Suburban compost heap

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Mungbeans, Mar 2, 2006.

  1. Mungbeans

    Mungbeans Junior Member

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    I have decided to start off small with my efforts.

    My backyard is only small and its only major plants (apart from weeds in the flower beds) are a clump of umbrella trees which drop leaves and sticks constantly. At the moment we fill a green bin with them every two weeks. My previous attempts at composting have shown that these leaves don't break down easily. As they are the main waste I don't have much beyond household waste to break down with them.

    Another problem is dog do. Should this be composted? If so how?

    We have a bbq. Its basically a brick square with a metal grill. It is open at the front and has a chimney at the back. I was wondering if it might be possible to partially char the sticks and leaves. This would help them to break down once they are placed in the compost heap. I've been reading about bio-char and terra preta and wondering if this mightn't be the answer to my umbrella tree problem. We also have a palm tree which drops fronds.

    Our garden has mainly the sandy soil of much of the Sydney basin, so I will need to do something to fix the soil before I can start on veges.

    I don't have much money (read none) to buy mulch so I'm hoping composting might be my answer.

    The position for the compost will be against a fence we share with two neighbours. Will there be a problem with smell? I don't want to annoy them.

    Cheers
    Leonie
     
  2. seussrules

    seussrules Junior Member

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    Hey Leonie

    We too are small suburban permie-aspirants. Your compost shouldn't smell if you get the balance right (there are a couple of existing threads on this that are worth a read). Our compost has a good balance of carbon and nitrogen, oxygen, water, and sunlight and it never offends the neighbours (or us, for that matter). The main issue we have in our little yard is rodents. Consequently, we have 'closed' heaps (ie in commercial compost bins) which we have lined with chicken wire underneath, so that rattus and friends find it hard to penetrate.

    It's not a good idea to compost dog pooh if you're planning to use the compost for veggies. We have a separate worm farm for our 2 perpetually-pooing canine friends' waste. I find that a really active worm farm breaks down their pooh really well, and we then use this for mulching non-edible plants.

    Best of luck with it :)
     
  3. heuristics

    heuristics Junior Member

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    suburban compost

    I was wondering the same thing re charing after seeing and reading about the Amazon terra-preta.
    Why don't you give it a try – I think a lot of us would be interested in the results of your research.
    For me I have some branches dropped from gum trees that are almost small trees in themselves. Too big for my shredder – I am waiting till end of summer, and end of burning restrictions, to experiment a bit with charing these, and some old wattle branches.

    Also check out "confounded by compost" from a few months back. I got some brilliant posts in reply. I have re-read it several times and at least know the theory of what I am doing wrong. I am about to move the compost bin and want to set up a multi-bin system to see if that can help me get things to compost.
     
  4. Mungbeans

    Mungbeans Junior Member

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    Thank you heuristics and seussrules for your replies.

    I did read the "Confounded by Compost" entry. It has some wonderful ideas.

    I think I'll replace the horrible weedy areas in my backyard with comfrey. I actually have experience growing this when I was living with my parents. I was chuffed because it didn't die on me. (I have a reputation in my family for having the opposite of a green thumb - a brown thumb!)

    I'll just ran my council and provided I'm just burning in the BBQ (rather than general burning off in the open) I won't need a permit. There is currently no fire ban in place so I'm good to go.

    I think I'll try to get a composting bin in place. Can you get them with sides that slide off so I don't have to do any heavy lifting? Maybe I should get my dad to bang one up from some spare wood.

    I also have a worm farm that I obtained from my mother, but never got around to buying the worms. I'll put that on my to do list.

    Question: Why is dog and human poo bad - but chook and horse poo good? Microbes from our meat diet perhaps? Just wondering.
     
  5. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    I think the dog poo you should compost seperately, for ornamentals or dug it in under a tree. I read that the leaves can be chopped with a petrol mover if you have one, than they are breaking down more easily. In a small yard its important having the compost in a bin, I personally prefer rectangular wooden wones, because the aeration is better. For aeration you can use bigger material like chopped branches etc, it is important because with oxygen the material will brake doen. Blood and bone helps breaking doem as well and comfrey leaves. It should have a little water as well. Keep in mind that you need space in front of the heap to work and turn the compost, and two compartiments are better than one. Perhaps you vcan get more material from neighbours etc. shurely you haven't enopugh.
     
