The local grocery has a compost recycle bin,
for food scraps etc. Even the plates and utensils
go in there.
I was wondering, what constitutes 'composting'?
I mean, does it simply get dumped into a big grinder,
or is there some enzymatic chemistry involved?
And who/how/where receives it? Is it really
superior to petrochemical fertilizer, or is it
guilty conscience liberal feelgoodism?
Yes enzymatic chemistry is invoved as all living things use enzymes. Physical
grinding is often used as part of the process to speed up decomposition but if
you are prepared to wait this isn't required. The breakdown activity is
mainly done by microorganisms, like fungi, but worms, insects and other little
greeblies play in there too.
In this particular case I have no idea. In general ordinary people with
gardens and serious growers both use it. We have been doing it for 1000s of
years. It is not some New Age Fad.
Is it really
Compost is not a complete fertiliser as you need some additional inputs
because not all the elements required for plants are fully recycled in this
way. However in some ways it is much superior to synthetic fertiliser as it
adds organic matter to the soil which is essential for healthy soil.
Composting is a way of getting value from what would otherwise be a wasted
resource. So it gets rid of garbage, saves having to get fertiliser and
organic material from some other source, saves money and improves your garden
at the same time.
There are many "recycling" schemes. Some work well, some work a bit and some
are nonsence. Composting is one that works. It may be that even conservatives
have been known to do it but probably only with the lights off under a
And don't forget to use lots of pesticides too. They are made from
petroleum as well. I mean, if we are willing to go to war and cause
incredible suffering, then it must be a good thing ;o), so eats lots
of it. The really good unintended consequence is, of course, it cures
conservative's cranial-rectal inversion, which makes this liberal
feel good ;O).
Chem ferts are great at sterilizing the ground. They are salts and
over use kills just about everything that supports a plant in
"natural", microbiologically infested soil. When used, as intended,
they encourage the nitrogen consuming bacteria (not all bacteria)
to consume as much organic material in the soil as they can,
thereby depleting the soil of its' water holding capacity. This
causes the chem fert to drain away and pollute someone's drinking
water or, flow down the Mississippi where it creates a huge dead
zone in the Gulf of Mexico. There is also an over all loss of bacteria
which impacts the soil because the bacteria produce a mucous to
bind soil together which slows down their predators. This mucous
also helps prevent soil erosion. And if you like insects, you'll
be happy to hear that plants store the nitrates from chem ferts in their
soft, fast growing, nutrient laden leaves, which in turn, attracts
So, you end up with dead soil, water pollution, soil erosion and, a
plague of insects. Wow, what a deal ;O) I mean, talk about getting
your money's worth. And speaking of money the less fertile your soil
becomes the more chem ferts you need to buy to get the same amount of
crop. I mean, is this a (Gingrich) conservative's wet dream or what?
Now compost may, or may not, be a fertilizer in the N P K sense of
the word. It is dependent on what is composted, be it vegetation
or doo-doo. Compost is simply stacking up and the natural breaking down
of organic material. If you want to get rid of any viable seeds or other
pathogens in the compost, make a bigger stack and it will generate
enough heat during its' decomposition to denature them. You can
occasionally spray some water on the pile or piss on it. I'm afraid
there are no commercial products needed to make compost.
The purpose of the compost is to feed the soil. Feed the soil and,
the soil will take care of your plants. Feed the bacteria and fungi
(the decomposers) in your soil and, they will feed the nematodes and
amoeba, who in turn fed the worms and insects, who feed burrowing
mammals. What you end up with is soil gifted with a dynamic,
balanced community of organism whose birth and death cycles enrich
the soil (NPK and much more) and, a soil that is well ventilated,
drained and, able to retain moisture. It doesn't make any profit
for Monsanto though unless you buy their seeds.
Truth be told, I don't compost very much. I just haven't developed
the habit. What I do, is grow what is called a "green manure" (plants
that either fix nitrogen or generate a lot of bio-mass in the soil)
early in the year. These get cut down two weeks before planting to
decompose where they are. Then I lay three to four inches of alfalfa
"mulch" on the soil. This mulch, as it breaks down, is my replacement
for compost. Then I lay my drip lines on the mulch and for my plants
that require heat, I lay clear plastic over it all and, cut holes
next to the drip emitters for planting.
