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Compost - question and answer thread

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default Re: Compost - question and answer thread

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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Post by Hairyloon on 25th February 2010, 12:11 pm

Compostwoman wrote:Their principle of operation is basically the same as a compost bin, but hotter and sealed up from vermin.
So, seal up my "dalek", insulate it, and get a cat for good measure.
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Post by Compostwoman on 25th February 2010, 12:13 pm

would work!

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Post by Hairyloon on 25th February 2010, 6:41 pm

Compostwoman wrote:would work!
Nah. I thought I'd probably use plastic... and your spelling is usually better than that. Wink
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 25th February 2010, 6:59 pm

I have heard very poor reports of the Green Cone but good ones of the Green Johanna.

I have never understood why cooked veg is not supposed to be composted. Could someone enlighten?

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Post by polgara on 25th February 2010, 10:37 pm

I think cooked veg is supposed to encourage vermin, well so they say.
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Post by Compostwoman on 25th February 2010, 10:40 pm

Yes, just the vermin issue really. Although if it has been in a kitchen it is covered by the Animal By products regs so shouldn't be disposed of in open compost (or in hens, pigs etc...)

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Post by Hairyloon on 26th February 2010, 11:15 am

Still reckon rat farming is the way forward for large scale processing of food waste. Wink
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Post by Chilli-head on 1st March 2010, 1:35 pm

I've read the "How I make compost" thread below, various other descriptions from HDRA and even Geoff Hamilton, but I still struggle with hot composting on a domestic scale ... how to get enough stuff at one time to build a hot heap ? I can't store it up or it will obligingly start to compost before I'm ready for it, and I only get enough to fill a cubic metre bin if I have a serious session with a bowsaw and the garden shredder. I'm already composting all I can think of, including compostable packaging and vegetable remains from work. And having filled the bin, it quickly vanishes to almost nothing - should I top it up, or start a new one ? If the latter, I need a lot more heaps ..

At the moment, I just chuck on stuff as I go along, and sometimes it's hot, sometimes it's not ...
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Post by Mike on 1st March 2010, 4:39 pm

Chilli-head wrote:.... And having filled the bin, it quickly vanishes to almost nothing - should I top it up, or start a new one ? If the latter, I need a lot more heaps ..
At the moment, I just chuck on stuff as I go along, and sometimes it's hot, sometimes it's not ...

Hot is relative and you might not have the volume to get hot enough to kill every weed seed, etc. but if you are finding that your compost "quickly vanishes to almost nothing" you must be digesting OK. An overly cool compost pile digests slowly.

Whether you can just keep adding more on top depends a lot on the desgin of your composter. There are plenty that are intended for exactly this mode of operation. You put stuff in on top and remove finished compost from a door at the bottom. Every so often you open the door and begin scooping out finished stuff, stopping when you see signs of stuff not yet done.

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 1st March 2010, 4:50 pm

Just going back to the cooked food issue for a moment - maybe we have undiscerning vermin where we are, but I have never known the rats here turn their noses up at uncooked food. They certainly demolish any stored fruit/veg/rain that is not stored in metal casings, so why should it make any difference to them with compost heaps? (I was going to say why should they give a rat's arse, but thought better of it.)

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Post by Nick B on 2nd March 2010, 11:43 am

All this talk about rats makes my skin crawl :affraid: :affraid:
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Post by Hairyloon on 10th March 2010, 10:57 pm

Nick B wrote:All this talk about rats makes my skin crawl :affraid: :affraid:
We could discuss my idea for rat farming again if you like?
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Post by Mike on 11th March 2010, 12:01 am

Uh ... hate to break this to you but he's right. If you have an open compost heap onto which you put garbage/raw vegeatable and fruit scraps, etc. there are critters that will come and feast. They do not require their food cooked and the only reason you don't see them do this is that almost all are mostly nocturnal. When you see the rats abroad by day usually means not enough food for them and so those of lower status need to forage by day when it's riskier.

Cooking does not increase the likelihood of "vermin".

Hey, you are worried about rodents prowling the outdoors? We're happier if they are out there and not in the house. I'd say you should worry more if they weren't out there. What would it say about the healthiness of your immediate surroundings if even rats can't survive.

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Post by Compostwoman on 11th March 2010, 10:43 am

The cooked food issue with vermin ( and other fauna) ISN'T that it is cooked as such..it is that the Animal By Products Regulations, which came in in the UK after Foot and Mouth disease, prohibit the dumping of stuff on a compost heap if it has been processed in a kitchen.

uncooked kitchen veg waste is ok ( although AFAIR at one point it was also going to be prohibited...!) but once it has been cooked it has been "processed"

The same regs preclude feeding chickens, pigs etc with anything which has even been inside your kitchen..and also prohibits letting pigs, chickens etc scratch around on compost heaps/in bins.

Does that help at all?

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 11th March 2010, 11:22 am

So, nothing to do with vermin at all, then?

Unless one extends the term 'vermin' to cover the jobsworths at DEFRA.

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Post by Compostwoman on 11th March 2010, 11:45 am

There might be more to it than I have said...as I don't have a full copy of the regs in front of me, I am not sure of the finer details...but I would say that is a fair assessment...

Although, to be fair, swine fever, which also broke out at the same time and was instrumental in producing the regs as well, CAN get passed on via cooked meat apparently....

as ( I think) can some chicken ilnessess?

So maybe not so jobsworth, as such...but a sledgehammer/nut situation perhaps? At least as regards domestic kitchen waste....

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 11th March 2010, 11:50 am

But what would swine fever or chicken ailment s have to do with vermin being attracted by cooked food?

