Soil and Compost forum: Curing Compost

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Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
May 27, 2018 1:41 PM CST
I have a huge amount of compost that is close to done and has not been cured. I'm wondering if I can use it as mulch around my flower gardens. Will it cure in place? I'll wait for my vegetable garden, but I have so much it's taking a lot of effort to turn as often as I'd like.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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Seedfork
May 27, 2018 1:49 PM CST
I am not familiar with compost that is done, but not yet "Cured"? What does that mean?
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
May 28, 2018 1:47 PM CST
Well, from my research after it's "done" (when it no longer cooks so hot) it should sit for six weeks to cure. A new different kind of microbe (?) comes in. I've never waited, heck I only have four months to work with, but it made sense and brought the ph to be neutral. I wouldn't have such a problem, but non gardening hubby put a ton of grass clippings into my pile after I'd informed him I was done adding. So I had to amend that. Now I have enough to do my flower gardens and a good chunk of the lawn. And he's chomping at the bit for a place for his clippings. It's one of those things where some knowledge can be dangerous?
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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Seedfork
May 28, 2018 2:26 PM CST
Ok, I see what you are saying now. Yes, you can use it as mulch after it cools, and yes it will cure in place even with out turning it: it just takes more time. If you have room, you can spread out grass clippings and let them dry for a few days then even if you have nothing to add to them you can use it as mulch as long as they are not still heating up and as long as you keep the layer thin enough to allow water to penetrate. The worms love grass clippings.
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
May 29, 2018 8:03 AM CST
I have an overabundance of grass clippings. Just not enough "brown." I suppose I should spread some out to dry. One more flip, mini vacation, then I'll start screening it. I'd really like to get one more small bunch done before winter. Thanks for your input.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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Seedfork
May 29, 2018 8:25 AM CST
I must admit I built me a screen to go on top of my wheel barrow when I started composting here in my new garden. Nothing made a prettier mulch to me. But, as my beds grew and grew, it became too much work and took up way too much time. After a few months being exposed to the forces of nature in the garden, I learned you could tell very little difference in the screened compost and the unscreened, and after a year it all looked the same.
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
Jun 5, 2018 4:50 PM CST
I've been screening mine over the wheelbarrow too. I have some pretty large clumps. I made a screen but it's too heavy to shake, so I run over it with a scraper. I think one with 1/2" holes would probably be easier. Just got done with one of my gardens and it just looks so nice. I use grass clippings in my veggie garden mostly because I hate to weed. Works well. I'll add my next "crop" of compost in the fall to the veggie garden. I haven't "fed" my flowers/hostas for awhile. Think they'll be happy. Hubby loves it because he doesn't have to run anywhere to get rid of his clippings.
Name: Larry
Enterprise, Al. 36330 (Zone 8b)
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Seedfork
Jun 5, 2018 5:01 PM CST
I did make mine out of 1/2 inch screening, and I found it was too heavy to do much shaking too. I framed it with treated two x fours. I found that by putting on a pair of heavy gloves I could use my hands breaking up the big clods and I could sort through a fairly full load pretty quickly, that was the best method I came up with without building a more complex system. I could sort out rocks and worms and pine cones and limbs faster also.
Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
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fwmosher
Jun 5, 2018 5:13 PM CST
Seedfork: Absolutely a great way to screen! I have been using one framed from 2 x 4 and 1/2 screen for years! I lay it right on top of my largest wheelbarrow, and have a five-gallon bucket on the side, and just brush everything left over, into same. Later I use the discards to fill in want-to-be trails on the property! I also collect the worms for fishing or the rose greenhouse! Cheers!
Name: Frank Mosher
Nova Scotia, Canada (Zone 6a)
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Birds Roses Clematis Lilies Peonies
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fwmosher
Jun 5, 2018 5:18 PM CST
Skits, you only have to worry about possibly "uncured" compost, particularly with manure in it, if you are putting it on vegetable gardens, the same with "compost tea".
Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
Jun 5, 2018 5:41 PM CST
Thanks fmosher. I don't have manure. And I don't make the tea. Too much work. I tried blending eggshells with water in the blender and that worked well to top dress my tomatoes. Eager to see if I eliminated blossom end rot. I'll snap a pic of my compost and add it here.
Thumb of 2018-06-05/skits/380e80

Name: Karen
Cincinnati, Oh (Zone 6a)
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kqcrna
Jul 8, 2018 4:53 AM CST
Seedfork said:I must admit I built me a screen to go on top of my wheel barrow when I started composting here in my new garden. Nothing made a prettier mulch to me. But, as my beds grew and grew, it became too much work and took up way too much time. After a few months being exposed to the forces of nature in the garden, I learned you could tell very little difference in the screened compost and the unscreened, and after a year it all looked the same.


I agree, the screening is just too much work. A friend built me a screen to use over a wheelbarrel , but it is just too heavy and too hard for me to use. I don't till compost into my soil, I just spread it on top and let it do it's own thing. It's often unfinished in that some small sticks and leaves might remain intact, but in the end it works great.

It had been too hot to do anything in my garden. My compost has been neglected and really needs to be flipped. Sad

Karen
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jul 18, 2018 1:49 PM CST
I built a bin out of re-rod wire, it was misery to bend it to shape though, and use it as a cold compost heap.
It is approx. five by three by four, plus or minus a foot, and I only empty it roughly every three to six years.
I emptied it this summer and put it on my potatoes.
The re-rod has openings of approx. four by six or three by five, I have never measured and when the compost start falling out of the sides I know it is time to use it .
I do add granules to speed up decomposition but nearly never turn it. Maybe once, or twice turn the top level at most in all those years.
It was five years this time.
I put any scraps, including food in there but most was leaves from my rose garden and lawn clippings.
I would put the leaves in there and get on top and stomp it down till it was so full the top was inches over the wire.
Now that I use my leaves as mulch I may quit using it, although I have anothe smaller, boughten one in my other garden I am still using.
When I put in in its new place I dug the earth down about four inches so the bottom was below soil level.
[Last edited by RpR - Jul 18, 2018 1:54 PM (+)]
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Wisconsin (Zone 5a)
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skits
Jul 18, 2018 3:27 PM CST
My son had a lot of pallet wood lying around so he built me a box to keep my screened compost in. He's currently working on the roof. I'm afaid it's gotten a bit too fancy.....I'll post pics when it's finished.

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