Composting ...

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by IanB, Dec 13, 2018.

  1. IanB

    IanB Member Premium Member

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    Hi all,

    Just wanting to hear thoughts on composting. For various reasons a bay system isn't practical for us so we have tumblers (3)

    2 questions. First one is around constantly adding kitchen scraps in smallish quantities. I understand that the best way to make compost is to add greens and browns in the right ratio all at once and off you go. But what about the constant, but smallish amounts of scraps that you accumulate every couple of days. What is the best way to manage this in a composting system ?

    Second question is about using DRY gum leaves and bark. We have what I think are blue gums and it is really our only source of leaves. Are they okay as browns in compost ? Ive heard that eucalypt is not a good ingredient in compost
     
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  2. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    You can keep continuously adding scraps and green waste to your tumbler but obviously, this will extend the time for when your compost is ready to use. It will eventually build up and fill the barrel and it's just a matter of using the "eyeball" method adding more dry material if the mix is too wet and adding more green stuff or wet if the mix is too dry.

    If you want a shorter process then you'd fill the tumbler chockablock with an even-ish mix of green, brown, and kitchen scraps and don't add any more until it's done.

    If you have 3 x tumblers you can spare one or two maturing and the other one as a continuous add...

    Personally, I can't wait to get my 3 x bay system going again - it's slow but I can make far more compost in a bay than in a tumbler. Having said that, I'm having good success with our tumbler and now that I've been using it, it's a tool I will keep using even when I get the bays refurbished early next year.
     
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  3. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I use a bathtub full of worms to make my compost.
    Most of the added material is kitchen scraps which the worms devour in just a few days. Only things like avo seeds remain by week's end.
    They even eat chicken bones!
    Also I add some coursely chopped green material from around the garden and I have a blanket of dry mulch over the top to insulate the worms.
    Depending on how it looks when I add the scraps every second day, determines whether I add a sprinkle of water.
    I made a rodent proof cage lid for the tub then have a sheet of corrogated iron over that which keep most rain out.

    Something I was made aware of was that the barrels can get very hot if kept in the sun so if using worms to break down the scraps, its too hot for them.
    If not using worms then heat is your friend. The hotter you can get the mix, the better.
    They say 6wks if all is good in the rotating barrel. Turn it several times daily and add some poultry manure to help develop heat.

    If using worms in a barrel, only give it a slow half turn after adding scraps so as not to bruise the worms. Leave it in a shady place that only gets a bit of early morning sun in summer so the worms don't overheat. In winter they can tolerate more sun.

    Something you must incorporate if using worms is finely ground egg shells or fine sand which they ingest to help their gut work. I put my egg shells into one of two large open mouthed jars which live ontop of the fridge. The shells dry out very quickly so that after a fortnight I smash them down with the handle of a wooden spoon until well crushed. This is then sprinkled over the compost.

    As for the gum leaves, don't put them in compost. It is ok to rake them over the top of a garden bed that alreadyhas mulch on it. But the bark and leaves contain tanins that inhibit growth.
    If your gum tree has been sheding just recently and now has a smooth yellow or rose coloured trunk and branches, it is a Spotted Gum, Eucalyptus Grandiflora. They shed every second year smothering the ground with large shards of crisp dark brown and grey bark. Absolutely full of tanins! Great for covering ground where nothing will grow.
     
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  4. Pauljm

    Pauljm Active Member Premium Member

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    Gday all,
    Good questions Ian Its my biggest issue in the garden-gathering enough matter to compost effectively. On that note do u guys compost weeds? I Filled a 60litre bin chock full of weeds this morning and was thinking I would put the lid on and leave it in the sun for a few weeks, adding leaves and veg scraps before adding to my main compost. Good or bad idea?
    Cheers,
    Paul
     
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  5. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Best thing to do with the weeds is to make weed tea.

    Cover the weeds with water for a couple days til the stench is good and strong!
    Stretch a stocking (pantyhose) over the mouth of a watering can and strain the tea through to eliminate seeds. Make up a foliar fertilizer at 10:1 water to weed tea.

    Top up the weed drum again with water and leave again to brew, this time just a day and repeat.

    The weeds can be used 4-5 times before they are warn out as foliar fertilizer. Dig the remaining sludge into the compost.

    An alternative to straining the tea is to put some weeds into a stocking and hang in a bucket of water for several days. Effectively making a tea bag. Again, the tea bag can be reused 4-5 times before adding to the compost.

    Yet another way is to only use weeds that have not yet begun to flower or seed to be sure not to spread seeds to gardens.

    I would strongly advise against adding kitchen scraps to a weed tea brew due to possibility of breeding flies in the brew and also turning it 'off' thereby making it unsuitable for application to food plants.
     
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  6. Kasalia

    Kasalia http://retired2006.blogspot.com.au/ Premium Member GOLD

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    One of the best things I did was buy a paper shredder. It is dry which is always the hard part for me. My neighbour also gives me their paper shredding as well. The cardboard goes through our mulcher wet.I know there is ink, but the small amount does not worry me, as compost is spread far and wide with my garden.
     
  7. Pauljm

    Pauljm Active Member Premium Member

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    Hi and thanks for the replies.... how big a shredder do you use? I assume big enough for newspapers? Did u buy a cheapie or invest in a decent one?
    Thanks again..Paul
     
  8. Pauljm

    Pauljm Active Member Premium Member

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    Thanks once again Clissat, Not sure I have the time to make up some weed tea (way too many jobs on the list as it is)...the other problem I may have is if some of the locals round here find out I’m making weed tea they might start jumping the fence expecting a bit more than a few tomato plants!
    Cheers
     
  9. Kasalia

    Kasalia http://retired2006.blogspot.com.au/ Premium Member GOLD

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    @Pauljm Shredder was just one from an office supply place. I shred anything that is a4 size or less. Mail, receipts, computer stuff, old planners, notes etc. dont do magazines or major printed coloured things. Newspapers I burn in our fire in winter, and use the ash but if folded to fit could be shredded.
     
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