Soil and Compost forum: Composting Is For Everyone

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Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
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kylaluaz
Aug 9, 2014 3:54 PM CST
I love to compost, to talk about compost, to discuss composting with other composters, to learn from more experienced composters, and to help new or less experienced composters get their compost set up so it works for them.

I have gardened in a number of places and had to move more than I would have liked; I start a compost as my first act when I am starting to work in a new garden. Once I've got my compost set up, I feel I can operate. Green Grin!

This is a picture of a compost I had several gardens ago, just because a thread needs a picture. It's not the greatest compost portrait but it was a lovely garden there....

Anyone want to talk composting?
Thumb of 2014-08-09/kylaluaz/589b0d

Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 9, 2014 4:47 PM CST
Great idea for a thread, Kyla! Thumbs up

I'm only just starting with composting. I went to a local library and picked up a 'composting bin' that the County offers for free. It's huge! No lid and no bottom, but lots of holes for aeration. I've also been saving garden trimmings and cardboard boxes, plus @SSGardener gave me some leaves. I just need to set it all up, but I've lost a good month now this summer due to my ankle sprain. Unfortunately, I had put prunings from the rose bushes in the pile, too, and then I learned I shouldn't have done this so I'll need to spend some time separating that out. Glare
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Aug 9, 2014 5:03 PM CST
I think I've seen those; is it made of black plastic, kind of a cylindrical grid?

Bummer you sprained your ankle during peak season! Let me know when you're ready to set it up; I'd be happy to give you some tips.

For starters, you'll likely want some more concentrated nitrogenous material. I always use manure in my composts. In my previous garden I was fortunate to be in a location where I could score horse manure, and once got two bags of fabulous rabbit manure that was already pretty well composted, etc.

Here, I have just bought Black Cow brand, as it's the only manure I found in the various places I looked (kinda everywhere.)

And once you get set up, I'd encourage you to compost vegetable and fruit scraps from your kitchen too. That, and the manure, will help the decomposing action a lot. Using leaves and garden trimmings that have been sitting around is great but they will not have much nitrogen after they wither and dry. Grass trimmings are wonderful too, as long as there are no seeds and you make sure they don't mat.

/blabbity

Green Grin!


Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 9, 2014 6:17 PM CST
That is very helpful, Kyla! I'll have to see if I can find some manure to get things started. I'm afraid I don't do enough cooking to have much by way of vegetable and fruit scraps. Whistling
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Aug 9, 2014 7:08 PM CST
If you drink coffee, put your coffee grounds aside for the compost. Eggshells are also good. Banana peels?

Smiling
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Aug 10, 2014 9:11 AM CST
I usually have three piles going: My "official" one, that I enclose in the cylinder and in which I compost kitchen scraps and the other good stuff, a pile for brushy things that I am too lazy to cut up for the official pile, so it just piles up there, and that is mostly yard waste and larger trimmings, and the third pile is where I dump things like thorny stems and grass that might spread and things that propagate from runners a bit too easily.

That third pile is the stuff most people want to throw out, but I try to save as much biomass as I can to put back into the soil, and I have found that if you leave it there long enough, it does break down.

No attention, or notmuch attention, is paid to piles two and three. They are just storage but eventually they do become compost!

If you don't have much kitchen waste to compost, it's easier to set something up, in a way, because you don't have to manage it as closely to keep smells from developing and unwanted varmints from taking an interest.

Green Grin!

I just got a couple good pictures of my current compost and will post those soon.
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 10, 2014 9:39 AM CST
that's all good to know, Kyla! Saves me the trouble of separating out the thorny stuff now! :-)
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Aug 10, 2014 10:39 AM CST
If I were you, though, I would sort out as much of that as you can easily find, and set it elsewhere to rot peacefully and not stick anybody!

The only reason not to have it in your main compost is that thorns take a very long time to break down, and you'll keep getting stuck when you work with your otherwise finished compost. But if you don't mind, then they're fine. They're not going to hurt anything else. Green Grin!
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 10, 2014 11:11 AM CST
Thanks for the explanation, Kyla! That all makes a lot of sense! :-)
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
Image
kylaluaz
Aug 10, 2014 11:28 AM CST
Here's my current compost setup:

Thumb of 2014-08-10/kylaluaz/67c86d

It hasn't been there much more than a month. The reason it's in a pit is my cousin had a sort of wooden corral installed there and the compostables from the kitchen just got tossed in there. It didn't work very efficiently but she did get a little compost each year. When she said she'd like to have me set it up I requested the wood be removed because it would just have been in the way. I only got the straw in there this past week. I'd been using white pine shavings for the carbon material.They work nicely but don't help aerate like straw does.

