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PaulRobert
Jul 6, 2016 10:02 PM CST
Can compost be harmful to a garden? If it's not ready or if you put too much, if it's too acidic, or whatever. I put a lot of grapefruit peel in my compost along with other veggie waste and thought maybe it was making it too harsh or acidic.
Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jul 6, 2016 10:57 PM CST
Welcome to NGA, @PaulRobert !

Was your compost pretty well rotted down? If so, I doubt that it would be harmful (although, as a northerner I may not be able to actually envision what a "lot of grapefruit peel" actually is). Are your plants where you applied the compost showing signs of being unhappy?
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RpR
Jul 6, 2016 11:07 PM CST
The soil in my one garden is naturally acidic, for that to cause harm it would have to be very acidic.
Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
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plantcollector
Jul 7, 2016 4:00 AM CST
I like to seft my compost that way any chunks that are not broke down yet won't be put in my garden.
[Last edited by plantcollector - Jul 7, 2016 4:01 AM (+)]
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Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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Altheabyanothername
Jul 7, 2016 9:31 AM CST
I think it would also matter where you are located. You could get more accurate answers if you filled out your location. I am in Texas and with my direct sun, I hit higher temperatures faster than northern areas. My compost does not need to be well rotted to dig into soil. Also, is your garden flowers only or vegetables? With my temps and the flower only gardens nothing makes a difference. I can even chop and bury without problems. Just as we should eat all colors of fruit and veggies for max vitamins, I think compost should be the same. I find citrus and onions work as repellents. Citrus peel takes awhile to break down but I bury it not finished. But I would not do this in a veggie garden or cooler temperature area. May you have a joy filled week!
Name: Nico
Northern Midwest, US (Zone 3b)
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nicodiangel_no
Jul 7, 2016 10:14 AM CST
As long as there aren't too many chunks, it should be fine
:^DD
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
Jul 7, 2016 3:40 PM CST
I'd actually like to see a picture.
There's a form of composting called "sheet composting" where you toss everything out on the ground, without worry whether it's broken down or not.

There are also people that will insist that there will be problems with stuff robbing the soil of nutrients while it continues to break down.

Personally, i just toss everything in a big pile, and when that section of the garden is ready to plant... I'll remove the top layer of uncomposted weeds and whatever... start a new pile... the rest gets leveled out a bit... and I go ahead and plant...

the thing about composting... it's a natural process... doesn't take a rocket scientist... and whether the peelings rob the soil of a bit of nitrogen or not... seems like less of an issue than whether the detritus attracts pests like raccoons and possums.
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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Altheabyanothername
Jul 7, 2016 3:53 PM CST
If your neighbors feed the raccoons, they do not care about what you dig into the soil. Hilarious! Many blessings to all!
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Jul 7, 2016 4:02 PM CST
I always sift my compost using 1/2 inch hardware cloth or something similar.
Thumb of 2016-07-07/greene/8d10b4 Thumb of 2016-07-07/greene/778124

Not exactly an answer to your question but since I rely on worms to assist in the composting process I avoid adding large amount of any type of citrus as it makes the worms unhappy and less productive - therefore requiring more time for the compost to be ready for use.


Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Jul 7, 2016 6:02 PM CST
stone said: ...
There are also people that will insist that there will be problems with stuff robbing the soil of nutrients while it continues to break down.
...


I think that refers to "nitrogen deficit", which can occur if you MIX too many "browns" INTO the soil, and they can break down quickly. For example, sawdust and chopped paper are "browns" (high-carbon and low-nitrogen) and they can break down quickly.

All that "C" (carbon compounds) being release quickly promotes rapid growth of soil microbes, which then need a balancing amount of "N" (nitrogen). Of course the soil can't provide THAT much N instantly, and the microbes are MUCH better at sucking up N than plant roots are. So the plants have almost NO access to N until the soil microbes finish digesting all the excess "C".

If grapefruit rinds had almost NO nitrogen, AND they were finely chopped, AND they broke down quickly in soil, AND you turn them under, you MIGHT get some N deficit. But I would have guessed they were pretty neutral, having some N to balance their C. And I think they break down slowly, being rinds. And you didnl;t chop them very finely.

