TZ -OH6
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Giving up on composting

More or less. I'll still keep my perforated plastic trash can for scraps, but for the bulk of my composting material (fall leaves and summer grass clippings) I have a better use for them. I stockpile the leaves and use them the next spring for deep weed supressing mulch and cover them with grass clippings. The dark leaves heat up in the sun and can burn plants so the light colored clippings are needed for most things. I let the grass grow long in the spring to get loads of clippings. By the end of the season the worms and bugs have eaten most of the leaf mulch, the rest gets turned under and is gone by spring planting time.

With the thick mulch the decomp rate seems to be faster than a pile, I don't have to turn it, and I don't have a big pile sitting around all summer. Its OK if the leaves are wet in the spring because the sheets of wet leaves smother out weeds very effectively and are easy to put down around plants.

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applestar
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Sounds all good, but what about garden and kitchen waste?

rot
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Yeah, I can see where you're at

..
Yeah, I can follow your line of reason. I've been moving in that direction myself. My wrinkle in thinking is that compost bins are for digesting things rather than producing compost. I've got stuff to digest and remediate and I feel a compost bin is better than a land fill or a municipal compost operation.

The best way is what works for you rather than working to make the best thing work.

to sense
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TZ -OH6
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Kitchen waste (half composted from the barrel) gets burried in the garden at the end of the season, and most of the garden refuse (dead tomato plants, mellon vines etc) gets tossed in the woods behind the garden because most of it is full of fungus.

I just don't have enough material to make a significant amount of nutrient rich finished compost, and getting large quantities of organic matter into the soil is easy with the leaf much or cover crops (cut and used for mulch).

If I were to get in a load of manure or wood chips, then I would go ahead and compost them.

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rainbowgardener
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Makes sense... the Ruth Stout/ Fukuoka/ no-work gardening way is to compost in place rather than having separate compost piles. I'm still (in my much smaller scale way) doing some of both. I do the deep mulch and I still have a compost pile for the kitchen scraps, etc. I won't waste anything and I prefer to have a pile for the scraps to be aerobically composted with other stuff, rather than a barrel (which I imagine could get pretty yucky... I know what the [closed] scrap container under my kitchen sink gets to be like in a week before I take it out to the pile). Especially since I've been trying to do more green mulching, that means there is some competition between the pile and the mulching, who gets these greens, but I just alternate.
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applestar
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My plans with my compost piles are as follows:
(1) Use up the finished compost in Bin#3 for potting up plants and some of the beds that will be needed for early planting next spring.
(2) A LOT of my beds have some kind of experimental cover crop and/or fall garden crop that are growing, which means I can't cover them up with compost or mulch. Depending on when the fall crop beds are completely done (some are also undergoing "can their season be extended if covered?" experiments), I'll use the half finished compost in Bin#2 in the beds OR in the paths. They should break down over the winter under additional leaf/straw/hay mulch and instead of leaching nutrients under the compost piles, leach them into the soil in the beds or at least in the paths surrounding the beds. I could shovel up the nutrient-rich soil from the paths to the beds in spring and spread mulch on the paths again to break down through the season.
(3) Bin#1 - is a commercial enclosed plastic recycling bin that I've been using to store hay and straw in. There's no point in keeping them in there, so I'll be using them to mulch with sometime between mid-November~Thanksgiving before the ground freezes
(4) Build a new pile with raw kitchen scraps, garden/yard waste and fall leaves plus the chunkiest unfinished compost from Bin#2. This would be a far smaller ratio of unfinished compost than I normally start with in fall.

I have to look ahead to seed starting time because I'll need a substantial amount of compost then for the seed starting mix. Last year, when I started the worm bin around November, I ended up with one full tray of finished vermicompost by spring. This year, I have 1/4 tray of finished compost already to start off with, and hopefully, a larger starting worm population. I've started feeding them regularly again so right now the tray consists of 1/4 finished, 1/8 unfinished, and 1/8 new.

I'll start bokashi composting again before the end of the month. This time, I'm going to be a bit more diligent about using the bokashi compost to feed the worms and keep up a regular bokashi->worms progression going.

GOAL -> TWO trays of finished vermicompost by seed starting time. :wink:

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rainbowgardener
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Apple - Do you use the worm compost/ castings directly to plant seeds in or do you mix it with stuff?

That might be the answer to my potting soil dilemma... I try to garden sustainably and the main thing I buy and import into my garden is all that potting soil for starting all the seeds. I have tried making my own from soil and compost etc, but haven't been too pleased with the effort or results.

I've never done worm composting and never knew why I needed to, since I do regular composting. But if I could use the worm compost instead of potting soil, I would definitely do it.
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Halfway
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rainbowgardener wrote:Apple - Do you use the worm compost/ castings directly to plant seeds in or do you mix it with stuff?

That might be the answer to my potting soil dilemma... I try to garden sustainably and the main thing I buy and import into my garden is all that potting soil for starting all the seeds. I have tried making my own from soil and compost etc, but haven't been too pleased with the effort or results.

I've never done worm composting and never knew why I needed to, since I do regular composting. But if I could use the worm compost instead of potting soil, I would definitely do it.
RG, after much research in trying to eliminate soil in my starts, I am going with coco coir in my 4" starter pots. Instead of a sheet of starts in soil or in peat pellets, I am germinating on paper towels and then directly planting into the coir. I am also using rapid rooter/root riot starters for some exceptions.

I will then bottom feed as usual as the coir is highly absorbant.

These starts will be very easy to transplant to the raised beds and the containers, AND....will also allow me to directly up-pot into my hydro systems.
Zone 4a.

