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Compost question


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mange tout
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:10 pm    Post subject: Compost question Reply with quote

So I've been trying to make compost for the last year and a half or so. I'm using a standard plastic compost bin, like any you'd get in a garden centre. I think where I'm going wrong is that I put in mostly wet stuff from kitchen brown bin caddy, coffee grinds, veg skins, left over food etc.. I think in hindsight I should have put more dry stuff like newspaper in. I put more garden clippings in during the Summer.

It is breaking down, as I'd regularly top it up with bags from the caddy and it subsides within a week or two to fit more in. But the compost at the bottom is still very wet and gloopy.

I pulled out a few shovels today with a view to planting some chard seeds in a mix of it and soil. Basically its kind of thick, lumpy, wet muddy consistency, smells a bit like something you've pulled out of a river that's been there a long time. There are still things like egg shells, bits of stalks and to my surprise, traces of the biodegradable bags from the caddy in it. This is from the bottom of the bin. There are lots of centipedes, woodlice and worms in it.

My question is, assuming I am correct in thinking that it is still not broken down enough, will I do any damage by trying to use it?

And does anyone have any suggestions on what to do now? Wait? Try adding newspaper? Dig it out and let it dry in the sun and start again?

Moving house soon and am thinking of getting one of those insulated super quick ones.
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Micks Garden
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 9:39 pm    Post subject: Composting Hot or Slow. Reply with quote

The trick in composting is getting the mix right .
Carbon / Nitrogen or Brown / Green .
Your mix needs to be two parts brown to one part green by volume .
Here is a short list

Carbons (Browns)
Wood chips
Cardboard, shredded
Sawdust
Newspaper, shredded
Straw
Leaves (brown)
Reeds (brown)


High Nitrogen (Greens)
Garden waste
Vegetable scraps
Clover
Coffee grounds
Grass clippings
Seaweed
Horse / Cow Manure
Chicken Manure

My choice for carbons would be straw, reeds or in the autumn dry leaves .
A bale of straw costs 4 yoyo's here about's, every composter should have one handy .

The stuff you have is useless for growing anything in, you could try mixing it with soil and the worms might break it down in time .
I have a post on hot composting going on over here .
http://www.gardenplansireland.com/forum/about8474.html

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Blowin
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to put your mind at rest, Mange Tout, all may not be lost, and one hint I'd perhaps consider is that I'm told Straw takes more out of the material around it to get it to break down than it provides in the final compost. Just a thought.

Anyway, with your 'gloop' it depends how and where you need to use it? Over the winter I've collected two 200 litre barrels of similar type stuff, also containing plenty of worms etc. I plant 24 runner bean plants round a central pole - see other threads - with a pit in the middle. I line the said pit with newspapers to retain moisture and then tip the 'gloop' in, before backfilling the soil into a mound on top. As the beans grow, the 'gloop' decomposes to nourish them with plenty of the moisture they need and the mound gradually subsides.

So, if you're intending to grow anything whereby you can get some of yours underneath the seed or plant, then Nature will do its job but, if you want the crumbly stuff, then you need to refer to 'Plan Mick'?

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Sue Deacon
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How big is the compost bin? The size of it has something to do with the speed of decomposition as well as a good mix of materials. Big bins can generate some serious heat but some of those little ones are hard work.

A friend of mine has a small bin and he uses those caddy liners. Personally I think they are a waste of money. His bin takes an absolute age to rot down and the bags, although they do eventually rot down, make life difficult for worms etc who can't get at the contents until the bags start to decompose (he will insist on knoting the bag shut!)

I have two wooden bins which I fill with all sorts of stuff including kitchen waste (not cooked!) When one is full I transfer the contents to the other bin with a fork mixing as I go. I often have to ADD water, especially around the outside.

Ideally I'd have three bins as when I have filled the first bin (again) the second hasn't finished 'cooking' completely, so the compost is not really suitable for seed sowing. I use mine for top dressing and mulching the borders.

Just a thought - have you ever smelled comfrey or nettle 'tea' - it STINKS! But the plants don't seem to mind. Laughing

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cravings
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

those biodegradable bags do seem to degrade pretty slowly. but can only assume they're much better than the 400 years or whatever for a normal plastic bag.
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tagwex
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dendrobaena worms required and regular turning over.
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Sue Deacon
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Said friend got brandling (?) worms from the fishing shop for his compost. They were doing a cracking job until he started using those wretched 'compost' plastic bags. Rolling Eyes
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is a good example of varying opinions and advice. Tagwex is one of those with an eleventh commandment in his gardening bible, i.e. that you must keep turning compost. I never touch mine. I build up one of two pallet sided heaps until full, then start on the other. By the end of summer they're usually both pretty full with dismantled runner bean rows and potato halms. However, around this time of year I can usually dig them out. This year has been the first when I've put everything in my two plastic drums - not as good but simpler.
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tagwex
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a theory Blowin. If I remember correctly your onions didn't grow last year, this was due to you not turning your compost. Answers on a postcard please.
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Its my field. Its my child. I nursed it. I nourished it. I saw to its every want. I dug the rocks out of it with my bare hands and I made a living thing of it!

This boy can really sing http://youtu.be/Dgv78D2duBE
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mange tout
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the suggestions! I think going from Mick's list I've been going 3 parts green to, eh, no parts brown.

Bin is about waist high, a little higher.

My main concern was that by putting down dirty, rotting material, I might in some get sick when I eat the grown veg. A bit remote but I suppose stuff smells bad because it is bad.

Think I'll try burying it under chard seeds and see how they get on, more for interest than anything. A mate had suggested doing similar with pumpkins.

Hoping to get a high end composter in new house. It occurs to me that maybe the solution is to line my brown bin with newspaper, which will keep the waste under control in the kitchen and add some of the "brown" from mick's list. And maybe dig the bottom out of the compost bin and put it back in the top with paper.

Thanks for the helpful suggestions in any event.
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Sue Deacon
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mange tout wrote:
A bit remote but I suppose stuff smells bad because it is bad.
As I said, comfrey 'tea' stinks to high heaven, but plants love it. Very Happy
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Blowin
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your memory goes with age, Tagwex. Last year I spread a sheet of black weed suppressant material over them, if you recall, see 'onion experiment'.
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Micks Garden
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blowin wrote:
I'm told Straw takes more out of the material around it to get it to break down than it provides in the final compost.

The compost needs carbon (straw) to break down the other stuff .
The basics of composting are : you put a batch of materials together in a bin, pile, drum what ever, micro-organisms attack the material and turn it in to some thing we can use in the garden.
Micro-organisms use carbon for energy and growth, and they use nitrogen for protein and reproduction. If you remove either of these components, you end up with something other then compost "gloop".
The composting process needs oxygen and moisture, so needs to be turned regularly.

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mange tout
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Probably why horse manure from stables (with straw / wood chippings) is so good
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tagwex
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Blowin wrote:
Your memory goes with age, Tagwex. Last year I spread a sheet of black weed suppressant material over them, if you recall, see 'onion experiment'.

Ahhhhh, might have mixed you up with someone else. But I do remember someone having a bad crop.

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Its my field. Its my child. I nursed it. I nourished it. I saw to its every want. I dug the rocks out of it with my bare hands and I made a living thing of it!

This boy can really sing http://youtu.be/Dgv78D2duBE
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