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Composting - beginner

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
Is this the right place to post this question? We want to start composting and looking for some guidance on how to start, especially on supplies.

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post #2 of 23

I had my boss move a compost bin he already owned to a different spot and started throwing all the green kitchen scraps into it.  Then when the owner started doing the spring garden cleanup he is throwing all the brown yard debris in the compost.  I stir it weekly and we have a nice compost cooking in the bin.  Just locate the compost bin away from your kitchen, it gets stinky and critters and bugs love compost.  We try to maintain an even brown debris to green debris ratio to cook our compost. Don't forget to add coffee grounds and egg shells.  NO MEATS!

post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
I didn't know about the meats. No bones either?

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post #4 of 23

From what little I know, animal products are broken down primarily by anaerobic bacteria, which create undesirable odors, while vegetative products are broken down by aerobic bacteria that generate heat.

 

Animal products CAN be composted, but not in typical DIY composters.   To avoid attracting scavengers and dispensing noxious odors, anaerobic composters need to be sealed devices.

 

For DIY, using only vegetative residue simplifies a lot of issues.
 

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post #5 of 23

No bones either, use only vegetable scraps and eggshells, coffee grounds, etc.  We don't compost anything that came from animals except eggshells.  We have a nice start to our compost and the bin is only 1/3 full. I stir it every two weeks and add brown lawn debris every other week.  So far so good, hope to be spreading some compost in my large herb garden at work in a few weeks. 

post #6 of 23
Thread Starter 
Interesting, what would I do with it? I don't have a garden.

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post #7 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

Interesting, what would I do with it? I don't have a garden.

give it to a friend or better yet... start a garden!

 

It doesn't take much space.

 

 

container or raised bed gardening is amazingly efficient.

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
I will have to think on that. I live in an apartment with a small balcony and have a brown thumb. But I am considering planting some herbs.

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post #9 of 23

Re. Bones and meat (and fat)

 

It all depends how you do it.

 

I compost all. I have been doing it the past 10 years. I have the most healthy soil.

 

I use a garden shredder to pulverize large bones.

 

I use a converted rototiller to bury everything about 36" deep. No smell and no animal Scavengers.

 

dcarch

 

 

 

post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Wow that's amazing.

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post #11 of 23

On the balcony tomatoes in a pot do well as do chives, parsley, thyme, sage, Rosemary the herbs can go into a larger pot and there you are ready to go, at this time of the year the larger box stores sell off the started herbs at a reduced price.

post #12 of 23

I only container garden - if you want a good book that makes things really simple.  Please check this out from the library or better yet just buy it.

 

Square Foot Gardening

 

It is revolutionary in the extreme - works like you wouldn't believe.

 

With a simple 2' x 8' x 6" deep box on your balcony you can raise a ton of veggies and more herbs than you could ever dream of.

 

====

 

Back on topic - the only thing you ever add to the growing mix is compost, there is a really large section on how to compost.  ie. faster, easier and with less mess.

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #13 of 23

It pay to remember that a cubic foot of topsoil weights 75-100 pounds.

 

A 2'x8'x6" garden box, 8 cubic feet, weighs 600-800 pounds, make sure your balcony can support the added weight.
 

Chef,
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post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

It pay to remember that a cubic foot of topsoil weights 75-100 pounds.

 

A 2'x8'x6" garden box, 8 cubic feet, weighs 600-800 pounds, make sure your balcony can support the added weight.
 

You don't use topsoil...   

 

... using topsoil is the whole problem with container gardens and/or square foot gardens.

 

You need to use a mix that is light and moisture holding but quick draining.

 

1/3 vermiculite

1/3 peat moss

1/3 compost (use several varieties or a blended mix - don't use just one)

 

all are calculated by volume, not weight.

 

It works incredibly well.

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #15 of 23

Don't get me wrong, I thing the technique is very workable.

 

I was only pointing out the weight factor, even with the mix you listed, which does only weigh around 35-40 pounds per cubic foot when dry, when it is wet, the weight increases, water weighs a little over 62 pounds per cubic foot.

 

Many people do not realize how much weight can be invoved and it really pays to know how much weight your balcony can support, that's all I was trying to point out.
 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
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post #16 of 23

No problem, I get where you're coming from.

 

2'x8' = 16 square feet room enough for a minimum of 4 large adults. A balcony of that size would have a minimum of 1200lbs static load and likely 800lbs dynamic. 

 

Your balcony is probably quite a bit larger and likely way built past the minimums - just ask your building super / owner what the limits are.

 

They are legally obliged to give you the right numbers.  

 

You need not explain why you want to know, it's like asking your shoe or dress size.

 

(sorry if I seemed like I snapped earlier - it's been a long day in the kitchen... with 34C temps outside... the poor vents/hoods and make-up air just couldn't keep up.  I'm pretty much cooked.... )

 

(PS - the 2x8 by 6 inch box will never hold much water... it would lead to dead plants... you only need to keep the soil damp after the initial watering.  Check-out the book and you'll be convinced.  No fertilizers, no soil tests, no ph tests, no guess work and minimal maintenance. You can also use smaller sizes and also grow vertically)


Edited by MichaelGA - 7/15/13 at 9:59pm

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #17 of 23
Thread Starter 
Sounds enticing but worried. I tend to kill everything and that sounds like a big investment.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koukouvagia View Post

Sounds enticing but worried. I tend to kill everything and that sounds like a big investment.

For a 2x4' box you'll be all in at about 40-50$ depending on how thrifty you are...

 

Read the book it even has recommendations on where to get some of the materials for free. (every library will have it)

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #19 of 23

Theres quite a lot of stuff and guides online, for example this seems really good. gardenorganic.org .uk/composting/compost_pf.php

 

I have to say I didnt know you coudnt put meat in either... We have a garden and Ive been thinking about building one lately. 


Edited by milknsugar - 7/25/13 at 3:27am
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I've been wanting to stop by the library lately anyway.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #21 of 23

It's been some time since your post and I wonder how your compost is going or if you even decided to go ahead.

Many local communities have community gardens where residents without a garden are allocated a small amount of land for growing vegetables and herbs.  They are amazingly successful.  Maybe there is something like this near you.

compostingtips.info also has lots of easy to read information and some articles about composting while living in an apartment which might be useful for your situation.

post #22 of 23

How are you going with composting?

Some councils have community gardens where people are allotted a small plot of land to garden.  This is perfect for apartment dwellers and may be an option to check out in your area.

This site compostingtips.info has some good basic info about different composting methods when living in an apartment.

post #23 of 23
Thread Starter 
It's still in my to do list, I still haven't gotten to it. I remember the thread though and instead to follow through at some point. Thanks!

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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