COMPOST How-To Questions... !!!!

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by bethann33, May 29, 2012.

  1. bethann33

    bethann33 In the Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2012
    I have started a rather large compost heap. It's about 6 x 8 feet x 4 ft high- filled with rabbit and chicken manure, straw, hay, pine shavings, and leftover corn and alfalfa feeds.

    HOW DO I USE THIS APPROPRIATELY? I have never composted before. I know rabbit manure is good to use straight away, but that chicken manure takes longer to decompose or it will burn your plants (?). Do I just spread this over my garden? Do I mix in it to the soil and then till it together? Do I wait? Or use right away? Is there a proper soil ratio I need to meet?

    What about using it for potting plants and seed starting? Do I need to mix it with anything? I LOVE gardening, but am such a novice on all things compost!! I just know enough not to throw the droppings away, but to use them... I just have no clue how to USE them!!

    Please advise if you know anything about composting. Also- what can I expect with a rabbit/chicken manure compost? How will it affect my plants?
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  2. AnimalsComeFirst

    AnimalsComeFirst Songster

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    This is my first year of composting as well, but I can offer you some tips that may answer your questions.

    You have to usually wait 6 - 12 months, depending on when you stop putting stuff in the first pile and make a second one. Once the compost is completely decomposed, it will look like regular dirt and you can use it for anything, potting flowers or gardening. No need to add anything to it. I use rabbit and chicken manure as well, and I have heard great things about it, so I do not think it will hurt your plants once it is decomposed. When you add it to your garden, mix it in with the old soil.

    Look up composting on google and you'll get lots of good tips! :)
     
  3. JeffOeuf

    JeffOeuf Songster

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    There are very specific formulas to follow to turn "stuff" into compost, and they work. But, so does just letting nature take its course. When you read about green to brown ratios, pile temperature and moisture levels, these people are trying to go from raw material to compost in the shortest amount of time possible. If you just pile the stuff up, eventually it will get to the same place, it just takes a little longer. ACF is right, when it is done, it should look like nice, healthy dark soil. Personally, I end up somewhere in between "just piling it up" and the chemistry set crowd.

    If I am reading your post correctly, you already have that 6 x 8 x 4 volume completely filled. Is that correct? If so, hose it down, and turn it every couple of weeks. If the odor coming off it gets foul, it is packed too tight and doesn't have enough air. Turn it more often, fluff it up a little and add something that will get better air circulation...like some straw. About February, spread it on your garden, regardless of what it looks like. By late March when you start planting stuff, it will be soil.
     
  4. JeffOeuf

    JeffOeuf Songster

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    Just saw "seed starting"...

    Not the best use of your compost. Seed starting mix needs to be fluffy, sterile, and moisture retentive. Fertility level is unimportant, since the seeds have all the nutrients they need to get born in the seed (just like a chick in an eggshell). My personal favorite seed starting blend is MetroMix 360, but it can be hard to find. ProMix is another good one. I don't buy much for my garden, relying primarily on compost that I make for soil amendment and fertility, but I buy seed starting mix. It works better.
     
  5. bethann33

    bethann33 In the Brooder

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    Mar 26, 2012
    Thanks a bunch! It is filled to about those dimensions. Old and new manure is all mixed in. My husband uses his backhoe to turn it every so often.

    Can I use it for small container gardening? Not necessarily seed starting, but just for potting soil? Should I add sand to it or anything? I have seed starting mix....
     
  6. JeffOeuf

    JeffOeuf Songster

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    Depending on the structure of the compost, you could use it like it is, or amend it. Personally I would mix it about 1/3 sand, 1/3 compost and 1/3 topsoil. That is assuming it is a light and fluffy compost. If it is already heavy, skip the topsoil and just blend with some sand.

    That said, I filled a large raised bed with just compost last year, nothing else. It is one of my best beds. I had pepper plants in it that were over 7 feet tall, and I have Swiss Chard in there this year with leaves almost 4 feet long. Only a light topdressing of commercial organic fertilizer this spring. That was grass clippings, hardwood sawdust, kitchen trimmings, and crop residue.
     
  7. bethann33

    bethann33 In the Brooder

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    Wow- that's pretty impressive. Very encouraging!! Thanks for the tips. :)
     

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