Attention Compost Experts: Please Advise... 'Compost' full of 'Roots' - What Would You Do?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by aart, Oct 31, 2015.

  1. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    So I took 6 months worth of pine shavings and chicken poop from the coop and put it in a cylinder made from 2x4 fencing, with a lot of water added it heated up to 160F.
    Then I let it sit for a year...and ended up with this mass of 'roots'.
    I surmise they may have come from nearby trees and moved up into the pile from the bottom,
    there is no greenery sprouting from them, I actually potted some up and watered them to see if they'd sprout.

    Anyway instead of luscious soil, which I may have had if I had tended the pile more, but I've got this and not sure what to do with it.
    Basically it is organic matter, but not sure I should use it in a raised bed(mixed with some other soil of course) to grow veggies or toss it out into the woods.
    Not sure if they would decompose into a nice soil component or 'grow' into a larger mass.

    So..... what you would do with it?

  2. nchls school

    nchls school Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2015
    I'd cut the roots where they enter the compost pile-wait a few months and use in the garden.
  3. mymilliefleur

    mymilliefleur Keeper of the Flock

    Nov 4, 2014
    East Tennessee.
    If you need to use it soon, I would sift it through a piece of hardware cloth to remove the roots and larger clumps. Alternatively you could leave it and let the roots compost, after moving so that the roots are no longer connected to the tree/plant they came from.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Tree roots travel far, and suck the nutrients out of the soil they move into. I had an issue in my old garden with roots moving into my beds, and turning the whole bed into a mass of roots like you show, if I didn't get into it with a tiller at least once a year. If you can pry the compost out of the ground, you might try putting it on some surface that the roots can't penetrate, or move it to a different location, perhaps even putting it in trash bags to break down over the winter. Do you have a tiller? If so, you could perhaps break the compost up with a tiller. I doubt that those roots would sprout into anything, but you can be pretty sure that the nutrient in your compost is nil at this point. Still worth using for it's humus content, if you can get it loosened up.
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    That is exactly what I was thinking.

    I have been able to loosen it up some, just need to add some 'live' soil to it.
    Planned to put it into some raised beds, see what I can grow next spring.

    My gardening life is often just a science
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Yeah, that’s one reason to not put a compost pile under a tree. Of course that’s exactly where I put mine, under a big elm.

    One problem, you left it too long and gave the roots time to get firmly established. You did not turn it often enough and you should have harvested it a long time ago. That’s me all over. I never turn it enough and always wait too long to harvest it.

    Those roots will have sucked some of the nutrients out of that compost, but they will not have totally destroyed it. It still has a lot of value. A lot of the nutrients are still there plus it will greatly improve the tilth of your soil.

    Like MYMillefleur I sift mine through hardware cloth to get out the bigger chunks and the roots, then store it in old plastic chicken feed bags until I use it. If you put it into paper bags it will continue working and compost (rot) those paper bags away. I built a frame out of 2x4’s and ½” hardware cloth and rub the compost through that into a wheelbarrow. Anything that goes through the hardware cloth is considered compost. Anything that doesn’t go through goes into the next batch, which I won’t turn enough and will wait too long to harvest.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Yeah, I've sifted this stuff out of a load of garden dirt I bought years ago...but this time I'm just going to add some good soil to it and let it go.
  8. arabbie1

    arabbie1 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 1, 2014
    Chicken Juggler you made me laugh. Not at you but perhaps if we put our "science experiments" together, perhaps we could come up with a great garden. :)

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