I can see reasons why cooked meats should be treated with caution potentially but still fail to see what this has to do with me putting mashed potato in my compost bin.

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Post by Compostwoman on 11th March 2010, 12:13 pm

I should, perhaps have made my points more clearly/emphatically...

so, to clarify and correct any minor errors or confusions I may well have caused..

Vermin attraction is usually the big issue with food waste on compost for most people.

You are not permitted commercially or in schools to dispose of it to compost UNLESS it is in a sealed vessel. (Green Johanna, Rocket etc)

I am not sure if you are actually forbidden to do so as a domestic householder, but it is certainly not a good idea because it attracts rats etc. Which can be an offence in its own right I think.

Likewise if you keep pigs or chickens you are not allowed to let them root or scratch on a working
compost area. (household or commercial makes no difference).

Uncooked veg waste is fine in household compost ( even if it has been in a kitchen....all the WRAP promotional stuff talks about peelings etc so its ok I guess) BUT uncooked food waste is NOT allowed inside chickens/pigs etc once it has been inside a kitchen.

Cooked waste isn't fine on open compost heaps or bins because of attracting vermin. It also must not be fed to chickens, pigs etc etc

Thats my understanding from what we have been told by WRAP/Garden Organic/Council
and the DEFRA ABPR, post Foot and Mouth..

Vermin is the usual issue for people with their compost, as most people don't keep chickens or pigs etc...and if they do they are considered to usually be farmers...who are supposed to know about all this and get inspected, anyway.....

To dispose of domestic cooked food waste.

A wormery is fine for cooked food.

A Green Cone or a Green Johanna ( or other sealed in vessel composter) is fine for cooked food.

A bokashi bin is fine for cooked food, as it transforms the cooked food into something else which is then ok to put on a compost bin...personally I can't think any self respecting rat would want to eat
ANYTHING after it had sat in a bokashi bucket for a month or so.... but then I can't stand the smell of them...


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Post by Hairyloon on 11th March 2010, 8:27 pm

Compostwoman wrote:The cooked food issue with vermin ( and other fauna) ISN'T that it is cooked as such..it is that the Animal By Products Regulations, which came in in the UK after Foot and Mouth disease, prohibit the dumping of stuff on a compost heap if it has been processed in a kitchen.
Now if I pretend that I haven't read that, then how the -ing hell, as an ordinary householder, am I supposed to know that?

How do they define "compost heap? I have an unusual taste in bird tables: mine is compost heap shaped. Wink
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Post by Hairyloon on 11th March 2010, 8:39 pm

Compostwoman wrote:I should, perhaps have made my points more clearly/emphatically...

so, to clarify and correct any minor errors or confusions I may well have caused..
Can we break this down a bit?
Ignoring the law (since this is an international forum) what are
1) Things that should not be composted, because it makes the compost go bad.
2) Things that are fine from a compost point of view, but may have undesirable side effects (e.g. vermin).
3) Things that have a known risk of infection if foraged by livestock. What risk. Citation please if poss.

And somebody remind me, what is the big problem with rat's? They're only squirrels without the fluffy tails.


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Post by Compostwoman on 11th March 2010, 8:40 pm

It isn't that easily broken down I am afraid......

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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 11th March 2010, 8:42 pm

Compostwoman wrote:

Uncooked veg waste is fine in household compost ....

Cooked waste isn't fine on open compost heaps or bins because of attracting vermin.

I completely follow all of what you are saying CW, except these two bits.

My problem is this: Why should cooked waste attract vermin where uncooked waste would not?

Vermin make no distinction, in my experience, between raw and cooked food. Their sense of smell is no more finely attuned to steamed carrots than it is to fresh carrots or carrot peelings.

If for the sake of illustration, one ran two identical compost bins, open or dalek, and put into bin A just uncooked veg waste and into bin B leftover cooked veg, would you expect to find bin B had become a rat restaurant and bin A unscathed by mouse mastication?

(and I am not aiming this at you personally - I realise you don't make these rules, but you are the one who knows most about this stuff. Indeed the whole issue with cooked/uncooked seems to go beyond the DEFRA rulebook and be "The Accepted Wisdom". I just cannot figure out what the reasoning behind it is.)

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Post by Compostwoman on 11th March 2010, 8:49 pm

Nor can I Billy...I can only pass on what I have been told or read myself.....

I agree it is ****

from a simply vermin viewpoint I must agree I can't see there would be any difference as to which the vermin would want...

the cooked thing seems (I think) to have come from the ABPR stuff

I will dig about a bit more and see if I can come up with some more concrete references....but not right this moment....

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Post by Hairyloon on 11th March 2010, 9:01 pm

Wilhelm Von Rhomboid wrote:
Compostwoman wrote:

Uncooked veg waste is fine in household compost ....

Cooked waste isn't fine on open compost heaps or bins because of attracting vermin.

I completely follow all of what you are saying CW, except these two bits.

My problem is this: Why should cooked waste attract vermin where uncooked waste would not?
They can digest it more effectively, therefore breed more productively.
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 11th March 2010, 9:33 pm

Hairyloon wrote:
Wilhelm Von Rhomboid wrote:
Compostwoman wrote:

Uncooked veg waste is fine in household compost ....

Cooked waste isn't fine on open compost heaps or bins because of attracting vermin.

I completely follow all of what you are saying CW, except these two bits.

My problem is this: Why should cooked waste attract vermin where uncooked waste would not?
They can digest it more effectively, therefore breed more productively.

But the would not be getting so much roughage or vitamins and so would die earlier from bowel conditions.

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