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Author Topic: Composters! I need help!  (Read 9097 times)
Mandi
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« Topic Start: May 27, 2010, 08:32:12 pm »

Tell me what can and can't go in, and how to do it right.  I'm new to this whole thing.  Can I put peppers in?  Can I put egg shells in?  Can I put stuff with protein in or will it wreck it?!

What do I need to do?  I have a bin, I have a vented lid.  I have coffee grounds, avocado bits, onion and lettuce and mushrooms that went bad, coffee grounds and banana peels.  What else would be good?
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« Reply #1: May 27, 2010, 08:38:10 pm »

Tell me what can and can't go in, and how to do it right.  I'm new to this whole thing.  Can I put peppers in?  Can I put egg shells in?  Can I put stuff with protein in or will it wreck it?!

What do I need to do?  I have a bin, I have a vented lid.  I have coffee grounds, avocado bits, onion and lettuce and mushrooms that went bad, coffee grounds and banana peels.  What else would be good?

(note: I haven't actually did any composting before and this info is second-hand)

Egg shells should be okay, but meat may attract the attention of scavengers.  I actually think anything organic can go into it, but I would love to be proved wrong.
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« Reply #2: May 27, 2010, 08:42:16 pm »

Mandi,

I'll email you a post that one of our former staff members (someone who'd taken the Master Composter course here in Texas) made about composting several years ago.
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« Reply #3: May 27, 2010, 10:06:29 pm »

Tell me what can and can't go in, and how to do it right.  I'm new to this whole thing.  Can I put peppers in?  Can I put egg shells in?  Can I put stuff with protein in or will it wreck it?!

First of all, don't freak out.  Everything knows how to rot on its own.  All we do is help it along.  Wink

The best way to start a compost pile or bin is with a layer of "brown" matter.  Stuff like dry leaves, sawdust, newspaper (though use it in moderation, as it tends to form mats).  Add a thick (6+ inches) layer of this to the bottom of the composter.  Then start throwing in your kitchen scraps in there.  Cutting things up as small as possible speeds things up, but it's not completely necessary.  Add a layer of brown now and then to cover the rotting "green" matter.  If you live someplace dry, add a little water or better yet (and no, I'm not kidding) urine to moisten things a bit.  I encourage the gentlemen to occasionally make a deposit.  Healthy urine is sterile, and an excellent source of nitrogen.  Fortunately, the nature of the rolling bin makes this both convenient and relatively private.

And in answer to what you can add, the answer is simple and complicated.  Any organic matter will compost.  Everything goes in my bins, which are closed on all sides but the top (I use recycled pallets).  I also have a large, dodecahedron-y thing that's completely sealed and rolls.  In the winter I use the rolling unit to compost everything, including meat/fat.  We do get wild visitors here, and I'm certain they come by because they smell something good.  But they'd probably come by anyway, given that we're on 2.5 unfenced acres in the boonies.  If this is a concern in your neighborhood, omit these items.  Although I'm unconvinced a little salad oil clinging to a lettuce leaf is much of an enticement to a coyote.  Especially buried under a pile of rotting leaves.

By mid-summer in most areas, you'll have gorgeous compost that's ready to use (or sift and use, if there's a lot of undigested, stemmy stuff therein).  The only real mistake you can make is not adding enough brown matter to the mix.  Too many greens and you get a high-nitrogen situation that results in the ammonia and black, icky sludge of anaerobic decomposition.  The mix needs to be able to breathe.

Brina
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Mandi
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« Reply #4: May 27, 2010, 10:16:11 pm »

Mandi,

I'll email you a post that one of our former staff members (someone who'd taken the Master Composter course here in Texas) made about composting several years ago.

Awesome Cheesy  TY!  I'm excited.  Now that we have an actual backyard rather than a nook and shared space and I can have a spot for it, this has really been a great way to reduce what we throw away and start trying to help the nearly beyond help garden!
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #5: May 27, 2010, 10:33:58 pm »


I just started composting this week and have mostly green matter, with a little brown matter coming in through dead and dried sticks (broken up as little as possible) and, soon, the dried out grass clippings I from mowing my yard. Newspaper should work just fine?

Also, theoretically I'm gonna put up a border around my compost, but for the most part it's just at the corner of the yard, fenced in on two sides. Do I need to completely cover the compost 100%, or just enough to keep most animals out?

