Do you compost?

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It's easy to provide 1/100th of the information needed to understand the process, thereby providing nothing at all.
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JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Don't forget the advice to google composting which was also included.. ;)
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Didn't your teachers teach you how to learn to recognize simple questions? Oh, that's right, it was in last night's chapter....you must have forgotten to read that chapter. Joe, these are very simple questions, try to apply yourself. So far, you've used a huge amount of words to provide nothing. Go back and read some of the other posts on this thread. I think you will learn from many of them, that answering a few really simple questions, is doable. Now, be careful, be sure that you understand each question, they are not complex at all. Most of them can be answered using just one word.
Gloria

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put
it?
Here is how I compost. It's the Lazy Man's Compost pile.
1) Go as far away from the house as possible. Compost piles attract mice/rats/possums/etc. Screen it unless you like your dog dragging tasty bits out.
2) Throw anything organic in the pile. Grass clippings, leaves, pine needles, rotting fruit, table scraps, etc. Avoid large solid things like bones and tree limbs. Avoid meats and fats unless you like bad stinky smells. If you generate a lot of scrap meat and fat, buy a pig and feed those to it.
3) Ignore it.
4) When you want compost for the garden, go to pile and shovel about 1 foot into the side away, then dig from the bottom.
The pile will shrink as you add stuff to it and the stuff rots down. If you find the pile growing too big because your adding stuff to it faster than it's rotting down, then start a new pile, and then the next season, advertise free compost on Craigslist and the pile will magically disappear with no effort.
Turning the compost pile just makes it become compost faster. I have never understood the rationale for this. Either your generating more compost than you use or your not. What matter is it if the stuff sits in the pile for 3 months or 3 years before it finishes rotting down? My compost pile is at least 10 years old and I've never turned it. If anything, the longer the stuff sits in the pile the more nasty chemicals like pesticides and fertillizer and such get washed out of it by the rain and into the ground.
Ted
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I have a compost pile of all garden waste: weeds, tree limbs, pond scum, shrub pruning, flower pruning, pond pruning and dead ground hogs. I do not collect grass clippings. I let them compost in the lawn where they lie. But I do compost tree limbs, and even entire trees. We had some weeping willow trees get so big that they fell over. I cut them up into rounds and piled them up. The pile is now completely flat. The completely rotted. We have been composting pickup loads of garden waste in the same place for over 40 years. It does build up some great soil, but it is amazing at how the pile has not grown much. We had a natural bank at the edge of the barnyard. We dump the garden waste over the edge. The barnyard has grown some in that direction. When we need good soil we take from the part that has completely composted.
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wrote:

Ah, but you had to expend actual effort in cutting them up over and above the minimal effort needed to drag them over to the compost pile!
I would have taken care of those with the usual Craigslist post "Free firewood, u-cut and haul" You would be amazed at the number of stupid people who would show up.
Ted
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We don't need Craig or his list. I just talk to my neighbors who burn fire wood. They all fall and cut what they burn, so they must be very stupid according to you. They helped me out when a gigantic elm tree died and when I did some major pruning on the neighbors Norway Maples. That maple wood is extremely heavy. Weeping willow wood isn't good for much of anything. I just cut it into pieces small enough so I can attach a chain and drag them to the compost pile with my tractor and pile them. Now I mostly use a Kawasaki Mule for the smaller stuff. It dumps like a dump truck. I have an old Ford 9n tractor to drag the really big stuff. My compost pile has a peach tree on it now.
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Stephen Henning wrote:

That's amazing! It takes me 2 years plus to compost okra stalks. Sorry to hear about the Elm.
Kate

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There are a couple of reasons for wanting to keep piles turned and hot:
1) If you've got diseased plant material in the pile, keeping it turned (to add oxygen), moist (to keep the rot fungi working), and heated (to kill most of the pathogens) makes sense. No point applying various plant diseases right back onto your current plants.
2) Anaerobic piles (those lacking much oxygen) can be pretty stinky. That's fine for those of us with enough room, but not so much fun when the neighbor's anaerobic pile is 20 ft from your windows.
3) Soluble nutrients like P and K tend to leach out of slow piles, particularly those that go on for years and year. If you're just using the compost to add organic matter to the soil for tilth, that's fine, but if you'd like to use your compost as a mild fertilizer also, that's not so useful. You may actually see a shift in flora around large, slow piles that go on for years as the soil nutrients change.
As I've said before, I used to do hot composting fairly extensively -- it's good exercise as well as giving you a nice product. However, there are a couple of ways around turning a pile to keep it moving, notably adding something like perforated pipe to the pile to help introduce oxygen. Or you can do something like worm bins or sheet or trench composting.
Personally, I'm mostly using trench composting now -- it's fast, easy, and very little work, but it's a good idea to keep any diseased plant material out of trenched composting. No point in helping the diseases keep up their lifecycles. If I were doing extensive veggie gardens and flower beds that I was weeding regularly and I was generating enough raw stuff to keep a big pile going, I would probably do that. But little of our property is generating vegetation I have to remove.
Even with a couple of acres, I don't have enough compostables to keep a big pile hot. Part of it is that much of the yard waste here is downed wood (which I haul into a couple strips of woods and let rot on the ground) or from lawnmowing -- and I just let that rot in situ. The day to day kitchen scraps, weeds, and such are easier for me to dispose of in a trench in the veggies than trying to make a big pile. YMMV -- this is what works for me.
Kay
but
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You could have a tree guy deliver fresh chips to a pile. let them sit for one year and you will have good quality mulch.
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2007 19:51:37 -0500, "symplastless"

