lots of compost questions

So we're in our first home, and we've got a nice sized piece of property. I've got a nice big area at the end of the yard dedicated to composting and general heaping of yard debris, with woods beyond that.
I have the Smith and Hawken stackable compost bin, nothing in it so far, but ready to start taking kitchen scraps out there. Questions: - Egg shells - with the slimy goo inside? I won't contaminate the yard with salmonella? I've put shells form hard boiled eggs in the compost in the past, but the mister is convinced I'll kill us all with the wet egg shells. - Cereal with *soy* milk in the bin? - I've read of shredding newspapers and putting dirty paper towels in the kitchen compost bin? - We've got critters of all the usual northeast sorts - will the bin become a buffet the minute I start putting scraps in there? Should I strap the lid shut, or put a rock on it?
I also have some heaps collecting. Among them: a few large heaps of autumn leaves, sod clumps from the garden beds we dug, those hideous pine bark chips/mulch, with more around the yard to be removed. Should I mix these all into one heap? Do I want to layer any or all of them with the kitchen scraps in the bin?
What kinds of stuff from the yard should I *not* be putting in? We get monthly curbside pickup of yard debris, so I can put out a heap or can of bits. (I'm thinking rose bush prunings, and such?)
I can run a hose out there to keep things damp, but the area is on the shady woodland side, so what can I do to keep things progressing? Compost accelerator products?
Thanks for guidance.
Karen
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dkhedmo said:

Congrats. Sounds like a nice place. =)

They're fine. crush them up as much as you can, prior to adding them. Smaller pieces of anything will break down quicker.

Not if it heats up properly. The center of the compost should heat up nicely, and there will be plenty of "good" organisms to counter the "bad" ones.

Give him a beer and the remote. Then just don't tell him the shells are there. He won't be eating the compost, you know. ;)

Sure, why not? It's organic, no?

I stay away from paper in my compost bin. Shredded, it makes a good mulch for veggies, though. ;)

Nah, my compost bins are wide-open. No lid, and the sides are a nylon mesh. I've never had a problem with anything eating from them.

Why "layer"? Things compost much more quickly when they're stirred up. You need several things to make good compost. You need the nitrogen-rich grass clippings, as well as the chopped up leaf material. Bark and other hard material takes much longer to break down.

Sticks, twigs, and other hard debris. They just take too long to break down. If you're not planning on stirring the compost often, I'd stay away from any diseased plant material.

Yup, you're on the right track.

Stir it with a fork, weekly. Sunny areas are better choices, but it'll work in the shade. It just takes a bit longer.

Head to the nearest bait store and get a couple containers of red wigglers. =)
HTH
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Eggs

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Eggs Zachtly wrote:

Thanks so much for the quick, detailed reply! I just saw a bait vending machine somewhere recently, now where the heck was I when I saw it??? Anyway, lots of anglers around here, bait's easy to find.
Thank you!
Karen
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dkhedmo wrote:

each year I like to add more fishing worms to my flower beds, gardens and compost areas. it's kind of fun to open the fishing worm container and set all those worms free to do good things in the soil and to the soil.
the informational advice you got from Eggs was spot on. happy composting.
good post Eggs.
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dkhedmo said:

You're welcome.
I should have also added that with the exception of the eggshells, stay away from any other "animal" products. Use only plant materials. You probably already know that, but I try to remember to never assume anything. ;)
Happy composting. =)
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Eggs Zachtly wrote:

We're vegetarian anyway, but yes, I do know know to avoid putting anything with dairy on it in the compost.
I'm very interested to see how much less garbage will be going out to the curb each week. Our company provides these gigantic trash cans, which we fill maybe half way, and little bins for the recycling that are always overflowing for us. I had to beg them to give me an extra recycling bin. Meanwhile, my neighbors never put out recycling and their garbage can is always spilling over.
Anyway, thanks!
-K-
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All good advice - but why is everybody in such a hurry ? Including a little soil also helps.
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Not so much in a hurry, just concerned about lack of sun in an otherwise perfect spot for composting. The heap of sod I've got has soil still attached to the roots (we got off what we could), so it sounds like this will be a good addition to the bin. We've been very pleased to find lots of worms where ever we dig in the yard, especially as we have clay.
-K-
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Heat is your friend with composting, right?
Shade isn't your friend with *perfect* composting? (just guessing)
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com says...

It can depend on how much heat. I have heard of issues with a closed plastic bin in a sunny area, building up so much heat that it killed the worms.
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Salmonella or not in the eggshells wet contents, by the time its done cooking and plants engorge upon it, filter it, and take the nutrients, makes no sense. Only hens eggs (shells) benefit from eggshells. Does no harm irregardless in compost. Dave
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http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/soil/
-
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bent wrote:

Excellent, thank you. I need to join that site, but keep forgetting about it.
What are we using to "shred" leaves with? Do I need to shred the leaves that have been heaped up out there since last fall, or have they started to break down enough?
Karen
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dkhedmo said:

Another site you may be interested in is www.davesgarden.com . It has the largest plant database online, that I know of. There are discussions about much more than just plants, though.

Got a lawn mower? ;)

If they're wet, let em go. If they're still dry enough for a mower to mulch, go for it. =)
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I never had a problem with 4 legged critters, but I did have a den of snakes take over a compost pile one time. Guess during the cooler weather they liked the heat from the pile.
KC
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