andywph
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Creating compost

Hi,

I've read that you can create your own compost/fertilizer at home by alternating layers of soil with food waste and leaving it for around 6 months.

Has anyone tried this out?

What are the effects?

Thanks for your time. :)

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Gnome
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andywph,

Yes you certainly can create your own compost and it is an excellent amendment to your garden. If you want a quick, hot compost it is important to follow a few guidelines.

A mix of 'greens' and 'browns' is essential. By that I mean materials bearing Nitrogen and Carbon respectively. A simple example would be fresh grass clippings for the Nitrogen and old dry leaves for the Carbon aspects.

If the materials are shredded, mixed, moistened and turned regularly to introduce Oxygen the decomposition will occur faster but they will decompose eventually even lacking ideal circumstances. The soil is only a small portion of the pile by volume and is used to introduce micro-organisms.

This entire area of the site is dedicated to just that purpose. If you read some other posts in this section you will gain much more insight into compost.

Norm

andywph
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Dear Mr Gnome,

How about food waste, for example potato skins, vegetable trimmings or things like that?

cynthia_h
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Food wastes are generally considered to be "greens" (nitrogen rich) rather than "browns" (carbon rich).

Cynthia H.
USDA Zone 9, Sunset Zone 17

andywph
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Dear Ms Cynthia H,

I'm rather confused about greens and browns. Is it possible to explain more or provide some examples?

Thanks

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hendi_alex
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It is pretty simple, greens are generally things that are alive, browns are mostly things that are dead. Greens: most table scraps, grass clippings, plants weeded or thinned from the garden, spent live plants pulled from the garden. Browns: brown leaves, hay, wood chips, saw dust, peanut hulls, coffee grounds, pine needles, etc. At least that is my simplistic way of looking at it. What are potato skins and carrot trimmings? Well I'm not sure, but treat them as greens. As am not an overly scientific composter, this method of classification works for me, and evidently works for the compost too.

Charlie MV
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There is a post further down in this section entitled "Simple compost ingredients- greens and browns". It lists many compost ingredients by type.

andywph
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Dear Hendi_alex,

Potato skins are the peel of the potato, the tough part that is normally peeled off.

Carrot trimmings are the ends of the carrots and the carrot peel.

andywph
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To all,

Thanks for all the help offered.

:D

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hendi_alex
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"Dear Hendi_alex,

Potato skins are the peel of the potato, the tough part that is normally peeled off.

Carrot trimmings are the ends of the carrots and the carrot peel."

Ha, asked for that didn't I! :lol:

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Gnome
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hendi_alex,

I laughed when I read the response to your rhetorical question. It seems we have run head long into the language barrier.

andywph,

Alex meant that he did not know what classification (green or brown) those items fit into.
How about food waste, for example potato skins, vegetable trimmings or things like that?
As mentioned, those items are fine. I find that I don't usually have enough of them at any one time to cause me to be too concerned which category they fall into to. The bulk of my piles are made up of other materials that are available in bulk.

Most people do not include meat as that can attract unwanted visitors to the pile. Grease is also usually avoided. Eggshells are good as is any manure you may have access to, avoiding that from domestic pets.

Norm

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applestar
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any manure you may have access to, avoiding that from domestic pets.
I think another way to explain suitable manure would be most manure from plant and insect eaters are good for compost -- that includes goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, rabbits, horses, cows, bats, etc. Avoid manure from meat-eating animals including humans, pigs, dogs, cats, etc.

Now I had a thought -- I'm pretty sure pig manure is out because of disease issues. I had the vague notion that it has something to do with how pig's body is similar in someway to humans. I would suppose then that apes -- chimps and gorillas would be out too. What about monkeys that eat only fruits and bugs? (Obviously not your average backyard animal, but I was curious :wink: ) Also, if pigs are out, what about bears? Then another thought crossed my mind (just because bears poop pellets) -- do some people collect wildlife poop like deer, moose, etc. for their compost? Sorry, just brainstorming :roll:, but if you want to join in and comment, feel free! :lol:

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hendi_alex
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I believe in keeping it simple and keeping it local. I have easy access to horse manure but could also get chicken or turkey manure with relative ease. For now will take the easy route and use horse manure, oak leaves from my yard, grass clippings and weeds from my yard, kitchen scraps from our kitchen, recycled soil from my planters. Add a batch of worms to the pile and they and the other decomposers will work their magic. As posted before, you don't really have to pay attention to any particular ratios or any special ingredients. I do believe just like a varied diet is good for a human, that a varied diet will contribute to superior compost, but will only follow that practice as far as is simple and practical.

