seeds into the bed or the compost pile?

Alfalfa hay is 25:1 for carbon and nitrogen.  Right there between browns and green.  What exactly are the ingredients in the compost pile and what ratios?
When I say weedy, there's almost no grass at all.  In the past, I did have access to a bagger on a mower and got my grass from neighbor. who had grass. I have circular bins, about 4' diameter, 4' high. I would layer a few inches of grass, a few inches of leaves and some chicken and cow manures until it filled the bin.  Then every few days I would unhook the round wire bin, put it right next to the pile (the pile would normally remain in the shape of the bin) and then use a pitchfork to load the pile back into the reassembled bin and wet it a little bit every foot or so.  Temperatures would easily reach 160 degrees or more and would create fantastic compost.  But I still get weeds 3 or 4 years later.  I have a hardwood forest across the street and a leaf shredder, so I have easy access to browns.  My problem is now acquiring large amounts of greens.  That's why i was wondering if the alfalfa would work but it sounds like it isn't really a green.  But a big question is do you think there might be any deadly herbicides in the alfalfa?  And where can I acquire the large amounts of greens? I think it is more common accessing getting enough browns.
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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  OhioGardener 10/3/2022, 10:37 am

toledobend wrote: Temperatures would easily reach 160 degrees or more and would create fantastic compost.  But I still get weeds 3 or 4 years later.

If the compost reached 160ºF, and was held there for several days, it would have killed any weed seeds and any pathogens.  If weeds showed up 3 or 4 years later, they probably came from somewhere else.

My problem is now acquiring large amounts of greens.  That's why i was wondering if the alfalfa would work but it sounds like it isn't really a green.  But a big question is do you think there might be any deadly herbicides in the alfalfa?  And where can I acquire the large amounts of greens? I think it is more common accessing getting enough browns.

Unless it is Organic Alfalfa it could have been Roundup Ready Alfalfa, and had Roundup herbicide applied to it. If it is Organic Alfalfa it could not have any herbicide on it.

You might want to check outside the box for greens: Free coffee grounds from Starbucks or other cafes/coffee shops; Food pulp from local juice bars; Micro Brewery hops; Fruit & Vegetable discards from local grocery store; Ask neighbors to save their kitchen scraps for you (I provide 5 gallon buckets with lids to them for this); etc., etc.,etc.

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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  sanderson 10/3/2022, 5:30 pm

OhioGardener wrote:Unless it is Organic Alfalfa it could have been Roundup Ready Alfalfa, and had Roundup herbicide applied to it. If it is Organic Alfalfa it could not have any herbicide on it.
Good point about "organic" alfalfa.

You might want to check outside the box for greens: Free coffee grounds from Starbucks or other cafes/coffee shops; Food pulp from local juice bars; Micro Brewery hops; Fruit & Vegetable discards from local grocery store; Ask neighbors to save their kitchen scraps for you (I provide 5 gallon buckets with lids to them for this); etc., etc.,etc.
For greens, I used to collect horse manure from the college agricultural area, discards from the farmer markets (I provided 5-gallon buckets), Starbucks used grounds, and the ktichen.  Browns were mowed or used straw and fall leaves. I did use alfalfa hay mowed with the lawn mower to mainly add bulk to reach a full 3'x3'x3' bin.

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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  OhioGardener 10/16/2022, 6:36 pm

The South Carolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Control has an excellent short brochure on Composting: Natural Recycling, which is a downloadable PDF file.

https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/Library/OR-1705.pdf

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 10/16/2022, 11:29 pm

Excuse me for a possibly stupid question, but can I turn greens into browns by waiting for them to dry out?  I keep reading sites and watching YouTube vids, and no-one ever mentions this, so I think perhaps I'm wrong!  But I'm really going to struggle to find enough free browns, so I'm thinking I can start getting tree/bush trimmings from people in the neighbourhood and leaving them on a tarp to dry out.  I can then shred them and add to the pile.  Am I wrong?  I was also thinking about drying out grass clippings -- would this work too?
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Post  Soose 10/17/2022, 10:21 am

