Jeffross1968
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Location: Western NC Zone 6b

This is a great post. I think if I had to think about it too much though, I'd probably not do it, so I'm glad that it seems it will happens sooner or later, even if it ends up being later :lol:

I bought one of those 115 gallon plastic compost bins at one of the home improvement stores. Every morning it gets what chicken poop and hay stuck to it that I remove from our little chicken coop. I've stopped getting plastic bags from the grocery store and now get paper bags, which I have the kids tear into little pieces and put into the bin. We also add weeds that have been pulled, TP rolls, and kitchen scraps (no meat). I go out and water it every 3 or 4 days, and have only turned it once in the few weeks we've had it. I really don't know how well it's working, but I guess we'll see.

The plan is to have usable compost after growing season to till into my garden, and then another batch to till into the garden in early spring, before planting. We are very clay heavy here, so hopefully I'll see some improvement in the garden, though at least the maters are doing very well this year, having added only a couple bags of manure before planting.

All of this....gardening, composting, keeping backyard chickens is literally new to me this year, so I'm learning lots. We'll see how it all works out :P

To the OP...even if some of us don't follow your post to the letter, it's awesome information, and shows us what direction to move things when we are ready to improve our own system (or lack thereof). So thanks!

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Tilde
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I vote this thread for a sticky - it's done pretty well in deed. I've got my small 6 gallon bin going; not much action yet but I need to get mor browns and dig under a tree to get more soil (started with some 4 yr old worm poop).

Not much around in the way of browns that don't originate in an office right now - but I just trimmed a bunch of bushes and dug up some grass and old leaves from under the ornamental bushes - they're drying in the turtle and will hopefully be usable in a few weeks, about the time I start bin number 2.

Also going to start a micro bin - project for the sprouts using a soda bottle and SCIENCE! I think they'll have fun.

Not sure what kind of mutant ninja grass we have around here - grows everywhere but the channel the neibhood's rain runs through (my side yard). "Put down cardboard, kill that grass" - heh never happens here. Grass finds a way ... every dang time here.
USDA Zone 10, Sunset Zone 25, 16 feet above sea level, surrounded by chem-turfers.

tenderloingardener
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

Very thorough tutorial and a nice segway for my odd ball question:
I live in a tiny space and merely wanted to make some enriched soil- not a real compost pile on my fire escape.
I put some generic potting soil in with a few trimmings from my container garden, but primarily I added UCG, eggshells, and tea bags.
I got a blue fungal growth, didn't care to deal with it as I wasn't well for a while, so I shut the bag (a large thick plastic bag, clear, resused- I think shopping bag), and left it alone throughout the remainder of the summer and through an especially mild winter.
I decide to clean up back there- cleaning out seed flats, used pots and the like, and I opened this bag and found...possibly compost? There is no evidence of any decomp, even the bags for the tea are undetectable and the shells are broken down into minuscule bits.

Is it possible that, through sheer negligence, combined with a low quantity of greens, along with no paper I've made some compost- or at least a nutrient dense stuff I can add in as an enrichment?

It seems like the obvious solution is to mix a bit in with some established plants being repotted and see what happens, but I suppose I'm looking for some reasurance. I'd hate to turn some fungal infection loose in my pots.

I followed none of the rules, so I wonder if anyone can guess if I have something okay or harmful?

Thanks.
Shawna

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grrlgeek
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

tenderloingardener wrote: I shut the bag (a large thick plastic bag, clear, resused- I think shopping bag), and left it alone throughout the remainder of the summer and through an especially mild winter.


Is it possible that, through sheer negligence, combined with a low quantity of greens, along with no paper I've made some compost- or at least a nutrient dense stuff I can add in as an enrichment?

I followed none of the rules, so I wonder if anyone can guess if I have something okay or harmful?
You actually followed the rules for anaerobic composting - which is the exact opposite of a pile that needs to be turned to let in air and kept moist but not wet. Anaerobic composting works on the principle of bacteria that thrive in an environment without oxygen. The key to anaerobic methods, is lots of moisture, about 70%, and sealed up tight. Leave it alone long enough, and it will rot, just like the aerobic method. Sounds like a great alternative for small spaces. Here's a web source with more information: https://www.compostjunkie.com/anaerobic-composting.html

I'd use it in my garden.
Zone - USDA 8b / Sunset 11

JPNguyen
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Location: California

Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

Absolutely great tutorial! I was planning on doing this and thankfully I found this post. I was actually thinking of just tossing everything into a bucket... good thing I didn't or else I would have a lot of goo.

