First time composter - need help


Joined
Mar 6, 2017
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
hey everyone. I'm from east TN and the nights are still cold (not sure if that matters). I am trying my hand at compost for the first time

I have chickens and I use primarily straw in their bedding. It rained do much , that it became stinky and soggy, so I cleaned it out and I am hoping to compost it

The pile is
Straw
Chicken / duck manure
Some pine shavings
Zeolite (sweet pdz)
Maybe some feathers

Right now I've got a decent sized pile. I turn it about every third or 4th day. It's still pretty wet in the middle every time I turn it.

My question is, will this ingredient list compost? I am wanting to get this going or at least semi composted by mid April so I can use in my garden. Thanks for the help!

I've included two pictures, one is a close up of the "wetish" material.
 

Attachments

Ad

Advertisements

Joined
May 4, 2015
Messages
2,443
Reaction score
1,442
Location
Mid Michigan
Hardiness Zone
5b
Country
United States
I think that's a great mix, although I'd be careful of too much pine in there. You can also save kitchen waste (veg only) and coffee grounds to toss in.
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
2,657
Reaction score
3,707
Location
central Texas
Showcase(s):
1
Country
United States
Paul, welcome to the forum!
We keep chickens also, and their manure, if not fresh, is great for the compost pile and eventually the gardens. We use pine shavings in the nest boxes, and I throw that in the pile, along with vegetable parings that the chickens won't eat, weeds, and garden trimmings. Just don't add any more chicken or duck manure because it will still be pretty potent by April.
Compost works faster in warm weather, but you ought to have usable compost by April. It will continue to break down in the garden. Wonderful stuff, compost!
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2017
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
Ok awesome. I'll get some more pictures of it when I get home. It's all basically old (almost a year) straw and chicken manure that I kept building up layer by layer.

Has anyone ever tried compost accelerators? Are they worth anything or only good for taking your money?
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2017
Messages
67
Reaction score
33
Location
Pine Savanah Mississippi
Hardiness Zone
8-9
Country
United States
Has anyone ever tried compost accelerators? Are they worth anything or only good for taking your money?
Save your money, Paul. Compost isn't a human invention. Leaves fall from trees, pile up, and compost all on their own - and have done for millions of years with no help at all. All the bacteria, fungus, worms, centipedes and whatever else that you need are floating around in your garden already. There isn't a chemical on earth that will make fungus move any faster than it wants to. If you want to speed up the process, turn your heap on a regular basis. Right now I'm turning mine twice a week - which I know is excessive, I just want to get my compost quickly because I just put up some new plots and want to get compost on the ground ASAP. Turning your heap will get oxygen to the middle of the pile to keep your microbes munching.

If you want to know if your compost is ready, dig around in it and notice a few things: is it warm or cool relative to the ambient temperature? Are there worms? Does it smell funky? Compost that's done cooking will be cool, smell earthy, and will have worms. Before it's done it's a little too warm for worms to be comfortable.

My question is, will this ingredient list compost?
Just about anything will compost eventually. A good rule of thumb for making up a compost pile is 25 to 30 parts brown (this is your carbon, the organic material your nutrients will bind to. This is fallen leaves, wood chips, that sort of thing) to 1 part green (this is your nitrogen. This'll be grass clippings, kitchen scraps, manure, etc.) If your B:G ratio is too low (lots of nitrogen) you'll lose some of those nutrients as microbe farts: IOW, you'll have a stinky pile.

I had to look up what Zeolite was. I'm assuming you use it to freshen up your chicken coop? Apparently it's a good, slow releasing source of potassium! So a good soil amendment if your garden is potassium deficient.

Oh! And welcome to the forum! :D
 
Last edited:

MaryMary

Quite Contrary
Joined
May 17, 2016
Messages
2,241
Reaction score
3,227
Location
Southwestern Ohio
Hardiness Zone
6
Country
United States
Has anyone ever tried compost accelerators? Are they worth anything or only good for taking your money?
For a good accelerator, you can always pee on it. :LOL: If I was going to spend money on any kind of compost accelerator, it would be a pound of compost worms. You'll get worms in there anyway, but a pound of worms will "process" 3.5 pounds of compost every week, and give you wonderful worm castings. :poop: (y)



:) Welcome to the forum!
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Mar 6, 2017
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
I am also turning mine twice a week. I guess when I think of compost, I think of 100% earth and nothing else (my vision of probably some what skewed)

This pile has only been sitting for the better part of 2 weeks, but its been in my chicken stall for almost a year. The bottom of it was already black dirt, and i tried to scoop as much as that as I could because I figured it would help speed up the break down of everything else.