KiwiSFGnewbie wrote:Excuse me for a possibly stupid question, but can I turn greens into browns by waiting for them to dry out?  I keep reading sites and watching YouTube vids, and no-one ever mentions this, so I think perhaps I'm wrong!  But I'm really going to struggle to find enough free browns, so I'm thinking I can start getting tree/bush trimmings from people in the neighbourhood and leaving them on a tarp to dry out.  I can then shred them and add to the pile.  Am I wrong?  I was also thinking about drying out grass clippings -- would this work too?

Kiwi... I want to know the same thing.   I am definitely looking forward to getting out and raking or mowing up some leaves from the yard here.

Can you get sawdust from anyone?  Cardboard boxes?

We have mostly been using "pine pellets" which I learned about from OhioGardener, and which has a high carbon content so it doesn't take that much relatively speaking (compared to other browns we can get) to get the brown ratios up.   I would not like to pay $4 or 5/bag for them (US) for compost purposes, but the local "TractorSupply" store gets pallets of the bags. and when a bag gets torn even slightly much less torn open and spilling, they sell them for $1.  So I drop in once every couple of weeks and sometimes I'm lucky.  Last week, I brought home 2 bags for $2!
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COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Empty Re: COMPOST 101

Post  OhioGardener 10/17/2022, 4:29 pm

KiwiSFGnewbie wrote:Excuse me for a possibly stupid question, but can I turn greens into browns by waiting for them to dry out?  I keep reading sites and watching YouTube vids, and no-one ever mentions this, so I think perhaps I'm wrong! 

The reason you don't see very much on turning greens into browns is because it is not a black & white issue.  Some greens can easily become browns, such as leaves.  When leaves are fresh off the tree, they are greens, but if it fall and the leaves have fallen from the tree they are browns. Grass cuttings, on the other hand, does not dry naturally on the plant as leaves do on trees, and they remain as more green than brown.

When making compost it is much easier, and less strain on the brain, if we simply select greens and browns rather than trying to convert a green to a brown.  Think outside the box for selecting our browns - shredded cardboard, shredded news paper (non-colored), paper plates, napkins, coffee filters, toilet paper or paper towel tubes, dryer lint, pure cotton fabric (no synthetics), paper bags from grocery store, etc., etc., etc.

Is there a sawmill or a pallet manufacturing plant near you? If so, ask them for some sawdust. Sawdust has a very high C:N ratio, something like 500:1, so you don't need much for the compost.

Stop by a local furniture store and ask them if you can have some of the cardboard the receive their furniture in. They will gladly give you all that you can haul so that they don't have to pay someone to get it for recycling. Cardboard has a C:N ratio of 350:1, which is nearly as high a sawdust.  Note: If you have a lot of cardboard, soak it with water and then tear it into pieces -- it is much easier to tear wet cardboard than it is to tear dry cardboard.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 10/17/2022, 5:12 pm

OhioGardener wrote:The reason you don't see very much on turning greens into browns is because it is not a black & white issue.  Some greens can easily become browns, such as leaves.  When leaves are fresh off the tree, they are greens, but if it fall and the leaves have fallen from the tree they are browns. Grass cuttings, on the other hand, does not dry naturally on the plant as leaves do on trees, and they remain as more green than brown.

When making compost it is much easier, and less strain on the brain, if we simply select greens and browns rather than trying to convert a green to a brown.  Think outside the box for selecting our browns - shredded cardboard, shredded news paper (non-colored), paper plates, napkins, coffee filters, toilet paper or paper towel tubes, dryer lint, pure cotton fabric (no synthetics), paper bags from grocery store, etc., etc., etc.

Is there a sawmill or a pallet manufacturing plant near you? If so, ask them for some sawdust. Sawdust has a very high C:N ratio, something like 500:1, so you don't need much for the compost.

