A compost question

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Infrequent poster here.
The city in which I live had a one-day composter sale/fundraiser today, and I decided to go pick one up ($20C, reportedly $80 value). No one with a car being available, I took the train up to the mall parking lot, intending to haul it back with my luggage rack. My route back to my house took me through a quasi-upper income bracket neighborhood, and along one street which had several trailers pulled up. Plainly a movie or tv shoot. It was at this point that my bungee cord decided to come loose, sending all the parts of my composter onto the street. Just as I had everything under control again, this Brit pops out of one of the parked cars with his walkie talkie and asks if I needed any help. I told him everything was OK, whereupon he proceeded to tell me that composting doesn't work. You have to add too much bone meal for it to be cost effective, he said.
I don't know why complete strangers feel compelled to lecture me about such things.
Now I didn't think much about this at the time, being more concerned about getting my composter down the hill on the luggage rack, and I figured he didn't need any compost anyway, since he probably just had to go talk to his flowers to provide them with a reliable source of bull manure. On reflection I realized that it was probably added to keep the compost from becoming too acidic, even though he talked about the bone meal as if it were a starter. This isn't a problem where I live in Calgary, because the soil tends to be too alkaline. Elsewhere, it might be common practise. Is it?
Dora
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[snipped lengthy message that bascially asked: Should I add bonemeal when composting?]
The best thing to add when composting is old compost. It has all the necessary micro-organisms for turning leaves and clippings into greate soil.
To speed things up, I add nitrogen. I use urea, a synthetic organic. The micro-organisms proliferate with nitrogen. This is especially good if your raw material is mostly dry leaves.
The only things really needed are air and water. I use a spading fork to turn my compost pile, which brings air into the center of the pile. Then I wet it down (something I should do more often).
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
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Sorry. I was feeling chatty. Too much wine, I guess. I'll rephrase. Do people add bonemeal to compost when they have a soil that is acidic? I'm just curious and trying to understand what other people do if they have acidic soil (which, as I said, I do not have).

I have trouble getting enough brown, frankly. I've seen paper recommended as a brown, but mostly paper towels, filters, etc., which I don't use. Does office paper work? Or does it take too long to decompose?

Me too. Thanks for the advice. Dora
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On 20 Jun 2004 13:38:56 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnospam (Bungadora) wrote:

Shred it first, in a shredder. It decomposes pretty well if you have a nitrogen source to add to it.
Stuff rots. :-)
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Good thing too. I've been using a garbage bin for the last few years. It was much too small, and had poor aeration, but I when I transferred the contents to the composter yesterday, I was surprised how far along it was. I know it wasn't properly cooking in the bin though. I have cantaloupes coming up in my lawn.
Thanks. Dora

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On 20 Jun 2004 13:38:56 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnospam (Bungadora) wrote:

No. I do not add bonemeal to my compost. I add lime to acidic soil to lower the pH. Our soil is acidic so I try to keep plants that prefer acidic or neutral soil. My sage and lavender are surrounded by concrete which helps neutralize the naturally acidic conditions.
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So there are alternative ways of dealing with acidity and I wasn't missing something. Thank you. Dora
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Adding lime to soil raises the pH (makes it less acidic).
Wood ash also will raise the pH.
-al sung Hopkinton, MA (Zone 6a)
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On 6/19/04 8:58 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@mb-m10.aol.com,
<snip>

He said "composting doesn't work"??? Of course it does...<g>! It works because everything breaks down...except for Toyotas....:) but I digress. In time all vegetation will break down. We can help it along by doing certain things. The 'thing' we need to do varies depending on this that and the other thingie! Get his email address or tell him about this newsgroup and get him to communicate here. We can't have people saying composting doesn't work when we know it does and can help by providing corrective information. And more importantly, if people believe composting does not work then they will send all the good stuff to land fills...ouch!
Gary Fort Langley, BC
To reply please remove...yoursocks...
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but I

Not worth the effort trying to find him again, although he had the personal characteristics necessary for a lively career and wide readership on newsgroups: opinionated, prone to misinterpretation and exaggeration, and easily insulted by contradiction. I believe the composter sale was sponsored by the City as part of a program to reduce landfill, although Calgary has adequate landfill space to meet its needs for some time in the future.
As for me, my soil has so much clay the earthworms are cyanotic, so I almost have to compost if I want to garden.
Dora
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On 6/21/04 3:56 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@mb-m04.aol.com,

Yes, but then what? And then when all the landfills are filled...just where do we put the 'stuff'? Oh, send it here, there and the other place...and then what!? Just what do we do with it? When all the landfills are full?

'Cyanotic'? What does this mean?
Gary Fort Langley, BC Canada
PS: Clay can be good because it holds much of the nutrients that plants need....:)
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A blue tone or cast about them. :)
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Turn it into parkland as was done at Centennial Park in Toronto. A massive pile of garbage was collected, covered, sodded, vented and has now been for several decades a ski/toboggan hill which is the centrepiece of a 435 park.
Jim
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True enough. It just buys time to turn public practises around. I believe Toronto's landfills were full about 10 years ago. FYI The Clean Calgary program: http://www.cleancalgary.com /

Too much of a good thing then. I need to buy a sack of grit too. Cyanotic is used in medical terminology to refer to tissues which have turned blue, usually from lack of oxygen. Dora
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gary davis wrote:

Cyanotic means "blue" from lack of oxygen....
amy
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On 6/22/04 6:27 PM, in article snipped-for-privacy@corp.supernews.com, "Amy D"

I am a 'sort of' a fisherman and I have found most of the 'dew' worms live in clay soil. I'm thinking that the impervious nature of clay protects them from the earthly mole. How a worm could by cyanotic??? I'm not sure. I have yet to see a blue worm...I have, however, seen a green worm...Irish I would think...emigrated to Canada! Gary Fort Langley, BC Canada
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If they like clay soil, that explains why I hit one every time I dig in. No moles, although the cats would like that, I suppose. The lawn is very very bumpy from nightcrawlers, so I topdressed with compost this and reseeded. I don't think I would do the whole yard again. It's too hard to avoid walking on the reseeded portion for the length of time it takes for grass seed to sprout.
As for my earth worms, the ones in my compost are definitely pinker than the ones I dig out of the soil. Just an observation, not a diagnosis. Dora2
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lol... I got one of those too! (Gift for fathers day) reading through the book that came with it - dryer lint and hair is considered "brown"...
I have never heard of anyone putting bone meal in their compost, but when I was a kid - everything not including leftovers went into the compost pile - (we had a big yard).
take care Liz
On 20 Jun 2004 03:58:55 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnospam (Bungadora) wrote:

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Hi Liz, I've talked to you a couple of times on the local group, I think.
He said bone meal was necessary for the process to start, and I knew that wasn't true, but I thought there must be a reason why he would come up with such a bizarre statement, and soil acidity was the only reason I could think of for mixing in bone meal.
He also said there are no nice flowers here, which I thought was a bit presumptuous. There are no bad flowers. Mind you, after a few flings with exotics, I began to see the benefits of petunias and geraniums. Tough as snot. Dora
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Well, it takes a little while for things to break down, gardening is not one of those "instant gratification" things - although growing spinach and radishes sure come close.
I have taken to perenials! I like the idea of blooms just after or even during the last snowfall of the season! I haven't tested soil here, but it has alot of rocks a couple of inches down.
take care Liz
On 21 Jun 2004 23:09:52 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnospam (Bungadora) wrote:

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