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How to obtain composting materials — The Grow Network Community
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How to obtain composting materials

TeresaTeresa Posts: 5
Hi Teresa,

A good overall thing to add to any compost pile is Azomite - it's a powdered clay that contains some 64??? minerals.  It's great to put in the compost pile this early so the microorganisms can start to make them more plant available...

I buy it in 50 lb. bags and just keep it around for all sorts of soil boosting projects.

Having nutrient dense soil which then grows nutrient dense foods is a big part of why we are growing our own food!

 

Comments

  • Matthew NisticoMatthew Nistico Posts: 3 ✭✭✭
    edited June 2018
    Hello Teresa,

    Dirty bedding from different kinds of animal stalls is used for compost all of the time.  You've got a "green" or nitrogen-rich component (manure), and a "brown" or carbon rich component (straw) already mixed in.  Chicken manure is very nitrogen rich, so if anything I would guess that your compost would err on the side of too much nitrogen.  It will depend on how deep your bedding is and how often you muck it out, I imagine.  If so, mix in some of that raked up oak and/or pine leaf.

    You could always just experiment and observe what happens.  Composting isn't an exact science.  It's actually extremely forgiving.  Pile up ANY organic matter and, given time, it WILL decompose.  If you have the perfect N-to-C ratio, it will do so very nicely, but even if not it will still give you compost.  A pile of all high-N materials (ex. pure green grass clippings) will still give you compost, it will just be slimy and stinky in the process.  A pile of all high-C materials (ex. pure wood chips) will still give you compost, it will just take a very long time and not heat up as much in the process (an important factor if you're counting on the heat to kill weed seeds).

    So I recommend making a compost pile of your chicken bedding, and if it gets slimy and/or stinky - perhaps I should say if it STAYS stinky after a while, since the chicken poop is stinky to start with (from my own successful experiments with humanure composting, it is amazing how a pile of poop augmented with some good carbon materials can sit there and do its thing without any smell at all!) - then you know you need to add in some more leaves into the next batch.

    Or, if you want to know what I would really do in my own garden: I would thoroughly mix in a healthy amount of rakes leaves anyway, just to be on the cautious side (since excess nitrogen can burn many plants), spread it out as "enriched mulch" around my growies, and skip the whole composting process.  As a permaculturalist, I don't really believe in composting.  I believe in lots of thick organic mulches throughout the season (and the off-season) whenever possible.  N0 bare soil!  That is, after all, how the forest floor creates new topsoil: a constant rain of course organic matter from the top down, accumulating into a thick layer, from which fungi and worms and pill bugs are creating a constant supply of humus from the bottom down.  So, yeah, I believe in nature's way.  Other people apparently believe in shoveling piles around.  To each their own, but it sounds like work to me.  Me no like work.  Me like being lazy!  : )
  • Matthew NisticoMatthew Nistico Posts: 3 ✭✭✭
    edited June 2018
    Teresa, BTW, you will be quite happy using your bunny droppings in the garden.  Those are the best!  Very easy to use, since bunny poop is rare among the manures in that you can safely apply it raw, uncomposted, without risk of burning your plants.  Nonetheless, many people still build a rabbit hutch with wire bottoms overtop of their worm farm, let the worms go at the droppings and spilled food, and shovel that out once a year or so for the purest of black gold for their gardens!
  • Merin PorterMerin Porter Editorial Director Southwest Colorado (Zone 6a)Posts: 636 admin
    edited June 2018
    Marjory, can you provide any guidelines on how much Azomite you would add to compost? Are there are any sort of ratios we should follow? Thanks!
  • TeresaTeresa Posts: 5
    edited June 2018
    Thanks a lot for all the great advice, Matthew and Marjory!  I'm glad to know I can use just my chickens hay and straw bedding along with their manure, and maybe some Azomite, and don't even need to make a compost pile (though I still may make a small one from which to obtain compost tea) but instead just spread the raw materials over my entire garden as mulch.  I am also lazy and more importantly, like to do things as "naturally" as possible so this seems like my best option, especially after I get started with rabbits.  Thanks again!  :)
  • edited July 2018
    I live in a house with a small backyard in the city and was wondering where to get my browns for composting?  No dead leaves this time of year , but I did save all the dead leaves from my trees last year which only filled one trash bag.  Everyone around here hires gardeners for yard maintenance so the chances of getting browns that way are slim to none.

    I am obviously going to have to buy something. I was looking at purchasing organic wheat straw that the seller states has not been sprayed with pesticides.  I don't want to kill my first garden with contaminated wheat straw so I am not sure about using hay/straw.

    Any suggestions on types of browns that I can purchase?

