"Pic-Of-The-Week" Irises by canesisters
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Easy - Fun - Fulfilling... How Gardening Should Be
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Are you still doing compost these days? I'm guessing you are, only a whole lot more!
This nearly 2 year old thread may be a good place for me to suggest that we could come up with ideas about picking up MEGA-loads of material for composting.
I do like many and visit places with fall leaves - in my case, pine needles. One is a hillside above one of my gardens. One is a city park - there, it is just hurry out there with a rake before the city gets there with it's sweeper. Might be illegal but no one has ever suggested that I shouldn't be doing it. The hillside, I have to send DW up there because of the steepness. The pine trees barely cling to it and it is almost nothing but basalt rocks. Still, the pine needles can pile up and just need a little raking to bring them down hill to the back of my truck.
Oh yeah, you need a truck - so, this is about getting a truckload of compostables.
I like pine needles, they make very good mulch and very good compost. Clean, too! Many gardeners want the "real deal" and another place where I've hauled off MEGA-loads was at a livestock feeding operation. It was about this time of year and the cattle were just about ready to be returned to pastures - leaving behind . . . well, a real mess.
If you do this, be polite. Show up when the workers are out there and ask - maybe not about going into the corrals but, that "pile of spoiled hay" . . . There's always feed that didn't get used or that was cleaned out of the way - often with a good load of manure in it. I mean, the stuff is on its way to composting. The operation may have little interest in the material and just see it as a burden to haul off. Manure spreaders don't work real well with hay.
How do you find these places? Use your nose. Okay, you can use your eyes also - lots of cattle, for example. I used to work for a farm that turned into something of a livestock operation. The guy used to be something of a friend but I'm embarrassed in how he has "disposed" of the material from his feed lots. Yeah sure, he has returned it to some of his fields -- problem is that he made no attempt to spread it, and no attempt to turn it! It has been out there for years in GREAT piles - and, I mean there are dozens of them - scattered about 15 or 20 acres!
His family also owns a grain elevator off a railroad siding. I have asked him about the spilled grain. It was spoiled from laying there over the winter and must have been several pickup loads. He said, "Sure, take it!" But, I didn't. I'm not quite sure about using grain for composting. If I wasn't concerned about embarrassing him, I would ask about the hills of hay and manure that he must be leaving for his kids to deal with - sometime later this century.
Last edited by digitS' (05/03/2012 11:35 am)
Doesn't sound like he's easily embarrassed, Steve! I say go for it!
Heck yea. Take a front end loader and a dump truck with you!
Or heck, just bring a grader, level those piles out, and put a GOOPP garden right there!
Ok... I am doing something WRONG.
I simply take the stall cleanings (shavings and horse manure) out and dump them on spots that are lacking in topsoil. Like the spot along the side of the driveway that is just hard, baked, gravely clay. I dump a wheel barrow on it, spread is around a little and let it be. Sometime later, I have a thin covering of 'dirt'. I add some more and maybe dig it in a little. By the end of the summer, I have a place that will grow grass like crazy. Been doing it for years and it works just fine.. takes a LONG time, but works.
When someone asks why there is manure next to my driveway, I tell them I'm 'making dirt'.
On a serious note, I've always wanted to start a REAL compost pile. I'll be adding chickens to my little farm this weekend so I think that I'll subscribe to a few of these compost threads and start getting some knowledge.
You can use your horse manure and sawdust for composting, canesisters.
It is just that the sawdust is so low on nitrogen, and horse manure doesn't have all that much either. Plants will never have a chance to get at any of the N if you were to just apply it to soil & then try to grow something green anytime soon. It would take a long time for the soil microbes to break down the sawdust that had come their way. Until they do that, the nitrogen will be tied up in microbe protein. It is a little harsh to say that they "scavenge" all available nitrogen but that's pretty much what they are doing.
Ohio State University has information on how to work with what you are hauling out of the stables: Manure Management, Nitrogen Enhancement (click)
If you don't want to use a synthetic like the ammonium sulfate that they recommend, there are organic alternatives. The easiest one is bloodmeal but I have gotten a little worried about using bloodmeal. Wear a mask if you go that route. Ammonium sulfate is 21% N and blood meal is 12% N, so the recommended "10 pounds of ammonium nitrate or ammonium sulfate per ton of horse manure/sawdust mix" requires nearly 20 pounds of bloodmeal.
It is fairly easy to find an 8% N organic balanced fertilizer in the garden centers - Whitney Farms makes one. So, a 25 pound bag of that to a ton of the stall cleanings might make for real good compost. Of course, you'd have to keep it moist and turn it once or twice.
I you use one of the organic boxed blends with more than just N you'll get a better balance.
Steve watch using anything with soybean meal in it there has been some studies on it as a fertilize and it didnt look very good.
Slow and stunted growth with some burning of the plants.
But if you are going to use in the compost you should be alright.
Here's a link to the NC Organic Research and Publication they have some info on it.
Last edited by chris09 (05/05/2012 3:28 pm)