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Compost - question and answer thread

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Post by Compostwoman on 16th November 2009, 1:40 pm

Hello everyone Smile

This is the thread to post any questions you might have about composting.


Last edited by Compostwoman on 20th February 2010, 8:02 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by MrsC on 16th November 2009, 9:28 pm

My I kick things off CW?

As you know Mr C and I moved in the summer and our new house has a compost bin already, full of stuff. Is there an easy way to take a look and work out if it's any good or not? It's one of those big plastic bins with a little door at the bottom, so a bit difficult to turn it all over to look at. Bit concerned that the small bit we did get out has some egg shells in it there were pretty fresh looking (and plastic which we removed!) but the other stuff around looked well rotted down.

Thank you! :flower:

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Post by Compostwoman on 16th November 2009, 10:15 pm

Hello Mrs C Smile And thank you for your question Very Happy

Well...for those able to...the best way with the plastic \"dalek\" type bins is to forget about the little hatch at the bottom and lift the whole bin off the stuff inside...ideally have a composting area large enough so you can put the empty bin down next to where it was on some clear ground...for reasons which will become clear...

Then you can look at the contents..

Finished compost looks crumbly and soil like...may well have big bits of twiggy stuff or egg shells in..but is basically a uniform crumbly texture
(a bit like crumbled up fruit cake!) It should also smell ( and taste ......oh no, not really!) nice

any uncomposted material can simply be put back into the compost bin...a(so it is handy if you have put it close by...) any non compostables ( like your plastic!) can be removed and recycled or put in the landfill bin...and any compost at the bottom can be put aside for use.

IF the finished compost has been there for a good few weeks , or longer..( like yours) it can be used immediately. IF it is "fresh" compost ie from a bin filled up within the last few months...leave it for a month or so to mature and to become less bacteriologically active..as too fresh compost can scorch tender plants.

Egg shells take ages to degrade so either put them back in for another go or just crush them up and mix them in with the compost..they mainly add valuable minerals on a slow release basis, anyway. Smile

Does that help? Feedback always welcome!


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Post by Mike on 16th November 2009, 10:16 pm

Egg shells would be visable for a long time. If the compost material were so acid as to dissolve the eggs shells rapidly it'd be too acid to decompose the way a peat bog isn't decomposing. Good for a slow, available for years source of calcium as the shell bits slowly leach calcium. Years, not months.

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Post by Compostwoman on 16th November 2009, 10:24 pm

Did I see a post from Mike? I am sure I did?

Sorry Mike! I am having trouble seeing new posts after mine at the mo...

yes you are absolutely right..egg shells add a very slow release mineral source..if I saw disolved egg shell I would be quite worried about the acidity levels of the compost!

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Post by MrsC on 17th November 2009, 9:06 pm

Super CW! I'll pass the tips on to Mr C as well and next time the weather on the weekend is good enough we'll try and take a look a it properly.

Thank you :flower:

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Post by Compostwoman on 17th November 2009, 9:12 pm

My pleasure Very Happy

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Post by Sparhawk on 19th November 2009, 11:54 pm

If I had some plastic pipe & drill some holes in the bottom part & then pushed them in the heap...
My thinking on this is that it would that help the process by letting more air into the middle of the heap & I could put water/liquid accelerator into the heart of it...


Last edited by sparhawk on 15th January 2010, 11:49 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Compostwoman on 19th November 2009, 11:57 pm

I can't see why that would not help Spar..do it on one heap, not on another..treat the 2 the same, apart from the tube, ... and then report back as to which one worked better?

we could write it up and send it in to Garden Organic or "Grow your own " mag...they would be interested , I promise!

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Post by Sparhawk on 20th November 2009, 12:06 am

Thanks CW, unfortunately I only have the one heap at the mo, it was just an idea I came up with while I was reading your friends book... I mean working this afternoon Wink

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Post by Compostwoman on 20th November 2009, 12:09 am

lol!

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Post by Compostwoman on 20th November 2009, 12:21 am

If you have one heap then it sounds like a really good idea to get it going even faster Spar..so I would go for it!

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Post by Sparhawk on 20th November 2009, 12:27 am

Thanks S. will get onto it tomorrow...

