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Old 05-19-08, 03:11 PM   #1
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Anybody else have a backyard compost pile?

Now that my backyard is in order, I've started a compost pile. Any "backyard farmers" here in foo have any real tips?

My goal is to grow some onion, tomato, and jalapeno plants next spring. Basically grow my own salsa.

edit: Thanks in advance for all input.

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Old 05-19-08, 03:12 PM   #2
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Now that my backyard is in order, I've started a compost pile. Any "backyard farmers" here in foo have any real tips?

My goal is to grow some onion, tomato, and jalapeno plants next spring. Basically grow my own salsa.
Turn the pile over about 1X each week. Allowing oxygen to get into the pile will promote the aerobic bacteria you are trying to develop. Outside of that....avoid meat products. They stink.

My garden consists of onions, cucumbers, Jalepenos, Bell Peppers, Habeneros, 7 tomato plants, Black Beans and green beans.
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Old 05-19-08, 03:23 PM   #3
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Now that my backyard is in order, I've started a compost pile. Any "backyard farmers" here in foo have any real tips?

My goal is to grow some onion, tomato, and jalapeno plants next spring. Basically grow my own salsa.

edit: Thanks in advance for all input.
Yeah, only vegetable products in the compost.

I have never grown onions, the others are easy, we do them every year. (red onions are best for salsa, IMO)
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Old 05-19-08, 03:25 PM   #4
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I am fine w/ limited amounts of nasty stuff (fat, meat) in my compost pile. I do aerate pretty aggressively. THe big thing for me is to mix in a lot of like grass clippings. But essentially no woody type yardwaste, just leaves (never oak leaves).
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Old 05-19-08, 03:28 PM   #5
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(never oak leaves).
why not?
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Old 05-19-08, 03:44 PM   #6
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Now that my backyard is in order, I've started a compost pile. Any "backyard farmers" here in foo have any real tips?

My goal is to grow some onion, tomato, and jalapeno plants next spring. Basically grow my own salsa.

edit: Thanks in advance for all input.
Make a compost barrel, it is easier to mix the compost. Also don't use grass clippings too much.

This link should get you going. Composting

have fun
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Old 05-19-08, 03:51 PM   #7
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Our region hands out free composting bins. You might want to check out your municipality to see if they do the same.
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Old 05-19-08, 04:01 PM   #8
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It's not too late to start your tomatoes and peppers. You can do them in containers or in the ground, just use potting soil this year.

We crop hay and raise ponies. Our compost bin is made of concrete and larger than what you would ever need. Some friends in town use those rotating barrel composers and are happy with them. For mine, the way I mix it is with a wire thread weed eater, turn it over with a pitch fork, and clean it out with a tractor. Only the weed eater part applies to the backyard, and it works quite well.
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Old 05-19-08, 04:17 PM   #9
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oak leaves have high levels of I think it's tannins and just basically don't break down, rather turn into a fibrous mess.
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Old 05-19-08, 04:21 PM   #10
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I made a really basic one with turkey wire and stakes. Looks like hell, but it works fine. I'll throw my coffee grounds in there too.

This year I have a couple kinds of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and cucumbers. I'll put in some pumpkins later too.
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Old 05-19-08, 04:22 PM   #11
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1. Don't put weeds you've pulled that have already gone to seed in it.

2. you need a source of nitrogen, grass clippings are good for that.

3. I usually mix about 1/3 vegetable kitchen scraps, 1/3 yard debris and 1/3 soil together.

4. even if it's too big to turn easily, you still need to aerate it and keep it moist, I've got a 5-foot steel bar I aerate my big pile with.

5. woody debris is OK, but it takes longer to break down and does consume a lot of nitrogen. It helps if you have a chipper to break the big things down - smaller pieces w/ more surface area take up less room and compost a lot faster. chicken manure is a good source of supplemental nitrogen.
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Old 05-19-08, 04:26 PM   #12
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Put in things that have a low carbon to nitrogen ratio. The aerobic bacteria you're looking for (that are responsible for creating humus) tend to enjoy ratios of 8:1. Obviously you don't have to only put in things that are 8:1 but if you get really wide ratios (woodchips, straw, etc) you're gonna be taking away nitrogen from any plants

Like someone said, tannins, waxes, etc, are terrible because they're nigh-impossible to decompose
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Old 05-19-08, 04:57 PM   #13
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Magnolia leaves don't break down either. Too waxy.
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Old 05-19-08, 05:05 PM   #14
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Oaks also have a natural herbicide, which is one of the reason nothing grows under them.
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Old 05-19-08, 05:24 PM   #15
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Wait!! Nobody mentioned the wet/dry layering!!