Stop by a local furniture store and ask them if you can have some of the cardboard the receive their furniture in. They will gladly give you all that you can haul so that they don't have to pay someone to get it for recycling. Cardboard has a C:N ratio of 350:1, which is nearly as high a sawdust.  Note: If you have a lot of cardboard, soak it with water and then tear it into pieces -- it is much easier to tear wet cardboard than it is to tear dry cardboard.

This is fabulous, thank you so much OG Smile   I'm in NZ's biggest city, so sawmills are not close by, but there is a pallet manufacturer about 1/4hr away so I'll call them.  I was going to ask my neighbour if I can have her old newspapers but your note about black ink only has me worried.  I thought all newspaper inks were safe these days?
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Post  OhioGardener 10/17/2022, 5:39 pm

KiwiSFGnewbie wrote: I was going to ask my neighbour if I can have her old newspapers but your note about black ink only has me worried.  I thought all newspaper inks were safe these days?

All black newspaper ink is soy-based, but some color ink may be petroleum-based. NZ may require that all ink be plant-based, but you would need to check with the publisher to check on that.

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 10/17/2022, 5:40 pm

OhioGardener wrote:The South Carolina Dept. of Health and Environmental Control has an excellent short brochure on Composting: Natural Recycling, which is a downloadable PDF file.

https://scdhec.gov/sites/default/files/Library/OR-1705.pdf
Strongly second this one.  The best few minutes I've yet spent on compost -- learned a huge amount!  Very clear and easy to digest (pun not intended).  The flowchart on p3 is pure genius! clap
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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 10/17/2022, 5:41 pm

OhioGardener wrote:
KiwiSFGnewbie wrote: I was going to ask my neighbour if I can have her old newspapers but your note about black ink only has me worried.  I thought all newspaper inks were safe these days?

All black newspaper ink is soy-based, but some color ink may be petroleum-based. NZ may require that all ink be plant-based, but you would need to check with the publisher to check on that.
OK, thanks for the info, I'll ring the newspaper.
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Post  yolos 10/21/2022, 8:13 pm

I have a lot of frozen beans in my freezer that were harvested, blanched and frozen in 2019.  I want to get rid of them so I can store 2022 beans.  If I defrost them and put them in my compost pile, will they still be considered greens rich in nitrogen.   Or does blanching them reduce the amount of nitrogen in the beans.
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Post  OhioGardener 10/21/2022, 8:15 pm

yolos wrote:I have a lot of frozen beans in my freezer that were harvested, blanched and frozen in 2019.  I want to get rid of them so I can store 2022 beans.  If I defrost them and put them in my compost pile, will they still be considered greens rich in nitrogen.   Or does blanching them reduce the amount of nitrogen in the beans.

They are still considered as greens, mostly due to the low carbon content.

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Post  OhioGardener 12/1/2022, 9:15 am

Browsing through the used book store yesterday I came across a book
titled, "Compost Everything" that looked interesting. So, I brought it home.  I've only scanned the book so far, but it is very interesting in that it changes a lot of rules on composting and basically says anything and everything can be composted: "Stop sending potential soil fertility to the landfill and feed your garden for free!"

If you get a chance to get this book, you will probably find it very enlightening on composting opportunities.

COMPOST 101 - Page 16 Compos10

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Post  KiwiSFGnewbie 12/1/2022, 2:12 pm

OhioGardener wrote:Browsing through the used book store yesterday I came across a book
titled, "Compost Everything" that looked interesting. So, I brought it home.  I've only scanned the book so far, but it is very interesting in that it changes a lot of rules on composting and basically says anything and everything can be composted: "Stop sending potential soil fertility to the landfill and feed your garden for free!"

If you get a chance to get this book, you will probably find it very enlightening on composting opportunities.

Yay, it's available at my library!  Already ordered Smile  Thanks, OG
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Post  Soose 12/1/2022, 2:35 pm

My library has it thru an online service (Hoopla). Will try to read it. Thanks! Smile
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