But mainly, if you do compost them first, letting them rot until they look more like soil than like garbage before mixing into the soil, there won't be any nitrogen deficit.

I also screen my compost before adding it to soil (either on the surface or tilling it under). The people who "sheet compost" or compost on top of next year's garden beds, do get more value from the scraps into their soil, because none leaches out and gets lost away from their garden.
Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jul 7, 2016 6:26 PM CST
I don't see how some rinds can do any harm. And compost is very good for the soil.
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
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RickCorey
Jul 7, 2016 6:47 PM CST
Googling around, I mostly see "debunking" articles about "citrus rinds are bad for compost". I think that's another bit of 'common wisdom" that we'll be debunking for the next 200 years.

Apparently worms don't like having too much citrus rind. So if you're a vermicomposter, don't add too many to your worm bin at one time.

But they break down in compost just fine, maybe slightly slower than other things of the same size.

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jul 7, 2016 7:07 PM CST
"letting them rot until they look more like soil than like garbage "

That's a good description of what it should look like -- or, at least, what I like my compost to look like. Thumbs up
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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
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RickCorey
Jul 7, 2016 7:11 PM CST
It used to amaze me that, no matter what raw materials you start with, good compost always looks the same after it is "finished".

But now I realize that basically, every bit of raw material is eaten and incorporated into some living thing (fungi, bacteria, protists, molds, grubs, nymphs, insects, worms and others). Then, OTHER living things eat the first set of living things. Rinse and repeat.

By the time it's done, it might have passed through the "gullets" of 2-5 different living things.

I respect the heck out of compost!
Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Jul 7, 2016 7:17 PM CST
As long as you have a good balance...It should be good to go!
Name: Sharon Rose
Grapevine, TX (Zone 8a)
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Altheabyanothername
Jul 7, 2016 8:10 PM CST
There are many different ways to get things accomplished. Just as our lives, weather, soil, etc.are extremely different, it is good to see what works for others. It does not make it right and it does not make it wrong.
I can not have a compost pile. So in the ground right away or all "green" is sealed till it's ready. The important thing is that we are adding back to the earth rather than just taking. All perishable food can not be used, we are not perfect. But think if every compostable item made it to a compost pile. I sometimes think what if coffee grinds never made it into the trash. Every business and person found a way to return them to the ground.How fertile would our land be! Many blessings to all and may we leave the earth better for others!
Name: Sally
central Maryland
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sallyg
Jul 8, 2016 6:03 AM CST
I don't think you are likely to harm the soil at any stage of compost.
I'd say it's the things that might be attracted to raw material that could be bothersome: gnats, flies, raccoons, rodents...
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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
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RickCorey
Jul 8, 2016 1:59 PM CST
sallyg said:I don't think you are likely to harm the soil at any stage of compost.
I'd say it's the things that might be attracted to raw material that could be bothersome: gnats, flies, raccoons, rodents...


Also Home Owners Associations, landlords, park managers, neighbors and similar life forms.

I hid my previous compost heap behind a clump of bamboo, and then made some shallow heaps covered with leaves under bushes, and left the finished compost in place to help out that part of the yard, sort of "thick sheet composting under duff".

Ninja composting.

Name: Tara
NE, Florida (Zone 9a)
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terrafirma
Jul 8, 2016 2:05 PM CST
Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Rolling on the floor laughing Way to go, Rick! Where there's a will, there's a way! Thumbs up
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 8, 2016 2:17 PM CST
Thanks!

Sometimes I resent one neighbor for being such a trouble-maker, but letting her SEE my compost heaps would give her ammunition for a JUSTIFIED complaint about me. And there is already enough mess ...

It's hard to be a farmer when you live in an urban area:


Thumb of 2016-07-08/RickCorey/574e09

Gee, it looks like I live on an aphid-infested leaf!
[Last edited by RickCorey - Jul 8, 2016 4:22 PM (+)]
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