    I realize that it seems ridiculous to buy browns but this is my first try at a garden and composting and right now I just don't have the time/connections to hunt down safe/free resources.
  • sherryosherryo Posts: 58
    edited August 2018
    Can you make friends with those gardeners?  We trade eggs with a landscape company and they drop off their leaves in our yard.  They don't have to haul them as far, and they get eggs.  We get leaves.  Win/win.

     
  • Jon ZiembaJon Ziemba Posts: 41
    edited August 2018
    Try contacting local tree services to see if they can do a free wood chip drop.  The tree services in our area give us their chips and deliver for free.  We use the chips all around our property and in our winter chicken area.  I’ll have some posts in the future on what I’ve done with chickens and wood chips to make excellent garden areas.
  • bmaverickbmaverick Posts: 177 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2018
    Leaves, leaves and more leaves.  There are people who toss out HUGE plastic bags of leaves to the curb each and every late Summer to early Fall.

    Now the hard parts.  Knowing are area with LOTS of LEAVES and then asking if the home owners spray anything on their lawns like weed-n-feed.  If you find a home owner with a none manicured lawn, only mows it, and piles up the leaves, that is your go-to gold mine for compost!

    Take those leaves home, place them parallel to your garden in a windrow.  Next take the push mower to chop the leaves up into fine clippings.  Make sure you keep the mower discharge facing AWAY from the garden for the first 'massage' cutting of the leaves.  This would make the leaves into a course cut.  Now turn the mower back around, facing the discharge at the garden.  Work your way towards the garden going back-and-forth parallel to the garden.  NOW, you have the finer clippings to provide nutrients to the garden that will decay over the winter.   Full leaves do not decay easy over the winter.  So, giving the leaves a fine cutting really aids in making the easy leave compost.  My garden thrived on the leave composting.

    David-The-Good just did an article on tree stump and composting.  He stated, do not remove the stumps.  The stumps will grow new shoots with LEAVES.  The shoots can be cut back and the LEAVES composted.

    Wood shavings in a garden can bring mixed results of good and bad insects.  Usually, the bad insects are more plentiful.   Years ago when the Back To Eden Gardening fad was a hit, we tried the method for 3 summers in a row.  It was so-so with lots of other additional troubles.  What looked like a clean and easy to maintain garden wasn't so after the first growing season.  Needless to say, we abandoned that part of the land and restarted the garden elsewhere.   Since you mentioned having a lot of pines, ants will invade the pine composting in the millions.


     
  • tomandcaratomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 589 ✭✭✭
    edited August 2018
    I agree with Jon,  Make friends with a local tree service.  I contacted one and they delivered a large dump truck load to my driveway.  Our city used to do the same, until people complained about the free chips being too mmuch for what they needed and asked the city to come back and haul the extra away.  My city does have free chips that you can go and load yourself and they also have free days where they will load a pickup truck for you.  Check to see if possibly your town has something similar.

     
  • cyndi193cyndi193 Posts: 14
    edited September 2018
    A great herb to grow for compost is comfrey. It is very prolific once it gets established and makes the best compost tea or works by putting leaves straight into planting holes to break down on their own.
  • tomandcaratomandcara Colorado front range- Denver MetroPosts: 589 ✭✭✭
    edited September 2018
    And comfrey is a fantastic medicinal herb to boot.  We make comfrey oil from the leaves which really helps sore muscles.
  • Marc ThomaMarc Thoma Posts: 78 ✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Yes, it pains me to see our municipality burning diesel in their trucks that pick up the leaves because homeowners are too lazy to compost their leaves. I got some great leaf mulch/mould last year but wish I had had more. This year I'm going to "steal" leaves from my neighbours!

    I also like David the Good's video on "chop and drop" - I have a buffalo berry bush that I'm letting regrow just so that I can chop down the branches, chip them with my electric wood chipper and use the wood chips for mulch. I can do that at least two times a year probably as that bush is so prolific!
  • karenkaren Posts: 78 ✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Hmmm. build raised beds then start the lasgana garden method, no digging, with all the suggestions here.  I do this everytime a selection of food has spent its time and is no longer producing.  In a climate with cool to cold winters I cant think of a better method for preparing for spring. Just remember:   to do it by layers and soak each layer before starting the next one.  Normally it is green to brown over and over. Start with a good layer of twigs to cover the patch then add the brown layer. If you have access to cardboard (grocery stores or hardware stores) or loads of shredded paper put that in next - at least three layers of soaked cardboard or a few inches of paper. then start piling on what ever you have for nitrogen/green - leaves, chicken manure - for several inches, followed by another brown layer of brown. I think the mixture of straw and chicken poop is near perfect. it you muck out the coop twice a year this is a great planning tool, dont you think? didnt you say that you have dogs?  what do you do with the poop.  i do a hot compost (you would need to purchase the brown materials like straw or wood shavings because it uses a lot) and use wherever I am not eating roots or things like squash/lettuce that are on the ground - but I will use for trellised items - but I do wonder if that is a necessary precaution.
  • karenkaren Posts: 78 ✭✭
    edited September 2018
    BTW i use borage the way most people use comfrey in compost.    I am in a hot climate so my borage self seeds everywhere and pops up producing those delicate little blue  flowers.  However it can start to shade out other plants, like the roses, and it does get straggly.  At either point i either trim  or uproot ((wear gloves), chop a bit and throw it in my latest lasagna bed or the compost tea barrel (a la David the Good).  Does anyone know if borage self seeds in colder climates.  Besides great for compost it is lovely to look at; the leaves and flowers can be harvested for salads and it has medicinal properties - so useful.  BTW doesnt smell like comfrey - I have that, too.
  • Marc ThomaMarc Thoma Posts: 78 ✭✭
    edited September 2018
    I'm going to guess that borage seeds, if they can survive cold and I think most seeds can, will sprout when the temperature is right in spring if they don't in winter due to cold, shorter days.

