Soil and Compost forum: Welcome to the compost forum!

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Aug 12, 2014 1:48 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

By special request, here's the compost forum. Thumbs up
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 12, 2014 2:04 PM CST
Hurray!
All this great information in one forum, how wonderful.

Thank you Dave.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Aug 12, 2014 2:47 PM CST
Composting? Does it need a forum, can't you say all that needs to be said in a sentence or two?
Make a pile of yard and kitchen wastes, come back in six months and there you have it.
Well, that is not my real opinion though I think it pretty well sums up what most people think about composting.
I have read several books (that's right entire books) about composting, and almost every general gardening book has at least a chapter on composting. I have been composting for years, and I still don't have it done to a science yet.
For the past few months I have been creating a new flower bed down in my bog area, and it has consumed enormous amounts of compost. Just today alone I set a new record for me, I hauled 16 wheelbarrow loads in one day down to the new flower bed. I have already hauled (can't even guess) many, many, wheelbarrow loads to that bed alone. I have spent the past few years hauling compost down to the bog area this bed is part of. Plus, I have several other beds I have created with tons of my own home made compost. So I do have lots of experience in the making of compost (my way). I use leaves and grass clippings for 99 percent of my compost with what few kitchen scraps my wife and I generate (not much). I use no manures at all, no additives or starters. So do I feel I have the perfect way to make compost, not by a long shot, but I do have a way that works for me, but I don't think there are many people out there willing to put in the time and effort, the muscle and sweat it takes to create the amount of compost I use every year using the methods I use. It is not just a method of making compost it is also my gym membership. I do believe 90 percent of my time and physical labor spent gardening is spent making compost. It is just something I am almost addicted to, I just can't pass by a pile of leaves or grass clippings.
[Last edited by Seedfork - Aug 12, 2014 2:50 PM (+)]
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Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 12, 2014 2:52 PM CST
The little bit of composting I've done over the years has been with grass clippings and leaves. I love the feel, looks and smell of this kind of composting.
Some times I ever run the mower through the leaves to break them down.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Aug 12, 2014 3:00 PM CST
I have shredded truck loads of leaves with my mower every year for the past few years since I retired, I never had time for that before. But the extra work is really worth it if you are in a hurry for compost. I have a large pile of leaves sitting and slowly breaking down that was not shredded, they have been there about a year, by next year they will be ready to use. Shredding them would have reduced that time by at least half, and turning and working the pile would have reduced it by almost half again, adding grass clippings and mixing them in and turning the pile would have even further reduced the time.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 12, 2014 4:08 PM CST
All good things to know. Do you cover your piles with a tarp, to help heat them up faster?
Name: Kyla
Richmond, VA (Zone 6b)
Composter Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Herbs Daylilies Sempervivums
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kylaluaz
Aug 12, 2014 4:14 PM CST
Woo hoo! Thanks, Dave! Green Grin!
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 12, 2014 4:18 PM CST
IMO, there are lots of people who think of compost as something tricky and difficult and maybe even more technical than they want to deal with (not to mention smelly). So I hope sharing information about the various ways we make good compost can help new composters get off to a good start and not feel too intimidated to make a start at all!
[Last edited by kylaluaz - Aug 13, 2014 12:35 PM (+)]
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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
Aug 12, 2014 7:18 PM CST
>> It is not just a method of making compost it is also my gym membership.

Amen!

Some rules of thumb:

If you're doubtful about starting composting, instead just collect the raw materials in a pile for the day when you change your mind. You'll probably find that you can harvest great compost out of the center of your heap before you get around to "formal composting",

"If you pile it, it will rot."

If that seems like too much work, instead just spread the raw materials on top of any soil you want to improve, or bury it in holes in that soil.

"Even if you don't pile it up, it will still rot."

If it gets slimy or smells bad, do some of these, whichever seem easiest.

1. Add more browns and turn it so that the smelly wet bits are distributed over the new dry brown bits.

2. Keep it drier, even if you have to throw a tarp over it to keep rain off

3. get more air into it, perhaps by adding some twiggy stems to give it "loft" and doing a little turning of the soggy parts.

4. Or remove the slimy bits, spread them out thinly, and scratch them into soil somewhere. It will dry out and stop smelling in less than a day, or instantly if you scratch it into the soil an inch or two.