Anyway, at this point we could harvest compost if we wanted to. I got the pile going pretty hot at first, with alfalfa pellets mixed with steer manure, and we have a fair amount of vegetable waste from the kitchen, especially when we make green juice -- all the pulp is wonderful.

The wire fencing took some locating; we finally had a couple of scraps offered to us by a friend, and I pieced them together.
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 10, 2014 8:48 PM CST
Sounds like it took some doing on your part, Kyla! Thumbs up
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Aug 11, 2014 6:15 AM CST
Not so much. The crew who do the mowing and that took down the wood, and the owner of that company is an old friend of the family and he dug up the fencing for me. The doing before that was mostly looking high and low for that darn fencing! Used to be easy to find a store that would cut you a length but apparently that's no longer a service most of them provide. Sad

So, yeah, the initial doing was primarily acquiring all the elements. Once I have all the things and stuff, the rest is easy.

Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
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JB
Aug 11, 2014 9:20 AM CST
How do you keep the wildlife from messing with your "garbage" pile before it is mulch? If I kept my scraps on a pile, the coons and fox would have it all over the place. Even in a container which they can open if not strapped shut.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Aug 11, 2014 9:42 AM CST
I suspect they would not be too interested in my compost. For one thing, there is a lot of manure in it, and the addition of alfalfa (which I acquired as pellets and mixed with manure in a big garbage can) helps keep the pile cooking and interesting only to the decomposers.

Also, balancing the carbons and nitrogens, keeping the pile covered with a layer of straw or the like -- I have found white pine shavings, purchased in a bale and usually used for animal bedding, to be a great carbonaceous layer.

Finally, most of the food material I put in there is raw fruit and veggie scraps. No cooked food, no oils or fats, and definitely no animal products with the exception of eggshells.

The one composter I heard of who had fox visit his pile was composting meat scraps along with everything else. But he was willing to manage that as it needs to be and didn't mind mama Fox and her kits visiting from time to time.

Green Grin!

Racoons are also primarily carnivorous, I believe, so though they might be curious at first, I doubt they'd mess with it much.

Here, there *used* to be a rat living in a hole under the shed, when the compost was just garbage dumped in a pit. My cousin is a vegetarian, and doesn't cook a lot, so her garbage wasn't all that appealing to many varmints, but there was also a pile of dried branches right next to this pit operation.

Right after I set up my compost out there, she told me she saw the rat come out from under the shed and scoot off into the neighbor's yard. That yard is almost a woods, very dense with plant cover. She also said she had always tried to pretend it was just a mouse. But this time she got a good look at it.

Anyway, nowhere I've ever composted have I had varmint trouble. Except this one time:


Thumb of 2014-08-11/kylaluaz/765b36

But that wasn't trouble, only interest.

Green Grin!

[Last edited by kylaluaz - Aug 11, 2014 9:47 AM (+)]
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Name: Jacquie (JB) Berger
Wrightstown, New Jersey (Zone 6b)

Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Region: United States of America Region: New Jersey Cactus and Succulents Tropicals
Container Gardener Hummingbirder Farmer Keeps Horses Dog Lover Birds
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JB
Aug 11, 2014 10:23 AM CST
Thank you so much, that was exactly what I wanted to know.
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
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kylaluaz
Aug 11, 2014 10:46 AM CST
You bet! I tip my hat to you.
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
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Catmint20906
Aug 11, 2014 5:05 PM CST
That's interesting that the meat products make such a difference in attracting wildlife or not.

That is sure a cute varmint you've got there! Hilarious!

No progress this weekend on my own compost bin. I'm hoping this weekend. I need to do it before school (and all its various extracurricular activities) start again.
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
Image
kylaluaz
Aug 11, 2014 6:02 PM CST
I'll help!

Green Grin!

I mean, I'll see if I can help make it easy. By, yanno, keyboard coaching and all that.

Whistling
Name: Catmint/Robin
Maryland (Zone 7a)
Region: Mid-Atlantic Butterflies Forum moderator Native Plants and Wildflowers Bee Lover Echinacea
Region: Maryland Garden Photography Cottage Gardener Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 The WITWIT Badge
Image
Catmint20906
Aug 11, 2014 6:05 PM CST
Hilarious! Love the keyboard coaching, Kyla! Smiling
"One of the pleasures of being a gardener comes from the enjoyment you get looking at other people's yards”
― Thalassa Cruso
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
Frogs and Toads Container Gardener Cat Lover Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! The WITWIT Badge Winter Sowing
Image
kylaluaz
Aug 11, 2014 6:35 PM CST
Rolling my eyes.

Green Grin!

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