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HICKCHIC96's Photo HICKCHIC96 SparkPoints: (15,221)
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5/13/13 2:19 P

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the only things don't find their way into my compost pile is meat, grease, oil, and plastic. I put the grass clippings and just make sure to have enough browns that it don't get sloppy wet. If it does I just turn it more often. Also if weeds grow from the compost that is just more exercise when I weed the garden lol

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5/13/13 4:52 A

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The trouble with grass clippings is as they are usually the bulk of the green waste in the garden, they tend to overload the compost heap with green waste. Intersperse the clippings with things like fallen tree leaves, chewed up bark etc.

I reckon the compost heap is way better when it touches the soil, that way worms will make their way to the layer that they feel most comfortable and will turn the heap as well as fertilize it.

Don't make it too wet, but at the same time don't let it get too dry.

Having 2 or 3 heaps at differing levels of composting is a good idea as well and the 3 sided open top heap is the best as it allows you ease of turning.

Good Luck

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5/13/13 1:07 A

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Another use for our eggshells is to crush them up and spread them around your cabbages and related plants that slugs and snails love. They do NOT love crawling across the rough jagged eggshells so stay away from you plants....not perfect but when I tried it I found it really did help keep them away from my plants. You do have to reapply the layer of eggshells periodically.

The reason some sites say no grass in the compost is because if your pile does not get hot enough it will not kill the weed seeds that get mixed in so you would end up spreading weeds in your garden with the compost.

You can also add shredded paper to the bin, just go lighter on the newspaper and avoid the glossy magazines. Periodically I would shred my receipts and other personal documents and add them to the bin. You can also put in small branches that fall of the trees, but with those I found it best to break them into small pieces and expect them to take longer to compost. If you have a wood chipper that is probably better to use with the branches and you can then put the chips in the bin or in your garden or flower beds directly as mulch. And then at the end of the growing season you can add any plants from the garden that are strictly annuals.

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5/12/13 10:25 P

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Oh your post wasn't too long. When it comes to anything gardening I have found I could read things that were pages long and get lost in time.

I went out today and turned the compost. It was pretty warm in the middle and still had some moisture in the middle. The outer part was pretty dried up. It looked pretty well decomposed in the middle and didn't have a bad odor or anything. I am pretty surprised that it has done so well so quickly.

I had a large jar of egg shells that I crushed up pretty well and threw in today (we have chickens so egg shells are in abundance here.). I am guessing, since the pile is pretty good sized that I can go ahead and start another pile and in a few months have this one to use and ready to go. I do not have a lot of grass clippings because of the goats but I do have what I clip and rake from the front yard. The goats, again, take care of any leaves that might be considered, but there are lots of trees around here and I can always go over to the other part of the property or down to my m-i-l's house and get some leaves.

We have had a couple of nights that have gotten down to just below freezing but our weather has been amazing. It was 82 today. Now in a month or so you will see me griping about the 120 degree weather and me putting up lights in the evening to go outside and work because it is just too hot to do so during the day.

I only have one kidney and last year got heat exhaustion twice early in the summer. The doctor wouldn't allow me to go outside for more than 10 minutes at a time for 2 months of last summer and has already gotten onto me about heat headaches from this year and staying hydrated.

I am curious about your asparagus. I read that the first year you planted it you shouldn't harvest but cut it down and then harvest the second year. How did you do yours? I LOVE asparagus (any fresh fruit or vegetable actually) and so I would really like to plant asparagus just so unsure of it at this point.

I noticed my peach trees are budding out and so hoping to have peaches before long. I cannot imagine having gotten snow anytime in the last 3 months much less in May emoticon Your growing season must be pretty short. Our plants have been in the ground for almost 6 weeks and I have already gotten fresh tomatoes off the vine.

Don't make someone a priority when your not even one of their options....

When you feel like giving up remember why you held on so long in the first place.

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5/12/13 8:15 P

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Hi Cowgirl -- I've been gardening for a long time (something like 40 years) but have only really been successful at composting for the last 5 or 6. First, I feel that almost all the info that is "out there" makes composting seem way too complicated! Throw some organic stuff into a pile and it WILL rot, given enough time... even if it doesn't heat up to an ideal temperature, or have the "correct" ratio of browns and greens, or whatever.