The zeolite is actually a horse stall cleaner. It will eat ammonia and release nitrogen. I actually use it in a dropping pan for my birds at night, and its very easy to clean up and has great benefits to a garden.

Other than smell, how will I know if my ratio is off. If I had to guess, I would assume I have way to much browns (almost entire pile is composed of straw)

Thank you for all the welcomes!
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2017
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
For a good accelerator, you can always pee on it. :LOL: If I was going to spend money on any kind of compost accelerator, it would be a pound of compost worms. You'll get worms in there anyway, but a pound of worms will "process" 3.5 pounds of compost every week, and give you wonderful worm castings. :poop: (y)



:) Welcome to the forum!
You can pee on it? Does that really help? And what exactly are composting worms, compared to red worms or any other type worm?
 

MaryMary

Quite Contrary
Joined
May 17, 2016
Messages
2,241
Reaction score
3,227
Location
Southwestern Ohio
Hardiness Zone
6
Country
United States
Red worms, composting worms, red wigglers, all pretty much the same kind of worm. :)

Oh yes, pee is great for compost. Male urine even better!

Are there worms? Does it smell funky? Compost that's done cooking will be cool, smell earthy, and will have worms. Before it's done it's a little too warm for worms to be comfortable.
I'd imagine the outer edges of that pile are attracting worms already. (That is a nice sized pile of compost. Makes me wish for more yard!) Worms can handle up to 85°, and will find themselves a spot in there. (y) I compost in a big garbage can with holes in the bottom, and the worms found it. I assume when I make it too hot, or the winter makes it too cold, they just go out the way they came! :cool:

Just about anything will compost eventually. A good rule of thumb for making up a compost pile is 25 to 30 parts brown (this is your carbon, the organic material your nutrients will bind to. This is fallen leaves, wood chips, that sort of thing)
I use a utility knife and cut corrugated cardboard into strips about 2 by 4" and put it in my compost bin. It will break down eventually, but the worms will also use it as a nursery and lay their eggs in there. Then, when you harvest your compost, you just move all intact pieces of cardboard back to the compost, and you've provided the next generation of worms for your compost! :geek:
 

MaryMary

Quite Contrary
Joined
May 17, 2016
Messages
2,241
Reaction score
3,227
Location
Southwestern Ohio
Hardiness Zone
6
Country
United States
Other than smell, how will I know if my ratio is off. If I had to guess, I would assume I have way to much browns (almost entire pile is composed of straw)
Your best way of being sure is to get a pocket thermometer, and measure the temperature at different spots. Try to keep the temperature between 130-150°F. You don't want it to get above 160°F, it will kill the beneficial microbes.

Check it about 3 days after you've turned it. If it is too cold, you'll need to add greens. If it's too hot, you need to add more browns. Your pee is green. ;)



(Never thought I'd say that to an internet stranger! :ROFLMAO: :ROFLMAO: )
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
2,657
Reaction score
3,707
Location
central Texas
Showcase(s):
1
Country
United States
There are advantages to adding human urine to a compost pile--urea is beneficial as long as the neighbors don't see you adding it. If you are taking any medications, even allergy pills, you have to decide if you want to have the remnant of the medications in your compost. Personally, I don't encourage my husband or workmen here on the farm to feel free to add to my compost. Roofers especially seem to be a water-logged bunch.
The pocket thermometer is very handy, not only for the compost pile, but also for determining soil temperature for planting. Peppers and tomatoes like warm soil, carrots don't. I have a cheap kitchen probe thermometer in my gardening bag, and use it to see if the garden soil is in the prime temperature range for planting.
Don't overthink the compost ratios--Mother Nature has a way of evening things out. Just add goodies, toss occasionally, and enjoy the consequences!
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Mar 6, 2017
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
Thanks for all the hell! I kicked open a spot on the compost to check the temp. It didn't seem hot but I stirred it last night.

