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I can't find compost for my Mel's mix, and my compost pile is not sufficient

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I can't find compost for my Mel's mix, and my compost pile is not sufficient Empty I can't find compost for my Mel's mix, and my compost pile is not sufficient

Post  bvarbel on 7/16/2020, 8:25 pm

I am trying to make Mel's mix for my garden. I can't find compost anywhere (Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, several nurseries, etc), let alone several types. I did start a compost pile, but 2 of us don't produce much kitchen scraps, and I don't have grass clippings or leaves. I don't believe I'll be able to produce enough compost myself to make Mel's mix.

The only compost I can find is manure.  I don't know what to do? 

Any ideas on where I can find compost? Also, any ideas to get the layers of materials I need to make my own, hopefully by next spring.

I live in Victorville, California in the high desert.
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Post  OhioGardener on 7/17/2020, 8:44 am

It is surprising that none of the big box stores, such as Lowe's and Home Depot, don't have compost available, or be able to ship it to the store with free shipping. Have you called some of the local mulch companies to see if they offer compost, or can direct you to some. If you haven't already, call American Organics, there in Victorville and ask them if they have compost available or can recommend local sources of compost.

It is a bit of distance from you, but I know that the Palmdale/Antelope Valley area has a lot of composting facilities. You may be able to get some bulk compost delivered from that area.

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Post  Dan in Ct on 7/17/2020, 10:39 am

bvarbel, This organization is in San Diego county and maybe a source of information. They do have many programs and workshops on composting and vermicomposting, I just don't know how close they get to your area. The link;

https://www.solanacenter.org/

Hopefully this is of some help.
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Post  plantoid on 7/18/2020, 12:43 pm

B V  what sort of manure are you able to access ? doe it come with straw or hay bedding or something else ?


 You can get blocks of steamed out fine chopped coconut fibre . It can be used as the substitute for peat once well rehydrated or can be added as a brown into a viable compost making set up but it must be properly composted this time .

 
 Have a peek into the Cornel university extension about their  "  Berkley 21 day hot composting method " .. in the lists given in their links therein , are no end of ideas of what can be successfully used  for making compost in any part of the world


Last edited by plantoid on 7/18/2020, 12:51 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post  bvarbel on 7/18/2020, 12:48 pm

@plantoid wrote:B V  what sort of manure are you able to access ? doe it come with straw or hay bedding or something else ?

I can find chicken manure and cow manure. I think I can find worm castings as well...
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Post  plantoid on 7/18/2020, 12:53 pm

When you say " manure ) do you mean straight dung or urine soaked straw not hay beddings as well ?  As there is an important difference that may cause you no end of grief .
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Post  bvarbel on 7/18/2020, 1:04 pm

@plantoid wrote:When you say " manure ) do you mean straight dung or urine soaked straw not hay beddings as well ?  As there is an important difference that may cause you no end of grief .
The manure I saw at home depot and amazon seemed to be "composted"...not raw, but I'm not sure.
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Post  plantoid on 7/18/2020, 2:15 pm

My  take on things

 The world of dung , manure & compost  is a strange one,  many folk that straight out the back end is called manure rather than dung  .  It has to have been partly broken down by bacteria & fungi  to be called manure .. If there is wheat straw with it great  stack it high in big piles for a few weeks turning it over every few days and bacterial & fungal actions turn it into compost .   Leave it alone and anaerobically it will still become manure which when spread in he fields  of garden for further break down turns into a form of compost  . 

As a rough guide if you can still see lots of coarse clean fibres in the material it is reasonably fresh manure that may take a bit of nitrogen out the garden , till it reaches the tip over point of decay  then it produces nitrogen. 
 If these fibres are broken down into fine stuff then think of it as being successfully composted which will mean most of the nutrients are ready and raring to feed you garden 

Home made compost should contain a varied mix of well composted stuff and only just coarse composted stuff so that instead of it all being used by the garden in one season it carries on decaying for yo to seven year . I know this as feeding & building  the garden / beds 
If grass hay is i-used in horse feed or for any bedding the dung & manures made from it will still contain loads of weed seeds as a horses digestive system does not kill weed seeds like the gut of a ruminant does .  Any ruminant  dung & hay free bedding makes excellent  manure & compost so does pig muck , goose turkey & chicken & chicken muck if it is mixed in for composting .  Rabbit muck is ideal neat & fresh .

