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sophiesox 09-07-2004 12:09 PM

Help!

I just started gardening this year. I also started a compost pile for the first time. I would love tips on composting from people with more experience. Specific questions I have are:



I started my compost pile in a plastic garbage can, with holes cut in the sides for ventilation. Started with a bag of organic compost, then have been adding my own vegetable scraps. The thing is overrun with fruit flies now! They're a total menace!



How long does it take for the stuff to break down and become good compost for the garden? Should I just leave it to break down all winter, then mix it up and spread it in the garden in spring?



sorry if compost has been done to death, but I'm new and I'd love more discussion on it!

Kiz 09-07-2004 03:47 PM

Do you have a lot of worms in your compost? If you don't you can buy some, or better yet, get some from a friends garden. You can't have good compost without worms.

froggythefrog 09-07-2004 09:52 PM

Kiz -- are you talking about earthworms?



I've started my compost in a plastic bin out in the shed.... I know I am supposed to have ventilation, which is tough here because it's so dry that anything exposed to air would sooner dry out than rot.

Kiz 09-07-2004 10:13 PM

Yes, earthworms. *loves earthworms*

Chook 09-08-2004 08:08 AM

A handful of lime will get rid of those pesky fruit flies.

Life2k 09-08-2004 08:42 AM

Rotate your pile so the microbes that break down the stuff are better distributed in the new material.

sophiesox 09-08-2004 04:17 PM

Thanks for the tips, all.

What does it mean to rotate the compost pile?

Can I get lime at a garden store?

I have loads of earthworms in the garden soil now--should I just dig some up and throw them on the compost?



See, I told you, compost newbie.

soilman 09-08-2004 04:46 PM

Adding a goodly amount of fruit waste to a compost pile is ok, but you need to mix it in with browns and greens. Browns: like fall leaves. Straw. Greens: lawn grass, green manures cut and added to the pile while still green, including grasses and legumes. Mix the fruit waste and kitchen vegetable scraps into the browns and greens.



Avoid non-breathable containers, such as plastic bags. You can't make enough holes in a plastic bag to provide adequate air, without simultaneously weakening the bag too much. good compost will also start decomposing even plastic bags. use slatted wood, chicken wire, welded wire, or just a pile with soil or compost on top to keep the light stuff from blowing away.

WonderRandy 09-08-2004 05:56 PM

I usually make a "compost lasagna". I layer soil, lawn clippings, and table scraps. I don't rotate. I keep the pile covered with a tarp (it rains a lot here, and I don't want the rain to leach out all the nutrients in my new compost). When the pile has reached the desired size, I start a new one. the old pile will be ready to use in the garden in less than a couple months (love living in the tropics!! year round growing season, warm moist weather, etc).

soilman 09-09-2004 08:17 AM

Compost lasagna will work too -- as long as the fruit-fly attracting materials -- that is, juicy fruit that ferment, aren't in an exposed layer.

sophiesox 09-09-2004 11:07 AM

What a great idea, compost lasagna. I'm going home and immediately adding another layer because the fruit peels etc. are on top right now. That makes great sense to me.

Believe it or not, I grew corn, my first time, and it actually worked.



I could use some advice on asparagus, thought. I planted it and this year have beautiful, feathery green plants. I know real asparagus won't pop up for a year or two. But how do I treat my asparagus plants in the meantime, in the winter?

Jennifer89 10-03-2004 12:45 PM

i'm wanting to start my own, and i'm all new at this. first, where can I buy worms? second, how big and how many holes do i need in the trash can? third, can i pute used coffee beens in the heep? Do i need to start with a fresh bag of dirt and work from there? How long will it take for me to be able to use it?

frenchie 10-05-2004 02:47 PM

I have compost questions too.......I was digging up some weeds today, and I found tons of earthworms in my soil, so that got me thinking. I have a bad habit of letting produce rot, which I have gotten alot better at. I buy too much, and what doesn't get eaten turns to mush in the botom of my crisper drawer.....so, today I filled a bucket with dirt and eathworms. I dug up as many earthworms as I could. I pulled a rotting bag of lettuce from my refigerator and mixed it in with the soil. My question is this.....what is the best sort of container to compost in (that is affordable), where do I put the holes, and what cannot be put in the compost. I know I can put leaves, grass and fruits and vegetables in the compost.

I will feel much better about composting a rotten apple or mushy zucchini that was forgotten, than just throwing it away.

cyberactivist 10-06-2004 07:43 PM

We use compost tumblers. We have two - one left alone cooking, and one we continually add to. They are kind of like a big barrel, with a hinged door that has ventilation places and a crank on the end, You put your stuff through the door hatch as you empty your compost bucket from the kitchen, mix with some leaves, straw, etc. and turn the crank, mixing it around in there like clothes in a dryer. It's great because you get compost in 90 days! Before that, we used a wire cage and a pitchfork to turn it.



Yes, your leftover coffee grounds are good to put in there. I would recommend cutting banana peels into pieces before putting in there so that they break down faster. If you use eggs, the shells can go in there, but there should be no other animal products that would have the oils in there. Any plant matter is fair game. Usually, if you keep the ratio of the relatively drier brown and green matter, like leaves and stuff, right you can keep the flies and gnats from getting too bad. You just watch the moisture level in the compost as it cooks to make sure it doesn't get too wet. If it does, then just add some more leaves or lawn clippings or whatever you have. The lasagna compost is a good idea, but it just takes longer to make than that which you mix and turn often. It's more for the type of person who likes "lazy" gardening that doesn't require as much effort. Great if you have a small garden, only a small compost pile, or lots of room for several piles. We have three households putting compost into one garden, so the tumbler idea works well for us. I think they were a bit expensive, though. Oh, and I agree that you gotta have earthworms. They do most of the work and let you know your pile is healthy. We have never used lime on ours.

spud 11-07-2004 03:14 PM

have a read around this site, it's magic

http://www.selfsufficientish.com

cyberactivist 11-07-2004 06:42 PM

Don't put citrus in there or you won't have worms.

DragonDeb 05-17-2013 08:51 AM

Frenchie, if you have produce that is going to go bad, you can always juice it or put it in the blender and then freeze it.  I make "green ice" by putting my leafy greens in the blender with some water and then pouring it into ice cube trays for smoothies.


Houndulation 07-26-2013 09:58 PM

I'm I the tropics too. I use a small chipper for all garden waste and I chip the leftover from food prep as well. The pile is on some scrap land about 30 meters from the house as it attracts rats which attracts snakes.


Racinkc1 03-16-2014 09:01 PM

You need to regularly turn it or spread DE "diatomaceous earth" around it to prevent an infestation. It needs to be outside in a well lit area so it gets sun and heats up. 



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