The pile was also damp in the middle (maybe a little too wet but no odor) and was dry on the top.

I included some more pictures! Thanks for lol the help! First pic is the outside of pile, 2nd is the hole I kicked
 

Attachments

Joined
Jan 5, 2017
Messages
1,087
Reaction score
1,005
Location
Atlantic Beach, Fl
Hardiness Zone
9a
Country
United States
Thanks for all the hell! I kicked open a spot on the compost to check the temp. It didn't seem hot but I stirred it last night.

The pile was also damp in the middle (maybe a little too wet but no odor) and was dry on the top.

I included some more pictures! Thanks for lol the help! First pic is the outside of pile, 2nd is the hole I kicked
To have a hot pile you need at least 3 cubic feet of material, but larger would be preferred. Many people believe you need a hot pile to create the 'best' compost or to destroy seeds/pathogens, but I disagree. Personally, I've never created a hot pile and my compost is just fine...:)

http://www.almanac.com/content/how-compost-hot-and-cold-methods

Excerpt:

HOT, OR ACTIVE COMPOSTING

The quickest way to produce rich garden humus is to create a hot, or active, compost pile. It is called “hot” because it can reach an internal temperature of 160°F (140°F is best) and “active” because it destroys, essentially by cooking, weed seeds and disease-causing organisms. The size of the pile, the ingredients, and their arrangements in layers are key to reaching that desired outcome.

Size: A hot compost pile should be a 3-foot cube, at minimum; a 4-foot cube is preferred. The pile will shrink as the ingredients decompose.
 
Joined
Feb 7, 2017
Messages
67
Reaction score
33
Location
Pine Savanah Mississippi
Hardiness Zone
8-9
Country
United States
To have a hot pile you need at least 3 cubic feet of material, but larger would be preferred. Many people believe you need a hot pile to create the 'best' compost or to destroy seeds/pathogens, but I disagree. Personally, I've never created a hot pile and my compost is just fine...:)

http://www.almanac.com/content/how-compost-hot-and-cold-methods

Excerpt:

HOT, OR ACTIVE COMPOSTING

The quickest way to produce rich garden humus is to create a hot, or active, compost pile. It is called “hot” because it can reach an internal temperature of 160°F (140°F is best) and “active” because it destroys, essentially by cooking, weed seeds and disease-causing organisms. The size of the pile, the ingredients, and their arrangements in layers are key to reaching that desired outcome.

Size: A hot compost pile should be a 3-foot cube, at minimum; a 4-foot cube is preferred. The pile will shrink as the ingredients decompose.
True! My compost piles are both at around 90°, and they're just fine. I have them in 55 gallon totes with holes drilled in the sides and bottom. Not really big enough to get hot, but I still get compost.
 
Joined
Mar 6, 2017
Messages
9
Reaction score
2
So it does not have to get hot to turn into dirt. That's good, I've probably got a very large misconception about compost lol!

Thanks for all the help, and if anyone needs any and is in eastern TN feel free to come help me clean my chicken stall!!!
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Jan 5, 2017
Messages
1,087
Reaction score
1,005
Location
Atlantic Beach, Fl
Hardiness Zone
9a
Country
United States
So it does not have to get hot to turn into dirt. That's good, I've probably got a very large misconception about compost lol!

Thanks for all the help, and if anyone needs any and is in eastern TN feel free to come help me clean my chicken stall!!!
The most important ingredient is water. Look at mulch, the leaves on the top layer will be there for a very, very long time, but dig into the lower level and the leaves are in the process of breaking down (provided there's moisture). You can even compost without air, it's called anaerobic composting (vs aerobic -- with air); however, take away water and everything stops.

My kitchen scraps turn to dirt in very quick order, because I've been doing it for long enough that my mulchy areas are full of soil organisms that break down the materials -- they breakdown just as fast as a hot pile.