Petroleum fertilizers and pesticides allow for huge monoculture
plantings but mixed crop organic farming can produce more total
food on the same acrage. The organic approach also grows healthy
GMO seeds don't produce more crop. Mostly they let you buy more
petroleum based Round-up to spray on your crop. They also produce
proteins that your immune system may or may not react to, in some
cases they kill butterflys, and there is always the concern of
genetic drift, where traits (like resistance to Round up) can be
passed to weeds.
So if anybody should have a guilty conscience, it is the "Gingrich"
conservatives (they aren't really conservatives) who promote snake
oil products that they don't understand or do understand but just
want to encourage snake oil sales.
Lots of compost products, you MUST have them ALL:
1) Composting "tumblers", $200 and up ($500 for the "twin barrel" system)
2) Cedar or wire compost "bins," $40 and up
3) Canvas "leaf haulers" to get leaves to the compost, $30
4) Chippers, to turn twigs into compostable bits, $700 or so
5) "Ground flush wheelbarrows" wide and shallow, to haul grass and
clippings to compost, regular wheelbarrow or a cardboard box just wont do,
$80 or so
6) "Compost Maker" or "Compost Excellerater" -- all brands are unique and
wonderful with magic ingredients, around $10 per container, buy several
kinds, including liquid, granular, or sticks that can just be pounded into
7) Worms! Starter batch of wigglies, $15
8) Sand! to make compost drain better. $8 a bag
9) Shovel to turn compost, $15.00
10) Tined bail fork to aerate compost, $15.00
11) Aerator plunger, because a tined fork and shovel ain't enough for a
really well aerated pile, $20
12) Soil Sifter to help granulate finished compost, $100
13) Rotary sifter to mix different kinds of finished compost as
granulated, mounted over wheelbarrow, only $500
14) Stainless Steel "Peely bin" for kitchen waste, handled for ease of
carrying to compost pile: $80 gets a pretty nice one, you don't want the
$10 chintzy plastic jobby.
15) Galvanized chimney-lid on galvanized can, to use as incinerator to
make your own ash out of paper and twigs: $50
16) Compost thermometer, you could die if it cooks too cool to kill germs, $20
17) Biodegradable leaf sacks, fill 'em up, toss 'em bag and all on
compost: $15 for three.
18) "Tidy screens" look like bamboo mats, make nice "wraps" for the
compost pile so it won't be an eye soar, $30 per screen, you'll need
probably three of them, so $90
19) Plastic composting bag, "kit" with tripod bag-hanger, for that kitchen
waste that stinks too much for the regular pile, $30 starter kit, extra
bags $8 each, get a dozen of those to start with.
20) Compressed bails of sawdust or wood shavings, ESSENTIAL soil builders
mixed into the garden waste, $15 per bail, you'll need lots of bails
21) Fleece Compost Covers, keeps compost moist and none of it blows away,
$75 or so, not so much when you consider it's "CO2 permeable" making these
covers absolutely essential.
22) Compost bucket, to move finished compost from place to place in teh
garden, because you well know an ordinary bucket will never do it as well:
23) Compost Test Kit. You'll end up killing your entire garden if you
don't test the pH, nitrogen level,, sodium content and what-not. $50 for
the kit in a nice leathette case, but you can go cheaper if you don't
actually love your garden.
24) Compost Planning Software. If you don't have the right computer
software with compost recipes and loads of advice, you're just wasting
your time. $250 might seem an awful lot, but do you want a dead garden? I
didn't think so.
25) Compost tool holder, $25
26) Finished compost holder bin. You certainly can't leave that finished
compost on the ground getting all dirty. And a special bin is only about
27) Concrete toad, gnome, hedgehog, or jockey. Something nice for the top
of the pile. $50. If you'd prefer a Japanese stone lantern, $300.
28) Books about composting, get several, preferably published by vendors
of the above products as they explain best why you need all that stuff:
$20 per book on average, get about ten different titles so you'll become
expert, so: $200
If you run out of cool compost essentials to buy, just ask your vendor
what else you can get, there'll be something else, never fear.
-paghat the ratgirl
visit my temperate gardening website:
I haven't had any organic waste reach the curb in over 20 years. It's
all been nicely composted in a little black box outside by back door, 2
feet high, 2 feet wide, and 2 feet deep.
It's amazing what KKKonservative AmeriKKKunts spend their time whining
I hope your not joining the "Govenator" in talking about
"girlie men". Let's try to keep the wackos to the right of us.
and you'll have more agreement with your statement.
