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 Post subject: Compost
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:06 pm 
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Location: Rural NSW temperate zones
I have a few ways of composting. Cos most garden places say to add mulch and compost to get things going. I always thought, But where the hell do I get that stuff from. :bash:
Now I buy bails of hay and plant luciene to provide a base for composting. Due to a ratio of hitrogen to carbon I find using cardboard boxes and plant matter useful. I installed a new compost area today to process the grass invaded area where my pumpkins were growing.
Olive drums are grood for hot composting. Fill them to the top and in a few weeks they are half empty. I do cut the bottoms off the drums first to give the worms a go at things.
This in a lazy mans compost pile that I just keep adding to but never harvest.
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Its been filled a number of times and the plants around it grow great.

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:45 pm 
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Location: Western Australia, Perth, mediterranean climate
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I've never been much of a composter, tend to just chop and drop all prunings so that they can breakdown where they are, or feed stuff to the chooks. I've always thought that composting in bins is a bit of a waste because you must lose stuff that leaches down into the soil and unless you have trees near the bins, it's wasted. Might try one of those open bottom bins in the near future, and move it around the garden every few months.

Those open olive bins work alright for you Duff? I have one out the side I could cut the bottom off.

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Fri Jan 08, 2010 10:52 pm 
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Location: here and there, near Townsville, dry tropics
Location: that should do
we've been much the same here.

however, we do have a big pile of soil that came out of a horse yard. That is sitting and aging, and slowly getting more water into it (when it arrived it was extremely dry - repellent) That is turning into quite good veggie garden soil. It's also a handy place to put a a ex-chicken when we don't have any fruit trees to plant :scared:

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2010 8:12 am 
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Location: Rural NSW temperate zones
The olive drum works really well. Just sit it at the end of a garden bed. When you weed the garden its close and after harvest you can put the crop remains into it. The heat seems to kill off any nasties. When you move the drum just push the composted material back into the garden bed. Most of my soil gets a hard crust that seeds can have a hard time pushing through. More composted matter in the soil allows for a better germination. 3/4 of the plants growing in the yard are for soil improving.
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They make a nice bench as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 1:45 pm 
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Location: Western Australia, Perth, mediterranean climate
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Your composting works better than my typing. I just noticed that this section is called Comp-tosing and mulching.

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Sun Jan 10, 2010 9:23 pm 
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Location: here and there, near Townsville, dry tropics
Location: that should do
I did let you know that your correction of the first spelling mistake needed correcting

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 2:08 pm 
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Location: Perth hills, Western Australia
Yeah, I'm the same as Joel, except anything edible goes to the BSF larvae as I dont have or chooks or quails (yet :wink: )

Have tried drum composters (the ones on an axle that you need to regularly turn) and even ones like your olive oil drum Duff - nothing seems to work for me. So, if the BSF can't eat it, it composts in the open, or occasionally gets burnt off.

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Tue Jan 12, 2010 11:10 pm 
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Location: Jandakot, WA
Argh but you can get so much more from compost bins etc and faster too!! I have three 1m x 1m x 1m compost bins at the moment. Made from wooden pallets. (I'll post up pictures later) And I'm looking at putting in another two at least!! They work like a dream. I don't turn them at all. I just get a metal rod and poke about twenty holes into each pile every week or so. This gets the air into the mix without the effort. :) Plus I do shallow layers of only 10-15cm each so that they break down pretty quickly.

I also use a tumbler for mixing my compost into potting mix etc. The compost and other stuff break down into a really light crumbly super absorbant mix which is great for potting on plants.

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:44 am 
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You should look around for a shop that throws away cardboard boxes. They are a good carbon source to add to the compost pile. Newspapers works as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 10:11 am 
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Location: Benger, 160kms south of Perth, Western Australia (Temperate/Mediterranean)
Mitch, I you to tell me what I'm doing wrong. I also have the three-bay pallet system, but it really seems to be a midden for depositing stuff I don't want in the garden. I've read all the books, etc but can't get the compost to compost. It's too dry in the summer and too wet in the winter, I suspect.

I do have a good way of aerating, though. Since we are on the farm, I use the tractor forks to lift the stuff periodically. Works well there.

