Composting - it’s never enough!


#1

Giant pile of anything I can find turns into about five cups of finished compost!

Even though I have a 1 acre property, because I also have a fairly large fruit and vegetable garden, it seems like producing enough compost on my own is virtually impossible. I was digging around today and noticed that the stuff near the bottom look pretty finished, and by the time I retrieved it all out, it was about four inches deep in a five gallon bucket.


#2

Also finding greens in sufficient quantity are hard if I don’t bag grass clippings (I don’t, because the spousal unit doesn’t believe it’s financially prudent to drop $300 on a bagger kit for the rider).


#3

i totally agree with you. up here its even worse because our cold stops the compost process 6 months out of the year. try giving those scraps to compost worms. i have 2 big totes in our spare room that have probably a 1000 worms in each. every summer i separate the worms out of the castings and put them in new coco coir. i get about 70lbs of black gold! now I’ve read you’re supposed to change out the bedding about every 3 months but i get lazy and only do it once outside , in summer. but if you did every 3 months you would get 3xs that amount. i also feed them shredded cardboard, newspaper, garden scraps. comfrey leaves and toilet and paper towel tubes. when i used to work at customs id get their shredded paper to feed them and use as bedding. its worth the few hours to put them in new bedding for the end result. they also make great fishing bait or chicken food if they start to over populate their bins. :wink:


#4

If you want a ton of compost get some chickens. Their winter bedding mixed with manure and some other organic matter makes a good compost. Also a ton of work to move it around too.


#5

gardening is a marathon not a sprint, just keep at it, it adds up


#6

got a large pile from last winter breaking down as we speak. between the 3 coops i figure i have a couple yards. maybe by next spring it should be ready to use. been turning it w/ my mahindra tractor dump. if i could get enough compost , i wouldn’t buy fertilizer.


#7

I feel your pain. I have a pile but have considered not even bothering because as @moose71 said, it freezes most of the year and doesn’t amount to much. I always end up using the municipal compost. I have shoveled three pickup loads so far this spring. My neighbors think I’m nuts but one way or another I’m getting that black gold. The worm idea is good. My only problem had been centipedes finding my bin which grossed me out and i got rid of them.


#8

Mine wasnt quite broken down into fine particulates this year either so i was in the same predicament, where i had a 1800 sqft garden that needed compost but nothing i could work into the soil.
This year i opted to mulch all my annual and some perrenials plants with the half decomposed chicken bedding with hopes of providing a slow release fertilizer and also aid in moisture retention. I know the worms love it as ive seen them coming to the surface to feed on it.
This along with appropriately applied aged chicken manure, rock dust and crush sea shells are my amendments.


#9

I am solving this problem by picking up horse manure. Not that “manure” you can get on the horse farms, that is mostly bedding and takes few years to decompose. I found a lady how keeps 2 horses and doesn’t use bedding. She bags the manure when she cleans and I pick it up - 30 pellets bags in a time, and I pick it 3-5 times a year. She thinks, I am doing a great favor for her :grin:, I am thinking she does! I also collect neighborhood leaves in fall, but mostly for mulch, not compost.


#10

I mulched with leaves last fall and this year i have baby trees sprouting everywhere!! I think i will not do that again.


#11

I get baby trees mulch or no mulch :grin: .Actually it is less of them, where mulch is applied. Also, I only mulch garlic in fall. The rest I shred and place in the pile. By the time it is time to mulch in spring summer, seeds should be sprouted already and die in the darkness.


#12

Maybe it’s because i have silver maple all over. They drop those helicopter spinner things. Less messy trees may not be as big of a deal but wow did i have an epidemic this spring


#13

I broke down and bought 3 yards of leaf compost mixed with 2 yards of farm compost last fall. Moved it all after the garden was done producing. I’m really happy with the results so far.

I do make my own compost with two of those black bins and one large pallet bin. All yard material, chicken manure, rabbit manure, all food scraps, leaves, old rags and clothes. It is never enough.


#14

I have had a compost pile for 21 years yet have never harvested any compost! For years my neighbors would come onto my property and haul my pile away to our local dump which had a municipal composting area. They always made out that they did me a “favor”. Their reason was that it “smells” and looks “bad” from their kitchen window. I finally made them realize I wanted my compost!

This year they came over and asked IF we could put a “decorative fence” around the compost pile? They are nice retired neighbors otherwise so I don’t press the issue.

Someday hopefully I will have compost. Luckily I have a stable in my area with well aged horse manure. Super giant piles of it behind the barn and free for the taking. They even leave a shovel there for anyone who comes. Some of it is 4-5 years old so well broken down. Black gold for me! Sure does wonders to break up my heavy clay soil.


#15

I second the idea of keeping animals of one sort or another for the manure produced- it makes for good compost. We keep poultry and also composter worms. I glean woodchips and leaves, occassionally import farm manure for my compost habit. Im sure Ive dumped over 100,000lbs of the stuff on our 2 acres over the years


#16

I solved this problem years ago with hugelkultur. Now I do a cover crop every now and again, mostly oats and buckwheat, that die with the first frost. And I do some compost for seed starting only.


#17

I have to agree with your spousal unit. The best lawn fertilizer is the lawn clippings they have everything a lawn needs in just the right proportions.


#18

Ive only been at my spot for a couple of years and im sure i have moved several tons between manure and wood chips.
I had the idea of spreading compost and aged manure then dressing the surface with woods throughout my young orchard. This idea quickly died as i realized just how much material i would have to move worth my quarter ton. Now im happy if i can just keep enough around the trees and perennials to keep the grass suppressed while everything gets established.


#19

I tried for years to get enough compost from just the garden and yard waste. Never worked out to be nearly as much as I wanted. When we lived in town, my best efforts were from using a based of shredded leaves from the leaf vac, and adding garden waste plus kitchen scraps to the pile. It made good compost, but not enough for my garden and fruit trees.

This past season, I have increased our compost to where we have plenty, but I am having to bring in the raw materials. My wife hooked our little trailer to our van last fall and brought home ~300 bags of leaves from curbside pickup on her way back from picking up our kids at school. That helped cover the garden over the winter.

I am using between 2 and 4 bales of wheat straw per month as my duck and chicken bedding in the orchard, now. The ducks do a great job of splashing around water to get the straw wet, and I rake/fork the damp straw plus manure and any spilled/uneaten feed into piles between my fruit trees. The worms love this approach. The composting piles are full of them!

I have also started composting the butchering waste when we process the muscovy ducks. Any parts of the carcass that don’t get used get buried into a pile of damp bedding and covered to keep scavengers out. It takes quite a while to break down, but it is a good way to use all of our waste.


#20

If you’re into planting cover crops, have you considered planting winter rye?