Compost = decomposed organic matter

Alasgun

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The word Compost covers a lot of ground which we try to utilize in many ways. We started with a worm bin which proved to be a lot of work for the return, it worked fine but i’m generally busy enough that i watch for ways to cut effort / maximize return! Vermi-composting was painfully slow when we just added the kitchen scraps each day so i bought a Big blender that liquified the stuff and seemed to speed up the process. However, that only worked for kitchen waste, and at the end of a year i had generated roughly 50 lbs of worm castings. Hum, i can buy that much organic worm castings for $60 bucks, not the best return for my effort.

Then we went the bin route which we continue to this day, with upgrades. Our initial set up was two bins made up of 4 Pallets each, screwed together to give a 4x8 working area in each section. Now we could handle All the waste without having to separate, grind and tend the worm bin each day. My biggest input is the bagged grass clippings (green category) which keep everything moving with the heat they generate. Next would be all the garden waste and lastly fall leaves.

Then i upgraded to chainlink panels which are taller, wider and longer than pallets giving me more working room while turning It. I also learned how to speed up the process by adding various ”starters” that i can make myself. Lacto bacillus serum heads the list, simply a liquid bacterial product made from milk. Each spring i’ll make a batch to have on hand for the first turning and this sped things up quite a bit. i can almost use “that years” compost the same year but prefer a more complete breakdown without having to sift the pile each fall. Remember, i’m pretty lazy!

Fish hydroslate is another input i make, using lacto to break down my fish carcasses in a poly drum. This is a slow process as well and i’ve decided i prefer to apply it directly anyway, giving a big boost where ever it’s applied. I look at it more like a vitamin shot or a first aid product now.

With the newly finished Rabbitry i’ll have a manure source which will complete the cycle as “the ultimate” compost starter! In the Dakota’s sheep manure proved it’s worth in that capacity and i’ve longed for a clean manure source for many years.

Like most, id simply turn those pile‘s 3 to 5 times during the summer and call it good; then i bought a thermometer! By utilizing it and turning based on the internal temp i was not wasting time turning it prematurely. it’s me and a fork turning a pickup size pile so knowing the right timing let’s an ole guy skate occasionally!

Compost tea, simple name and easy to generate, i have two “tea pots” and always make a batch for the indoor starts in the spring, a batch for when things are moved out to the greenhouse and garden beds and a batch for the fruit trees/bushes later on. My smaller “pot” is a 13 gallon bucket powered by a Medo linear piston pump generating 45 lpm. The other, “the big bopper” is a 50 gal poly drum powered by a regenerative blower. Both will complete a batch in 24 hrs and the value of the tea is unquestioned. It could be a complete chapter of it’s own, which i may elaborate on later. Essentially you’re breeding a quadrillion, bazillion microbes and turning them loose in your soil’s to work on various elements, making them more readily available to the plants.

Running a completely organic operation makes it nice in that i don't have to consider what i can or can’t compost. I like to tell folks “you can even eat the dirt”.

There’s many ways to play this Garden game and i wouldn't want to imply, Organic’s the only way. Everyone makes those choices for them selves, this is just the way we’ve chosen to roll! At some point i’ll elaborate on why.
This is simply an overview as much more could be said. My intention was to introduce someone to “the sport of composting” who hadn’t given it much thought previously.

Hope you find something useful in this?
 

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ducks4you

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Everybody wants "microwave compost." I want to interject for patience whenever I hear questions like, "do coffee grounds make good compost?" Or, "I don't like using soiled horse bedding bc of the pine shavings that don't break down quickly."
Thing is, EVERYTHING organic DOES break down. All edibles or vegetation WILL decompose for you, but not everything does it quickly.
My piles from my horse's stalls are generally the best when:
1) 2-3 years have past, no turning of piles
or
2) They come out of (stripping) my horse's shelter, where there are generally no seeds and it is WELL ROTTED
In this winter's reading I discovered that Paris in the last 1/2 of the 19th century grew vegetables 365 days/year and they made soil from the city's stables, horse manure and straw.
I have 3 horses, use straw in my stalls, so I have plenty of both. Yes, I also use pine pellets and fine pine shavings bc they soak up urine, keep my horses dry at night (they are turned out all day), keep their lungs healthy and their feet healthy. Won't give those up for just straw.
I also move ash piles, and last year's burn pile location is no longer for burning, but the bottom 4-5 inches of it was soil, so even the ashes were breaking down. This is the THIRD time I have seen ashes turn to dirt.
I grew potatoes in this in 2020.
@Alasgun , sounds like you have more TIME to devote to your compost than I do! Beautiful soil!
 
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flowerbug

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everyone can have a different idea of composting, or use multiple methods for the materials at hand.

me i just keep it simple and let nature figure it out.

the worms i keep are for recycling the food scraps, i'm not doing it for volume (i don't have room in the house for more than 17 buckets, but i've found that 10 is all i need for now and i could probably go down to 8 if current trends continue (Mom not cooking as much for other people as she was before). i also don't keep worms for generating worm tea so that avoids that complication factor and keeps all the nutrients in the buckets.

i don't have other animals to manage and any extra garden debris is buried so that the worms can do their thing and have hiding places.
 

AMKuska

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I treated myself to a rotating composter this past year, and boy do I love it! The thick black plastic captures more heat and speeds the composting process, turning the heap is as easy as a quick spin, and the liquid drains into the base for compost tea. I've only done one rotation with it, and I was really impressed with how fast it composts.

How disappointing though, that all of my food scraps ever plus chicken litter to inject heat into it, and it sucks down into a 2 gallon bucket of compost. 2 of these composters could handle all of my organic waste in a year without ever having to stop.
 

Alasgun

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@AMKuska, your low volume discovery was what prompted me to abandon the worm farm and move outdoors where i could do it all in one place.
im happy to hear you’ve got a workable system Now. I think many people give up too soon with many garden activities. The learning is one of the best parts for me!
 

Dirtmechanic

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It really does have to do with your situation. Here, I used to run a chipper, gifted by my FIL when they moved to a less wooded lot. I ran it for years. But as I came to realize how useful woodash and charcoal were for our exceptionally heavy acidic clay I started burning the dropped wood. Every storm, every fall, and just generally the trees are always dropping the good stuff. So much easier too, compared to old noisy and dangerously dusty. It does cost some water when I snuff the char. Still less money than running an 8hp self propelled troy bilt though, and most fun at night to stretch the working day a bit. We compost the kitchen scraps but they do not get any useful volume. What we can get yards of compost from is leaves We have lots and lots of leaves. Mixed with char, some fertilizer and occasionally pesticide it makes a great compost and lots of it.
 
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