I'm considering composting. Have never tried it before - anyone have any pointers or any local resources they'd like to share?
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Composting is fairly easy. I took one of those 2FT-around general-purpose tubs that winter had cracked the bottom of. I set it on a plastic stand to avoid it catching too much heat from the roof-porch it's on. I liberally seeded it with grass cuttings and misc plant waste from the winter die-off that I did for about half my plants. (I was tired of those scraggly things, anyway.) I'll have to dump some dirt in there as a sort of seed, since dirt contains the microbes that I'm looking for. A cast-off pot (now filled with weeds) should do it.
I now dump my veggie waste from the kitchen in it. If it gets too dry, I can always dump a large cup of water in it, and move it further in under the eaves to escape the direct sun. I don't dump in fleshy matter since for some reason that's bad for a heap.
About once a week (I'm on week #2) I stir the container's contents a bit with a hand rake. You've gotta keep that up with a small heap that compresses itself over time, or it'll turn into a layered mess that doesn't decay quickly enough. Putting in grass clippings from the mower is bad for that too since it forms "pancakes" of dried grass fibers which hang around waaaaaay too long. You gotta keep on top of it, that's all.
Just in the first week, my heap compressed a full third. It's going to do away with all those winter-killed Pothos branches that I had hanging around, quite nicely.
To hell with all that. Too much to mess with. I can spend the time weeding, etc. The most I do is cut the grass and not rake it. I've always just let it go back into the ground.
I've been composting for about twenty years. There are several ways to compost. Some easy, some labor intensive. The basic premise is to try to maintain a good ratio of fresh green material, like grass clippings or garden waste to dry material like leaves or straw. The green material is nitrogen rich. Too much will cause an odor. Keep the pile moist. The more often you turn the pile the faster everything decomposes. Or just let it sit for year. I sift mine to remove anything that isnt fully rotted if I'm going to use it to top dress, other wise I just turn it into the soil. There is nothing better in this world than compost to improve both sandy or clay soil. The link gives you all the detail you need.
I just finished Master Gardener training and will get my certificate as soon as I complete the required 50 hours of volunteer work. I encourage anyone with a garden or landscape question to contact the The Consumer & Urban Horticulture Program run by the OSU Extension at Toledo Botanical Gardens. 419-578-6783 This is one of the greatest garden information resources available and it's free.
Holland, thanks for the program info/ phone #.
I compost as well. I built a container out of pressure-treated lumber and some hardware cloth (think of a heavy-duty screen). The container has two bins and each bin has a removable front. That makes for easy maintenance.
Since I have alot of clay, the compost is great. As a bonus, my son calls it our worm factory and is good "fishin' worms".
Grass clippings take a lot to compost as do leaves and other yard waste. Throwing food waste in with it helps with the breakdown and layer of dirt help too.
An old trash can (darker the better) or 2 and a shovel/pitch fork. Drill some holes if you like or not. Throw any plant materials or poop in it. Water and stir occasionally.
You can also garbage pick other people's lawn scraps. Wear a tux for classiness and leave a garbage fee bill for effect.
A reel lawn mower set to it's highest setting, helps to keep grass healthy by letting it's roots grow. Weeds/brown spots might be indicative the soils poor pH level.
I don't think anyone has ever failed as a composter.
Don't compost poop if you intend on putting the finished material on/ near veggies/ fruit.
Horse manure has been used in vegies / fruit for years, would suggest washing your food before eating though.
I was referring more to the dog (and cat) waste. I believe it's actually a concern with any waste from a meat eater.
Here's a small part of a very lengthy article I saw:
"Until recently, dog poop wasn't considered a huge biological hazard, except for in rare cases causing a disease called Toxicarias.
Scientists are now reconsidering that notion after having made disturbing discoveries such as bacteria levels being so high at some beaches that people have to stay out of the water. One of the culprits that has been found to significantly raise the bacteria levels is dog poop.
It's not just from the nuggets on the beaches, but runoff from stormwater drains after that water has come into contact with the poop. Some of the bacteria harbored in dog poo includes E. coli, fecal coliform bacteria, salmonella and giardia.
Other than that, dog poo is just plain gross and pollutes our parks and sidewalks.
Some people put dog poop into their worm farms, which works fine, although it's not recommended that you then use the worm castings from the farm in your vegetable garden. General composting is also an option, but again, the compost shouldn't be applied to your veggie patch."
The trash can sounds like a great idea if you can put the cover on and then lash it down for a good rollin'. The trouble with trash cans is that they're really not that sturdy, and then churning the compost within them with a metal tool is laborious and also threatens to pierce it. Consider coverin' and rollin' that can. That's where the small holes drilled all around the can will do the most good. The rolling activity doesn't even have to be laborious either ... just roll the can to a new position every so often, and the direction of water flow alone will alter the rotting patterns.
I think we can all agree that the worst-performing compost heap gets little aeration, is not turned, is filled with uncut waste, has meat waste, and is sheltered from the rain. But even that type of heap will still collapse into soil given enough time and exposure to the elements. Hence, Char's sentiment that no one "has ever failed as a composter". :^)
No cat or dog feces - ever. Horse, sheep or cow manure or poultry droppings are all great if mixed well and allowed to decompose throughly. They are are high in ammonia and can burn plant roots. In a raw or a fresh state they are a salt which pulls water away from the roots, hence the "burn".