  6. Mungbeans

    Mungbeans Junior Member

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    Ew. Burnt the palm frond and dry leaves and the twigs. Way too smokey and because the BBQ is well aired it burned very quickly too, most was burnt to a fine ash but still a fair bit of charcoal. I don't think I'll do that again. Too smelly.

    Anyway the ash is now dug into my flower beds. I'll add some fish based fertiliser tomorrow.

    I've put my 7 year old in charge of seedlings. I'll will be a while before I find out how well the soil does.
     
  7. Mungbeans

    Mungbeans Junior Member

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  8. Mungbeans

    Mungbeans Junior Member

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    I've set up my worm farm in the backyard and got some worms from my brother.

    Unfortunately after two weeks I have added far more scraps than the worms can eat and the worm farm smells bad and has been infiltrated by maggots.

    I've added some lime and dug around the scraps so more air gets in.

    Any advice how I can get the worms breeding faster? I don't want to add any more scraps until its clear that the worms are eating them and not maggots.

    Sorry for the general ickiness of the topic. Here is a photo of my worm farm:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/119678754/in/set-72057594093305647/
     
  9. barely run

    barely run Junior Member

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    Shredded paper from nearby offices are good for composting...also take a big plastic garden bag in the car and when out and about pick up some roadside grass cuttings also often the local tip has green waste already shredded......and check out the plastic bag hanging garden post....might be the answer to a small block
    Cathy :lol:
     
  10. Mungbeans

    Mungbeans Junior Member

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    I have a small paper shredder in my home office and plenty of newspapers and other paper waste. But I'm not going to be adding this to the worm farm until I get the smell under control.
     
  11. hedwig

    hedwig Junior Member

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    I read once that you can break down big leaves etc. with a motor mover we don't have one so i don't know. The plastic containers are bad aerated and much too small, not very space saving but you don't need anything at all. Think of how you will turn the stuff, the more you turn the quicker it breaks down. And it should be watered, we use the old water of the wasing machine.
    With the dog poo I would fertilize direct the ornamentals.
     
  12. Mungbeans

    Mungbeans Junior Member

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    After some searching I came across this website on worms:

    https://www.squirmy-worms.com/faq.htm

    Question 11 seems to cover my problem exactly. I'll shred up some newspaper tomorrow and see if that starts to fix my smelly muddy worms.
     
  13. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Smell usually means you've got too much nitrogen (greens stuff, fresh manure) and not enough carbon (straw, paper, ground wood), so the newspaper (carbon) should put you right.

    If you want to read some interesting stuff on composting, read The Humanure Handbook. The whole thing (incl. drawings & photos) is online for FREE at https://www.weblife.org/humanure/default.html

    Yes, it's focus is mainly on composting human waste, but there's lots of useful info on regular composting, too.

    Sue
     
  14. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    shredded newspaper makes a great basis for a worm farm. sort of like bedding for the little dears. if you make too big of a mess for them, they can retreat into their newspaper is my theory.
    now, you can't hurry love, you'll just have to wait, but give those little ones time and they will soon be breeding up like crazy. the rate of growth is exponential. I can't remember the exact figures but, initially if you are starting with a small amount of worms it can take a while, but after two or three or months you will have so many sexually mature worms and worm eggs and baby worms that you won't be able to put enough food in there to keep up with up them!
    but give them time!
     
  15. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    I see the problem is still happening with newbies to Permaculture,First thing most newbies want to do/start is a compost heap/worm farm.Well In the 16 years i been doing Permaculture i only did compost heaps twice 1st in the first 2 years and 2nd was after 10 yrs neither really did much use,not because i did em wrong but more like,1st Not enough material to compost(Suburban garden)2nd too much on a 10 acre school gardens.Yes thats right..Making a compost heap requires the right blnd of materials at the correct ratio of ingredients,with correct moisture levels,correct heat,correct size of pile,right time of season,right sized contained areas, a strong back and a garden fork,.......No wonder people get confused and get it wrong...... sometimes this gardening game can be real hard,and it seems u need a degree in rocket scientistoligy :lol: .

