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A garden is only as good as the ground that it's planted in. Discussion forum for the many ways to improve the soil where we plant our gardens.

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Old July 23, 2007   #1
chanceysmama
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Default Compost, What is safe?

We recently built a compost bin and my husband and I's opinions differ as to what should go in ....
1. Paper(will ink hurt?)
2. Cardboard boxes
3. Grease left over from kitchen pans
4. Corn cobs
5. Rotten fruit & veggies
Does anyone have any thing in mind as to what cant go in , other than the obvious; plastic etc......
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Old July 23, 2007   #2
neoguy
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I do not add meat, bones, grease, oils or fats of any kind, dog or cat waste.

I do add grass clippings, leaves, rotted fruits and veggies, all other green/veggie kitchen scraps, coffee grounds with used filters, straw and garden waste as long as not diseased. I also sprinkle in rabbit manure, blood meal, regular dirt and some of last years compost.
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Old July 23, 2007   #3
Sherry_AK
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I add paper (not too much though, because it sometimes balls up and makes turning the compost difficult). I do not add weeds (even though we have a hot pile), I add horse, chicken and rabbit manure, fish scraps (including bones), as well as the same things neoguy adds. Woodshavings (non-treated wood only) are good too. I do add very small amounts of cooking oils on occasion as well.
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Old July 24, 2007   #4
Worth1
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I put in all of the scraps from the house no meat though, but bones.
I get my grease hot and put it on weeds.
I only use olive and peanut oil so it breaks down and does not hurt the soil.

The worms in the pile are like small wild snakes.
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Old August 1, 2007   #5
the999bbq
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chanceysmamma,

1. Paper (will ink hurt?) : newspaperpaper is fine to go on the heap (wouldn't do all my paperwork though) - newspaper inc is said to be soy based, so in moderate quantaties no problem. You can make planting pots with them, it gives me unlimited number of pots in any size, and they work prefectly for me.
2. Cardboard boxes : in moderate quantaties perfectly fine (adds 'brown' material to the heap, but don't use it as the only source for brown material since it lacks the 'structure' feature ;-) )
3. Grease left over from kitchen pans : usually not recommended, use it to make the birdballs at the end of the year, or give it to the chickens - they need oils as well as we do... also in moderate quantaties though. The less you use in the pan, the less you have to get rid off.
4. Corn cobs : chickens first but heap is ok, corn as a whole is a good volume material for making compost
5. Rotten fruit & veggies : all uncooked plant material can go on the heap (cooked scraps can better be fed to the chickens and their manure can go on the heap)

Animal manure from animals on a plant diet can go on the heap, your average pets manure not. There is a possibility to transfer diseases especially for cats. I do put my bullmastiffs little droppings ;-) on the heap for years and had no problem with it so far... another fact that is mentionned is that the chemicals you usually feed your pet (antiworms, other medication,..) ends up killing the composting bacteria and fungi so it could have a negative effect.

When you put the (rotten) fruits on the heap you might wants to mix it up with the heap right away and cover it with some rhubarb leaves, it keeps the wasps and fruitflies under control...

In the end you could say that everything that decomposes can go on the heap. Some materials take too long (you drag them through your process for years) or unwanted (meat attracts unwanted guests,...) but with a little help most things can be turned into compost. Just follow the basic rules (green + brown + air + water = compost) and you get results, no just a smelly pile....
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Old August 1, 2007   #6
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This may sound bazaar but if you put your watermelon halves/bowls on top of the pile on the ground with a hole on the side at ground level.
The toad frogs will camp out in them and eat the flies.

Each one of mine have around 10 toad frogs in them.
Weird I know but hey I'm weird.

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Old August 23, 2007   #7
bryanccfshr
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1. Paper(will ink hurt?)
Newspaper and junkmail is fine, it doesn't have many nutrients however and therefore I try to minimize it.
2. Cardboard boxes- Same as Paper, high Carbon, low in nutrients, I use some but prefer to get unprocessed carbon such as leaves to add to the compost pile to get a more nutritious product in the end. It is a good way to reduce landfill use when recycling isn't available but does not make the most nutritious compost.
3. Grease left over from kitchen pans
I don't. Actually I don't cook anything that leaves grease in pans.


4. Corn cobs- Yes! Use them Chop them up, they are high carbon and take a while to break down but are better than paper and cardboard for browns.

