Amanda B
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Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

My first question
•Should mix in what I've already placed in my compost? I've put fresh Grass clippings, a little bagged soil (it sat outside for a year and was nice and dark with worms already in it), fruit, coffee grounds with filter and a little lettuce.
•can I put the produce in the blender and chop it up before I put it in the compost? I ask bc I've read that I should cut everything up really small and not to sound lazy bc I'm not I just don't have time all the time to cut everything up. I have two small boys and a host of other things to get done :D
• any tips or advice you might have for a newbie like myself please share them. My bin is just a large black garbage can that I put holes in the sides and bottom.

Life's a garden dig it :-()

toxcrusadr
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

You need some low nitrogen, high carbon 'browns' to mix with all that high nitrogen green stuff. Dry leaves are good but hard to find this time of year. Straw, sawdust, wood chips, shredded paper or cardboard will work. Probably good at this point to mix it into your existing pile to balance it. As you add more greens during the summer, layer on browns each time. At some point, stop and make a new pile while that one finishes - otherwise you'll never get compost out of it. Turn it at least once if you can. It should be compost by fall, use it and toss anything unfinished back into the active pile. One thing about having a compost bin: pretty soon you need a second one. :D

No need to chop small or blenderize. Anything soft will decompose readily. As long as it fits in my gallon sized ice cream bucket which sits on the kitchen counter, I don't chop it smaller than that.

Read the Sticky threads at the top of the forum for more hints and ingredient lists.

Happy rotting and let us know how it's going!
Tox

Amanda B
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

Thank you so much!!! I'm also into recycling big time so I have plenty of cardboard (no ink)!!! It's funny you said something about a second bin bc I thought when I went out this morning to dump my compost in that I can see I'm going to quickly outgrow this one :-()

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Amanda B
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

Also should I cut the cardboard into smaller pieces or would a piece the standard size sheet of paper work? I used cardboard in my garden last year around watermelons and it took FOREVER to break down that's why I ask.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

Please read the composting 101 and composting basics threads at the top of this Composting section. Ton of good information to help you get started.

Imafan is right. Absolutely just putting all your kitchen scraps and grass clippings ("greens" in composting lingo, Nitrogen rich) in there, will result in a stinky slimy mess. Has to be balanced with "browns" carbon rich stuff like fall leaves, shredded paper, cardboard, etc. In the situation of a compost pile that stays damp all the time, the cardboard will break down faster. Notebook paper sized scraps is OK.

And you don't have to chop up your greens. If you are aiming to get a really hot fast working compost pile going, chopping small will help. But personally, I think compost is compost. Mine rarely gets really hot, but it all breaks down nicely, just a little slower.

Congratulations on getting started! Best thing you can do for your garden.
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Amanda B
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

Thanks!! I read some of them yesterday lots of vital information I just didn't absorb all of it I guess. I'll keep rereading them :D
I want to have the best start on my compost and thought I should ask some experts based on what I've added so far. When I took the lid off this morning there was plenty of moisture on the inside so I'm going to put the cardboard in ASAP!! Thanks again everyone for taking the time to answer my questions and offer so many helpful tips. Certainly will be beneficial to my garden and compost :-()

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GardeningCook
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

Yes, there are some "rules" as far as successful composting goes - layering "browns" & "greens" so you don't end up with a slimy mess; turning the pile/can occasionally (or not), depending on size; etc., etc.

But you know what the most important rule is? DON'T OVERTHINK IT!! Honestly, there are actually published BOOKS out there re: "proper composting" that most likely have people who would enjoy composting & have their gardens benefit from it, but who never will do it because all this info & books make it sound far more complicated than it is or has to be.

Even if you make some mistakes down the road & have too much of this or too much of that, you're dealing with rotting material, not the Hope Diamond. Just correct & keep going. It really is NOT rocket science. :wink:
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Amanda B
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

GardeningCook wrote:Yes, there are some "rules" as far as successful composting goes - layering "browns" & "greens" so you don't end up with a slimy mess; turning the pile/can occasionally (or not), depending on size; etc., etc.

But you know what the most important rule is? DON'T OVERTHINK IT!! Honestly, there are actually published BOOKS out there re: "proper composting" that most likely have people who would enjoy composting & have their gardens benefit from it, but who never will do it because all this info & books make it sound far more complicated than it is or has to be.

Even if you make some mistakes down the road & have too much of this or too much of that, you're dealing with rotting material, not the Hope Diamond. Just correct & keep going. It really is NOT rocket science. :wink:
That's kind of what happened yesterday with me I thought uh oh may have bitten off more than I can chew but I already started and figured I didn't do too bad winging it in the garden last year how hard could a compost be so just get it started and go from there was my approach :wink:

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toxcrusadr
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

You've grasped the two key concepts:

Pile It Up and Let It Rot.
It All Leads Back To Compost.

