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 Post subject: Compost Pile Question
PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2003 9:42 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 23, 2003 12:21 pm
Posts: 14
I have a compost pile that is pretty small (3x4x4).

The first ingrediants for it were:

A lot of large chunk pine bark mulch, some weeds, a few leaves and grass clippings. It was created in early March when I did my first mow and totally redid a flowerbed giving me lots of material.

At first it heated up for roughly a week then went cold again. About once a month I save the grass clippings from mowing and move/turn the pile. Every 8-12 inches of old compost I layer in 2 inches or so of grass along with some alfalfa meal and mollasses. Once again for 3-5 days it get hot ~130 degrees and then goes cold again. I should mention that I make sure to keep it moist and do aerate with a couple large PVC pipes with holes.

If I look at it most of the weeds/grass are not identifiable and of course very little progress has been made on the bark chunks.

Question 1) Why does it cool down so fast?
Question 2) How long is typical for bark and the like to break down? I'm hoping to have this ready to spread in the spring.
Question 3) If I keep the clippings every mowing (7-10 days) and do my turning and layering much more often will that help speed things up? And is there any downside to doing so?

Thanks


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2003 10:45 pm 
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You have a mix of extremely hot ingredients (alfalfa and grass) and extremely cold (pine bark). When you add in the molasses you speed up the bacterial decomposition of the alfalfa and grass but not the fungal decomposition of the bark.

Pine bark takes forever to compost because pine bark is designed by nature to resist rotting. If you could get the rest of the pine tree chipped in with the bark you'd have a better chance of having something ready by spring.

Pine bark is only going to decay with a fungus. The aeration is very good. Do you have a way to keep the pile continually wet? I'm talking about damp from now on, 24/7/365 with a continual supply of moisture for the fungus. You could use a soaker hose or misters to do that. Sprinkling won't work for this because you only need a trickle of water and trickles come out of a sprinkler only in one spot. That's why you need a soaker or mister.

So to answer your questions:
1. The hot materials "burn out" very quickly.
2. Months to years.
3. I don't think so; and the disadvantage is that every time you turn it you break up the fungus that has started to grow.

You might rake or screen out the bark and set it aside for a few years, because it is by far your slowest decomposing material.

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 Post subject: Perfect Thanks
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2003 7:21 pm 
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I think I will screen it out and set it in a "side pile" The rest of the pile is very close to ready I believe.

I live right by DFW airport by the way.

Just one more follow up. I have just trimmed hedges and crepe myrtles very lightly. Nothing over 1/4 inch or so. If I turn the pile and mix this stuff in is it reasonable to expect it to compost in a few months or would it be better to put this stuff in the side pile also?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 13, 2003 8:57 pm 
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Location: Lavon,Texas
It will decompose faster if you can shred it up into small pieces. Your lawn mower will work but a shredder works better and faster.

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Converting one person at a time to Organics, the only way to go!! [ ME ]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2003 8:26 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:29 pm
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Location: Rowlett TX
Are you talking the $1200 shredders with jet engines or does anyone make a lil bitty shredder that can do light duty stuff like rose clippings and hedge clippings????????


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2003 12:29 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2003 9:17 am
Posts: 31
Location: Gainesville Tx
I bought one at Loew's last year from my husband to me. it looks like a mower. Has a bag and vacuums up leaves and shreds them. It also has a little shute on the side to stick in twigs. it's very heavy and as i live on a slope hard for me to use in some areas. If my husband would help me i would like it alot more!! :o I'm sure it didn't cost over $200, surely no more than $250.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2003 2:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:29 pm
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Location: Rowlett TX
Thanks Debby - that is what i will look into, using the mower and getting projectile rose thorns lodged in my ankles is a bad bad thing... I am also originally from KY and thus go barefoot for 10 months per year in the yard to something that sucks up the debris rather than slamming it into the turf would be nice.


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