All compost is, is the crap of organisms, in hot composting it's entirely a type of micro-organism, because things like worms and other animals can't stand the heat. But in cold composting the animals (and fungi) get involved and if you have a healthy biome (which will build up over time) it will break it down just as fast, because you have so many things working on it. Worms, for example, eat about half their weight in food -- every single day.
 

MaryMary

Quite Contrary
Joined
May 17, 2016
Messages
2,241
Reaction score
3,227
Location
Southwestern Ohio
Hardiness Zone
6
Country
United States
If you are taking any medications, even allergy pills, you have to decide if you want to have the remnant of the medications in your compost.
I saw a video about this, and I thought I bookmarked it, :( but I can't find it now. (Which is really a shame, it had that nice looking scientist from Racing Extinction .in it...{{swoon}} :love: )
They've done more research and it isn't as much of a problem as they used to think. As I remember it, the medications get diluted as they filter through your body, further broken down in the compost, then diluted again when you add it to the dirt, so there really are only traces left by the time your plants uptake any nutrients.

Overall, the environmental scientists think it's better to use almost any urine in a compost heap than to flush it. (Medicated urine added to the compost heap and then put in the garden keeps it from affecting the water supply. Fish on Prozac! ) The added nitrogen and phosphorous in any urine is at least partially responsible for harmful algal blooms, and there are no filters to take meds out of most water. There is a denitrification process, but it is very expensive, so...:rolleyes: :(

Just to play the devil's advocate, :devil: :) I decided to go out and exercise my google-fu.

Spoilered to shorten post -
EPA
https://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/sources-and-solutions-wastewater
Most homes and businesses send their wastewater to a treatment plant where many pollutants are removed from the water. Wastewater treatment facilities in the United States process approximately 34 billion gallons of wastewater every day. Wastewater contains nitrogen and phosphorus from human waste, food and certain soaps and detergents. Once the water is cleaned to standards set and monitored by state and federal officials, it is typically released into a local water body, where it can become a source of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.[/QUOTE]

Harvard University

http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/drugs-in-the-water
A study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1999 and 2000 found measurable amounts of one or more medications in 80% of the water samples drawn from a network of 139 streams in 30 states. The drugs identified included a witches' brew of antibiotics, antidepressants, blood thinners, heart medications (ACE inhibitors, calcium-channel blockers, digoxin), hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone), and painkillers. Scores of studies have been done since. Other drugs that have been found include caffeine (which, of course, comes from many other sources besides medications); carbamazepine, an antiseizure drug; fibrates, which improve cholesterol levels; and some fragrance chemicals (galaxolide and tonalide).

Sewage treatment plants are not currently designed to remove pharmaceuticals from water. Nor are the facilities that treat water to make it drinkable. Yet a certain amount of pharmaceutical contamination is removed when water gets treated for other purposes. For example, some research shows that conventional treatment methods result in a 90% decrease in the amount of ibuprofen and naproxen in the water discharged from sewage treatment plants. On the other hand, treatment doesn't seem to have much effect on the levels of drugs such as carbamazepine and diclofenac (a pain reliever).

Some aspects of sewage treatment may remove pharmaceuticals from the water, but as a result, concentrations in sludge increase. Some of that sludge is used as fertilizer, so the pharmaceuticals are getting into the environment in another way.[/QUOTE]
.

(y) From an article put out last year:
QUOTE
With prescription drugs and antibiotics increasingly appearing in our drinking water or taken up by plants, Andersen wants to know whether the same tiny microorganisms that chew up your coffee grounds and apple cores, can also be used to destroy drugs so they don’t wind up in our environment. (...snip...)

Using compost to break down livestock and human waste quickly brought up the question of pharmaceuticals and antibiotics—the drugs we take when we get sick and the ones some farmers feed cows, chickens, and pigs to make them grow bigger and stay healthy. As a water researcher, Andersen knew that pharmaceuticals pose a major challenge at wastewater treatment facilities. After they’ve gone through our bodies and been flushed down the drain, they end up at treatment plants where, he says, “they go through relatively unscathed.” From there, pharmaceuticals wind up in creeks, rivers, and oceans where they get consumed by fish, shellfish, and bottom-dwelling marine creatures. (...snip...)