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Post by Compostwoman on 20th November 2009, 12:33 am

Oooooo I love that digging emoticon!

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Post by John Cossham on 17th January 2010, 9:06 pm

I'd like to answer Mrs C's question about how to empty her 'dalek' bin.

I have a really good tool called a 'Compost Mate' by Reln and it is basically a large corkscrew: http://www.reln.com.au/compost-mate-p-130.html

It is useful for turning a heap by extracting a plug of material and depositing it on the top of the pile, leaving an aerated area in the place where the plug was taken. It is also good for emptying the bin if you don't want to move the bin. They are tough and simple... the only problem is that they are imported from Australia!!!

Purchase from Wiggly Wigglers: http://www.wigglywigglers.co.uk/shop/product.html?product_id=116
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Post by Compostwoman on 17th January 2010, 9:09 pm

Oh yes, I have seen a couple of those before!

Well done John, another useful bit of advice to add to the list of " how do I get my compost out of the bin?"

:cheers:

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Post by Compostwoman on 17th January 2010, 9:39 pm

I would think it would be quite possible to make something similar to the Compost Mate... it is just a giant auger or screw, after all..

hmm time to go and rummage around in my Metallurgy textbooks for steel properties, see if I have any in stock and could bend it....

Interesting, thanks John....

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Post by MrsC on 18th January 2010, 9:24 am

Ah - thanks John - in fact there's a Wiggly Wigglers catalogue on my coffee table at the moment - wonder how I missed that when I read it! I'm off to investigate. If a homemade variant is also possible then definitely very interested - I could give a design to Mr C as a little DIY project! :flower:

A follow up question on composting - what's the current deal on composting corks from wine bottles (or recycling them other than in a craft project)? My little A-Z book of composting (thanks CW!) says not, but I'm sure I've read somewhere else that you can. Can any of the experts on here give me a definitive answer?

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Post by John Cossham on 18th January 2010, 10:09 am

Hi Mrs C, for the hassle of trying to make a strong and durable compost corkscrew, I'd rather spend £15 myself. Or ask for one as a birthday present?

I put corks in the compost and then when they re-appear, back in a second time, like your average lump of bark. It all rots eventually!

Some have gone in the stove too...

But far better to re-use in crafty things...
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Post by Compostwoman on 18th January 2010, 10:12 am

My corks all compost down ...takes several goes though....

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Post by Hairyloon on 23rd February 2010, 8:24 pm

So what can we do with the other biodegradables that we are not supposed to compost: cooked food, meaty bits, etc?
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Post by Compostwoman on 23rd February 2010, 8:42 pm

Bokashi bin? in the kitchen then empty onto compost heap when it has pickled the stuff ( well you need 2 on the go, one fermenting and one being filled...)

Green Johanna sealed in vessel composter, which WILL take all the food waste, along with normal compostables?

Green cone. - OK you don't get compost out BUT you can site it in a part of the garden where the soil needs enriching, and if you feel fit wnough, move it around periodically

Alys Fowler uses a Green Cone to make use of dog poo...

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Post by Hairyloon on 25th February 2010, 11:00 am

Compostwoman wrote:Bokashi bin? in the kitchen then empty onto compost heap when it has pickled the stuff ( well you need 2 on the go, one fermenting and one being filled...)
Not sure why since I've never tried one, but I have a strange aversion to these. :?
Green Johanna/Green cone.
What is the principal of operation of these? They seem unreasonably expensive to me.
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Post by Compostwoman on 25th February 2010, 11:11 am

Basically I think you are paying for the "sealed up" ness (from rodents etc...) to compost food waste you have to use a vermin free sealed system ( if in a school or commercial setting) What goes on in a private garden is another matter, I guess...

A Green Johanna is twin walled, pretty robust and works well if fed properly. Obviously things like the Rocket are much more robust and much more expensive.

Green cones do their vermin proof but partly by being buried in the ground....

both Green Cone and Green Johanna retail at around £100 or maybe a bit less.

I don't like Bokashi buckets either tbh, although I know many of my collegues swear by them....I can't stand the smell from them....sets my teeth on edge!

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Post by Compostwoman on 25th February 2010, 11:12 am

Their principle of operation is basically the same as a compost bin, but hotter and sealed up from vermin.

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