[Last edited by RickCorey - Aug 13, 2014 11:46 AM (+)]
Give a thumbs up | Quote | Post #679341 (9)
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Aug 13, 2014 6:51 AM CST
Let me be honest, when using green grass clippings I have not been able to avoid some smell. A bag of grass clippings left sitting by the curb for just a couple of days will already have started heating up quite a bit. When that bag under those conditions is opened (especially if it was wet when cut) that grass is going to smell(stink). Strangely, the variety of grass has a lot to do with the smell. Some grasses just smell a lot worse to me than others in that state, some stink to high heaven, others seem to maintain that strong freshly cut grass smell for a much longer time. If I have a really smelly batch of grass clippings, the first thing I do is spread them out then cover them completely with shredded leaves or aged compost just to smoother the smell. Later I can work with getting the mixture correct after the smell has abated. Then in the perfect scenario, I have enough shredded leaves to mix in with the grass clippings and start the actual composting process. Now, if the grass is freshly cut and not allowed to sour, the stinky smelly can be avoided and only the fresh cut grass smell will be noticed when building the pile. If done properly with a mix in the right proportions the sour grass smell won't be a problem. However as with any pile if the moisture and mixture is not correct you can still end up with a smelly pile, and I often feel my compost if lacking anything is lacking in nitrogen for that reason.
But, I pick up lots of grass clippings and sometimes the grass was cut when wet, bagged and left sitting in the hot sun for days before I find it. So I cannot say my compost processing creates no stinky smells. I said earlier than I use no manures when composting, but for several days after I return form a successful hunt for composting materials on a hot summer day you would swear that I had a stable available for a nitrogen supply.
Now making leaf mold, which to me is also composting, though many may not think of it as being composting, is a way to make compost and almost have no composting smells. To me the mixture of leaves heating up and decomposing gives off many different smells, and often I find them very pleasing smells, the different leaves give off different odors. Of course normally, I seldom have piles made up of nothing but leaves, here in S.E. Alabama there is normally at least a small amount of grass mixed in up until late winter, and often then a heavy mixture of dried dead grass clippings are in the leaf piles. So here, winter time is to me, the best time to start to create as much compost as possible, the awful stinky sour grass smells can be totally avoided, yet our weather allows the decomposition process to still continue. Of course, not nearly as fast as during the heat of summer. The summer compost piles I create can be finished in a couple of months, the winter piles take over twice as long, and often won't get used for over six months to a year.
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 13, 2014 8:20 AM CST
In the fall I use the bag on my mulching mower when mowing the lawn. First I spread fallen leaves on the lawn, them mow the leaves and the grass. It does a great job of mixing them together. So far I haven't had any bad smell come from these piles.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Aug 13, 2014 9:30 AM CST
Love that time of year, and it is not far away, I can barely wait!
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
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valleylynn
Aug 13, 2014 10:55 AM CST
It really is a wonderful time of year. I love seeing the leaves pile up into composting mounds.
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 13, 2014 11:25 AM CST
@Seedfork, I definitely consider making leaf mold a variety of composting!

And I know what you mean about bagged, wet grass clippings in the hot sun, too. They do get stinky. But as I think you're also describing, I find the odor can be fairly quickly obliterated by balancing them in a pile with drier material.

Some of that smell, if not most of it, is ammonia which is the odor of nitrogen being released into the air. My mixture of alfalfa pellets and steer manure smells ammoniac at this point, quite intensely! But layered on the pile over fresh green stuff and topped with a covering layer of dry carbonaceous material, it doesn't present a problem at all.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
Region: Alabama Composter Garden Photography Garden Ideas: Master Level Plant Identifier Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Seedfork
Aug 13, 2014 2:57 PM CST
Fortunately, the smells from my composting don't present a problem either, the house next door on that side of my lot has been for sale and vacant for the past six months! I am not suggesting it might have been from my composting! Rolling on the floor laughing
[Last edited by Seedfork - Aug 14, 2014 10:22 AM (+)]
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Name: Glen Ingram
Macleay Is, Qld, Australia (Zone 12a)
Bearded Dragon young male
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Gleni
Aug 14, 2014 7:03 AM CST
Great to have this site. Ta, Dave.
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 14, 2014 9:58 AM CST
Seedfork said:Fortunately, the smells from my composting don't present a problem either, the house next door on that side of my lot has been for sale and vacant for the past six month! I am not suggesting it might have been from my composting! Rolling on the floor laughing



Green Grin! Of course not. Green Grin!

But seriously, I bet your compost is not all that smelly. Too bad we can't post scents and odors, or email them. I mean, we have pictures and we have audio files....

Whistling
Name: Reid
North Branch, MN (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Anderwood
Nov 23, 2014 8:26 PM CST
Just be sure the grass clippings have bit been treated with herbicide.
Name: Steve Jeannie Bolstridge
Fitzgerald, Georgia (Zone 8b)
Thankful for all the Life around us
Winter Sowing
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SteveandJeannie
Apr 13, 2016 8:52 PM CST
Anaerobic Explosion????
Hi, all, I began a layered compost area August 2015 with the hope to plant into it by spring of 2016. I put cardboard, veggie only kitchen scraps, rabbit manure, blood meal, bone meal, and topped with fresh wheat straw. Over the winter it was watered, worms were added, and it was lightly turned with a pitch fork. Recently I've had to remove more and more spots of what looks like a bad growths, and if I wait too long before removing them, they grow spores. Have I made a accurate diagnosis? I really valued this south facing bed as I've built it to 1,394 sq ft and was counting on time and patience to season it into an great spring-summer growing bed. Now I"m really worried! Your advice is very much appreciated!!
Thumb of 2016-04-14/SteveandJeannie/e4c80e


Thumb of 2016-04-14/SteveandJeannie/616dd6


Thumb of 2016-04-14/SteveandJeannie/a19a05

Steve and Jeannie
Name: Lynn
Dallas, OR (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Garden Sages I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Database Moderator
Forum moderator I helped beta test the first seed swap Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant and/or Seed Trader Garden Ideas: Master Level Sempervivums
Image
valleylynn
Apr 13, 2016 9:50 PM CST
That looks very much like what I had show up a few years ago in my small woodland. I had put a bunch of leaves and other things to compost. In the spring I had several spot like that. I just left them alone and they eventually disappeared.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slime_mold

Very interesting.

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