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Gnome
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applestar,

Thanks for clarifying. Perhaps my earlier statement was a little broad.
as is any manure you may have access to, avoiding that from domestic pets.
I never considered that some may have access to such exotics as you describe. I was thinking about common farm animals. Human excrement would, I hope, be excluded automatically. I don't recall ever reading anything suggesting pig manure is a problem though.

Norm

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Well I do not have any access to manure.

And cause I live in a high rise flat (HDB), I do not have a yard of my own.

I can easily get dead leaves from the park. So I guess my compost will be mainly dead leaves, egg shell, vegetable trimmings and soil. Is that good enough?

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hendi_alex
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I only started using horse manure about 3 years ago, as a source became easily available. Prior to that I used leaves, grass clippings, table scraps, layered with sandy soil from the yard. My compost looks slightly better with the manure added but only slightly so IMO. Your method will work fine and fits very nicely with my keep it simple style. The components may not break down as fast as you would like, but be patient and just keep adding the organic matter to the pile. Given your restricted area, you may want to consider one of those tumblers to contain the compost and to help accelerate the decomposition. Is not necessary but may be desireable in your situation.
Last edited by hendi_alex on Thu Jul 24, 2008 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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applestar
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andywph wrote:Well I do not have any access to manure.
And cause I live in a high rise flat (HDB), I do not have a yard of my own.
Hmm. In that case, I suggest you check out the thread on [url=https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8095]EM1 and Bokashi[/url]

andywph
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Noted your suggestions.

Will do further research to see which fits better into my flat.

Thanks. :)

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smokensqueal
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depending on how big you want to build your compost you can always go to your local grocery stores and ask for any bad fruits and veggies or go to your coffee shop and get their used coffee grounds. That will add lots of greens to your compost. Then you need to find some browns like leaves from the park or some straw or straw like matterial (I'm not sure what you have over there) or even cardboard (the brown dull looking stuff not shiny and slick) or junk mail. But basicly a lot of people and stores throw out good things that can be composted.

andywph
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Dear Smokensqueal

We don't have straw in singapore. Unless I buy those used for rabbits.

When you refer to junk mail, does it mean those normal paper? If it is, can I use recycled paper with ink on it?

I will try and ask around and see if the shops are willing to provide me with the "greens".

Thanks again. :)
Last edited by andywph on Sat Jul 26, 2008 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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smokensqueal
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You will get different answers about junk mail and what can be used. I look at house hold paper in a few different levels.

1. brown paper. That could be thin cardboard brown paper bags and sometimes there are even brown napkins. I see those as being the best and the first option in using if in need of "browns" because the chance that they have been bleached or chemicaly altered are slim.

2. gray paper. That to me is things like newspapers and paper towels. If you use newspaper it's best to use the ones that have soy base or water based ink. They may use something a little different in singapore but you want something that has a natural base ink if possible. And the paper towels are usually fine becaue they have a cotten in them which is good. But don't throw in paper towels if you used them with cleaners.

3. White paper. A number of people use this. I will only use it if I'm in great need of browns. This consists of your typical junk mail. Make sure there is no plastic in it and that includes the window in the envelope and shread it. The reason I don't like to use it is because the paper has typically been bleached and who knows what else and the ink is hard to tell what that's made from. I typically recycle this instead of using it in compost.

Actually you should proabaly shred and or tear up any paper you throw in your compost.

And about the staw. I think it's fine and mabye others have something better to say about it but if you can find some one with those rabbits that has used straw I would think that would be fine. Rabbits aren't meat eaters so I think their used straw would be find for compost. I probably wouldn't go out and buy it unless you are in great need of browns.

andywph
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Dear Smokensqueal,

Well I guess I have gray and white paper then.

Thanks for the details. :)

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