 One last thing ...

Beware of any shop purchased bagged compost ,  especially if it says made from municipal waste , forestry product waste or composted bark 
 The municipal stuff may well have residual hormonal herbicides & god only knows what else people have chucked  in to their the rubbish bags .  
Forestry products usually mean lots of bark , wood chips  & mulched wood  which take a long time for them to rot down enough to stop consuming nitrogen out the gardens it also upsets the balance of a quality Mel's Mix  often resulting in very poor crops in the early years which causes many to give up square foot gardening .  Such early days  high wood content home made compost can be equalized with liberal sprinklings between layers as you build your compost heaps with half cups of dried  " blood , fish & ground up bone meal . Do read & follow the usage instructions to the letter as  it can be nasty stuff in cuts or if breathed in.
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Post  Dan in Ct on 7/21/2020, 3:03 pm

plantoid, here dung and manure are synonymous with manure getting great usage. I think best to look for finished composted manure. The Berkeley Composting Method came out of The University of California at Berkeley. I don't believe in the method per se because I think it takes longer than 2 - 3 weeks for good compost just to cure, for all the beneficial microbes to return. The reason for the degree of heat is to kill plant pathogens and weed seeds not necessarily to make the best compost you could. Nature has been making good compost for eons.

Here it takes about 6 months to make very good compost maybe slightly, considered a soil amendment because you can't guarantee the amounts of nutrient from one batch to the next to be considered fertilizer but everyone who Squarefoot Gardens knows the nutrients are there. Here is a link to the Berkeley Composting Method. The method has to be well monitored, turned when it needs to be turned and not when it is convenient. 

https://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/compost_rapidcompost.pdf

bvarbel, here is a link to the US Composting Council and according to their website there is a composting facility in Victorville. Just hover on Use Compost, near the top of the page and you will find facilities in your area. I am not sure if they sell to the general public but a phone call will take care of that. Here is the link.

https://www.compostingcouncil.org/

Learn to make good compost and it will make you a better gardener. Good screened compost should look like a great media to grow in, have an undeniable earthy aroma, a dark brown earthen tone and no discernible chunks of the initial ingredients.
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Post  sanderson on 7/23/2020, 2:46 am

https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t18500-compost-berkeley-18-day-hot-method?highlight=berkeley

I found it took at least 30-60 days for the cooking, turning and the cool down parts. It should be screened for non-composted material, with that material tossed back in the bin for the next batch. I had trouble finding real compost when I first started so making compost year around (California) was the only way to guarantee enough compost for the beds. Mowed bedding straw, alfalfa hay and leaves. Farmer market and kitchen culls, horse manure, Starbucks coffee grounds, seaweed.

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Post  sanderson on 7/23/2020, 3:46 am

bvarbel,  I replied to your post a couple days ago, and lost it! Sad

Finding a variety of real composts this Covid year has been a challenge.  There was such a run on buying up everything veggie-garden related.  California lost a good compost, Ecoscraps Compost, when Lowes stopped carrying it.  Nature's Care Really Good Compost disappeared from Home Depot.  Shocked  Whole Foods didn't carry their veggie-based compost. I did find composted chicken manure and cow manure.  If anyone around you carries Gardener and Bloome products, see if they will order some G&B Purely Compost.  I found some compost at Ace Hardware, 3 hours north of me in the Sacramento area.  That's only 6 hours each way for you.

Here is a positive note.  If you can make a full bin* of compost over the next 30-60 days, you can have a winter garden!  I grow peas, everything from the cabbage family, lettuce, radishes, cilantro, beets, carrots.  They only need to be covered if the winter night temps drop below 28*F.