    Composts nead lots of materials to start off,you loose 3/4 of it to the decomposing parts,and probly loose most of the 3/4 of any nutrients thru the soil under the heap,the best healthy part of the garden is under the comp heap,How many use the old heap as the new vegie garden?
    If you loose up to 3/4 of a heap,and you got a large area to compost,well just think of how big your heap will need to be...eg Garden area is say 20 sq meters.....youd need a comp pile about 80 sq meters,well to me thats near on impossible to do,i want compost now not taking 10 years to do lolol...Ive taken a Leaf from Bills rainforest inspired gardens andmulch my whole garden areas,using straw,woodchips,mulched trees etc etc etc.Add chooks as the secret ingredient,their tossing and scratching around plus their extremly valuable poo and hey presto you have the perfect combination of natural forces to give you some of the most healthy balenced,disease freesoil imaginable.The best part is it takes the gueswork out of composting 8) No more smells,No back breaking forking or shoveling,No piles hiding in the corner of garden,The ground is completly covered from day one.The mulch etc acts as a mulch st8 away,it keeps the soil temperatures at a more stable temperature,and holds the/any moisture longer then exposed to sun as bare ground.If done year one,itmay only topping up every year or so,composts take forever)If decideous trees are part of the garden set up.eg 1 in 4 trees is decideous to evergreens,Youll find that after initial years that autums falling leaves will just about provide any new required material to keep the natural processes going,Now the good News...COME winter time if you dig youll find lots of earth worms in ground that previously contained nothing,Worm have this wonderfull ability to sort of hibanate for long periods of time,If food is available for them and moisture is there, worms will be there..All without even adding worms in the first place,If your lucky yourll find the larger slow moving types there, the garden worms they love and handle living free range then the smaller skinny ones,there the composting worms,Both are excellent worms,small skinnys do well in Worm farms.fat are the garden variety.Both can live side by side but both suit different purposes..I do have a worm farm that i use to feed my yabbies,young baby chooks,ducks etc as a food supply in times of need,I found out that just breeding worms in a farm wasnt going to give me a healthy soil, Taking from farm,they curled up and died in crappy garden soil without anything in soil to feed worms.I found i was breeding worms just to kill them off due to poor soil conditions...Seamed a waste of time and effort to me,worms probly not impressed either :(

    Any questions please message me with any questions

    Tezza
     
  16. FREE Permaculture

    FREE Permaculture Junior Member

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    well your worms died 'cos there composting worms, suited for bins/farms :)
    earthworms live deep down beside air-pockets that fill with water.
    they don't live side by side at all.
    a red/tiger/composting worm could only survive just below a thick layer of moist mulch, they can't dig down.

    The composting worms themselves aren't meant to improve your soil,
    it's the worm tea and castings that improve your soil :)

    the better the food they eat, the better the tea is and castings.
    shredded paper will only make a very weak tea, lots of veg' will be dark tea.
    I just harvested a tray of castings, maybe 20lt,
    not enough for the garden but great to mix into seed raiising mixes
    or dilute and feed the crop like that, or top dressing on your special plants.

    The best system is the reln can'o'worms, an aussie product too.
    now being sold worldwide, it's simple and works a treat.
    I've ordered a 2nd one from my council $66 delivered.
    they are skinny worms 'cos you have too many in the bin,
    divide into a new bin and you'll have doubled your colony in no time.

    use a worm fattener to make 'em fat for chooks ect,
    50% chook pellets - 20% bran/wheat meal - 10% milk powder - 10% lime - 10% wheat or corn flour.
    sprinkle on food waste weekly, in a month or so, they'll be just as fat as earthworms.

    home-made type wormfarms don't work that well, the can'o'worms make it real easy to harvest castings and a tap for tea.
     
  17. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Oooops I meant that Was years ago I dont have the problem now,My skinny worms are skinny as in the breed not their lack of food,Both worms IN MY garden survive together but i wouldnt say side by side ,just seen both in my soils...Depends on seasons and moisture etc,Heck even i cant get it right 365 days a year :lol: My soil(loose interpretation only) :lol: Is on the side of a big hill ,mostly brown coffee rock, Clay and more rock,Not the yummy smooth soft perfect soil u see on tv....Unfortunatly few of us have great soils.....

