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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:32 pm 
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Location: Texas, Zone 8b
Hey Gang,

I'm looking for a cheap nitrogen source. I use a mulching mower and leave the grass clippings on the lawn. Lowe's sells blood meal, but it's too expensive to buy it in the little bags. I've bought and used molasses, but it too comes in small expensive bags ($10-$12 bucks a bag). What's the best source for cheap nitrogen? Should I be shopping somewhere else for molasses?

I've got a pretty big pile of oak leaves that is just taking way too long to become good compost. At various times, I've added molasses and blood meal to the pile. It heats up a bit for a few days (over 150 degrees once) and then cools off. When I turn the pile, I'm still left with a whole bunch of oak leaves that look the same way they did last fall. Granted, some of the leaves are definitely turning into humus, but it's just taking way too much time. I'm talking about close to a year.

I know I'm doing some things right. I'm occasionally turning the pile, but not too often. I'm keeping it moist, but not too moist. However, I suspect that I just don't have a good balance of carbon and nitrogen.

Your suggestions are welcomed! I'm getting worried because I don't have room for the new leaves that are about to fall.

Uvalde Gardener


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:59 pm 
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Location: Dallas,TX
Urine is a good source of nitrogen, tho I don't know if you want to use this method even if it is the Captain's favorite.

As for molasses, you can't go wrong with liquid. I use 2 oz. per gallon and spray down and into my pile and that fires up the microbes like you wouldn't believe. Old jelly,syrup or honey or whatever old sugar you have around works too. I'm not sure what Lowe's is closest to you but if they have an organic section check there. If not, there should be liquid molasses on the shelf anywhere they sell hunting feed this time of year.

See if you can find some soldier fly larvae...those guys are amazing!

Good lock and happy hunting.
Kathe :D


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 10:28 pm 
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Tree leaves take forever to decompose on their own so this year I'm collecting them as they fall and layering them into my hot compost pile (very soon to be piles). It's still a little slow on the leaves, but much faster than on their own. If you're going to do strictly oak leaf piles then it's imperitive that you layer/mix in your N sources as much as possible in order to get things going really well.

Like Kate mentioned liquid molasses is great and it's more economical than the dry. Food scraps, urine, grass clippings and used coffee grounds are all great N sources and you can't get any cheaper than free. Hit up the neighbors who are still mowing, and that bag their clippings. Any place that serves large amounts of coffee like Starbucks or donut shops will gladly hand over the goods. I've got a once a week ritual stop at Starbucks that nets me anywhere from 5-20 pounds of freshly used grounds, two venti mochas and at least 3 trips to the pile in order to recycle the drinks. :D

~Dave


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 Post subject: Nitrogen source
PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 10:32 pm 
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Location: Saginaw (NW Fort Worth), Texas
:idea: The cafe in our town saves their coffee grounds for me and I use that as a nitrogen source in my yard and garden. Perhaps you can ask the local coffee shops and diners around you if they would be willing to do this for you? I know that Starbucks leaves their used coffee grounds in paper bags under the counter for gardeners to pick up for free.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 10:49 pm 
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Uvalde Gardener wrote:
Hey Gang,

I'm looking for a cheap nitrogen source. I use a mulching mower and leave the grass clippings on the lawn. Lowe's sells blood meal, but it's too expensive to buy it in the little bags. I've bought and used molasses, but it too comes in small expensive bags ($10-$12 bucks a bag). What's the best source for cheap nitrogen? Should I be shopping somewhere else for molasses?


If you can get cottonseed meal in 50# bags, that may be a good, cheap source of processed nitrogen for you there, especially at this time of the year. You might check the price for corn gluten meal, soybean meal, and maybe even peanut meal at the local feed mills/stores also. Check with your mills/feed stores for pricing and availability of those feed ingredients there. The cheapest available organic nitrogen source probably is manure, bearing in mind the handling issues and maybe residual herbicide contamination issues. There are a lot of protein source ideas, and you might find some by searching at the home page of this site. Molasses usually is not a good source of nitrogen; if you do buy it, buy it in liquid form if you can and if you can use it as a liquid. Again, that points to a farm co-op or feed store as a source. We discussed molasses quite a bit in the Livestock & Ranching forum.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 11, 2003 11:22 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2003 6:29 pm
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Location: Rowlett TX
My gotta getit hot and done quick recipe....

Do a turn of the pile and after each pitchfork or three of unfinished compost throw a couple handfuls of CGM or alfalfa pellets (around 8 bucks for a 50 pound bag!) and spray a little molasses water

then repeat.

Cornmeal works well but stinks, CGM is a lot less stinky.

Ditto what Kathe said on soldier fly larvae... mine are migrating at the moment so there are a gazillion running from the compost bin where i vermicompost at the moment - the cool thing is that they feed at the top until they are ready to turn into flies and then burrow to the bottom of the bin and out the holes near the bottom so they mix the pile....

They are awesome for getting rid of inlaws as well, gross little buggers.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 2:45 pm 
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Molasses is sugar. Sugar is carbon, so you were going the wrong way by adding molasses to the pile.

In Uvalde you should have access to horse manure from somewhere. Cattle manure would be okay if you can get it, but it should all be dissolving into the soil out there. If you could add about 100 gallons of horse manure it should heat up for you and stay hot all winter. I would not waste perfectly ready nitrogen sources like corn meal, CGM, or alfalfa, or even coffee grounds directly in compost. Use that stuff on the grass or plants.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 7:07 pm 
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Location: Robinson,TEXAS
Sorry, I have to disagree about molasses in a compost pile. Anything with suger in it will heat a compost pile. Malcolm Beck has had Coke sprayed on his commercial compost piles in San Antonio and he stated within 24 hour they were so hot you could not walk close to them. It is the sugar in the Coke that starts the microbial activity and heats them up.
Richard Spitzer


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 12, 2003 7:21 pm 
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I think he was merely correcting my inaccurate information about molasses being an N source as opposed to saying that it's not useful in getting things cooking.

~Dave


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 12:24 pm 
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Molasses would not work in Malcolm's piles either if he did not have excess nitrogen from the tons and tons of race horse manure he has. Malcolm needs all the carbon he can get.

A leaf pile is excess carbon to begin with. Adding molasses just adds more carbon.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 4:09 pm 
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Uvalde Gardener wrote:
Hey Gang,

I'm looking for a cheap nitrogen source.

Uvalde Gardener


:) Pee is free and you save money on your water bill. It may be rather uncomfortable in the cold months though. :(

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 6:12 pm 
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Location: Texas, Zone 8b
Yeah, I started peeing on it a while back. The pile is pretty big, I guess I'll just ask the whole family to help out.

me to my wife: "Honey, I swear that drinking all this beer actually is a form of gardening."


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 6:59 pm 
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:lol: I'm impressed. Can she aim well?

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The Laws of Ecology:
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2003 7:15 pm 
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Location: Lavon,Texas
Nadine, I hear with practice, it is possible to hit the pile everytime. And yes, Uvalde Gardener, drinking all that beer is organic. You are contributing to the de-composition process and it also saves on the water bill, but like Nadine says, it can get a little uncomfortable in the winter months. But just remember the compost beats the nasty chemicals!!. So Nadine, have you trained your husband to use the compost pile yet, or is your family a single contributor family (LOL) :)

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


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2003 10:03 am 
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:lol: This peeing thing seems to be getting very popular. We may need a separate forum complete with pictures, techniques, instructions, etc. We should also list the best pee fuel; which brand of beer (bourbon for Chuck). :twisted:

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Last edited by khwoz on Sun Nov 16, 2003 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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