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applestar
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I mixed the wormcasting/compost with sand and used potting soil and/or any left over bagged soil. I think I also experimented with perlite left over from my mushroom growing experiments and with equivalent of tarface (chunky cat litter like clay that is sold at auto supply store often recommended for bonsai soil) for better drainage. What can I say, most of them grew. :wink: Only time seedlings grew poorly was when I tried using 100% store bought organic soil amendment/soil conditioner called "Bumper Crop".

toxcrusadr
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From the original post's title I thought TZ-06 was having some problems and decided to give it up, but from your post I see you're just changing your approach. I think you are not alone in this progression. I went through a similar progression: started with a new suburban house with heavy clay, and after amending the soil heavily for about 15 years, it's in much better shape. I feel like I don't have to put compost INTO the soil as much, so I don't need to make as much in a bin. I make overwintering piles in place and plant through them in spring, and use leaves and grass as mulch. Less work, and no need to curb-thief as much as I used to for materials. Instead of a triple pallet bin with a half dozen batches per year going through it, we have a single black plastic bin that's big enough for what we really need to put in it.
Tox

petalfuzz
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TZ -OH6 wrote:I just don't have enough material to make a significant amount of nutrient rich finished compost, and getting large quantities of organic matter into the soil is easy with the leaf much or cover crops (cut and used for mulch).

If I were to get in a load of manure or wood chips, then I would go ahead and compost them.
I'm the same way. But I still am hanging on to composting in my bin, even though my pile never exceeds 2 feet tall at any point in time. I'd rather not throw raw kitchen scraps in my garden beds for fear of attracting flies, etc.

I think finding a system that works for you is the most important thing to learn here.

toxcrusadr
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Well said petalfuzz...and be open to letting that system change over time to meet the changing needs of your garden and yourself.
Tox

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Blue Fox
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It's all about adapting - when I think how it started (scrounging for ANYTHING to put in or on my acid sandy soil) to being able to compost lots of fall leaves (do people not realize how much nutrition there is in leaves??:shock: ) I now actually have soil - with worms!

I probably could stop making the amount I do, but it's so much fun to dig into the pile and have steam billowing out, and happy earthworms wriggling in each shovelful...I think I've turned into that dotty old bat that everyone snickers at, but I'm lovin' it! :lol:
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rainbowgardener
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I HAVE A WORM BIN!!

I now have a worm bin for the first time ever! Bought two 10 gal plastic storage totes. Drilled big holes (1/4 inch or so) in the bottom of one and tiny holes around the sides. Put wet shredded paper in the bottom, then a layer of fall leaves and a little dirt. Went digging in my compost pile for worms and discovered this is the wrong season, since it's cold and we've had several frosts already. I was able to come up with about 50 mostly very skinny little worms. I'm going to assume in their nice protected new home they will get bigger and multiply. Added maybe a cupful of coffee grounds and other stuff from the compost bucket under the sink (not too much, since it wasn't a lot of worms) , some more dirt and leaves and covered it with layers of wet brown paper and then put the lid on (there's at least 4 inches of air space before the lid). Put it in the back corner of the basement, MH doesn't even know it is there yet, otherwise there might be a freak out and argument about whether it is ok to have worms in the house! Hopefully I will have results to show, before the bin is discovered.

It is sitting on top of the upside down lid from the second one to catch any worm tea drips. The bottom of the bin and the bottom of the lid are both ridged, so there's air space between them.

I'm so excited.... All I can do now is let it sit there and hope the baby worms are doing their thing! How long before I will be able to tell if everything is working ok? Does it sound like I did everything right (except for not having enough worms- yet)? Any suggestions?
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rot
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Don't know about worms but

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I don't know about worms but I found this link interesting. Someone passed it along to me trying to convince me that I need to try a worm bin.

https://www.jetcompost.com/burrow/tbp1.htm

to sense
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Green Mantis
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I put some medium sized plant pots under each corner of my worm bin, then set the actual bin with the worms etc. on top of that. gives it a bit more air, between the bottom of the bin and the lid on the floor. Make sure your bin is about 3/4's full, and dampen slightly when adding more leaves or newspaper. They should be fine. Have fun!! :wink:

Compost King
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I find kitchen scraps in an ordinary bucket can get very smelly and moldy if not emptied fairly frequently and despite my best intentions to empty the bucket more often I do forget when work and other duties encroach.

I think the Bokashi method has lots of pluses for kitchen scraps particularly as meat, fish and dairy can be included.
I am interested to hear about the experiences others have with Bokashi
I'm not really a career person.
I'm a gardener, basically.

saying by George Harrison

compostingtips.info

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applestar
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We had some discussion about bokashi/em in [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=21051]this thread[/url]. There's also another thread that I can't locate at the moment but I think there's a link to it in the thread. :D

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rainbowgardener
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It's working!

Checked my new worm bin. The material I put in it has definitely reduced in volume and as near as I can tell all the kitchen scraps I put in it are gone already. Had to dig around a bunch to find any worms, but I did find some and they were noticeably bigger than any of the babies I put in there!

So I added another cup of coffee grounds and kitchen scraps. Since it's warmer and wetter today than it was the last time, I went out and dug a few more worms out of my compost pile (maybe another dozen or so) and added them. Added a cup of warm water to keep everything moist and covered it all back up!

MH has still not noticed it! :) Even when I open it up and peel the brown paper back off the top, it smells like nothing but earthy and the fall leaves I put in it. This is so cool!

But so far at least, I definitely still need my compost pile too. Maybe it would be different if you started with 500 or 1000 worms. My 50 or 60 can't eat up kitchen scraps nearly as fast as we make them.
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