Compost question

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Missbehavin, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. Missbehavin

    Missbehavin Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 15, 2011
    Well I think I really messed up and hope someone can give me some advise. I recently bought a large roll type barrel composter. I put leaves, kitchen scrap, coffee grounds...... and the pine shavings from my chicken coop. After doing some reading I think the pine shavings are a bad idea cuz they don't break down very fast. I noticed it was not wet at all so I put earthworms and two cans of beer in it. I still think the compost is not wet enough. What should I do? Dump it all out and start over? Put water or another wet item in it? I really wanted to have some compost for the new garden I am starting this spring. This is my first time to one get chickens, two have a compost and three start a garden. Any tips would be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  2. FitzD

    FitzD Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 26, 2012
    I think the pine shavings are fine, they add to the aggregation of your soil. Just be careful with your ratio, you don't want it to be the main thing in your pile. About what percent shavings do you think you have in it?
  3. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Comfrey is an excellent, natural compost activator. Put some leaves in a container with a bit of water and leave it to break down. Then pour the resulting tea on your compost heap. But I warn you: it smells!
  4. canesisters

    canesisters Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 18, 2011
    Missbehavin, we'll have to compare notes as the year goes on. This is also my first year with chickens, compost and garden!

    We're going at it from different angles though. My 'compost' - which is JUST starting - is on the ground where I hope to have the garden in the spring. So far just a LOT of leaves with some coffee grounds, chicken poo/bedding and a little horse poo. I've got a pile of yard cleanings (things like dead hosta leaves and elephant ear leaves) that are going in this weekend. And a bag of dried up flowers from a church function. I have to get a little fence up around it first though - the dogs have discovered there are 'treats' buried in the leaves and are having a great time un-composting some of my 'ingredients'. I like the idea of making a tea to wet it with. Wonder how much horsepoo tea I can make? LOL
  5. Missbehavin

    Missbehavin Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 15, 2011
    Fitzd, Well I put a 4X4 by about an 1 1/2 deep of pine shaving in there. Probably about 70%. Sumi I will try the tea idea also. I just hate to start all over. Canastisters Let me know about the horse tea. lol I can get some horse manure.
  6. feedstorechick

    feedstorechick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 30, 2009
    I think you compost will be fine. Pine shavings are carbon and need a lot of nitrogen to break them down, and chicken poop is high nitrogen, so I think you will be fine. If your compost is heating after a day or so, it's breaking down. If it's not heating, I'd guess its too dry.
  7. FitzD

    FitzD Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 26, 2012
    Like feedstorechick mentioned the shavings are the "Brown" in your mix and they contain the carbon. You need a 50:50 brown:green ratio, so just try to add more Nitrogen rich substance to it. (the green) and you should be fine :)
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  8. Trefoil

    Trefoil Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 7, 2011
    As a youngster I had horses i bedded in shavings, spread the clean outs on our fields, which resulted( after a few years) in my uncle complaining that I was making the field too acidic. I had a cement floored barn so I spread lime heavily on the floor before adding the "sawdust", which helped the problem. In addition to your composter, your future garden spot would benefit if you spread a heavy layer of the "mulch" on it, working it into the ground before preparing to plant you garden. Depending on your soil, the increased organic matter is a good thing. Adding worms to a rotating composter doesn't sound like a good idea.
  9. SweetSilver

    SweetSilver Chillin' With My Peeps

    Pine shavings suck up *a lot* of moisture!

    I am all for adding pine bedding and anything to compost, and tend to have a devil-may-care-all-things-eventually-compost attitude. But certain ingredients have certain characteristics. Woody materials (like, um, wood and pine shavings) take a long time to absorb moisture. One way you can add moisture is by adding in the household food scraps, which tend to be very wet, until the mixture looks nice. Or, simply add a bit of water every couple of days.

    Next time, wet down the pine shavings well before adding them to the bin. This could take a few days. Where I am from, this just means leaving it out in the rain for a week or 2 or 3 depending on the weather.
  10. wyoDreamer

    wyoDreamer Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 10, 2010
    I have a compost-tumbler, one of those barrel-type composters. I have found it is hard to keep the compost moist enough to properly work in them. Even in Wisconsin, my compost ingredients seemed to dry very quickly - I got to the point of spraying a bit of water in, then turning the barrel around to mix it, then adding a bit more water. With that system, my compost turned out pretty nice - it took about a month for the compost to finish.

    Then I moved to the high mountain desert in Wyoming. Mistake #1: Compost tumblers will roll across the prairie in 50 mph winds - especially if the prairie goes down a valley. Mistake #2 - tumbleweed does not compost. Years later and I still have a compost pile of tumbleweed. Mistake #3. - don't put it where you can't get water to it twice a day.

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