* Minimum size is 3'x3'x3'. Maximum is 4'x4'x4'.

https://bakersfield.craigslist.org/grd/d/daggett-produce-worm-castings-firewood/7163969434.html

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Post  donnainzone5 on 7/23/2020, 12:38 pm

Sanderson,

Purely Compost has different formulas, depending upon the state where it's sold.
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Post  donnainzone5 on 7/23/2020, 12:39 pm

I did find Cedar Grove (the Whole Foods compost) at Home Depot this year.
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Post  bgardner on 7/23/2020, 4:01 pm

@sanderson wrote:I did find composted chicken manure and cow manure.  

sanderson,

After I harvested my garlic I decided to plant a buckwheat cover crop, and at the same time, I wanted to get some more compost into my garlic beads. I went to the local garden store and got four 40-lb bags each of chicken and cow compost. Both of them smell very much like manure, and the chicken compost was pretty warm. Does this mean that the manure hasn't really composted yet? Is it safe to use if it's still brewing?

Brian
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Post  OhioGardener on 7/23/2020, 4:13 pm

Brian, if it was sitting outside in the garden center, that is probably why it was warm. But, either way, if you are putting a cover crop in it, such as Buckwheat, it will be fine even if it is still doing some breaking down. By the time the Buckwheat is starting to bloom and is cut down for green manure, all will be well.

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Post  bgardner on 7/23/2020, 4:17 pm

@OhioGardener wrote:Brian, if it was sitting outside in the garden center, that is probably why it was warm. But, either way, if you are putting a cover crop in it, such as Buckwheat, it will be fine even if it is still doing some breaking down. By the time the Buckwheat is starting to bloom and is cut down for green manure, all will be well.

It was only 93 that day, so I'll have to think about that. Wink

All will be well, and thanks for the response. 

Brian
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Post  sanderson on 7/23/2020, 10:28 pm

I have yet to meet a bag of chicken or cow and not be able to identify its source. Wink Smell is molecular.

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Post  Dan in Ct on 7/24/2020, 8:25 am

sanderson, you must come to Connecticut, up in the western foothills of Litchfield County are two dairy farms. One makes the Cowpots and the other makes the best composted cow manure I have ever witnessed first hand, when finished there is no smell but that of humus, the smell of good earth. They do it all in semi-open huge high tunnels with a ginormous windrow machine. This field trip was part of The Master Composter program. Here farm fatalities(dead animals) are not allowed to leave the farm, so they are buried in special manure piles off from the regular composting and in 12 weeks, all that is left is a tiny piece of the skull and hip bone. At the beginning of the composting process, you know you are on a dairy farm, both grandfathers and two uncles were dairy farmers but at the end there is no smell but that which you smell in very good compost and garden soil. When completely finished whether it be chicken or cow or any other animal it should not smell especially chicken because it might mean it is still hot. I know when I open a bag of Espoma fertilizer I get the smell of chicken manure but expect it because it is fertilizer. Finished compost of any kind, should have the look, smell and feel of good earth no matter what its original ingredients were. Just for the record and so everybody knows that I know, the amount of chunks of wood I am finding in bagged cow manure suggest that the cows are pooping where the bears used to go.
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Post  OhioGardener on 7/24/2020, 9:07 am

Having worked at a number of dairy farms during my teen years, I am pretty familiar with the smell of mucking the barn and spreading it on fields....

I love the CowPots that are made there in CT, though. They have no smell, due to the totally composted cow manure, and they feed the young transplants as the pots decompose in the soil.

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Post  sanderson on 7/27/2020, 4:35 pm

I may give the cow pots a try next spring. It looks like they are on discount right now.

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Post  plantoid on 7/29/2020, 5:39 am

@Dan in Ct wrote:plantoid, here dung and manure are synonymous with manure getting great usage. I think best to look for finished composted manure. The Berkeley Composting Method came out of The University of California at Berkeley. I don't believe in the method per se because I think it takes longer than 2 - 3 weeks for good compost just to cure, for all the beneficial microbes to return. The reason for the degree of heat is to kill plant pathogens and weed seeds not necessarily to make the best compost you could. Nature has been making good compost for eons.

