Best Food for your Compost Bin


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What are the Best Food for my Compost Bin.Is it ok to put onion peels to throw in compost bin?
 
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I throw absolutely everything in there, the only exception are large amounts of meat, which I feed to the vultures and then bury the remaining carcass in the compost or somewhere in the garden.

BTW, I know worms don't like certain things and I believe onions are one of those things, but there's so much stuff in there that I still have tons of worms.

Contrary to what some have told me that certain things will drive away the worms, not true, but probably would be if that's all I threw in there; however, you do have to be kind of careful of what you throw in your compost if you have a vermi-compost bin, but I don't do that.
 
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alp

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Some green, cuttings, mown grass, some brown material - cardboard.

Here have a look

Getting the right balance of composting materials
  • Aim for between 25 and 50 percent soft green materials (e.g. grass clippings, annual weeds, vegetable kitchen waste, or manure) to feed the micro-organisms
  • The remainder should be woody brown material (e.g. prunings, wood chippings, paper, cardboard, straw or dead leaves)
The bacteria and micro-organisms that produce the compost function best when the balance of green and brown materials is correct.

Avoid letting any one material dominate the heap - especially grass clippings, as these can become a slimy, smelly mess on their own.

Kitchen waste and grass clippings are best mixed with brown woody material, as they tend to be wet and easily compacted, excluding air.

Some common composting materials
  • Green: Grass clippings; soft, leafy plants including annual weeds; fruit and vegetables, uncooked kitchen waste; selected pet waste/bedding
  • Brown: prunings and hedge trimmings (ideally shredded), woodchip, leaves, paper and card (torn up or shredded), straw, plant stems
  • Accelerators and activators: Products such as ‘Garotta’ are sometimes added where green waste is in short supply. They contain high levels of nitrogen (a nutrient found in green waste), but should not be necessary if green waste is plentiful. It is also possible to purchase activators containing carbon (a nutrient found in brown woody waste); these are aimed at composting grass clippings or other green waste where there is insufficient brown waste
  • Lime: People sometimes think you need to add lime to the compost heap, but there is no need to do so
https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=444

It is quite serious reading. I would say don't overthink it. Chuck everything in except meat or cooked food as they might attract rodents, but don't forget rodents are part of the food chain as well. Strive for that ratio and turn the compost from time to time.

Hope it helps.
 

alp

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Ground eggshells, ground oatmeal, .. all your potato peelings, onion skins of course. But no muscaris as they will only stare at you the following year, no avocado seed either as they will grow in your compost. And, if you can, shred them or cut your kitchen waste into small pieces or grind them into powder or paste. This will speed up the process and the worms will love you for that! Try using a smaller compost bin so that it can be turned easily.
 
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Ground eggshells, ground oatmeal, .. all your potato peelings, onion skins of course. But no muscaris as they will only stare at you the following year, no avocado seed either as they will grow in your compost. And, if you can, shred them or cut your kitchen waste into small pieces or grind them into powder or paste. This will speed up the process and the worms will love you for that! Try using a smaller compost bin so that it can be turned easily.
I actually started composting before I started gardening, because I hated seeing food in my trash, albeit it was only food scraps, since I have this thing about not allowing food to go to waste...something about being lectured when I was very young about starving children around the world...:D

One day I went out there and I notice a unique plants growing from my compost pile and after some research I found it to be potato plants from my potato peelings. I now throw all my potato peelings in my garden and I do harvest those potatoes from time to time.:)

Composting, along with unsightly grassy areas was what mainly got me into gardening, and the rest is history...:geek:
 
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I am a beginning composter so take this with a grain of salt but... I wouldn't suggest putting a lot woody stuff into your compost. It will take much longer to break down than other things. If you do put it in they are right about shredding it first.

And please do not put sawdust or shavings from a jointer/planer in it. Waste from lumber will take a very, very long time to break down. I started dumping my planer shavings around my apple tree and several years later those shavings are still there and haven't broken down at all. They kept the weeds down though.
 
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I am a beginning composter so take this with a grain of salt but... I wouldn't suggest putting a lot woody stuff into your compost. It will take much longer to break down than other things. If you do put it in they are right about shredding it first.

And please do not put sawdust or shavings from a jointer/planer in it. Waste from lumber will take a very, very long time to break down. I started dumping my planer shavings around my apple tree and several years later those shavings are still there and haven't broken down at all. They kept the weeds down though.
How thick was the layer of saw dust?

Saw dust itself will break down quicker than woodchips (not saying that's a good nor bad thing, just is...) simply because it's a smaller piece of matter. However, if you pile up sawdust then it will take a long time to decompose, simply because the very small and identical size/shape of the 'dust' will settle under its own weight and lock out air and moisture.

That's why you should never mulch with sawdust, because it locks out the interchange of air/moisture from the atmosphere to the soil -- in effect it would be the same thing as using plastic as a mulch. If I had something mulched over with sawdust, simply disperse it around so it's not compacted in a pile.

Interesting reading:

https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/wood-chips.pdf

https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/bark-mulch.pdf
 
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I never measured the depth of the shavings but I would say it's about an inch or two deep. Deep enough that my feet sink into it when I walk over it.

It's possible that we are talking about slightly different things. Shavings from a planer are sort of like paper thin wood chips. Sawdust from a circular saw blade is going to be a bit finer. Sanding dust is even finer. What I've dumped on the apple tree is mostly planer shavings.

