Fixxxer
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:46 am
Location: Tallahassee, FL

New to Composting, Questions About Ingredients

So I bought a new house this year. It's in the middle of nowhere and there's plenty of land for me to start growing. I quickly made friends with my neighbor who has horses and he gave me two trailerfulls of manure. I added this to what looks to be three years worth of fallen live oak leaves and it's cooking nicely.

Being that I'm a professional chef, I have access to a very large amount of kitchen scraps (30lb. or so on the average night). It dawned on me recently that I could be taking the stuff we throw away at the end of the night home to add to another compost heap. That being said, there's such a wide variety of stuff that I'm having trouble sorting out what might be usless or even harmful to my compost. I'll list some common stuff that I could easily bring home every night and if anyone has the time and inclination, I'd love to get some feedback on whether or not it's worth using and why. Thanks in advance to anyone that can help.

Cooked rice
Mashed potatoes
Baked potatoes
Egg shells
Mushroom stumps
Cooked nuts
Bread
Raw corn cobs
Onion peels
Raw shrimp shells
Raw lemon/lime/orange wedges
Coffee and tea grounds
Carrot/cucumber/pototo peels
Tomatoes
Sauerkraut
Cabbage leaves
Corn husks and silk
Boneless chicken/fish/beef
Pastries
Pickled ginger
Broccoli stalks

I think that's a pretty good cross-section of what I managed to get tonight without going into the obvious stuff, like lettuce cores and the like. Is there anything in there that shouldn't go into a compost pile?

tomc
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2665
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 6:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

I'm sure some one will suggest avoiding meats and shrip shells and the like.

I add them to my compost. Once a hot pile is working adding such to a dug-in--center will work.

If you have a visiting critter problem, pre-composting restaraunt blend kitchen waste will reduce that in ways a cold compost will not.

Steel drum with a lid works. Though a locking ring in bear country is probably in order.

My worst visiting diner (to the compost pile) was a great dane dog. He used to dine too well if not wisely. My problem was I didn't think anything organic could eat that much. I did not like shoveling up afer he dined--hence a steel drum with lid.

Kitchen waste, even sans meat is a fairly hot 'green'. And will liquify and drop off of most critter menus in only a few days...

Fryalator oil is one of the very few things I would not add to a bin in commerical quantity. inasmuch as today there should be a line at the back door to convert your fryalator oil into bio-deisel, it has a better end use.

Everything else on your list will compost fine.
Last edited by tomc on Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Think like a tree
© 2016 Invisable Inc.

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

Ooooh, shrimp shells! (not quite going eek and squealing, but close...) Shrimp shells! Woo-hoo! Throw 'em in, as long as you don't have critter problems *or* have a critter-proof compost set-up.

Shrimp shells have chitin in them, which has been shown to be helpful against root-knot nematodes. (I just KNOW there's a good and well-sourced post around here, but have to get back to work this evening and can't find it ATM. Use Search the Forum for "chitin" and "nematodes"; there won't be many hits.)

The pastries and the boneless chicken etc. worry me, though. Raccoons will definitely be attracted from far and wide, if you have them in Tallahassee. I don't know the Panhandle very well; I went to high school in Tampa and my grandparents lived there, with the other grandmother in Sarasota. College in Atlanta. So no knowledge about Tallahassee/raccoons.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

Moley
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun May 01, 2011 5:00 pm
Location: Brooklyn NY

I wouldn't consider myself a professional chef, I do make my living in the kitchen, but I've been schlepping more than I've been chef-ing lately, but I digress. I regularly bring home 10lb clear freezer (ICE) bags of seafood shells and veggy scraps from the kitchen, assuming the dishwasher doesn't chuck it. I get an occasional look from people on the subway, but I don't care, must feed my micro-herd.

The only thing I don't add are meat scraps and excess amounts of fats (butter, oil, duck fat)

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

I would agree with the people leaving the meat out. It just seems like you are creating more problems for yourself than it's worth. The pre-composting probably would work, but you couldn't pay me enough to do the job of emptying that steel drum into the compost pile ... nasty!!

Everything non-meat on the list would be great.

But if you are going to bring home that quantity of kitchen scraps, i.e. "greens" for the compost pile (see Greens/Browns sticky at top of this section) you would need a more or less equal quantity of browns to go with them. That might be harder to come by, and your pile could turn into a slimy mess without browns mixed in.

So I would think about what browns you have available (in Tallahassee probably not too much fall leaves!) -- shredded paper, bales of straw that you can break up and feed in as you need it, cardboard, saw dust, etc.
Once you have an idea of how much browns you have available, bring home an equal quantity of your kitchen scraps.

And if you were going to be bringing home 30 pounds of "greens" a night and mixing it with 30 pounds of "browns" you will have major compost piles! Good thing you have a lot of land, you will need it. And it could turn in to your second job, managing all that.

Alternatively, you might look around for a community garden. I bet any community garden or local CSA farm would be glad to take the excess kitchen scraps off your hands, if you have more than you can use.

Thanks so much for thinking about how to put all those valuable nutrients to use, instead of just wasting them!
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

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

That is an excellent and ambitious project! I agree with the other posters that all of that is compostable.

AND...

Dude, you're going to need a truckload of browns, or you will be a sorry camper in short order. :!:



I got hooked up with a juice bar/vegetarian restaurant a few years back and was bringing home Rubbermaid tubs full of this stuff. Properly managed it is fabulous. If not, a stinky fly-ridden garbage pile.