Compost microbes may not typically be attracted to chemical drugs, but in the right environment, that can change. “Say you’re a kid,” Andersen says, “and you have a whole bunch of Snickers bars.” For every thousand pieces of candy, you have a sprig of broccoli, he continues. Have those kids play all day long, until they’re ravenous, and then unleash them on the bounty of candy. They won’t take the time to separate out a few pieces of broccoli. Thus the broccoli, or in this case the drugs, are broken down and eaten by a trillion microorganisms.
http://civileats.com/2016/06/01/can-compost-recycle-our-drugs/
END QUOTE



This is really more science (chemistry) than I understand. I cut and pasted the bits I felt I had a good grasp of. It should be noted that they are not growing food for human consumption. A pharmaceutical company was disposing of drugs in a landfill, then they decided to use it. (Chunks of drugs, not filtered through a human body!) They composted the drugs to an acceptable level for using as compost in landscaping.

Co-composting of pharmaceutical wastes in soil
Aims: Soils at a commercial facility had become contaminated with the pharmaceutical chemical residues, Probenecid and Methaqualone, and required remediation.
(...snip...)
Conclusions: Co-composting was effective in reducing soil concentrations of Probenecid and Methaqualone residues to acceptable values.

Significance and Impact of the Study: Co-composting is a technology that has application in the remediation of pharmaceutical contaminants in soil.

(BIG snip!)
Site description
Expansion of facilities at a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in south-eastern Australia required the excavation of an area previously used as landfill. Out of date, waste or ‘off-spec’ product was previously landfilled on the site. Other materials, including some laboratory wastes, were also placed in the landfill. A portion of the excavated soil was found to be contaminated with pharmaceutical process wastes and these residues included Probenecid (4-[(dipropylamino) sulphonyl] benzoic acid) and Methaqualone (2-methyl-3-(2-methylphenyl)-4(3H)-quinazolinone or Methaqualone hydrochloride (Fig. 1). A quantity of fillers and binders (e.g. lactose) was also present. Solvents such as xylene, aniline, dichlorobenzene, fatty acids and fatty acid esters, including volatile fatty acids, were also detected at low concentrations in some samples.
(...snip...)
The contaminated soil was a silty clay. It contained a large amount of pharmaceutical contaminants present in forms ranging from extremely large lumps through small nodules of white chalky material to powder form.
(...snip...)
In the pilot study, initial concentrations of the major contaminant (Probenecid) in the compost, directly after blending operations, was measured at 1200 mg kg–1. The temperature of the compost piles rose rapidly after mixing (with a 0.25 m3 bucket excavator) and peaked at 57°C after 30 h. The temperature then declined slowly as the biodegradable material was decomposed. The soil rapidly changed from a light grey–brown clay containing obvious white powdery residues, to a dark, organic appearance soon after the composting commenced.

Probenecid concentrations were reduced to below the target concentration (100 mg kg–1) in a period of 2–3 weeks.
(...snip...)
The compost has subsequently been used for landscaping purposes across the facility.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1472-765X.2001.00992.x/full
In my research, I did learn that urine from cancer and HIV drugs probably should not be used.

Anyway, it's food for thought. :)
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2014
Messages
2,657
Reaction score
3,707
Location
central Texas
Showcase(s):
1
Country
United States
The things one learns here! I was working on outdated information and am glad to know that medications aren't going to ruin the compost. However, I am not allowing anyone to add urine to my piles!
"Food for thought"--MaryMary, you are a stitch!:ROFLMAO:
 
Ad

Advertisements

MaryMary

Quite Contrary
Joined
May 17, 2016
Messages
2,241
Reaction score
3,227
Location
Southwestern Ohio
Hardiness Zone
6
Country
United States
However, I am not allowing anyone to add urine to my piles!
Oh! One other thing! I read somewhere yesterday that if you do use urine from other people, to let it sit in the compost for at least six months, just to be safe. It was more related to "what if they were sick?" and you'd catch their cold, or strep, or bronchitis, or...or...

I suppose if it were airborne, or you didn't wash your hands, you could catch it. :eek:


"Food for thought"--MaryMary, you are a stitch!:ROFLMAO:
:sneaky: I see you caught that! ;)

:ROFLMAO:
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top