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A Quick Tip About Compost

By plantladylin
July 12, 2012

Compost, Compost, Compost! No need for a special bin. Just find a corner somewhere in the yard away from the house, and start a pile of leaves and food scraps (but no dairy or bones). Pile on another layer of leaves and let it bake. No need to even turn the pile, it will eventually decompose for wonderful compost.

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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jul 11, 2012 8:49 PM CST
It is good to be reminded that we don't HAVE to invent elaborate and ritualized compost techniques. Almost anything works!


Some people keep reminding me that they don't even bother with a heap at all. Radicals! They collect their raw materials and spread them on top of the ground, (sheet composting), if it won't attract pets and critters.

Or they bury it shallowly if pests or neighbors might make trouble: "spot composting".

They say they get more of the "goodness" into the soil by composting directly in the gorund, instead of using a heap as a middleman.

I dunno, I LIKE playing with my heap, watering and turning and watching weeds and ugly garbage turn into beautiful organic soil. It's like alchemy! And compost is easier and more reliable to cultivate than plants.

Or maybe I'm just stuck in my ways. Is there such a thing as a compost fetish?

I imagine that some weed seeds sprout and die in the heap, or are eaten by worms or microbes and die.

And when I have small woody shreds to compost, I would much rather cook them with nitrogenous greens and digest them in thr heap, rather than bury wood in my limited soil, where it attracts fungus.

And even if I'm irrational or inefficient, I just "don't like" putting weeds or garbage directly into my raised beds.

The farthest I go in the "new-fangled" direction is to harvest and spread cooking compost much sooner than I used to. I agree that if I let my compost sit for months until it is ALL uniform soil, some nutirents and organics leach out and wash away, or denitrify, or turn to CO2.

So instead, as soon as I see that any of it has become rich black gold, I'll scrounge that out and rake it right into a raised bed. Like picking the first few cherry tomatoes as soon as they are ripe.

Woody stuff is slower, and tough stems and sod are slower.
Name: Judy
Simpsonville SC (Zone 7b)
Plant and/or Seed Trader Peonies Garden Ideas: Level 1 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I helped beta test the first seed swap
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SCButtercup
Jul 12, 2012 4:06 AM CST
Yes yes yes! Why throw out valuable plant scraps from our kitchens? I love to see the cycle of kitchen waste and leaves circling back into new veggies and plants thru the wonders of compost. High tech, low tech, it all works.
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
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crittergarden
Jul 12, 2012 6:21 AM CST
Well, Rick up there said that sheet composting won't attract critters.
Really?
I have a big airy pile sirrounded by wooden pallets for most everything, but I got a little black bin with a lockable lid for the kitchen scraps out of concern about raccoons.
I don't fuss with either of them though. Just load the top.
I onlt "turn" when I remove the good stuff. I move the undone stuff from the top and then put it back in when I'm done.
No fussiness!
SHOW ME YOUR CRITTERS! I have a critter page over at Cubits. http://cubits.org/crittergarden/thread/view/73275/
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
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fiwit
Jul 12, 2012 7:01 AM CST
Critter, I thought he said IF it won't attract, and to cover if it does?

One reason I was so happy to move out of an apt and into my little patch of paradise was composting. When I set up my garbage service after moving in here, they provided me with a standard 96gal bin on wheels for their guys to empty each week. Unless I've been doing some special project, each week I put ONE 13-gal trash bag (the tall kitchen trash can size) into that huge bin and wheel it to the curb. Hilarious!

On the other hand, I bought myself a 64gal bin on wheels for my recycling, and it's usually half-full when I wheel it out for them (I get free recycling, and they would have provided me a large bin for $5/month. I chose to buy instead of rent).

And each week, I put anywhere from 2-5 1-gallon buckets of kitchen scraps into the compost pile or one of the new beds I built that aren't planted yet. I save my cardboard to use as "weed fabric," as well as all the extraneous paper that goes with working from home and being a part-time author. And my neighbor gives me his grass clippings. So I dump the bucket of scraps into the new bed, and then cover it with grass clippings. So far, I've not added soil to the beds -- just downed branches, rotting logs, grass clippings and kitchen scraps.

Except apple cores -- I toss those into the grove of trees beyond the back yard and hope the seeds eventually sprout
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jul 12, 2012 12:33 PM CST

>> Rick up there said that sheet composting won't attract critters.

I intended to say that "you can sheet compost *IF* critters and neighbors don't give you a hard time.
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
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crittergarden
Jul 12, 2012 1:42 PM CST
AH!

Fiwit, we have a lot in common.
I've been recycling since the 70s and composting since my first house in 86.