(See what happens when you brandish your knowledge about? People jump up and start asking all sorts of questions! Cheesy)
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« Reply #6: May 27, 2010, 10:39:25 pm »

First of all, don't freak out.  Everything knows how to rot on its own.  All we do is help it along.  Wink

 Too many greens and you get a high-nitrogen situation that results in the ammonia and black, icky sludge of anaerobic decomposition.  The mix needs to be able to breathe.

Brina

:-)  TY!  I think this may be a problem for us.  I'm gonna shred and add the next supermarket circular.  We are primarily salad material and coffee grounds.

Is it okay to have ants going in and out?  They look spastic (maybe from the coffee grounds?)
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #7: May 28, 2010, 12:20:49 am »

I think this may be a problem for us.  I'm gonna shred and add the next supermarket circular.  We are primarily salad material and coffee grounds.

Anything brown will help.  If you're in an urban setting (no idea where you're living now), you can often find things like coffee chaff from coffee roasters, which is damn near the best "brown" around.  If there's someone near you who makes tofu or soy milk, soybean chaff is also great.  Oh, and check with your local brewery (or homebrew clubs) for spent grain/spent hops.  Nothing gets a compost pile cooking quicker than brew leavings.

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Is it okay to have ants going in and out?  They look spastic (maybe from the coffee grounds?)

They're stealing your stuff, but they're otherwise not doing any harm.  Smiley

Brina

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« Reply #8: May 28, 2010, 12:43:41 am »

I just started composting this week and have mostly green matter, with a little brown matter coming in through dead and dried sticks (broken up as little as possible) and, soon, the dried out grass clippings I from mowing my yard. Newspaper should work just fine?

It's okay, but not ideal, due to its tendency to mat.  In a perfect situation, you'll want a carbonaceous (brown) material with a bit of loft.  That's why stuff like hardwood sawdust works so well.  But really, if you've got time, anything will work.  And you can always add leaves in the fall (keeping in mind that they also tend to mat, as do lawn clippings).

At some point you're going to want to stop adding new stuff and let the pile molder.  That's why I have two side-by-side pallet bins.  One I add to, and the other just decays.  The rolling bin is for quick compost, as it absorbs heat well and

Quote
Also, theoretically I'm gonna put up a border around my compost, but for the most part it's just at the corner of the yard, fenced in on two sides. Do I need to completely cover the compost 100%, or just enough to keep most animals out?

Are you just talking about a simple pile?  Or do you have it contained somehow?

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See what happens when you brandish your knowledge about? People jump up and start asking all sorts of questions!

I'm no expert, but I've been doing this for a couple decades now and made lots and lots of mistakes.  Smiley

Brina
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« Reply #9: May 28, 2010, 09:49:03 am »

First of all, don't freak out.  Everything knows how to rot on its own.  All we do is help it along.  Wink

All I can say is magnolia leaves and live oak leaves will be around until the next damned ice age.  Tongue
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« Reply #10: May 28, 2010, 09:54:53 am »

Quote
Are you just talking about a simple pile?  Or do you have it contained somehow?

It's just a loose pile, but I have it in the corner of a chain-link fence, so it's contained on two sides and free on the other two. (That actually makes it easy for me to just wheelbarrow over my yard clipping and dump in.)
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« Reply #11: May 28, 2010, 11:32:25 am »

All I can say is magnolia leaves and live oak leaves will be around until the next damned ice age.

They just need lots of "green".  The aforementioned urine works wonders on things that don't break down readily, as much for the moisture as the added nitrogen).  Renting/borrowing a shredder would also help.

Brina
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« Reply #12: May 28, 2010, 02:51:17 pm »

They just need lots of "green". 

And time. Lots of time.

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The aforementioned urine works wonders on things that don't break down readily, as much for the moisture as the added nitrogen).

Elvis is doing his part there. He pees on every magnolia leaf he walks by. I'm afraid, though, that a fifty foot tree sheds more leaves than he can possibly water LOL
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« Reply #13: May 28, 2010, 03:19:06 pm »

Elvis is doing his part there. He pees on every magnolia leaf he walks by. I'm afraid, though, that a fifty foot tree sheds more leaves than he can possibly water LOL

Poor little guy.  Is Randall busy?  Wink

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« Reply #14: May 28, 2010, 03:23:37 pm »

Poor little guy.  Is Randall busy?  Wink



LOL...not sure I could talk him into it. Mosquitoes, you know.
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