However, because of the "heating up" aspect, I wouldn't throw worms into your compost pile, throw them into the garden site instead.

I don't know what the reason for not using grass clippings would be -- they are actually the main component of my compost pile, we use a grass catcher on our riding mower (we have a pretty big yard) and I first use the clippings to mulch the garden, to keep weeds down and also hold moisture in the soil, as well as keeping the plants cleaner because the rain doesn't splatter them with mud so much. Then, once the mulch is plenty deep, the clippings start going on the compost pile. Throwing a few shovelfuls of garden dirt into the pile can help get things "going," because it contains the bacteria and organisms that are needed to break things down. Your pile also needs moisture, so I'd just leave it open on top (so it gets rained on) -- and adding a little water won't hurt if it seems too dry. My compost pile is pretty much shaded by some cedar trees, although it does get some sun, and it isn't actually enclosed in any way. Not the neatest looking, but it's easy to work with. Turn the pile over a couple of times during the summer and fall, and then just let it sit over the winter, and by spring it should be what you want -- it should basically look like the stuff on the ground in the woods, rich, earthy, crumbly, not yucky matted up gunk (which is what I seemed to get early on in my attempts).

I basically have 2 piles going all the time -- one that is more "mature" and one that is less so. Right now I have about half a pile that is really nicely mature, which will be used in the holes where I plant my tomatoes and spread around some of my other veg plants, as well as I want to add some to my perennial flower garden. The other pile that I had started around mid summer last year will be put on my asparagus and garlic in the fall, and then the rest will again be used next year on the tomatoes etc.

Your chickens, rabbits and goats are doing half the work of composting for you, by turning the greens and such into manure. Do you have any leaves available in the fall -- either your own, or are you able to 'help' some city dwellers out by taking their leaves off their hands? If so, those would be great to add to the pile.

Sorry this is so long -- I hope it is somewhat helpful, at least in terms of knowing that not everyone makes it so difficult to get good compost! And I hope you are having better gardening weather than we are here in northern Michigan -- it snowed today !


Edited by: SANDYBREIT at: 5/12/2013 (20:17)
Michigan Upper Peninsula

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5/12/13 6:10 P

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I moved to the country and married a country boy several years ago. We recently bought some property and are now living on what use to be a stock yard. We had the soil broken up by a local guy (the only thing he made us pay was 1 dozen fresh eggs from our hens). The garden spot is HUGE. I have chickens, rabbits, and boer goats so I have plenty of "manure". I use hay and straw as bedding in the chick brooder pens and suck. I have started a compost pile and am curious about a couple things. I have the hay/droppings put into the compost bin. I have a tub of egg shells that I plan on throwing in this evening. The compost bin is made out of a 3 pallets standing on their ends. The front and top are open....the questions I have are

What else can I put in to make the compost healthy and good? All the greens we have left over go to the rabbits so that isn't an option until I get an excessive amount from the garden. (I have some radish greens I am throwing in this evening from the radishes we picked at grandpas farm this morning).

Can I throw a few worms in there as I find them or is that going to do any good since it isn't a worm farm bin?

Do I need to put a cover on it and leave it covered and closed up all the time or is it okay to have the top open?

Can I throw the grass clippings from the front yard into it? I have heard both positive and negatives about this and I don't want to ruin all the hard work?

Do I need to start a second bin and start putting new manure and such in it and allow this one to heat up? Space isn't an issue because we have several acres so not a big deal to have a second one

I am so confused about the ration of greens and browns because every site suggests something different. I just want good compost that will help me to grow my garden better and feed my family healthy, low cost foods.

I am so very lost on this whole concept. My husband has had a garden for about 3 or 4 years. This is only my second year and I want desperately to have healthy, fresh food for us to eat but it seems like no matter what I read it contradicts itself in another page.

What sites do you trust for good, healthy information about gardening?

Don't make someone a priority when your not even one of their options....

When you feel like giving up remember why you held on so long in the first place.

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