I alternate newspaper or dry leaves in between the clippings. Another thing is using the paper egg cartons too.

Don't forget that when things rot, it produces heat naturally so I have the enclosed kind. Makes compost faster.

Earthworms are good too. Makes it real rich!

Don't forget that moisture speeds up the rotting process so you want to water every third day or so. I usually do it after I turn it and then a few days later.

Any kind of kitchen scraps work fine except for meat.

Egg shells are good too it provides calcium to it. Just make sure you crunch it up real good into tiny bits.

I've been composting for over ten years and that's all I use as a top soil for EVERYTHING! It's wonderful!! I've gotten random things growing as well.

The fun surprises that I've had were yellow pear tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, pumpkins, butternut squash....oh it's so fun!!
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Old 05-19-08, 05:26 PM   #16
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Wait!! Nobody mentioned the wet/dry layering!!

I alternate newspaper or dry leaves in between the clippings. Another thing is using the paper egg cartons too.

Don't forget that when things rot, it produces heat naturally so I have the enclosed kind. Makes compost faster.

Earthworms are good too. Makes it real rich!

Don't forget that moisture speeds up the rotting process so you want to water every third day or so. I usually do it after I turn it and then a few days later.

Any kind of kitchen scraps work fine except for meat.

Egg shells are good too it provides calcium to it. Just make sure you crunch it up real good into tiny bits.

I've been composting for over ten years and that's all I use as a top soil for EVERYTHING! It's wonderful!! I've gotten random things growing as well.

The fun surprises that I've had were yellow pear tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, pumpkins, butternut squash....oh it's so fun!!
Very good description. That's exactly what we do.
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Old 05-19-08, 08:31 PM   #17
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How long do the carcasses of your enemies take to dissolve in a compost pile?
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Old 05-19-08, 09:04 PM   #18
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Oaks also have a natural herbicide, which is one of the reason nothing grows under them.
I think you're thinking of black walnut. Oak aren't bad.

You can compost black walnut leaves, but they have to be completely broken down. If you have a black walnut tree in your yard or neighbor's yard, forget growing anything in the ground, especially tomatoes.

I need more leaves in my pile. Straw works, but it takes a good while to decompose.
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Old 05-19-08, 09:16 PM   #19
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My vegetarian neighbors decided to have a compost pile, in which they tossed the uneaten parts (skins, ends, peels) of their food preparations. Within a year the immediate area developed a serious rodent problem, both rats and mice, that were feeding off the compost pile. It took nearly a year to rid the area of that problem. Step one was getting rid of the compost pile.
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Old 05-19-08, 09:17 PM   #20
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That is why a covered one made out of recycled plastic is good.
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Old 05-19-08, 09:38 PM   #21
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That is why a covered one made out of recycled plastic is good.
That's genius in it's simplicity and practicality. Unfortunately, these neighbors are vehemently anti-plastic. She won't even allow her 1 year old daughter to play with other kid's dolls if they're made of anything other than wood, cloth or hemp. It actually took awhile to convince them that rodents in uncontrollable numbers are not good around humans (eating fruit on trees before ripened, flower roots and bulbs, internet cables, wiring, car parts...)
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Old 05-19-08, 09:49 PM   #22
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Hmmm. That makes it a little difficult.
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Old 05-19-08, 10:24 PM   #23
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Gee I've been composting oak leaves mixed with grass cutting for years. My secret in this dry climate is lots of water. When my neighbor pulled out his 1/2 acre lawn and put in Xeriscaping I worked out a deal with a local market. I could take all the trimmings from from their veg department which they put out in big boxes anyway. Woo Hoo! 4 and 5 cubic yards of that stuff smoked through the oak and Magnolia equivalent leaves in weeks. I just spread the stuff around my hillside smothering anything that looks like a non-native plant.
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Old 05-20-08, 12:23 AM   #24
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Somebody took a dump in our compost pile
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Old 05-20-08, 12:54 AM   #25
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Somebody took a dump in our compost pile
That's really getting to the point of creating fertilizer. A little too blunt, clearly, but spot on.
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