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Pinehelp123
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

Just what I was looking for. Thank you!
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bly
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

Here is one thing that I didn"t read in this tutorial. After a pile has been composted on the ground, the ground under the pile will be very fertile after the pile is removed. Some water passes through the pile and carries nutrients to the ground. It is a way to boost productivity in an area of the garden.
I did piles on the same area for one year using only lawn clippings and leaves. The cantaloupes that grew there afterwards were amazing.

Zone5Newbie
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

Thanks for the great post! I came in hoping to find out if the ratio was based on weight or volume and BAM there was my answer. 1st time composter, bought first compost tumbler from Menards for $60 and started saving my greens and browns.

jgwhite
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

This is such an awesome compost instructional, EG! I'm really bad with math so the ratio explanation helped me understand it a lot better.

A Happy Seedling
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

JPNguyen wrote:Absolutely great tutorial! I was planning on doing this and thankfully I found this post. I was actually thinking of just tossing everything into a bucket... good thing I didn't or else I would have a lot of goo.
Lol, I did the same. Tried to use the goo and it's not completely useless. You can put it on outdoor plants like fertilizer, but not indoor ones; it stinks.
When I wait 3 months for my mango seedling to sprout, and then it damps off.
:evil:

Elly's Garden
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

Thanks for the information I have tried composting before and never got very far just using kitchen scrap, never knew this much went into composting

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

You're right, doesn't work very well with just kitchen scraps. Did you see the other composting basics thread here? https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/vi ... 35&t=56881

I thought this one was starting to sound kind of technical, so I made the very basic version of it. It really isn't rocket science: browns (hard, dry, carbon rich), greens (soft, moist, nitrogen rich), water to keep it damp, air circulation.

That's it, that is ALL you need. Everything else is just elaboration.
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

Beginner_Gardener
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

Have started a compost barrel for my garden but my question is about the ratio. I have not been paying close attention to this and have been randomely throwing things into the barrel. Things from coffee grounds, grass, veggie scraps etc. If my ratio is less than ideal, will it have a negative effect? Or will my positive effect just not be as grand?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Composting 101, for the beginner

The ratio is important, but not precise. This isn't rocket science.

But what worries me is what you said "Things from coffee grounds, grass, veggie scraps etc" That is all "greens." The ratio we are talking about is browns to greens, C:N. But you so far don't have any browns. Browns are things like shredded paper, fall leaves, straw, etc.

Your pile of greens will likely just turn into stinky goo.
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

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ID jit
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Re:

rainbowgardener wrote: Here's my lazy gardener composting:

1) throw everything compostable in my wire bin as it comes along
2) cover greens with browns (I keep some browns, like bags of fall leaves or a bale of straw in the summer, handy for the purpose)
3) if dry enough to water the garden, water the compost pile

that's it!

4) about three times a year, take all the uncomposted stuff off the top of the pile, down to where the earthworms are, to be the bottom of a new pile. What's left is lovely compost!
I wish I had found this years ago. Is good to know that the solution I came to is actually a viable solution. Add what I have when I have it, keep it damp and turn it when I can. One day it dawned on me that my two compost piles were actually very low maintenance pets - need to feed them, water them and pay attention to them on a regular basis. Composting became much easier at that point.

One thing I found very useful, since I am not doing a full-on Berkeley method hot compost is to solarize the black sort of mulchy stuff I end up with. At least I think the term is solarize. Before I use the stuff out of the "curing pile" I spread it out on a tarp about 2" - 3" deep on a tarp someplace sunny and water it well. All the remaining seeds and stuff sprout. I turn them under after a with a hand trowel after a week or so and repeat until nothing else sprouts. Then I store it in heavy black plastic 'contractor's trash bags".

May not be the right way nor the best way, but it works just fine for me.

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