     
  • sherryosherryo Posts: 58
    edited September 2018
    I would caution against shredding cardboard and incorporating into the soil.  A little is fine, but too much can make a sticky soil due to the glue stuff used in making cardboard.

    My dad overdid that once, and it took tons of leaves and a year to get the soil back into condition.

    I think using cardboard lasagna style, on top of beds works great without side effects. I've used as many as 8 layers on top without issues.
  • Marc ThomaMarc Thoma Posts: 78 ✭✭
    edited September 2018
    Interesting about the glue - never would have thought of that. The other thing to watch out for is the tape on cardboard boxes. Make sure to remove it otherwise you'll be picking it up later once the cardboard rots away.

    If you have racoons in your neighbourhood be aware that they will likely lift up the cardboard and dig underneath to find bugs. They ruined my attempt at cardboard mulching one year!
  • Kristin MillsKristin Mills Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited October 2018
    When requesting free wood chips, I've had better luck contacting my local electric company instead the tree service company themselves. The project director overseeing the removal of trees and limbs along power lines gave my number directly to the contracted tree service company. As a result, they delivered 70 loads (Yes! 70 dump truck loads!) of wood chips this past Spring.
  • Marc ThomaMarc Thoma Posts: 78 ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    Yes, great idea. I'll see if they have any info on their website.

    70 loads! What the heck did you do with all those wood chips - you must have a large property. 70 loads would completely bury our house and yard! I think even 7 yards is going to be too much but I'm not going to refuse it if we get that much. It can sit in our driveway for a few weeks if it has to.
  • Kristin MillsKristin Mills Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited October 2018
    Marc, I have nine acres so I had them dumped in a small field. I'm using them everywhere including my chicken and duck runs, gardens, landscaping, etc. I have red clay soil and they have worked wonderfully with keeping the ground moist. My garden exploded this year. We figured we would use as much as we can and then, if they break down beyond what's usable mulch, we'll spread it in the field and plant a second orchard and some Christmas trees.
  • Marc ThomaMarc Thoma Posts: 78 ✭✭
    edited October 2018
    That's great to be able to have the space to store it! I'm envious. I dream of having just 1 acre one day. I know what it would take and hopefully within the next five years it might be doable.

     
  • Kristin MillsKristin Mills Posts: 8 ✭✭✭
    edited October 2018
    I know the feeling. We started learning skills with a few pots on the deck while living in a subdivision in the city. It took us seven years to sell our house and find our property but when we finally did we were able to jump right in and go since we had studied so much beforehand.
  • NanCNanC Posts: 53 ✭✭
    edited November 2018
    I sprinkle a fine dusting of Azomite over my garden beds each year. Not a lot needed, so a 50 lb bag will LAST. Marjorie reminded me to put it in the compost pile too!

    In addition to my kitchen waste, I collect both oak and maple leaves from neighbors' trees (or have them dump whatever they rake right onto my garden for me to process). Oak is more acidic and maple more base, so a good mix. I will try shredding them with my pushmower this year (I was lazy last year or time-crunched and didn't think about using the pushmower -- thanks for the tip BMaverick; I have a small shredder which is a pain to use). That's why I started using comfrey which is so easy as well as effective. Chop'n drop!! My compost pile suffers from lack of input and attention at times, even with David the Good methods and suggestions, but my time-crunched lifestyle has lasted longer than I had hoped.

    David the Good, Stacey Murphy, and others, have given good advice to many of us here.

    BMaverick, I'd be interested to know the problems you encountered with the Back to Eden method. It's the main one I use and I am so pleased with the increasing productivity of the garden, and the size of the plants. By the third year, many passerbys noticed the abundance, stopping in their tracks to take it all in...all in my little postage-stamp size suburban yard.
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