I even spent a couple nights in a hotel last weekend and packed out my watermelon rind, etc, along with the recyclables.....
SHOW ME YOUR CRITTERS! I have a critter page over at Cubits. http://cubits.org/crittergarden/thread/view/73275/
Name: Jean
Hot Springs Vlg, AR, DeLand, F
Region: Florida Daylilies Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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rocklady
Jul 13, 2012 7:47 AM CST
I have always had a compost pile (or container). You know the old phrase, "I have become my mother." Both my mother and grandmother always had one, and I suppose it just came "naturally."

We do have lots of critters out here in the woods, so I have to have a closed one to keep them out. This summer has been so dry that the animals have eaten everything in my little vegetable garden, including the roots! I wasn't too happy when they uprooted my naked ladies, either. They had a feast, beginning with basil for salad and pineapple for dessert!
Any day you wake up on the sunny side of the grass is a good day.

"The moving hand writes and having writ moves on. Neither all thy piety nor all thy wit can lure it back to cancel half a line nor all thy tears wash out a word of it." The Rubiyat by Omar Khayyam
Name: Mary
My little patch of paradise (Zone 7b)
Gardening dilettante, that's me!
Plays in the sandbox Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Dog Lover Daylilies The WITWIT Badge
Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Bluebonnets Birds Region: Georgia Composter Garden Ideas: Master Level
Image
fiwit
Jul 13, 2012 8:03 AM CST
crittergarden said:AH!

Fiwit, we have a lot in common.
I've been recycling since the 70s and composting since my first house in 86.

I even spent a couple nights in a hotel last weekend and packed out my watermelon rind, etc, along with the recyclables.....


I've lived in apartments for most of my adult life, and didn't get serious about recycling until 2005, because it wasn't convenient. It still wasn't convenient in '05, but my priorities had shifted, so I didn't mind driving 10+ miles to the recycle place every couple weeks. When I moved here and was shopping for a garbage company, curbside recycling was a non-negotiable. Only one company offered it, so they got my business.
Northwest Georgia Daylily Society
I'm going to retire and live off of my savings. Not sure what I'll do that second week.
My yard marches to the beat of a bohemian drummer...
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
Image
RickCorey
Sep 11, 2013 2:54 PM CST
I recently found a local fruit stand that will let me browse their dumpster after I buy something. So I get a half dozen apples for myself, then two supermarket bags-full of over-age fruit or greens.

I have some plywood that I lay over a wheelbarrow next to my compost heap, and a cleaver.

Whack whack whack whack whack!

Now my heap is getting "greener" instead of "too many browns". For now, the stiff stems and thin twigs are keeping it well-aerated. The dry weather lets me decided how much water to give it. I parked an adjustable "Shrubbler" on top of the heap and i give it a trickle or a shower, as indicated.

Funny: all those stiff stems and thin twigs are going to be very slow to compost, but I can always screen them out when I want to harvest the black gold. They have given the pile so much cohesion and strength that I've been able to pull stems from around the bottom edges and sides, and then pile them on top with new fruit-stand leftovers. The thing is getting taller and skinnier every week! It's more than chest-high now, almost chin-high.

I think the "good stuff" trickles down as it melts, and leaves the stems behind.

I can tell that soil under it, and bushes around it really like the drippings!

I had to move my pile away from it's old location near a pine tree (and near an neighbor's yard).

Roots from the pine tree had discovered that old heap and sucked the life out of what was almost ready to harvest, before I realized what was happening.

[Last edited by RickCorey - Sep 16, 2013 1:06 PM (+)]
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Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 26, 2014 11:32 AM CST
Our supermarket produce guy will fill a big box of just greens for me if I give him a few hours notice. He's a gem.
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
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crittergarden
Jan 26, 2014 12:05 PM CST
He IS a gem!
Our major grocery store here will not give away anything.
Not even scrap.
"Everything in our store is worth something".
I HOPE they compost it SOMEwhere!
SHOW ME YOUR CRITTERS! I have a critter page over at Cubits. http://cubits.org/crittergarden/thread/view/73275/
Name: Arlene
Southold, Long Island, NY (Zone 7a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tomato Heads Houseplants Garden Ideas: Level 1 Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Plant Identifier
pirl
Jan 26, 2014 3:03 PM CST
Even the local farm stands will let me take the trimmings from beets, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. because I do compost it. By the end of the day I'm sure they are so tired of working for 12 hours that they are grateful not to have to lug bags of trimmings back home.
Surprisingly GREEN Pittsburgh (Zone 6a)
Rabbit Keeper Bee Lover Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Butterflies Hummingbirder
Dog Lover Birds Plant and/or Seed Trader Bulbs Echinacea Irises
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crittergarden
Jan 26, 2014 3:42 PM CST
I ask sometimes, but my farmer dudes take theirs all home. The big chain grocery is as greedy as I mentioned, and the "new in town" cheap grocery SELLS theirs to some commercial composting enterprise. But my garden is small - my scraps are enough, I guess.
SHOW ME YOUR CRITTERS! I have a critter page over at Cubits. http://cubits.org/crittergarden/thread/view/73275/

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