starko
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:19 pm
Location: West Hollywood

Compost

I'd like to ask you if there's any danger of using compost I've made too soon, i.e. if using it in a raised garden when the produce I've used to make it might not have completely broken down yet. It will be mixed in with potting soil, garden soil, perlite and worm castings, and it looks OK, but I want to know if there's a test I need to do, a certain time I need to wait, what have you, before using it.

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

No, it is fine to use. The worst thing that can happen is that if your compost is heavy in browns (straw, fall leaves, etc) that aren't very broken down, and you put it IN (not on) your soil, it can absorb some nitrogen from your soil in the process of finishing breaking down. But if it is well balanced or heavy in greens that won't be the case. Your potting soil and worm castings should take care of that anyway.

One of the many advantages of compost is that it is so harmless. You can never burn plants with it, it can be used at any stage...

Usually we say compost is finished, when it looks and smells like good dirt and you can't see the original ingredients in it (except maybe a few eggshells, if you put eggshells in). But it can be used even if not entirely finished. Some people do sheet composting, where they just put their compostable materials directly on the ground and then cover with soil and mulch.
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

starko
Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:19 pm
Location: West Hollywood

Re: Compost

I'm going to ask our gardener to bring us leaves from their other clients. Since our own recycle bin has been so paltry lately, our compost bins have been nitrogen-heavy and smelly, I have been thinking about buying hay and trying to figure out how to cut it into scraps! Can you reprint the types of leaves that are toxic to add to one's compost pile? That's my only fear is that I'll inadvertently add the wrong kind, so I want to see the leaves I can't use.

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

I can't even think of any leaves that should not be composted. Maybe eucalyptus, I vaguely remember something about that, but you're not likely to have those unless you're in a semi tropical place.

Compost is actually great for plants WHILE it's breaking down! That's what lasagne gardening is and it works quite well. So no worries about using your compost too soon. If it's smelly that might be a reason not to, until it's balanced out, but other than that and its opposite, the aforementioned 'too many browns', there is really nothing bad that can happen.
Tox

User avatar
!potatoes!
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1882
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: wnc - zones 6/7 line

...
Last edited by !potatoes! on Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
!potatoes!
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1882
Joined: Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:13 pm
Location: wnc - zones 6/7 line

i think black walnut and other juglans get mentioned to avoid. that's all I'm thinking of at the moment.

if you're searching for more browns, most newspapers printed in the US are printed with soy-based ink that's harmless. either put through a shredder or shredded somewhat by hand, works fine for composting.

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

Hay or straw bales pull apart easily into "flakes" (layers). In the summer when I run out of last fall's leaves, I buy a straw bale to feed into my compost pile for browns as well as mulch with. But as noted most leaves except eucalyptus should be fine.
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
klevelyn
Cool Member
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:23 am
Location: Utah, USA

All plant material and green matter is great for the garden. I have just finished reading "Gardening Without Work" by Ruth Stout. She used the mulch method in her garden and it was constantly composting. A great funny read.
Eat healthy from your backyard garden

vermontkingdom
Senior Member
Posts: 141
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: 4a-Vermont

Many years ago I made the mistake of using compost in a raised bed that was still in the midst of its heating stage and obviously not fully finished. I was new to gardening. I put the compost on nice and heavy around my transplanted tomato plants and it cooked them! Needless to say, I learned a lifetime lesson.
"Good gardeners do not have green thumbs. They have brown knees, soiled hands and big hearts."

rot
Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

10 percent rule

..
Eucalyptus and black walnut and such tend to be allelopathic. That is they produce chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants.

I think if you follow the 10 percent rule in your bin or pile and mix well and let things age accordingly, I believe you'll be alright.

Those eucalyptus acorn things just don't want to break down either. I avoid eucalyptus myself.

to sense
..

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

Keep in mind that HAY is dried green grass, and still has significant nitrogen in it, so it will act as a green in the compost. STRAW was dead and brown stalks (i.e. wheat stems) when it was cut, has low N and will act as a brown. So if you need browns use straw not hay!
Tox

PaulF
Greener Thumb
Posts: 779
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:34 pm
Location: Brownville, Ne

One other danger is if you use animal manure too quickly. Poultry litter may be too hot. Horse or cow manure the same and there may be diseases spread by uncomposted manures.
Paul F

User avatar
klevelyn
Cool Member
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 1:23 am
Location: Utah, USA

I wait until the compost is nice a brown like dirt before adding to the garden. I use mulch on the garden as the plants are growing to keep down weeds and slowly break down.

If using compost before completely composted put it down in the fall so it can continue to break down in the winter.
Eat healthy from your backyard garden

Return to “Composting Forum”