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 Post subject: My Composting Qs
PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2004 8:08 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 7:49 pm
Posts: 101
Location: Dallas TX
Ok, I live in Dallas have a good backyard for an herb+veggie garden and have previously just said composting just isn't worth the hassle&smell. I've decided to give it a shot. My wife and I are vegeterians that <2 times month partake in things that once lived in the sea. So we generate tons of matter for compost. My questions:

1.What commercially available bin styles work? For starters I just stacked up some edge borders but this will fill fast.

2.What is a hot pile? And is that a figure of speech or does it get hot? It's tough to tell reading the threads.

3.What stuff that doesn't come out of my kitchen and out of trees do I need to add?
-Molasses?
-Cow poo?
-Other?

4.This compost tea thing...at what point is a pile ready to be steeped so to speak?

5. I have compiled alot of do's but few dont's on my pad. What have been your miserable failures?

6. Bottom line, is this tough to screw up or can just a pile of kitchen scraps sort of do it on it's own?


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 Post subject: compost
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 8:40 am 
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Joined: Sat May 10, 2003 5:48 pm
Posts: 806
Location: Weatherford,TX
Typing with one finger would disable me if I tried to answer all your questions. Let me refer you to all the posts in this forum on composting and if you want to get more specific, search for CaptainCompostAl's posts. He is into compost (literally sometimes) and has a ton of info on this site.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 12:29 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2004 10:06 am
Posts: 51
Location: Keller, TX
Bear in mind I'm a novice on all matters gardening related (if you have a question on the Perl programming language, however, I'm the man).

PREAMBLE. I know you don't need convincing any more, but you will soon learn that the stinky thing is grossly overplayed. I have never had smell problems, and I throw some nasty, raunchy stuff in. All those things in my fridge that have either grown a personality or were caught in an escape attempt go in the pile.

1. COMMERCIAL BINS. I think they all work, honestly. Personally, mine is just a pile of leaves with a wire fence border to keep the wind from blowing it all over the place. I am cheap and lazy, which help explains why I love composting.

2. HOT PILE? You bet it gets hot. Sometimes when it cools off you can see steam coming from the pile.

3. ADDITIVES. Personally, I don't think you NEED to add anything. You can, but being both cheap and lazy, I prefer to let the bugs to the work.

4. COMPOST TEA. Sounds too much like work to me...

5. MISERABLE FAILURES. Putting my compost pile on the lawn. All of the nutrients went into super-charging the surrounding area, and I had mutant-strength grass. I would rather have had those nutrients go to the garden. My resolution was to put the pile smack dab in the middle of my veggie garden. Many disagree with this (cited slugs as one reason), but it's working well so far, and it's enabled me to better manage the volunteer plants that always poke out.

Also, the neighbor's mint plant has found its way to my pile, and it keeps popping up in different places. That's no failure of the compost, however, unless you consider being irresistable a failure.

6. TOUGH TO MESS UP. Oh yeah. Whatever the opposite of a green thumb is, I have it. Compound that with the fact that I am cheap and lazy (have I disclosed that yet?). Somehow, though, I am a successful composter.

Good luck,
Chris


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Apr 02, 2004 12:31 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 01, 2003 11:47 am
Posts: 10
Location: Texas, Zone 8b
1. You'll should be able to turn and mix the pile. You should be able to add water. The bin should allow ventilation. As long as the bin fits this criteria, you should be in good shape. Some folks have used trash cans. Other's have built elaborate bins with seperate sections. It comes down to how much space you have and how much you plan to compost. Some folks like a bin that doesn't have a bottom so that earthworms and bugs can easily reach the pile. Try to stay away from treated lumber if you build your own bin, the stuff isn't healthy for humans or beneficial bacteria in the compost pile.

2. Some piles actually do produce a lot of heat. The more bacteria that digests the contents of the pile, the more heat they produce. Personally, the center of my pile has topped out at 145 degress for a day or so. Others in this forum have probably topped that temperature before. You might read of some composters whose piles were steaming away in the dead of winter due to the bacteria heat production. Compost piles do not have to get hot to produce good compost. Generally speaking, the warmer a pile gets, the faster the contents turn into usable humus. Other than speed, a hot pile will also kill most bad bacteria and unwanted seeds that might be lurking in the pile.

3. The answer to this question depends on how quickly you want the compost to be finished and how you want to use it. Eventually, everything will break down into usable compost, even newspaper. But a pile of newspaper will take a really long time to fully compost without other ingredients to stimulate microbial activity. Manure and molasses are really good ingredients to add some nitrogen and sugar to the pile. Both of these components will help speed up the microbial activity. Basically, you want to find a proper balance of carbon (brown stuff like leaves) and nitrogen (green stuff like grass clippings). Compost materials should be combined to reach an ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio of (30:1).

4. I'm new at brewing compost teas. I've started using aerated compost teas. Pretty sure the Cap'n has some good posts on all that.

5. As long as you aren't adding anything toxic to the pile, it's almost impossible to screw up the process. Nature will takes its course. Adding water, turning the pile, and keeping the ingredients balanced are only important if you want the pile to be finished in a few weeks/months rather than a few years.


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 Post subject: Re: My Composting Qs
PostPosted: Sat Apr 03, 2004 9:25 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2004 7:36 pm
Posts: 23
Location: Dallas,TX
1.What commercially available bin styles work? For starters I just stacked up some edge borders but this will fill fast.

2.What is a hot pile? And is that a figure of speech or does it get hot? It's tough to tell reading the threads.


1. I use a presto compost bin and it works great for me. I have hammered four wooden stakes to keep it in place. http://www.beorganic.com/view.wga?id=Q13VPH

2. I go by the local starbuck's coffe house and pick up some used coffee grounds and it will heat up your compost in about 24 hours. and its free..

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Apr 04, 2004 9:38 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 7:49 pm
Posts: 101
Location: Dallas TX
Thanks for the replies! FWIW I am attracting alot of birds to the BY now which is nice.


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 Post subject: THANK YOU
PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2004 6:46 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 7:49 pm
Posts: 101
Location: Dallas TX
I now have about 6 cf of steaming hot compost. I ran out to stir it up and cover it before the ensuing storm tonight and it BILLOWED steam up. Even the mrs. was impressed how fast it took off with no additives and little labor.

I layered one layer of kitchen stuff, and then layered grass clippings and buds from the trees. and turned every other week. :D

Cheers!!!


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