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Thread: Compost head-scratcher (for a novice anyway)

  1. #1
    Morfran is offline Germinator
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    Default Compost head-scratcher (for a novice anyway)

    Hello folks. I'm in my second year with an allotment. I have a black plastic compost bin to which I have been adding all kitchen waste (bags and bags and bags and bags of egg shells, tea bags, lots of vegetable peels) almost weekly for up to 9 months now. I did add some cardboard and withering grass, but overall not a great deal in comparison to the greens.

    So I didn't really know what I was doing and think I really neglected the brown stuff. I was surprised at how much the pile just kept shrinking no matter how much of the kitchen stuff I added. The eventual result was a perhaps 60% decomposed dark mess with plenty of undecomposed stuff (e.g. egg shells) mixed throughout - the whole of it very ripe, moist, lots of flies and bugs.

    I had since been reading up on some of the layering techniques (grow biointensive approach etc) and about 3 weeks ago decided to roll up my sleeves and get it sorted by re-layering the whole thing with about equal alternating layers of brown leaves 2 inches thick all the way up, adding thin soil layers after every brown/green and watering as needed.

    My newbie question is: i've had some doubts as to whether this will work as it's supposed to (in terms of the C:N ratio and getting all the good microbial action) due to the fact that the "green" stuff was already greatly decomposed (and perhaps anaerobic?), and had maybe already given off a great deal of its nitrogen as gas over the months. I have no idea basically and it's too early to tell I suppose. It doesn't seem like much has happened at all yet apart from a little shrinkage.

    It did strike me as I was doing the messy shovelling of the half-decomposed stuff that maybe it was already fairly decent as compost, perhaps for incorporation if not for top dressing.

    Any ideas? This is my first post

    Many thanks,
    Jack

  2. #2
    Sarico is offline Tuber
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    Fist welcome to the forum. Second don't go mad with all the ratio. I put stuff in my compost bin wrapped in paper or even bletter, bank statement end other stuff. My idea is if is getting to wet add more brown if is too dry put just kitchen waste the next time. When I pull up the bin whatever is not decomposed I put it back at the bottom of the new pile.

  3. #3
    Stan79's Avatar
    Stan79 is offline Tuber
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    From what I've read and now experienced, a proper ratio should give you the best mix and fastest rate of useable compost but I never paid that much attention and when I recently dug out my oldest pallet compost bin I was pleasantly surprised as it's lovely stuff!!!

  4. #4
    Morfran is offline Germinator
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    Thanks Sarico and Stan79. Yes I've heard it's not necessary to be too strict with the ratios. But can anyone respond to the issue of using all the kitchen stuff that was already very far decomposed in a new pile? Could there be any issues with that?

  5. #5
    Martin H's Avatar
    Martin H is offline Early Fruiter
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    I can't see any issues with that. Use anything that's ready to be used, but if it's still decomposing put it in the new heap.
    My gardening blog: In Spades, last update 30th April 2018.
    Chrysanthemum notes page here.

  6. #6
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    veggiechicken is offline Warning, May contain nuts
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    Hi Jack and welcome to the Vine! Don't worry about what you have in your bin. If its wet, you need to add some shredded paper to soak it up, give it a good stir and let it get on with composting. Eggshells and teabags will always look the same, never mind how long they've been composting. Smash up the eggshells.
    If you're digging a trench for beans or spuds you could put the compost in the bottom and fill it back in.
    A Chicken walks with small steps. Be more Chicken
    https://gardenchicken.blogspot.com/
    @realveggiechicken

  7. #7
    Martin H's Avatar
    Martin H is offline Early Fruiter
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    Just to say I've stopped putting teabags in compost because they are all artificial fibres these days and don't rot. I went through a phase of ripping them open so I could put the tealeaves in the compost and the empty bags in landfill, but really it's too much faff.
    My gardening blog: In Spades, last update 30th April 2018.
    Chrysanthemum notes page here.

  8. #8
    Two_Sheds's Avatar
    Two_Sheds is offline Compost Everything...
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    The easiest way to get the balance right is to wrap all kitchen peelings in a couple sheets of newspaper. If you don't get one, ask neighbours
    Sarico likes this.
    All gardeners know better than other gardeners." -- Chinese Proverb.

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