December 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm #256307
Im interested in this subject as i have a very small open compost. I used besser bricks for the back and sides and a wire grill thing i found in the garden for the front plus, i think, its a wire rack from an old storage system… I found it in the garden. Mine takes about two months to get decent compost out of it, And i just keep adding to the top and digging it in a bit then i take from the bottom of the pile as it breaks down.
I generally dont add grass clippings, as we have no grass, just weeds that we cut every now and then! I chuck a few loads of dry leaves, lots of kitchen scraps, some old potting mix, and other bits. I dont know what should go in so i just make it up! I realise now that i need a bigger one, and may get to that this week.
My biggest problem is that i might get one pot 9L every few months! Its not enough for the garden and i was expecting more for what i put in… Any clues as to what im doing wrong? The heap has PLENTY of worms in it but i havent noticed it getting overly hot. It gets a fair amount of sun as its next to the vege gardens that get the most sun.December 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm #516955KristyMember
Grrr I hate it when I type a post and then it doesn’t save…
Anyway what I said was that I don’t have a lot of experience I have only mabe compost successfully once, but the secret ingredient seemed to be the grass clippings as it heated it up nicely. I don’t have many grass clippings coming into summer though unfortunately.
Hopefully someone else might be able to provide more info for you 🙂December 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm #516956
Guess i should plant some grass then Kristy..? LOLDecember 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm #516957BelMember
Hi Crystal. I shared my 2 cents worth on this thread. It might be worth having a look:December 28, 2011 at 6:02 pm #516958
Thats been my method also bel, i just pile everything in and when i dig it out i just chuck back what ever isnt done yet! Glad im not ruining the sacred art of composting. I had a lady in a nursery once try to explain the ‘ratios’ of dry, leaf, grass, fish, scrap matter… i kinda tuned out when she said vegetable scraps werent ‘recommended’ for composting. The only thing i dont put in is meat, as i dont really want more rats in the back yard. Oh, and citrus peels and corn cobs, as we all know, they NEVER break down! lol. Im just glad some one is having success this way!December 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm #516959agsciMember
Heat is created in a compost heap mainly by the biological processes of micro-organisms and fauna. It is not a function of sunlight or any particular feedstock, but does require a certain “critical mass” of biological material before it will become self sustaining in heat generation. As a rough guide, say about one cubic metre as a minimum. The mass is needed as an insulator and the temp is best for degradation of organic matter between 45 and 55 degrees. Any lower than that and there is insufficient biological activity and any higher and it gets into temps where only thermophillic organisms survive so the bulk of the microbe population dies… slowing the degradation process. Above 72 degrees and you have just pasteurised your compost. Relax, it will cool as there are no live organisms to generate any more metabolic heat and when it gets down in temp again, new populations will invade the pile looking for that food again!! Worms and other insects do not like heat and if present, they indicate a much slower process of decay rather than aerobic composting. A good compost heap may still have a few worms ( and other macro-organisms ) on the periphery of the heap, but they will not break down waste as fast as micro-organisms in an aerobic environment. Thus, again for best ( fastest and most complete ) results you need to aerate the pile ( usually by physically turning every now and then. ) on a more technical level, you can play with carbon to nitrogen ratios, moisture content ( dont let it dry out as that kills your populations and dont let it get too wet as then it goes anaerobic and that gives you the bad smells ) particle size and other stuff, but basically it is a ‘living” thing and the microbes and other creepy crawlies are brilliant adapters and will adjust to whatever is there. All you notice is a different processing time and maybe a few smells now and then. A lot of your organic stuff also gets lost as CO2 so you expect the volume to go down and you may need to keep topping up a smaller heap. A good mix of stuff is the best recipe, if its organic, something will eat it but anything stringy, woody and tough is high in hemicelluloses which are very hard and slow to break down.
Also the end product is not really a fertiliser in NPK terms but is more a soil conditioner that improves soil structure and may improve moisture retention capability of your soils. trace elements are also retained. ( as are heavy metals and this is a potential problem if using industrial feedstocks or for example, roadside vegetation where leaded petrol fumes can settle and concentrate lead as a contaminant ) but that is probably getting a bit involved for this forum. I’ll shut up now but feel free to ask any questions.
Dee.December 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm #516960
love it Dee, i shall endeavour to increase the size and increase the amount of ‘stuff’ i pile on! I may even rake up lawn and leaf litter and cart it up from the front footpath, 5 levels of hills and steps, through the house, up another two levels and into the backyard! I cant always buy fertiliser and that which is why i started the compost. plus the potting mix i used with the soil i had was from natives so its really lacking in nutrients and this garden needs some more love than what i have given it!
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