Here it takes about 6 months to make very good compost maybe slightly, considered a soil amendment because you can't guarantee the amounts of nutrient from one batch to the next to be considered fertilizer but everyone who Squarefoot Gardens knows the nutrients are there. Here is a link to the Berkeley Composting Method. The method has to be well monitored, turned when it needs to be turned and not when it is convenient. 

https://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/compost_rapidcompost.pdf

bvarbel, here is a link to the US Composting Council and according to their website there is a composting facility in Victorville. Just hover on Use Compost, near the top of the page and you will find facilities in your area. I am not sure if they sell to the general public but a phone call will take care of that. Here is the link.

https://www.compostingcouncil.org/

Learn to make good compost and it will make you a better gardener. Good screened compost should look like a great media to grow in, have an undeniable earthy aroma, a dark brown earthen tone and no discernible chunks of the initial ingredients.

 Hi Dan, I've been using the 18 day hot composting since I joined the site in 2009 under another name  (Some of my crops are in the site gallery ) .  You don't need to have compost rotted down  to the N th degree , aged and let rain leech out any nutrient if it is made properly .

All you need is a certain level of well rotted material that no longer robs the growth medium ( MM) of nutrients .  It finally rots away in the beds continually  nourishing the bed for about seven years .  So continually topping up with well made home compost gives the bed a fantastic build of useful rotting matter at all stages of decay when you practice Mel's method of :- " Take something out your beds , put well made home made compost back in at the same session . 

 Where I used to live in East Anglia UK pre 2005 we could smell the compost making unit from over 16 miles away when the wind was gentle & in  the right direction .  

The base material was combine harvested  wheat & barley straw ,  mixed in with all manner of dungs beddings /veg waste and humanure plus lot of untreated water . There they too had massive open sided sheds with a $1.5 million USD plus  aerator machines  in each shed bay ( eight bays last time I was there ) .  They ran on toothed track ways atop the separating walls that were three  foot thick cast walls about 10 yards apart between the walls . The 10 foot high spiked double rollers /  agitators going up the 100 yard long pits of compost in the making when the laboratory guys  estimated a new dose of oxygen & water were needed in each pit  to keep the bacterial action at its best. 

They sold it for $12,000 or so a 15 ton tipper lorry load in  2001  to farmers , mushroom farmers  horticulturists  , golf grounds-men  and  commercial packers who sold to the public once the straw  had broken to about 3/4 inch lengths .  It was usually a finished compost ready for use.  Any run off from the bays was pumped away to be pasteurized and then sold as a dilute-able liquid plant feed.  

 Mel's idea of making your own compost suits a lot of ANSFG'ers as it's usually free of cost after the initial setting up with things to contain the composting materials , plus it keeps us fit to a greater or lesser degree.

 The multi stage rotting fibres of the compost we make after we have set up the initial ANSFG beds  holds  lot of water & air so help keep the plants in the beds at a consistent moisture & root oxygen levels .
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Post  Nancy Rae on 10/28/2020, 11:57 am

We are in Canada, north of Duluth - zone 3. We now live in a condo so trying to do the square foot gardening but nowhere to compost unless I take whatever I can to our cottage and most stores here dont seem to carry a good compost. I did have some old compost left from when we were still at the lake so used it and it seemed not too bad but will need to keep looking.
Lee Valley is selling a some composter with 2 bins that you rotate. Has anyone tried this? it just came out this year.
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Post  OhioGardener on 10/28/2020, 12:53 pm

Nancy, I have two Jora JK270 Compost Tumblers that I use to make compost, and they work very well - they are insulated, so they even work during the winter months. I also do Bokashi composting, which turns our kitchen scraps into pre-compost before it goes into the tumbler.   Have you checked out the free compost at the Thunder Bay Landfill?

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I can't find compost for my Mel's mix, and my compost pile is not sufficient Empty Re: I can't find compost for my Mel's mix, and my compost pile is not sufficient

Post  Nancy Rae on 10/28/2020, 3:11 pm

Just not sure what they put into that.
Nancy Rae
Nancy Rae

Posts : 2
Join date : 2020-10-28
Location : Zone 3 or 4 Thunder Bay Ontario

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I can't find compost for my Mel's mix, and my compost pile is not sufficient Empty Re: I can't find compost for my Mel's mix, and my compost pile is not sufficient

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