Unlike Saddam Hussein, the "Traitor" should have a fair trial and
a chance to provide testimony in on going investigations of
before the punishment stage is arrived at.
But I think your on to something:O)
Lived in VA for sometime. The Chesapeake bay greened out due to lawn
fertilizer wash-off. All the oxygen was sucked out of the water.
Negatively affected the fish and oyster population big-time.
A creek within Austin, TX has been documented with multiple limbed frogs.
Traced back to run-off from a commonly used herbicide made by Monsanto.
In support of your smile: When farming, we would dump around seven
hundred tons of compost on a single one hundred acre unit. This
reduced our dependence on [incomplete] chemical fertilizers (heck, it
was winter, we had nothing else to do). The biggest "upside" was we
were not growing nutritionally hollow food. People often commented on
the better taste of things grown with compost and mineral
supplements. For example, try a garden fresh tomato with good soil,
then try one from a hot house supplier. The only reason we turned to
chemical (e.g., thousands of gallons of nitrogen pumped through the
irrigations circles) was to survive/compete on the market and, in the
end, the corn looked damn good. Still, just like us humans, plants
are more than just a little nitrogen, potassium, and ....... On a
side note, go look at the soil on many of the farms. It's dead.
FungiCIDES, pestiCIDES and so forth kill everything. Everything works
together, but we have a better way. Just like our management of the
forests (okay, maybe that didn't turn out so well and introducing
other than indigenous species only resulted in very happy beetles, or
stopping forest fires wasn't such a good ideal, or......).
There is the action of bacteria, worms etc., which feed on the scraps
and turn it to compost. Heat and moisture in appropriate amounts
speeds up the process. Is it better than chemical fertiliser? Well,
it's better for the environment - and better for the soil you add it
to, not the least because it contains fibrous vegetable matter which
improves the quality of the soil you add it to. It works best when it
contains sufficient nitrogen and other nutrients required by the
plants you intend to grow.
Does the compost pile get hot enough to kill most of the weeds and their
One of my gardener friends advised me to put the cut grass, garden
clippings, weeds into a plastc trash bin for about a month with some water
inside - before putting it into the compost pile. That way - more weeds and
seeds would die.
A more through way, he explained, was to make compost tea - and soak the
weeds into water til they rotted.
the times I've done that by accident, I've ended up with a stinking
mess, due to the anaerobic conditions (think pond scum, or if you live
in cold climates, the spring staunch when ice melts off the top of
ponds and lakes) . sure its good for the plants, after you let it
compost more in the open (aerobic conditions). but its not great if
you live by neighbors with sensitive noses.
I have added yards of pond scum, azola, Anacharis, parrot feather,
algae and whatever else I can drag out of the water to the compost (My
spring-fed pond can be very active). There are fish, crayfish,
tadpoles and other things in it. It never has produced a foul odor,
maybe because I'm using round (rabbit) wire bins so more air gets to
the heaps. Strange to see the parrot feather still actively growing
after two weeks out of the water. A good cooking process should
produce steam and an earthy smell--but conditions may not be right all
the time. When it works as it should its almost magic especially if
you havn't seen it happen before. A gardener that doesn't have an
active compost pile is really missing something.
Paper plates presumably, but dumping plastic or metal utensils seems
very wasteful. I presume this is in the USA throw away culture.
Usually making a big enough heap so that it will get hot by fungal
and/or bacterial action to kill weed seeds and decompose whatever is put
into it into fibrous loam. Takes 6 months - maybe less in ideal conditions.
No need to grind it. The worms will do that for you. A decent hot
compost pile will get up to 70C or more internally a few days after
being built and may require turning over two or three times before the
material is all fully rotted down. Size matters. Anaerobic or
excessively wet ones smell bad.
It is in effect a soil conditioner. Same sort of thing as leaf mould in
a forest. You would get similar stuff by letting it rot down in situ
only done more controllably. Most municipalities that do large scale
composting make it available to allotment holders or large scale
Petrochemical fertilisers are a lot more concentrated but are neither
better nor worse as far as the plant is concerned. The biggest
difference is that adding bulky compost to a heavy clay soil will vastly
improve drainage and long term fertility whereas chemicals will only get
you a quick a temporary fix (if that).
Whole Foods markets in the U.S. have a collecting bin
for compostable materials. The utensils provided with
their ready-to-eat foods are made from a biodegradable
plastic, so they can go with the paper plates and
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