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Would you buy this hay to compost? Toplef10Would you buy this hay to compost? 1zd3ho10

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Would you buy this hay to compost? I22gcj10Would you buy this hay to compost? 14dhcg10

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Would you buy this hay to compost?

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Would you buy this hay to compost? Empty Would you buy this hay to compost?

Post  Soose 5/18/2022, 9:16 am

I forget hay vs straw...  so it's probably got weed seeds? 
Could it be contaminated with broadleaf killers as well?

$1 a bale, 28 bales. 
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/550111416520372

Looking for something to put in my new 4-bin compost area for next year.
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Post  OhioGardener 5/18/2022, 10:01 am

I, personally, would not buy it.  It likely won't be contaminated with broadleaf herbicide unless it is pure grass, which it does not appear to be.  If you use it for mulch, you will have weeds everywhere, and if you want to compost it you will have to shred it first.  IMHO, not worth it for the amount of work it would require.

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Post  Soose 5/18/2022, 10:23 am

TY, OhioGardener.   I've talked to this next farmer before...   if he still has some,
it's "wheat straw" and I checked anything he put on it with the co-op agent and it was all okay. 

14x18x40 inches / bale 



Would you buy wheat straw?  I'm thinking a straw bale area out in the field for next year.
I don't see how we can produce enough in our nine 3x4 SFG's to feed my family.

https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/1329034514232020
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Post  OhioGardener 5/18/2022, 11:01 am

Soose wrote:Would you buy wheat straw?  I'm thinking a straw bale area out in the field for next year.

I buy and use straw from a neighbor farmer which does not use herbicides. It makes excellent mulch, though I do frequently have to pull wheat plants that came up from the leftover seeds.

I don't see how we can produce enough in our nine 3x4 SFG's to feed my family.

Quite possibly you can't, but you may be surprised at the productivity of the raised beds once the MM has had time to fully develop from the microbial activity. Presently we are eating green onions, radishes, kale, swiss chard, lettuce and spinach from our raised beds. It is hard to keep up with them. And, the peas on the arbor are in bloom and we will soon be harvesting from them.

Not counting the 6 fire ring raised beds with rhubarb, I have 234 sq ft of raised beds which grows more vegetables than we can use and preserve for a year. We give a lot of vegetables to neighbors and food pantries. We also have a BTE area where we grow fruit trees and vining plants like winter squash. Last fall, for example, we stored 17 large Cushaw squash, 12 Butternut squash, and 5 Red Kuri Squash from just that BTE area. Not being able to eat that many squash, we have shared a number of them with neighbors.

This harvest of Cushaw Squash was from two plants Would you buy this hay to compost? 20211010

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Post  Scorpio Rising 5/18/2022, 4:37 pm

I got a free bale of old wheat straw from a friend a few years ago, used it mostly on my new strawberry bed.  It was at least 5+ years old, in a barn.  The following year, I have never seen the likes of grass that was in that bed.  

I lost about half of the berries due to my (necessary) aggressive weeding for the entire summer….I am still fighting the grass!  I will never do that again.  I did buy a tightly packed “bale” of certified weed-free straw from TSC to use on that bed and my asparagus, which will be deployed soon!
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Post  Soose 5/18/2022, 5:55 pm

Appreciate the experience, to prevent me from making an expensive mistake!
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Post  sanderson 5/18/2022, 11:36 pm

OG,  You have an amazing amount of sq ft and they are so productive.  Like you, I have a BTE area (1'x50') where I grow surplus seedlings and 12 indeterminate heirloom and a couple F1 tomatoes.  I have about 130 sq ft in SFG beds plus a few 5-gallon buckets, large pots, and 2 sweet potato storage-totes.

Soose, The baled bedding straw for $4 dollars in the second Marketplace ad looks good.  For mulch it needs to be cut up.  For a compost pile, we used to pull apart the flakes of straw on the lawn and husband would mow the area with the hopper attached.  For in-bed mulch, I used to chop up straw in the cool(er) of the evening with garden pruners.  Then I set up a paper cutter at the edge of the picnic table with a cement pan and 33-gallon garbage can for the chopped straw.  I also saved the used straw from the beds to use as browns in my 3'x3'x3' compost bin.  The straw didn't compost completely and needed to be screened out.  No biggie, because home made compost should be screened anyway if it doesn't have months to fully compost.Would you buy this hay to compost? Mulch_19

This is a pile of mowed straw ready for building a compost pile in the wood-framed compost bin in the left background. Would you buy this hay to compost? Compos60

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Post  donnainzone5 5/20/2022, 7:13 pm

I love the idea of a paper cutter for straw!  Could it also be used for pine needles, tiny branches, and such?  Not to mention cutting compost materials into smaller pieces.  Naturally, the blades would have to be cleaned frequently.
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Post  Soose 5/20/2022, 7:35 pm

How does a cutter compare with putting the straw into a garbage can and using a strong trimmer? I don't have the experience of working with straw...
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Post  Soose 11/27/2022, 5:55 am

An ad came up on facebook.  My goal is to generate a LOT of compost - as much as possible - for next Spring.  I want the most bang for my buck if I'm having to pay to bring in brown's for compost.

