Author Topic: Compost and its uses  (Read 1902 times)

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Offline gelton

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Compost and its uses
« on: March 22, 2016, 02:08:00 am »
Hello all

My home is in Happy Valley Valley, a suburb of Adelaide South Australia.
I have in the last 12 mouths removed most plants (excluding trees) and replaced then with mostly herbaceous perennials, which I have propagated by seed. My garden area is approximately half an acre.

Although seed is a relative inexpensive way to go and as I am now retired would like to further reduce gardening costs and improve the materials I use. That is fertilisers, seed raising and potting mixes.

As I have an endless supply of manure from a local horse riding school, and some chicken manure/straw  I have built a 3 cubic meter bin to start composting. Once finished I will then move the compost into smaller bins (400L) to cure and be ready in spring.   It is this compost that will form the basis of my mixes and fertiliser.

What I would like to ask is:

Do you have a compost pile?
How do you apply compost to your garden, and at what depth and when?
Do you make your own seed and potting mixes and if so what do you use.
Any other comments concerning compost and seed and potting mixes.

Any information and experiences will be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards
Greg

Online ideasguy

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Re: Compost and its uses
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2016, 10:16:02 pm »
Welcome to the forum Greg! You'll find it a bit cooler here ;D
Happy Valley :D What a lovely name to have as home!

I'm no expert in making good compost! It takes lots of preparation.

I build a new compost bin each year and use them in turn as they mature.
I don't have time to make proper compost (adding manure and other ingredients and turning it all over etc). Mine are simply somewhere to get rid of weeding material, but mostly grass cuttings.

I have bindweed in one location in my garden and ground elder in another.
I never put them on the compost heap.
Other no-nos are Dandylions and any nasty roots - e.g. couch grass, nettle.

This past few years I take all my grass cuttings for recycling.
I found that grass cuttings on their own can make a slimy mess so layers of some coarser material is required.
I allow it to decompose for at least 3 years before I use it.

I use it for working into the vegetable plots. I spread a heavy layer over the ground and use a pretty much industrial rotavator to work it into the top 10 to 12 inches or so.

I would not recommend using your own compost for growing seed. If it contains any seed survivors then you will get weedlings instead of seedlings.
I would also advise not to use it for potting up plants - unless your compost is very good!

I also use my own "compost" for mulching around my plants, usually in spring/early summer.
I do get weedlings - I need to hoe to keep them from growing and causing problems.

I'd love to hear Erics method for dealing with garden waste and if he makes good compost.




« Last Edit: March 22, 2016, 10:22:08 pm by ideasguy »

Online Palustris

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Re: Compost and its uses
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2016, 08:53:47 am »
We do pretty much the same as George. We have three heaps, In Pending and Out. In is for new stuff, this is turned over into Pending which is then turned over into Out which is what we use as top dressing around the garden.
We also have the Non-compost heap which is where all the stuff which is not supposed to go in the compost heap, proper. This is covered with black plastic and is left to fester for 5 years before being investigated and used.
Impossible to properly sterilise compost for use as seed growing material, unless you only need small amounts when you can put it in the microwave for 10 minutes.  Garden heaps do not really get hot enough unless you are prepared to turn it everyday and add water each time.

Online ideasguy

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Re: Compost and its uses
« Reply #3 on: March 24, 2016, 11:58:47 am »
RE:
Quote
We also have the Non-compost heap which is where all the stuff which is not supposed to go in the compost heap, proper. This is covered with black plastic and is left to fester for 5 years before being investigated and used.

I like that idea!
In the spring weeding "campaign" I bag up lots of grass roots etc and take them for recycling.
Problem is, being spring and the ground is wet, they are attached to good soil.
Your idea would save me a few runs to the dump and allow them to decompose and be sorted with a shake when the compost is dry.
Dandelions? They have luscious leaves which have to be very good for making compost. Not for the regular compost heap of course.
What about the flowers on them though????
If covered they could be prevented from turning to seed. What do you think?

Online Palustris

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Re: Compost and its uses
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2016, 05:46:26 pm »
Probably, we just chuck everything on the heap, roots, flowers and all, then cover it up. The only plants which do not go on it are those tiny white flowered things which seem to be everywhere, even in bought compost. Can never remember the name of them.

Online Palustris

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Re: Compost and its uses
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2016, 05:47:55 pm »
Oh, should add, really important to exclude all light and moisture otherwise things will grow.

Offline gelton

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Re: Compost and its uses
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2016, 05:36:09 am »
Thanks for the replys.

What I do with my compost system that I have started this autumn is to collect  3 cubic meters  of horse manure at the same time  and place in a purpose built bin made out of 50mm thick timber. It measures 1.2x2.5x1 meters.

On the very bottom I placed as layer of bedding straw and then the manure on top adding water as required. It amount of water added was enough to make it like a wrung out sponge.

After one day the temperature had rapidly risen to approximately 55C and has remained there for 10 Days.  After 6 weeks and the temperature has reduced to around 35-40C I will then shift it to several 400L bin to mature ready to be used in spring.

From what I had read keeping the compost hot for greater than 3 days should destroy most of the unwanted seeds and other unwanted harmful life.

My plan was that in spring I would sieve some of the compost to produce a light fluffy product which would then be combined with peat and vermiculite in equal parts to form a seedling mix.

Now I have noted your comments about seed that is not destroyed by composting. When you compost do you get your heap really hot and maintained at a high temperature for a few days or is it more like cold composting which takes a long time to mature. I think respectfully this have influenced your thoughts.

I think hot composting is the way to go but I am inexperienced  I have some doubts . I have read a lot but there is no substitute to practical experience.

I am keen to use local free material to produced my mixes but want to minimize any problems.

Can you please further comment  and also comments from other members would greatly be appreciated.

Kind Regards
Greg

 


Online Palustris

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Re: Compost and its uses
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2016, 02:09:08 pm »
Certainly the system used in Northern climes is a cold composting one. Even so, with the commercial 'hot' system we are still getting some weed seed germination from the peat free compost which is what they sell as a result of the process.
All you can do is make the compost and do a trial run. Make up a batch and put it in a propagator for a while and see what germinates, if anything.
We do not use any animal manures here, there have been major problems with amino-pyralid weedkillers which have badly contaminated them and which is persistent even after going through animals. There is 400 tons of chicken manure in the field next to us which we refuse to use as it has been shown to contain, Listeria, Salmonella and Clostridium plus a few others as well.
If you want to start an argument in a group of gardeners, asked them what is the best method of composting, then stand back and watch the sparks.
The best method?.....................The one which works for you.