Soil and Compost forum: Composting frustrations?

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rolun
Sep 9, 2016 9:54 AM CST
What to do you all wish you could change about your current composting system? Describe your frustrations, issues, etc.!
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
Sep 9, 2016 10:49 AM CST
@ rolun, Welcome!
My only frustration with my composting system is that I have too much to do and not enough time to do it!
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
Sep 9, 2016 11:20 AM CST
Some people have butt-in-skie HOAs. I have one crabby neighbor and park management that give me a hard time even when I hide the heap where they can't see it.

I wish I was closer to residential neighborhoods where they put out bags of leaves in the fall.

I wish the fruit stand that let me collect from their dumpster had not gone out of business!

I wish I had learned earlier that a compost heap near a tree turns into tree roots, not compost.

I wish I had BELIEVED earlier that throwing weeds into a compost heap is a way of multiplying weed seeds.

[Last edited by RickCorey - Sep 9, 2016 11:22 AM (+)]
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Name: Heath
sevierville TN (Zone 7a)
Beekeeper Houseplants Region: Tennessee
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plantcollector
Sep 9, 2016 1:16 PM CST
I know the feeling Rick. Every time I use my compost l have to use pream. Their for I can't use it in my vegetable garden but I got plenty of flower garden's
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Sep 9, 2016 1:39 PM CST
My compost 'system' is pretty basic. I weed the gardens, transfer to bucket of tractor, and dump somewhere down the hill. Ditto with the chicken bedding. Eventually it rots down to nice compost. No science involved. Lazy-man composting, learned from my dad.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
(Zone 6a)
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UrbanWild
Sep 14, 2016 5:12 PM CST
The backbone of our compost system is weeds. DECADES of weeds. We don't worry about seeds as weeds are e erywhere already. So, we weed, then leave the bodies of the fallen i. tbe dun to bake so the roots are killed. Then it all goes to the compost heaps. If it were not for Glechoma hederacea, we might not even have several piles going at once!
Always looking for interesting plants for pollinators and food! Bonus points for highly scented plants.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Sep 14, 2016 5:25 PM CST
Urban - you're talking about Creeping Charley? I had read a couple months back that a small amount of boron can be an effective control. You might check into that.
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
Sep 14, 2016 5:35 PM CST
UrbanWild said:The backbone of our compost system is weeds. DECADES of weeds. We don't worry about seeds as weeds are everywhere already. ...


I had that last year. 100% weed-to-weed weeds. Weed, weed, weedy-weed-weed.


Name: Paul
Nullawarre, Victoria,Australia (Zone 10b)
Region: Australia
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vanozzi
Sep 14, 2016 6:51 PM CST
If you sing it fast enough, Rick, it has rhythm ♫ weed-to-weed weeds. Weed, weed, weedy-weed-weed. ♫ Smiling
Different latitudes, different attitudes
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 14, 2016 7:05 PM CST
I forget the name of the short video, but the refrain of the music in it is :

"Fish heads, fish heads, roly-poly fish heads.
Fish heads, fish heads! Eat them up: YUM!"

I think it was made by the Wizard of Time and Space.
[Last edited by RickCorey - Sep 19, 2016 12:16 PM (+)]
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Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Tip Photographer Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Hibiscus
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Horntoad
Sep 14, 2016 8:04 PM CST
RickCorey said:I forget the name of the short video, but the refrain of the music in it is :

"Fish heads, fish heads, poly-poly fish heads.
Fish heads, fish heads; eat them up: YUM!"

I think it was made by the Wizard of Time and Space.


http://www.letssingit.com/dr.-demento-feat.-barnes-and-barne...
wildflowersoftexas.com
texasnatureonline.com


(Zone 6a)
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UrbanWild
Sep 14, 2016 8:55 PM CST
Shadegardener said:Urban - you're talking about Creeping Charley? I had read a couple months back that a small amount of boron can be an effective control. You might check into that.


That's the beast. I have always known it as ground ivy. The reason I didn't use a common name here is that there is a botanist (still online somewhere I think) who has collected somewhere above 240 common names for this plant. Anyway, I would have to broadcast boron over my entire lot...not sure if I would be creating a bigger problem.

To the Dr Demento & Barnes &Barnes references... +1!!! Hurray! Rolling on the floor laughing

Always looking for interesting plants for pollinators and food! Bonus points for highly scented plants.
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
Sep 15, 2016 11:11 AM CST
Thanks, Jay, that is the song I was thinking of. But I haven't found the original video with sped-up motion.

... if I had lots of fish heads, I would bury them deeply in a compost heap. (Got to stay on-topic.)
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Sep 29, 2016 10:52 AM CST
I have two compost bins. One is approx. four by four by four and the other is approx. four by six by four.

They were created to hold leaves removed from the roses in spring but as the year goes by I put grass, kitchen waste, some weeds, garden waste and what ever is handy at the moment on or IN the pile.