1.  Obviously, the free oak leaves I'm collecting on my driveway are the best bang, though it doesn't include my labor to suck them up and mulch them with the little electric lawnmower and then transport back to the compost area.  Mostly, we know those have not been contaminated.

2.  Then, we've been buying pine pellets at TSC, but usually I get the big bags when damaged for $1 or $2 max, and my son uses that for the compost tumblers instead of the open bins. 

Also, I've already bought another load -- one cu ft -- of hardwood fine mulch for $30 ("soil conditioner") and put it in the open bins.  This is a pretty easy operation as we have a Harbor Freight tarp on a winch to unload the mulch, don't have to shovel much, just have to sweep out the truck when we get it.

3.  So here's a listing for hickory shavings on our nearby facebook marketplace:
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/1199471540999840
Would you buy this? 

-- The bag would surely have to be pretty big to be 70lbs!?  Wondering if it's worth the $10. 
-- I'd have to drive a bit, 30miles in the truck to get these hickory shavings.  (Will keep looking for something closer.)  Seems they have plenty, but I shouldn't buy a huge truck full of bags (1500lbs capacity/ 70lbs = 21bags...   at $10 / bag.  Maybe they'd give me a discount, but that's $200! I can get 7 loads of the soil conditioner mulch for that, and just let it sit back there to compost.

For that matter, I could try to find the guy 45miles from here who had organic compost. But my truck is again limited in what I can bring back.  (It's OLD, only 6cylinder, was bought over 40yrs ago to be fuel efficient, not a heavy hauler. We really need a bigger engine for hauling. Not going to happen.)

Anyway, talking C:N...   would hickory be good for compost?  I think I'm supposed to avoid two walnut trees we have in the field, they keep things from growing around them.

I see hardwood in some of the C:N calculators, not sure which to select for this based on looks.  I see:
Hardwood Mulch/Chips" at 560:1, but this is shavings.  
Sawdust which I assumed was softwoods at 325:1. 
https://morningchores.com/compost-calculator/ )

Not sure how to compare this with the free oak leaves or the pine pellets from TSC.   The pine pellets are not listed here, trying to remember what they are. We've talked about it before but I can't find the thread.  500 range?
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Post  OhioGardener 11/27/2022, 8:05 am

Soose wrote:Anyway, talking C:N...   would hickory be good for compost?  I think I'm supposed to avoid two walnut trees we have in the field, they keep things from growing around them.
 
Pine Pellets are compressed sawdust, which is ~300:1.

Hickory chips would be very slow breaking down (composting), and because of that you can only count on using 1/3rd of the carbon ratio because only the outside of the chip is available to the microbes. That is, if the C:N ratio is 300:1 for those hickory chips, consider their ratio to be 100:1 for composting.

You are right about walnut trees and their chips, they are toxic.  However if you have a load of free wood chips delivered and you allow that pile of chips to age, the toxicity of any walnut chips in there become negligible.

IMHO, don't overthink the composting C:N ratio so much. Shred some newspaper and throw it in the compost for browns (175:1), or tear up some cardboard and throw it in the compost (350:1), or tear up non-glossy junk mail ad throw it in the compost (200:1) -- compare those ratios to leaves at 60:1.

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Post  sanderson 11/27/2022, 1:17 pm

I used pine pellets at the end of my composting career when I was a little short on browns. I soaked them in buckets until wet and swollen. For a wood product, since they are already in sawdust sized particles, I would choose them over any type or size of wood chips. OG has already gone into the surface area - microbe reason.
Bedding straw mowed with the mower was my favorite.

Your free, clean oak leaves sound good. The discounted TSC wood pellets sound like a bargain.

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Post  Soose 12/1/2022, 12:30 pm

TY Ohiogardener and Sanderson, for the help.  (I wasn't ignoring -- I don't know why I didn't get this reply several days ago. Must have gotten a too full inbox and missed something. )   That's a real useful metric regarding surface area and reducing the carbon ratio to account for it.  Long term I understand most things will compost -- I just am in a rush because we haven't produced the compost I feel we need for this year and next. 

My son has been in charge of composting and hasn't really gotten the method down, imo, he was just still taking kit waste out, dumping it in the tumbler, adding some browns each time, tumbling...  but without monitoring the temp and such, doing the management that I think needs, it's a slower process.  Also he's been in the habit of just keeping on adding greens (with some browns) and not letting the tumblers stop and work. 

So now we've finally fixed that?  He has a big mineral tub with cover he's started accumulating the stuff in (with some pine pellets to decrease yuckiness) til he gets a whole batch to swap out the tumblers. So the tumblers should be working without new additions.  Let's cross fingers and be patient. lol  And sigh...    I'll remind him about measuring the temps and adjusting the mix.
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