MikeP09
Full Member
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:09 pm
Location: Somerville, NJ

Compost Pile Not Decomposing Well

I have a compost pile that doesn't seem to decompose too good. I do leave it dry a little but my real concern is the material I add. I use all my grass clippings and currently add newspaper or cardboard. In fall I will add leaves, but is that all the nutrients my pile needs? I have a hard time leaving kitchen scraps due to the animals eating it before nature does.

I want to have a nice pile ready for next spring,, any tips?

MikeP09
Full Member
Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:09 pm
Location: Somerville, NJ

I also have a huge pine tree that drops pine needles all over and around my pile. Are they no good for composting? Or leave them alone?

User avatar
engineeredgarden
Green Thumb
Posts: 426
Joined: Thu May 13, 2010 3:51 pm
Location: NW Alabama

I want to have a nice pile ready for next spring,, any tips?


Yep, don't put anymore paper products in the pile. It requires WAY too much nitrogen to break it down. Shredded leaves are much better..

EG

tomatogarden
Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Jul 23, 2010 5:18 am
Location: united states

I think you can try using some banana peels for your compost. It breaks down very quickly and its good for the plants.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

The paper products are okay if you have plenty of "greens" to go with them. It's the balance that its key. But it does sound like you are definitely short on greens. You talked about the critters getting the kitchen scraps. Is your pile not enclosed? My compost bin is about like this:

wire bin composter

but also has wire grid across the top of it. The main point of it, as well as keeping the pile piled, is to keep the critters out. Without it, kitchen scraps would never stay in my pile long enough to compost, either.

You mention the grass clippings, but what about other yard waste: pulled weeds, deadheaded flowers, trimmings, thinings, etc. My yard generates tons of greens during the season... Are you not putting all that in the pile?

And you mentioned dry. Moisture is very important. As soon as your pile dries out, it STOPS working. Every time I water anything in the yard, I water my compost pile thoroughly AND it is where it can get rained on and open to the rain.

No, not the pine needles, they break down very slowly, won't help your situation.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
farmerlon
Green Thumb
Posts: 671
Joined: Fri Feb 12, 2010 4:42 pm
Location: middle Tennessee

rainbowgardener wrote:And you mentioned dry. Moisture is very important. As soon as your pile dries out, it STOPS working. Every time I water anything in the yard, I water my compost pile thoroughly AND it is where it can get rained on and open to the rain.


Yes, moisture is very important... but, don't get the pile too wet! A pile that is saturated with water will also stop "working". Evenly moist is great... too wet or too dry is bad.

Also, you might try opening up the pile, and burying the kitchen scraps deep, and save a good heap of those grass clippings to pile on top. That can go a long way in keeping the critters out.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

farmerlon is right, but I have discovered over the years, that it takes a lot more watering of the pile to keep it moist inside than I used to think. Also (especially in hot weather and as long as your pile is sitting somewhere it can drain) if you happen to get it too wet, it will dry out again quickly. Whereas, if it is too dry it will stay that way until a good rain changes that. So water well!

The only thing you really don't want is your pile sitting somewhere where the water doesn't drain and it will stay sitting in water.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

wow rainbow gardener that compost bin is expensive as hell for being just some metal. if you want a wire bin, go to the hardware store. get some hardware cloth, 1/4 inch mesh. you want a piece about 7-10 ft depending on the diameter you want your bin to be. then you are going to bind the ends together to make a cylindrical wire bin for under 20$. about 4 ft tall.

mike if you make a bin like that, you can add layers of green stuff and brown stuff until you fill it to the top. then you can sit and wait, you will see the pile start to sink, when it has shrunk like 6 inches or more, carefully take apart the wire bin. the compost pile will stay in shape if you don't bump it much and its not too dry. simply remake the bin right next to the pile. now put the stuff from the top on the bottom and the bottom will now be the top. usually after 4 times turning once a week its done and ready to sift for seedling soil mixes or just dump it in the garden.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Prices do go up. The one I have, which I like better than the one pictured and has a top, I bought for $30 about a dozen years ago. Maybe $3 a year? Seems like a bargain to me. I would love to get another one like it, but can't find them any more.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

Return to “Composting Forum”