    My responce to the article was mostly on the composting subject,I have tried this proven method for last 15 years and have nothing but fantastic reveiws.
    my Garden shows for its self in its colours healthyness,and impotantly the available fruit growing......I do not make these claim lightly they are a true result of STRICT Permaculture guidelines.....Im more a permie as Bills methods taught me..The rain forrest method......

    I have to laugh sometimes when i hear people asking/complaining in here that this dont work .or how does this work,beleiving that to get a great healthy garden you need a hard heavy work ethic..Or you need a 100 years of skill and studyed knowedge to get a healthy garden....Well I got news for a few of you.......You dont....Ask Bill himself.......People knock his "Lazy Gardener Approach"....Dont knock it untill u tried it :lol: :lol:
    I too have the "can o Worm' bin and its an excellent device..I dont use it to breed worms, that bit just happens with a bit of food chucked in periodcly for themwhen its full i use it for a variety of uses depending on how i feel..I understand how u think bigs n small worms require different soil, food systems but what should i do if i have both kinds of woms in my can o worms or subsoil........do i selectivly destroy the nonworms and only keep the "right worms" or think....."Heck nature actually knows more then ill ever know and just leave em to their own lives"
    Dont answer that Ive allready made that desision... 8) 8) 8)

    Using Bills ideas from years of watching and even more years or knowing ,studying.Has Proven to be one of the best ways of doing this stuff...
    Ok we can still use our knowledge of organic,biodynamic,etc etc to help us,but Nature is natural,been doing it for a billion or more years here on earth,,,,,Only the Big fella upstairs knows any better.. :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

    Now dont get me wrong here ok..........
    But ..I dont want to spend half my income on you dditives u listed in fattning my worms......in my opinion if u feed em all that nice food u sujested......Boy are they going to starve when u let em loose into the ground.......Its a bit like feeding me Sir loin steak monday to friday and just bread and water over weekends :( :(

    If u want further clarification ask ill send videos,photos,Ill even let u visit no charge :lol: :lol:

    Yours Sincerly
    Tezza
     
  18. FREE Permaculture

    FREE Permaculture Junior Member

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    that recipe i put up is a fattner, not the food.
    you sprinkle it on top of the waste food like 2 tablesspoons, your not paying attention.
    if your income is 20c a week then 10c a week is quite pricey i agree. :p
    into the ground? no red and tiger worms are not for the ground.
    i explaned that too.
    same as putting in earthworms in the canoworms, they will cook.

    oh btw, i forgot about the composting bit.
    I agree starfish, my compost bins are just green disposal units, i have never had any compost to harvest, I too wouldn't bother wasting so much time for a barrel load of compost, big deal hey? i need a truck full. my chooks will give me enough over time.
    compost bins are only good for profiteering garden centres that sell 'em by the truckloads, i have never seen one that worked, and if i ever do, i'll tell them they wasted too much time.

    Bill? he sounds a bit like me, except i'm Ben :) if it's too much work, go inside, crack another beer and it will do it on its own as it has a billion years :)

    what will you send videos on? Bill?
     
  19. Tezza

    Tezza Junior Member

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    Actualy I have So many videos on Permaculture on 5 different sites all done by myself that welleven i get bored :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: My other videos are Of Bill Mollisons Global gardener.and In grave danger of falling food....
    Hope this isn becomming an argument as that ont work I dont argue any more in public 8) 8) 8) 8)
    You are more then welcome o come visit for personal lesons no charge at my place anytime you get here Free ok
    I wonder where u get your worm info as we have opposing opinions as to there welfare........Are you the Ben from Perth near byford i think..Well i can visit you if you need help with clarification on anything youd like to know

    Tezza
     
  20. FREE Permaculture

    FREE Permaculture Junior Member

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    nah i'm Ben from Yarraville :D

    this forum is getting rather quiet so anything at the moment is better that being a sad little forum :)

    yeah i'm a bit argumentive, but i don't meen it really
    it's just that i speak my mind about an hour before i think about it :)
     

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