allenwrench
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Composting corn?

Should I compost corn cobs and husks? They seem too tough to break down much. Any suggestions?

opabinia51
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For the cobs, you'll want to chop them up a bit first otherwise they'll take years to compost down but, the chopped husks are great for creating soil structure as the have a very high C:N ratio.

The husks have a very low C:N ratio and compost quite hot. Make sure that you have a lot of browns (usually in the form of leaves but, shredded newspaper works as well. Though leaves have a lower C:N ratio of about 300:1 whereas newspaper is about 2000:1 so, very slow to break down). Anyway be sure to turn the pile at least once a week but preferably once a day with the corn husks or your compost will go anaerobic on you.

They are great and make great soil and with turning, you will have soil in about a month.

It helps to run over them with the mower first but, they will compost just fine left whole.

allenwrench
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Thanks for the help!

opabinia51
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Hey, not a problem! Glad to help. Have fun with your compost. By the way, i find a pitchfork works best for turning the compost.

cynthia_h
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I just turned my compost March 21 and found a-l-m-o-s-t completely eaten-up corncobs from last summer. So I'd say they take a year to compost.

I didn't see any corn husks or silks at all. I think they disappeared in something like 6 to 9 months.

I sift my compost and harvest what comes through the screen; the rest goes back into the bin.

There weren't any discernible cobs from earlier; all were at the same stage of decomposition.

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bcomplx
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An elderly country lady who was once one of my neighbors swore by burying a half dozen old corncobs under tomato planting holes, then covering them with manure and planting her tomatoes. She did it that way for 50 years.

I like to see corn cobs floating through the heap -- I think they help aerate when wet, or hold moisture when dry. In summer, when I'm putting them in there, I try to break them in half first.

opabinia51
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That's really interesting, I'll have to try that one out! Thanks for the advice.
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smokensqueal
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I threw in a lot of corn cobs from the ditch near the farmers field last year after he harvested. They were whole but I did try to break them in half. This year as I'm mixing the pile I've still seen them but when I pick them up they break into a million little pieces. So I would consider them as anything else in nature and just throw them in. But just like anything else the more you break it down the less work the compost has to do.

Charlie MV
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Is the cob a green or a brown?

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smokensqueal
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Brown. It's after the farmer combines it in the fall. I on occation will grab some of the stalk but the it helps when the kids like to play with the cobs then I get them when they are done.

EDIT: I can't forget that in the summer we do throw in the cobs from when we eat sweet corn.

carolohay
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cobs, no composting

I’ve tried this, works well. To test, I turned the dirt out of a 20ft row for tomatoes, about 10inches deep and placed a single layer of corn cobs in 1/2 of the row. When the plain 1/2 was about 3ft high with blossoms, the cob 1/2 was just over 4ft with many tomatoes about marble size. The cobs act like a sponge holding water and all worms love them. Corn meal (easier than cobs) in the compost pile also draws red worms.
Have put corn cobs and/or meal on the ground near my garden, covered with cardboard or piece of old carpet (keep moist). Lift and pick worms off the ground for fishing bait.

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Corn cobs are a good brown, whole or broken up in your compost or garden.

Dried corn cobs were a staple fuel for solid fuel ranges and stoves.
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rainbowgardener
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Yeah, the worms do love them. I put whole corn cobs in my compost pile. The next time I turn the pile over, usually about 3 months later, the cobs will be hollowed out, with a bunch of earthworms in the center. At that point I break the (now softened) cobs up into pieces and put them back in the pile. The next time I turn it, in another 3 months, all the pieces are gone.
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@carolohay: Thanks for posting the results of your experiment. It really did work!

We break up cobs from summer sweet corn eating into 2-3 pieces and throw them in the kitchen compost bucket. I never have enough to do the tomato thing, sad to say. My tomatoes could use some help.
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PunkRotten
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I compost both of them. I don't break down the cobs just toss them in whole. They do take awhile to break down though. But after some time when I am moving the pile around I see cobs still but they fall apart when you touch them.

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