Swatt
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Composting in Texas

I want to start a compost pile but I have some questions. I am going to wrap it in chicken wire.

Does it need to be touching the ground so it can accumulate worms, or do I add the worms myself?

I have heard that lime adds calcium, is this true?

Is it alright if coffee grounds are my main green? Do you need a variety of greens?

I have heard that cereal boxes are good for compost, but cardboard with stuff printed on it isn't, why are cereal boxes okay?

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rainbowgardener
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Having your pile on the ground so that soil critters including earthworms can move in to it is best. If you are using a bin with a bottom, you can add your own earthworms.

Lime does add calcium and tends to alkalinize. If you need to alkalinize your soil, best to add the lime to the soil, not the compost pile. Eggshells add calcium too.

Your pile should not be more than 10% any one ingredient. Part of the point of it is to have combined breakdown of a variety of sources. By the time it is all put together, your compost is a complete fertilizer with all the major and trace nutrients, etc.

Greens aren't usually hard to come by.... save your kitchen scraps!! I add a two gallon bucket of kitchen scraps to the pile, every week. Once the season gets going, there are grass clippings, pulled weeds, deadheaded flowers, garden trimmings, etc.

People worry more than they need to about inks. Modern inks are mostly soy based and not toxic. Cereal boxes are fine, just tear them up a little bit. And the amount of ink you are adding is microscopic.
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farmerlon
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I would like to add to the comments above, from a different perspective.
The biological activity in the compost pile will often create acidic compounds. If those acids become excessive, they can start to slow the composting process.
Aeration of the compost can help "normalize" the pile to a more neutral pH. For the same reason, it can be beneficial to add some lime to the compost; especially if the compost contains an abundance of materials that tend to promote acidic conditions (such as leaves and pine needles).

Regarding the paper and cardboard, definitely do not add any paper/cardboard that is "slick" or glossy. Those "plasticized" papers will not decompose effectively. Also, I recently read that the inks (especially red or orange hues) on those glossy papers can contain the heavy metal cadmium. :shock:

Swatt
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Ah okay, that makes sense.

I set mine up today, it's in a 3ft tall chicken wire with about a 2ft diameter.

I have a lot of crushed leaves and dead grass in the yard, so i think i will be using that primarily for my browns, although i will add cardboard, newspaper, dryer lint, and eggshells.

As for my greens, I think it will be primarily coffee grounds with some old fruit and veggies, and probably pulled weeds and stuff later in the year.

I did find a place for it on the ground, and I raked up some leaves and dead grass mixture and added it for the first layer, but I didn't have any greens so i left it that way and came home.

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rainbowgardener
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Swatt wrote: I did find a place for it on the ground, and I raked up some leaves and dead grass mixture and added it for the first layer, but I didn't have any greens so i left it that way and came home.
Grass is still a green, even when it's dead. "Green" doesn't have anything to do with color. Manure, which is definitely brown in color, is a "green" not a "brown."
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rot
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too much of a good thing

..
I once went coffee ground crazy. Made up a bin with half coffee grounds and half assorted flotsam and jetsam. It turned into a big dark gooey mess that took me months to correct.

One problem with coffee grounds is it tends to smother the air. Mix well and the more you use in your bin, the more you need to mix it up and blend it in.

No bad experiments. Just more data.

to sense
..

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farmerlon
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Also, if too many coffee grounds are mixed in, the soil can become very hydrophobic.
A while back, I experimented with one of my raised beds, and added a substantial amount of coffee grounds... that soil would shed water "like a duck's back". It was nearly impossible to effectively water that bed... lesson learned ! :lol:

rot
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Coffee grounds on the ground

..
I'll mulch coffee grounds on beds and then I'l mulch grass clippings on top of that to negate the crusting effect.

to sense
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Bobberman
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Small pieces of paper from a paper shredder really works great. I like pine needled and the dirt under the pine needles under the pine tree! I like a little sand and some cut up weed stems. Mix the coffee grounds with some sand or dirt then add it! Cut up the coffee filter also! Old leaves can't be beat but mix them if they are wet with something dryer! Layering is a good idea!
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soil
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if your in texas where it gets real hot and dry, try pit composting. look it up.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

carnumbernine
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Quick question about composting-specifically in this area: How often should you turn the pile? Oh, and how much/often should you add soil?

Thanks for any help!
Sincerely,

Jen in CenTex

toxcrusadr
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You can turn compost as often as you like or not at all, basically. It will speed up the process, to a point, but if you turn every other day it may not have a chance to heat up in the center. Every two weeks will get you compost in a couple months with just the right ingredient mix. Or every 3 months if you want.

If the pile or bin is on the ground, it doesn't really need soil added. All the microbes will be in the pile in short order, esp. if you throw in a few chunks of half composted stuff from the last batch. Soil has no compostable material to contribute and only absorbs heat and blocks air if you add too much. I don't use any.
Tox

carnumbernine
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Thank you!

That helps me big time. So far all thats in there is weeds, kitchen scraps, dried up grass.

But I need some kind of manure or fertilizing agent right?
Sincerely,

Jen in CenTex

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farmerlon
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carnumbernine wrote: But I need some kind of manure or fertilizing agent right?
No, manure or fertilizer is not required.

Some folks like to add manure or (nitrogen) fertilizer; usually for the purpose of getting the compost "cooking" faster/hotter.
But, if you have a good ratio of Greens and Browns, it's fine to compost with just organic matter.
{I know manure is organic matter too; but, above, I'm talking about materials that have not been processed through an animal's gut}

Bobberman
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Find a old bale of hay or straw to start it with. Mix some green grass or dandylions in for the green! Any kind of fruit skins! Find some pine trees and scrape under the tree for even pine cones! Go to a lake and collect sea weed!
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toxcrusadr
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The ingredients you listed are all on the green side actually, so you should have no trouble getting it cooking with proper moisture. Deffly don't need manure or fertilizer. Now if you have access to manure, it makes great compost.

You may want to seek out some browns - leaves, straw, shredded paper or cardboard - to layer in with your kitchen scraps and other green stuff.
Tox

carnumbernine
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Oh this should be easy! We go hiking every weekend, so I guess I will collect some stuff when we do :)
Sincerely,

Jen in CenTex

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