tedln
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A question about composting!

Early in the spring, I removed the bottom from a forty five gallon plastic trash can and replaced it with metal screen with 1" mesh. I drilled a lot of 1/2" holes in the sides of the trash can to allow oxygen to enter the can. I built a stand for the can to set on with a container under the can. I've been adding lots of both green and brown organics to the can for quite a while. Since most of the green organics are fresh, they have a lot of moisture in them. Sitting in the sun, with the lid on; the inside temps of the can probably reach 130 degrees f. Most of the material dropping from the trash can into the container is very wet. Much of the decomposition within the can is accomplished by grubs and maggots of unknown insects. The first container filled yesterday and I removed it in order for it to dry out. The material in the container had the consistency of road tar but is drying into a hard brown substance quickly.

I'm pretty sure the product will have a lot of nutritional value for plants, but I am concerned the process I described may have also produced some chemicals or anaerobic bacteria which may be harmful. I will allow the material to continue drying until next spring in the hope that potential bacterial toxins will have dissipated.

Any thoughts or comments will be appreciated.

Ted
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farmerlon
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I think I have a similar concern... during the Summer, when we have so many scraps from green vegetables, my "batch" composter gets too wet.

A few days ago, I put together a "Drain-o-Matic" system that I am trying out. It's essentially a "bucket within a barrel" that I can pour really wet compost materials into, so they have a chance to drain off some of the water before I add those materials to a compost batch or pile.

If it works well, I will try to post some pictures here on the forum (maybe next week).

garden5
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Some compost heaps just sit for a year or two without being turned and there do not seem to be any anaerobic troubles when it is applied to the garden.

If most of the stuff that is going in is moist, perhaps you could balance it by adding some dry material like laves or dry grass clippings.
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engineeredgarden
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Ted, you need alot more air to be introduced - which is not easy when using a can or barrel. As garden5 stated, more browns would certainly help matters at this point.
I tried a barrel in the beginning of my composting experience, and it was always wet....Pallet bins are much better, in my opinion.

EG

tedln
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I can't believe the material that is coming out of the 45 gallon compost bin. All of the refuse from my garden, kitchen (including coffee grounds and filters), grass clippings, saw dust compost, and every organic I come across goes into the bin. It does remain pretty moist and really hot. When I lift the lid to add more, it smells like a newly mowed hay field. I shake the barrel on a regular schedule to mix it. I've placed paving stones on top of the material to press it through the screen faster.

The resulting compost is a dry brown powder after it sits in the sun for awhile. Considering the amount of material and variety that has composted through the barrel this summer, it must be a super concentrated product. I'm almost afraid it will burn the roots of any plant I test it on. I have a couple of bell pepper plants that are kinda puny. I'm thinking about mixing a little of the concentrate with the soil around the peppers and see what happens. I may dilute it in water and simply water it in. Any ideas?

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

IzzyM
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tedln wrote:I can't believe the material that is coming out of the 45 gallon compost bin. All of the refuse from my garden, kitchen (including coffee grounds and filters), grass clippings, saw dust compost, and every organic I come across goes into the bin. It does remain pretty moist and really hot. When I lift the lid to add more, it smells like a newly mowed hay field. I shake the barrel on a regular schedule to mix it. I've placed paving stones on top of the material to press it through the screen faster.

The resulting compost is a dry brown powder after it sits in the sun for awhile. Considering the amount of material and variety that has composted through the barrel this summer, it must be a super concentrated product. I'm almost afraid it will burn the roots of any plant I test it on. I have a couple of bell pepper plants that are kinda puny. I'm thinking about mixing a little of the concentrate with the soil around the peppers and see what happens. I may dilute it in water and simply water it in. Any ideas?

Ted
I would do as you suggest. Just take some and rake it into the soil around the base of the plants and water in well. The plants will love it!

rot
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concentrated or digested?

..
"it smells like a newly mowed hay field."
- that's a good sign

"it must be a super concentrated product."
- Maybe. Maybe it's just been digested. You could try starting some seeds to find out.

I'm betting it's just been digested and not super concentrated.

to sense
..

tedln
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Okay, being new to composting, explain the difference between composted and digested. My compost bin has reduced about 300 lbs of raw mixed organics to probably ten lbs of finished product. Since the ultimate goal ( I think) of composting is to reduce organic material to organic matter (or humis), what is the difference?

Ted
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