Food waste is the #1 ingredient in American rubbish after the other obvious recyclables are removed from the waste stream. Congratulations for making the quantum leap to the next level, and keep us posted on your results!
Tox

wsommariva
Senior Member
Posts: 182
Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2011 8:13 pm
Location: Northern New Jersey

What last poster said. You have lots of food scraps but need much more leaves to cover IMHO. You have the potential to generate a great deal of compost. In the Fall, collect as many leaves as you can. Go around your neighborhood and ask people for the bags of leaves they leave out for the garbage man - (assuming that N Florida has leaves and recycles at the curb). Add food scraps then add leaves. In my case I use about double/triple amount of leaves to my weekly food scraps.

Moley
Cool Member
Posts: 72
Joined: Sun May 01, 2011 5:00 pm
Location: Brooklyn NY

with this hot and dry summer, I've been accumulating bags of leaves since early July here in the city, tons of sycamores and maples dropping leaves.

Fixxxer
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:46 am
Location: Tallahassee, FL

Thanks for all the replies; it's very much appreciated, guys.

I've got a surplus of leaves on hand right now. The previous owners of the property never bothered raking and the property is covered in live oaks. Plus I'm felling a great number of trees as I clear the land back a bit and all the leaves from those trees are hitting the pile, too.

Unfortunately, my area is not big on curbside recylcing, beyond a token bin for glass and aluminum. When I exhaust my pile of leaves, I'm going to have to get creative. I go through a great number of cardboard boxes at work. Perhaps I'll start bringing them home as well. About how long should it take for average cardboard boxes to break down if they're the primary brown in a pile? Would I need to turn the pile more or less than usual?

I should be able to find a decent amount of hay if I look around a little, but I've heard conflicting things. On one hand, I have people telling me that they use hay with no problems. On the other hand, I have a few people advising me to skip it because it's full of seeds. If I build a good pile that heats up well in the center, I would think that seeds would be something of a non-issue, but is there something I'm overlooking?

Incidentally, I'm seeing a number of responses about how I'll be able to generate a large amount of compost given what I've mentioned thus far. Heh. There's a mistake in my original post. I'm not bringing home thirty pounds of kitchen scraps on average. I'm bringing home one hundred and thirty pounds! :shock:

I imagine I'm going to start donating to local farmers and the like pretty shortly. I do have critters like racoons and opossoms in the area, but I've done a pretty good job of burying my scraps and I haven't seen hide nor hair (heh) of them at all. I envision a large series of piles that are labeled by the month they're started and used within the year. We'll see if it works out that way, but I'm going to need a lot of compost to help the sandy soil around here.

Again, thank you for all the helpful replies.

cynthia_h
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7501
Joined: Tue May 06, 2008 11:02 pm
Location: El Cerrito, CA

You're correct that the temperature of the compost pile determines whether hay and other seed-bearing plants are helpful or a hindrance in the ultimate use of the compost you develop. I can't use them because of my specific situation. My compost *always* runs cold. Always.

But if you can run good, hot piles, the hay will be fine.

Cynthia

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

But hay, cut green, is a green. In that green/brown sticky, it gives this link

https://compost.css.cornell.edu/OnFarmHandbook/apa.taba1.html

to a table of C:N ratios. "Hay, general" has a C:N ratio range of 15 -32, similar to manure, i.e "green." "Straw, general" (cut dry after a lot of the N has been reabsorbed by the plant) has a C:N ratio average 80, similar to paper pulp, i.e "brown."

What you are looking for to balance out all the kitchen scraps is browns, therefore straw not hay. Has the added benefit of lot less weed seeds.

Your cardboard boxes would work fine and since C:N of corrugated cardboard (closest the list has) is 563, it is very brown and therefore needs less of it. You would need to be able to cut it in pieces though. If you just throw a whole box in the pile, it tends to smother it, stop air circulation. If you could cut it into more like notebook paper size pieces it will be fine.

But all this is sounding like an immense amount of work. 130# per night!! Yes you will need a lot of compost, but even doing anything thing with this much compost once you have it, will be very labor intensive. I'm well known around here as the lazy gardener, so if it were me I would still call the local community gardens/ CSA farm to take a lot of this and bring home a couple buckets every night! You would still have a lot of compost!

Here's a thread we had about large scale composting that has links to other such threads:

https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=127597

Generally people who are composting on the scale you are talking about have big machinery to do it with:

https://midwestbiosystems.com/compostturner.html?gclid=CK-e2YL_y6oCFUPBKgodgUX27g#
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

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

Food waste is very wet and heavy, and you're going to have to make sure those piles stay aerated so as not to go anaerobic in the center. Layer the browns in between as you build the piles, and dig in after a few days or a week to see how things are doing. They may dry out quickly if you're in a hot dry climate (or even in a temperate climate), because they will cook hot with all that nitrogen from the food waste. Frequent turning may be needed.

Other browns to consider: shredded paper (newspaper is great, office paper works but it's better to recycle the high quality stuff into more paper); or sawdust - find a cabinet shop or sawmill, just avoid treated lumber.
Tox

User avatar
groundgrocer
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2011 4:38 am
Location: Byron Bay, Australia

On the whole meat topic you might like to know that bokashi bins can take pretty much all food waste, including meat. They're a small kitchen bin though, it's usually a good idea to get 2 if you're getting any.

Return to “Composting Forum”