This is not what the question originally asked. To answer the poster:
Compost piles should be away from the house as they do attract critters of all sorts. Meat, bones and any byproducts of meat should be kept out of the pile, including any grease or fats. They become rancid fast.
A well formulated compost pile should be a mixture of carbon and nitrogenous materials; meaning green and brown garden waste. Any foods, vegetable scraps, etc are considered greens. Any leaves, wood shavings or branches are considered brown. You should have more brown than green and the pile should be kept moist, never wet. If it gets too wet, turn it often enough for it to dry out. If it is too dry, water it till it is approximately as moist as a sponge which has been squeezed. It's not rocket science, but lately people have been making it very complicated. I used to be all into all the compost teas and exact sciences of piles. Now, I throw the stuff on and water when dry. It rarely gets overly wet in Texas so...
Once a year I go to the pile with a wheel barrow and large mesh and I sift through allowing the humus to fall through the 1/4" mesh. What is left I put back on the pile. If I'm not too busy or in too much agony physically I try to cut up the larger pieces before putting them back on the pile.
Hope that helps.
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I want to thank everyone.
Particularly, I want to thank the level headed people who have given me so much useful information. Many things I never thought about, or would have thought about, or found in the vast wasteland of Google. You have shortened my learning curve greatly, and I appreciate it.
This has been quite a ride on the rollercoaster of Usenet psycholgy, hasn't it? Psychics, psychotics and just plain vanilla posters. A slice of real life with the same mix.
I enjoy Usenet for this very reason. And I still say that I personally have learned far more from this thread and all its contributors than I would have had I had to dig it out of the Grand Canyon filled with information called Google. And I think and hope that others have learned a thing or three.
And it still goes on with new and fresh information every day.
Kind of like a compost pile, eh?
Steve ;-)
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You've gotten about 2% of the information you should have.
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2007 23:08:22 -0800, "SteveB"

Were you online in the late 80's when all we had was Prodigy and I think the beginning of AOL? The Internet(s) were not available yet or at least not to the ordinary joe shmo like me. In those early days the frequent line was, "If it is on the Internet(s) it must be true!" So, we've come a long way. At least we now know the majority is bullshit, and the rare gens.
Victoria
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Victoria, were you on line in the 70's when all we had were ARPANet and the Bell System equivalent and then USENET. We had a huge scientific community on line, but much of the conversation was about our hobbies.
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wrote:

I've been online long enough to remember GENIE and there was a sci community out there, but geesh that is a loong time ago. So, yes, I was online then, but I don't believe I had anything remotely close to what was then the 286. When I did get a 286 it didn't have a hard drive and operated on DOS with floppy discs!
I think the laptop I'm currently using: Dell Inspiron 9400, 2 gig ram, beep bop boop would have taken up an entire room, maybe larger, back in those days. Monochrome green.
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SteveB wrote:

I'm late to this thread, but have made a feeble start at composting. When we broke sod on a plot, I picked out the clumps and threw them in a large plastic bushel basket I found in somebody's trash and an old wheeled plastic garbage can, both with holes in the bottom, left them sit all summer. My son dumped them back by the alley, they are pretty well broken down but didn't get hot enough to do whatever is beneficial about that, so I don't know what I'll do with that stuff. By spring, stuff will probably start sprouting in that, I levelled if off so it doesn't look so untidy.
This fall, I got more ambitious, and rather than bag up umpteen bags of leaves (bags don't cost that much but add up, fall pickup you don't need a sticker for about 6 weeks), I built two chicken wire cages and staked them 3 rebar stakes driven into the ground. In later years we have been mulching them and letting them feed the lawn. Before that for years I only raked the really bad piles that accumulated near the terrace, 10 bags or more, fed up with that, and let the rest lay. Grass and things come right up through the fallen leaves in the spring.
Why should I give my leaves to the city and then go back down and "buy them back" in the form of compost for $1.50 a bag? I did buy and stack 12 bags of that, used half already.
I started filling the cages, then my son mulched for me with the mower the other day and used the catcher. Both bins are nearly full, containing about 70 cubic feet of leaves, lots of neighbor's oak leaves mixed in.
I liked the idea I read on the other thread about alfalfa slurry, but hoses are put in basement for winter and just think I'll wait until spring, see what mother nature does with them, and then decide what to do. I'm expecting the levels to go down considerably over the winter, may keep topping them off with oak leaves from the alley, plenty around here.
It will help that more than half of their contents of leaves with a few last grass clippings are shredded.
I have to keep things simple, don't have the energy, strength and dedication to turn large piles of stuff, my tiller would work up piles on the ground but I didn't want that mess, and I don't want ugly plastic bins sitting around or the expense of them although they would be easier to turn, would need several going.

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