:-D
Tox

Amanda B
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

I tried rolling it but it didn't really mix well. I'm thinking I need to put a bungee cord on the lid and really give it another try. Any suggestions?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

My suggestion is: ..... (drum roll) ..... Relax!!

I don't mix my compost that much. I add it to my bin in layers - every time I add a layer of green stuff (kitchen scraps and/or pulled weeds, etc), I cover it with a layer of brown stuff (fall leaves, straw, etc). No mixing. Every couple months or so, I turn my pile over. That is I start a new pile, putting all the stuff from the top of the old pile to be the bottom of the old pile and so on, so that the pile is now upside down. I keep going until I get to the layer where all the earthworms are. Below that is the finished or almost finished compost.

That is all the mixing I do. My compost pile gets warm, but not really very hot most of the time and a lot of the composting is actually done by earthworms, so they do their own mixing. And of course as stuff settles and breaks down, some of it sifts through the layers. And when the pile is watered (which I do whenever it is dry enough to water the garden), nutrients and small pieces are carried down from the top.

Sounds like you are using your garbage can like a compost tumbler. That is okay if you have plenty of holes. But you have to realize that it is batch composting. If you keep adding and mixing, you will never be able to get finished compost out of it, because the finished stuff will always be all mixed in with the raw stuff. At some point you have to quit adding and let everything in there finish up. At that point it helps to have a second one you can start filling.

If your can doesn't sit on good ground, you might want to throw some earthworms and a handful of good soil in there to help the process.
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Amanda B
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

Makes more sense now rainbowgardner. I actually see some kitchen scraps I put in there the other day already breaking down well. I did add some cardboard scraps after each addition of kitchen scraps. I'm trying to balance what I add as I add it :D
I added some good soil with lots of worms when I started it hoping to give it a good start. I'll do my best to leave it be. I put holes around the whole can as well as the bottom. I'm not sure I understand what it means about the compost getting hot. Please excuse my lack of knowledge on this I have sooooo much to learn still lol.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

We say a working compost is "cooking," because it literally gets hot, temperature in the core rises. Heat is produced as a by product of microbial digestion of the materials, just as your muscles produce heat when converting the stored energy of food into kinetic energy. So they say you should warm up before hard exercise, they mean it literally, do something to get your muscles going and producing heat.

It is why you need all the air holes, this is an oxidation process. You could think of it as a very slow way of burning your organic materials. :)

A good hot compost pile can kill weed seeds and any bad germs present (e.g. when people put manure in their compost piles).
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Amanda B
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

Ok gotcha :D thanks for being so helpful and explaining things to me. This site is awesome full of such nice people!!! You've all answered my questions (if the silliest) with such patience and not once made feel stupid!!! Thanks everyone for sharing your knowledge with a newbie!!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

You're very welcome! Love to see new people getting interested in composting!

I was a little concerned when you said you put some cardboard scraps in after each addition of kitchen scraps. That is the right thing to do. Some how though (maybe all in my head) I was picturing a bucket of kitchen scraps and a few pieces of cardboard. In general, by volume, you want the volume of browns to be about equal to the volume of greens. Cardboard is a pretty dense brown, so if that is all you are using, you could get by with a bit less than equal volume, but still it is going to take pretty much cardboard.

If you don't have access to an on-going source of a bunch of cardboard, you might want to think about having another brown on hand. Shredded paper is good (they shred all our documents at work, so I can bring home big bags of it). In the fall I collect bags of leaves that other people put out at the curb. In the summer, when I run out of last fall's leaves, I buy a bale of straw from the feed store. But since I am packing up to prepare for moving, I am aware that cardboard boxes are not hard to come by. If you check the dumpsters behind grocery stores, restaurants, etc, you can often find lots of them. And these days they often have a dedicated dumpster for recycling, so the boxes are in recycle and are clean and dry. So if you just want to use cardboard, you probably can.
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

Amanda B
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Re: Composting questions just started my bin yesterday

We have our house listed for sale and I gathered a bunch of cardboard boxes for that and I've been cutting it down as needed and also use egg cartons too when they are empty. I would say it's fairly close to being equal parts give or take a little. I will definitely save leaves this fall we have plenty of them also my grandma shreds every piece of paper she gets so I'll ask her to save them for me. Paper would probably be a good addition to alternate wth cardboard. Thanks again!!

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