I read both of those articles (thank you for that, by the way). That got me worried because I used bark dust/bark mulch on a significant amount of my garden as mulch. My parents suggested it. I have a feeling that stuff won't break down for a long time. I may try to scrape some of it out.
 
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I never measured the depth of the shavings but I would say it's about an inch or two deep. Deep enough that my feet sink into it when I walk over it.

It's possible that we are talking about slightly different things. Shavings from a planer are sort of like paper thin wood chips. Sawdust from a circular saw blade is going to be a bit finer. Sanding dust is even finer. What I've dumped on the apple tree is mostly planer shavings.

I read both of those articles (thank you for that, by the way). That got me worried because I used bark dust/bark mulch on a significant amount of my garden as mulch. My parents suggested it. I have a feeling that stuff won't break down for a long time. I may try to scrape some of it out.
Yes, we are talking about two different things. I'm not sure how shaving would work as a mulch, but probably not as bad as saw dust. One way to tell is to dig into the soil and smell it, if the mulch is creating a barrier the smell will be awful, because the anaerobic process starts when this (air locked out) happens.

As for using bark, yes it makes a pretty mulch bed, but it's not great for the soil; I'd recommend just using yardwaste, i.e. leaves and stuff as a mulch. You don't need to throw away the bark, just spread it around.
 
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I secretly put dead squirrels into the kitchen composter. We have so many we are allowed to harvest 8 per day from September to March. Proteins are amino acids, and this is what the bio life makes its little bodies out of, so when I realized dead wildlife was an important component of the forest floor, I got over recommendations to avoid meat. Even if something eats it, that something just got there before the little biodegraders got to it.
 
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Yes, we are talking about two different things. I'm not sure how shaving would work as a mulch, but probably not as bad as saw dust. One way to tell is to dig into the soil and smell it, if the mulch is creating a barrier the smell will be awful, because the anaerobic process starts when this (air locked out) happens.

As for using bark, yes it makes a pretty mulch bed, but it's not great for the soil; I'd recommend just using yardwaste, i.e. leaves and stuff as a mulch. You don't need to throw away the bark, just spread it around.
I read in a couple of books that the best way to deal with woody stuff is to create a separate compost pile for it. The woody stuff will eventually break down but very slowly.

Yeah, the bark dust mulch on the garden was a bad idea. I eventually switched to shredded leaves. I intend to use dried out lawn mower clippings for mulch in the summer.
 
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I read in a couple of books that the best way to deal with woody stuff is to create a separate compost pile for it. The woody stuff will eventually break down but very slowly.

Yeah, the bark dust mulch on the garden was a bad idea. I eventually switched to shredded leaves. I intend to use dried out lawn mower clippings for mulch in the summer.
It depends on what type of wood you're talking about. Things like black walnut have a chemical called juglone, which can kill various plants, such as tomatoes, but I think the effects of this stuff is over-stated, it does breakdown, see here: http://confessionsofacomposter.blogspot.com/2013/03/could-black-walnut-leaves-ruin-your.html

Then you got certain woods that almost nothing breaks down, except a few fungi, such as cedar.

However, in general wood, such as oaks..., are a very good thing to have, especially the smaller bits of wood, which is referred to as Ramial Wood.

Personally, I don't use woodchips, but only because I don't want to buy the stuff. I could get some for free from various tree companies, but I just don't need that much. However, I do have broken up wood in my yard from all the trees that drop branches, so in effect I do have woodchips. I also chop up large logs that have fallen from my tree or I've collected around my neighborhood. Wood is very good for building up soil.

It's not how long it takes to break down, but how it helps your soil; you don't have to wait for all your compost to breakdown 100% before putting out into the garden.
 
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I don't think the juglone occurs in the wood of the black walnut tree. Though it does come in the leaves, bark, and fruit/nuts. I am prepared to be wrong about this.

You're right on the money though, because I do have shavings from walnut lumber under the apple tree. Most of the shavings are probably oak and cherry but there is also walnut, maple, cedar, pine, hickory, and the shavings of many other species mixed in. I suspect the shavings from the oily species (such as ipe) break down more slowly than others. The wood itself is incredibly weather resistant.
 
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Slow breakdown is part of tilth though, and not a bad thing if the mulch is not all one type. I use a chipper on my fallen and pruned branches and even the wood chips I use as lawn mulch disappear over the course of a year. But it has to do with water and heat too, as we hit 100f -50c and have anywhere from 40 to 50 or more inches of rain a year. I have become aware of the fact that composting here is not only not really necessary, its actually a bad thing, since the whole process could be occurring where you will eventually put the compost anyway. Organic matter is the key, compost being a latter stage that has wasted some time and energy and nutrient in its making.
 
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I don't think the juglone occurs in the wood of the black walnut tree. Though it does come in the leaves, bark, and fruit/nuts. I am prepared to be wrong about this.
You're probably right, I thought I heard that it was also in the wood and you should not use it as a mulch, but if I did hear it, I wouldn't doubt that it's a MYTH.

I've also heard that you shouldn't use pine wood, because of the acidity, but my experience with pine is that it breaks down very nicely and I've even found worms tunneling thru it when it gets really soft from decomposition.
 

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