I let them sit for from two to four years. When they are full and will not reduce any serious amount I then put them in the garden.
On occasion when I have a weak spot in the garden, I will dig a hole approx. four by four by two and put the entire compost pile in the hole and bury it.
The next spring I will level it off if there is still a mound.

I have in the past when I was more full of p-ss and vinegar, dug a large hole after weeding and buried all the weeds I pulled. There were enough to fill several seventy gallon city compost bins, but the past few years I just have not had enough p-ss and vinegar to do that.
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
Sep 29, 2016 11:41 AM CST
I agree that dead weeds break down faster if you bury them under the soil, but it is much easier to just lay down dead weeds as mulch, then maybe cover them with just a little coarse mulch or soil.

Sheet composting doesn't reduce the number of weed seeds and insects ON weeds as much as burying or composting, but it goes faster than spot composting.

I think which way to go depends not only on energy level and time, but also on whether your soil needs organic matter more than you need to reduce weed seeds and bugs.

(One good thing: most compost heap organisms only eat dead plants. They aren't the same microbes and insects as plant pests. Or at least, they mostly aren't, I think.

Name: Yardenman
Maryland (Zone 7a)
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Yardenman
Nov 3, 2016 9:06 AM CST
One mistake too many composters make is the compost pile is too small. 3 cubed just isn't enough. 4 cubed works MUCH better.

Another problem is not mixing green and brown materials. I know they say 4" layers work well. They don't. Those people are making much larger piles.

Unless you see steam coming off the piles sometimes, it isn't working.

Which leads to moisture... You want a pile that is damp but not soaked. Grab a chunk and it should be like a damp sponge. But who has sponges anymore? OK like a mostly squeezed wet towel.

Then toss it into a 2nd bin. You want a 2nd bin. the turned stuff has to go somewhere. OK, so you don't have a 2nd bin. Put it on the ground.

Put the bottom stuff back in first and the older stuff on the top. That will even things out for more composting..

Now you see why 2 bins are good. No moving the stuff out and back in. One simple trade from one bin to the next, top to bottom does 2 steps.

A few months of THAT and all your yard stuff will be beautiful compost.

But what about new material while the older stuff is breaking down?

Well, THAT's why you want a 3 bin system! After Bin 1 is filled, you dump it all into Bin 2. That mixes it pretty good. Then after a few months, when Bin 1 is full again, you dump Bin 2 into Bin3 and Bin 1 into Bin 2.

And start filling Bin 1 again.

Easy Peasy. And actually it is. Sound like a lot of trouble, but it isn't.

Bin 3 is always finished compost and you use it. Just keep moving the contents along to next bin...
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
Nov 3, 2016 12:01 PM CST
I agree: 4'x4'x4' cooks much better than 3'x3'x3'.

And it helps to be able to move the mostly-finished compost ahead to the next bin while the chunky undigested stuff stays behind to digest further.

I don't have enough raw material to make even ONE 4x4x4 pile, let alone 2-3 piles or bins. So I got by with one smaller pile, usually elongated. It would only be deeper than 30" shortly after I added new stuff. It would be around as wide as it was tall, and around 3 feet long.

When I turned the heap, I would rake the outer dry layers to the left to continue cooking. I would add more raw materials, especially greens, on the left end to help the chunky stuff digest.

And I would rake or shovel the inner and deeper layers, mostly digested, to the right. When I took compost, I would take it from the right end and screen it. I'd return any big pieces to the far left to keep cooking.

Anyway, that's what I did until the park management sent in a crew to chop down anything my neighbor didn't like, and steal my compost heap!!

They chopped my bamboo like a HEDGE and stole my compost. GRRRR!!
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Nov 3, 2016 12:04 PM CST
Rick - that is so sad!
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
Nov 3, 2016 12:15 PM CST
I would be fuming / fulminating / ranting / spitting angry, BUT my yard IS messy by the standards of my kill-everything-and-mow-it-down-to-the-dirt trouble-making neighbor.

But the fact that they hauled away my COMPOST heap even though it was not in line-of-sight to the neighbor even AFTER they hacked down things I didn't want touched will not soon be forgiven.

What they did to my poor, eager-to-please baby bamboo still burns me every time I see it (several times per day).

But I have to put it in perspective: the owner of the park keeps announcing that she SETS TRAPS FOR PET CATS because she doesn't like the fact that half the park has outdoor cats. Stealing my compost is nothing compared to that. Either she lies like a rug, or the managers TELL her they are setting out cat-traps but never do it, since THEY at least are human beings instead of some poisonous fungus shaped like a person.

I conclude that no one's pet cat has ever been trapped from the fact that no one has ever set fire to the main office or sued her into poverty.

And my next-door neighbor is a clear-cut certifiable lunatic, so I should probably be glad that she doesn't just ram her car through my yard on a whim.

Every day is an adventure. This park owner is SUCH a pain that even our HOA is 20 times more reasonable. THEY protect us from HER (partly protect us).
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Nov 3, 2016 12:40 PM CST
"poisonous fungus..." Hilarious! I don't think I could live with an HOA. My neighbor is OCD enough.

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