Weeds not suitable for composting, ie kikuyu, thistles, weeds with seeds, etc, I've been putting in a wheelie bin with water to make weed tea for the garden. I guess eventually the rotted weeds can go on the compost. Will they be 'dead' by then?

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:04 pm 
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I just love the old Osborne Metal Industries compost tumbler.
I managed to get a couple from verge collections over the years.
They can turn out a beautiful mix in 2 weeks if you turn them 10 times a day.
We have a master composter in our garden club and the secret is to close it up after adding lawn clippings the day they were cut, this is when they are hot- a key element of the process, also add leaves and buzzer chips/ sawdust this soaks up the moisture/ liquid from the lawn clippings.
I have worked in the garden of these people over the years and the soil is to die for. They also use lots of sheep manure when they dig in the compost at replanting time. At least the top 20cm is full of worms, smells beautiful and is dark and moist and alive- so good you could almost eat it.

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2010 4:28 pm 
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Location: Perth hills, Western Australia
Well, I'm envious !

I believe they do work, just for me they have always produced a black, putrid sludge that I wouldn't put near anything I was going to eat.

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:25 pm 
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Location: Jandakot, WA
Compost is the second best thing that you can use in your garden. Second of course to worm castings. :wink: Today I will be talking about a very basic composting system, one that I have used for many years, with great success. The simple compost bin - No turning required.

The easiest way to make a compost bin is to find three spare pallets, all roughly the same size and bolt or screw them together as shown below. Basically they should be made into a 'U' shape, with one pallet on each side of the 'U'.

This simple design is absolutely perfect for a compost bin because the optimum size for any composting heap or bin is 1m x 1m x 1m. Seeing as most pallets are between 0.9m and 1.2m the compost bin will always be the perfect size. :thumb:

Moving on. Below I have listed a few tips and tricks for getting the most from this type of composting system.

1. Start with a layer of straw or hay. This layer will provide drainage and air flow to the heap. They will also take the longest time to break down.

2. Keep layers thin. A major mistake most people make when making compost, is that they chuck a whole heap of the same or similar ingredients in at the same time. This creates a layer that takes a long time to break down and results in poor quality compost. Layers should be 2 cm to 5 cm thick.

3. Balanced diet. Compost is all about balance. Everything that you put in the compost pile is either carbon or nitrogen. A good compost pile will have equal parts of each. Carbon is anything 'cold' this includes; sawdust, paper, dry straw and dry leaves. Nitrogen is anything 'hot' such as; manure, green waste and kitchen scraps. Note: most materials contain a mix of both carbon and nitrogen, and are regarded as neutral.

4. Variety Variety and diversity are key to this style of composting system. Odd layers should be carbon rich materials and even layers should be nitrogen rich materials, or vica versa. Also add mineral or nutrient rich materials every 20 - 50 cm, depending on how rich you want your compost.

5. Probe your heap Use a rod to poke holes in your compost, once a week or so. Try and poke as many holes as you can. This lets air into the compost heap and stops anaerobic conditions occuring, which would kill of bacteria and slow down the process considerably.

6. Activators Add in activators to your heap every 20 - 50 cm, depending on how fast and how fine you want your compost. Activators are simply materials that encourage beneficial bacteria, enzymes and organisms to multiply in your heap. Activators include; commercial products such as 'Acti-Zyme - Compost accelerator', comfrey leaves, manures and best of all vermicastings.

By using these simple techniques I can produce a 1m cube of compost in two to four months. I will post up different systems and techniques next week. Below are a few pictures of my setup. :thunbs:


Attachments:
File comment: A few inches below and my compost is ready. Just after eight weeks.
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File comment: Kitchen scraps etc into compost bin
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File comment: Compost bin. 1/3 full
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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:27 pm 
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Location: Jandakot, WA
Some more photos.


Attachments:
File comment: Close-up of the compost
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File comment: A spade of mature compost. About three months old.
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File comment: Second bin. Half empty. Topped with fine mulch to insulate the compost.
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100_0556 (Small).JPG [ 93 KiB | Viewed 15205 times ]

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 Post subject: Re: Compost
PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 11:31 pm 
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Location: Western Australia, Perth, mediterranean climate
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Wanna make me up a batch Mitch? :)

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