5. Rotten fruit & veggies- Certainly. These are my most prized additions to the pile.


Other additions I add are garden refuse spent plants, hedge trimmings, Spent houseplants and potting soil, Dead birds(I occasionally get a dead fledling or dove in my yard, goes into the pile)
Fish scraps (Only on good active piles and buried deep.
Food scraps. (Leftover or over old, Pasta, rice, breads, old eggs, expired milk, occasionally a few chicken bones, freezer burned goods such as ice cream, etc.)
I leave my grass clippings where they fall and if I harvest any they are for veggie mulch.

I will add my own urine for moisture. If you have nosey neighbors it can be colected indoors and poured a gallon at a time.

I sometimes colect seaweed from The gulf Coast to add and while I am down at my parents I usually can get a yard or so of rabit manure into the truck.

"Hi, mom, Hi Dad, Can I have some rabbit manure? " "Help me pile it ontop of that seaweed"

We add every weed and spent plant from the garden, all bad tomatoes (BER< insect damage, spliters, overripes, ground contact).

Do not put fresh stuff on top where flys can get it, open the pile up and set fresh stuff into the center where it is most likely to rot quickly, get hot and be protected from flies.

Another great source of bulk material is Starbucks. I get 50-100 pounds of used grounds and teabags at a time from a nearby shop. Placed ontop of a pile it helps to deter flys in my experience. , it works it way deep into the pile with each watering.

Experiment with your local ingredients. investigate your local sources and most of al enjoy recycling your waste into a valuable soil ammendment and mild fertilizer.
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Old November 18, 2007   #8
bigbubbacain
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Default What about Alfalfa pellets?

The idea occured to me that alfala pellets might work, but what else would I need to add to balance out the nitrogen?
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Old November 18, 2007   #9
dice
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"The idea occured to me that alfalfa pellets might work,
but what else would I need to add to balance out the
nitrogen?"

According to
http://www.organicgardening.com/feat...21-112,00.html

alfalfa pellets are 40.5% carbon and 2.7% nitrogen
(in the real world, it probably varies with where the alfalfa
was grown, how mature it was when harvested, etc).

That would be about a 15-1 C-N ratio, and 30 is supposed
to be ideal for compost, so maybe a garbage-bag full of
dry leaves or loose straw to 25 lbs of alfalfa? (Just a guess.)
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Old November 20, 2007   #10
the999bbq
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dice, while I don't want to argue on the figures you gave, i don't think it is the kind of exact math like you want in your bakery-diy. It is good to keep these figures in mind when compos(t)ing your heap and mainly that you most likely will need carbons (browns, woods, carbon/paper,...) to bring to the heap while most readily available waste will be nitrogens (greens, kitchen wastes, manures,...). It is hard to predict/estimate the exact ratio in a pile since nitrogen has a tendancy to spoil with rain (also in your heap),...
So just keep in mind that you will probably be adding mostly N to the heap and sometimes you really have to search/hunt/collect/store extra browns to keep the heap in perfect harmony - don't spoil your composting fun when your ratios are off some percents just go by the looks (moisture, temp, speed) and the smell of your heap; they will tell you
everything you want/have to know...
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Old November 20, 2007   #11
dice
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"It is hard to predict/estimate the exact ratio in a pile ...."

My thoughts exactly, but that was the question, so I took
a guess.

I don't worry much about it when making a compost pile.
As long as it is not something ridiculous, like 80% sawdust,
I figure that the worms, bacteria, and fungi can just adapt
to whatever is actually in there. They are lucky if I bother
to turn it over a few times for their convenience before
I use it for mulch or a soil amendment. Whatever does not
compost in the pile eventually ends up in the soil anyway
by a close approximation of the way that nature manufactures
humus.

Your point about nitrogen is well taken, though.
(The reason to keep the carbon-nitrogen ratio up
around 30 is to avoid wasting nitrogen that could
have been used by bacteria to digest high-carbon
materials and raise the amount of usable compost
produced instead of having the excess nitrogen
evaporate as ammonia.)
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Old November 20, 2007   #12
Tom C zone 4/5
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If you are building a larger and hotter pile small amounts of cooking fats and animal by products with go back to dirt pretty quickly. There IS a too much tho. Once exceeded your pile will loose heat and get stinky. Your milage will vary.

I'd add hair and human hair in particular to that list of tread lightly items for your compost.
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