Composting-starting

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by copper2, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. copper2

    copper2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I haven't started composting yet, should I do earthworm composting, or hot-cold compost? How do I start anyway, what type of worms, and proper carbon-nitrogen ratios? Any good recipes?
     
  2. Percheron chick

    Percheron chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No need to make it complicated. Just pile up any organic matter (leaves, chicken poop, kitchen waste...) if you give your chickens access to the pile, they will keep it stirred up, eat any larvae and speed up the decomposition. You can add N and water if things slow down but unless your mix has too much dry matter such as hay, straw or leaves, you shouldn't need to.
     
  3. copper2

    copper2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay, should I add earthworms? Earthworms!
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    No need to do that either. If the pile gets hot, earthworms will migrate out of it. In the mean time, if you put in any plants with any soil attached to the roots, you'll be inoculating it with worms as well as a good mix of beneficial soil organisms anyways. Also, if your heap has contact with the soil, worms will migrate in from below!

    Vermicomposting is composting with red worms. A bit of a different process. With this method, you keep your worms in a worm bin, with some bedding: usually moistened shredded newspaper or peat moss. Add your kitchen scraps and the worms will happily munch them down and turn them into rich black worm castings which make good fertilizer or soil amendment.

    If I was in your area, I'd check out Black Soldier Fly Larvae. They take processing garden and kitchen refuse to a whole other level, while producing high protein and high calcium feed for your chickens.
     
  5. copper2

    copper2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    I can't help you beyond the suggestion, as I am too far north to be able to use them. You've got some fun homework to do! Might want to start a thread dedicated to them!
     
  7. copper2

    copper2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay!
     
  8. Free Spirit

    Free Spirit The Chiarian

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    Composting is easy. But as far as recipes there really aren't. Composting can be more of an art then a science. So much depends on what you put into it. There really is no wrong way. But if you encounter any problems they can be corrected depending on what you have going on.

    Simple Cold Composting:
    Simple composts are done by selecting a spot and tossing scraps, hay, grass clippings, etc. and just allow it to break down slowly over time. A box can be built around it with an opening at the bottom to scoop out the finished product at the bottom while continuing to fill it at the top. No fuss no muss. Worms will come in from the bottom to do what they do and you may even find some black soldier fly larva now and then. You do want to refrain from adding meat scraps as that may attract fly's and fly maggots (just a word of caution).

    Hot Composting:
    Hot composting does break down the material much faster but is a little more work. You will want to layer nitrogen producing materials ("green" - grass clippings and/or garden waste) with dry ("brown" - straw and/or leaves). Layer like a lasagna 3-4 inches green, 3-4 inches brown, wet down with hose (wet but not soggy), repeat until you have filled your pile. You can still add to the pile anytime. The pile will get quite hot and if you lift up part of it in a day or two you will see ash forming - this is good. If the pile has cooled down after a few/several days you can take a pitchfork and either stir the pile or starting from the top down turn the pile over in a spot right next to the original pile, which will give it a good stirring and you a workout. If you need to you can give it a little water as you're turning as at this point you still want it damp but not soggy.

    If a hot composing pile will not heat up then you need to add more green (or possibly water). If it starts to smell sour then you need to add more brown. Two easy solutions.

    Worm Composting:
    You use worms called red wigglers and are not the same as earthworms. You can purchase them to get you started. They are kept in a bin or box outside. I started mine inside in a large tub until I got too many (they bred and multiplied quickly at optimum temps and food supply) and now keep them outside. When Shredded newspapers are used as bedding and food scraps buried under a layer of the paper you should have no odors. The need to be kept damp but not wet, soggy, or flooded. The do great work and their castings make excellent fertilizer for your plants and garden. I use it to jump start seedlings for garden planting. I have had lots of new potatoes started just from tossing in the peelings.

    Black Soldier Fly composting:
    I have no information to offer here. I intend to start one next year so I can use the larva to feed my birds.

    Composting is great and highly encourage you to try one of the above suggestions. There are as many suggestions on ratio's as there are compost piles there is really no right or wrong way. If problems arise then there are easy solutions to get them back on track without starting over.
     
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  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Tremendous post by Free Spirit.

    To have some fun with it, you might want to follow this link. It's from my local Master Gardeners club.



    You can make it as simple or as complicated as you wish. You can look up formulas and try to determine how much greens and how much browns are in the things you add. It can get pretty complicated pretty fast because a lot of the ingredients have some greens and some browns. Green grass clippings are primarily greens. Dried grass clippings are primarily browns. In between is in between. Being precise is not that important. Try to start with a ballpark 1/3 greens (nitrogen) and 2/3 browns (carbon) and you are good to go. Even if you are off quite a bit it will still work, just slower.

    One important thing to emphasize though. It needs to be damp, not wet. If it’s too dry the bacteria that eat it will not live. If it is too wet you will get anaerobic bacteria, bacteria that live in the absence of oxygen. You don’t want that. If the process goes anaerobic it will stink and the quality of the compost deteriorates. You want aerobic bacteria, dry enough that they can breathe air yet damp enough that they can get a drink. Depending on where you are in Texas you could have a problem with either.

    Pure chicken manure is pretty high in greens. If it is mixed with bedding you have both greens and browns. If you have a lot of bedding with it then it may be considered a brown. That’s what I mean about how hard it is to be too precise.

    I use a droppings board and dump pure manure in my compost. If that gets too thick to dry out or the weather sets in wet flies may breed in it. If your chickens have access they should keep it stirred up so that doesn’t happen or they will eat the maggots and keep the numbers of flies in control. If that does happen, you can either stir it up yourself (hard work). I generally just cover it with a layer of grass clippings to keep the flies away.
     
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  10. copper2

    copper2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    For the worm bedding can I use recycled brown grocery bags, and just cut around the colored parts?
     

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