Project Woes

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by tambo, Jan 2, 2004.

  1. tambo

    tambo Well-Known Member

    Mar 27, 2003
    NW TN
    Well I started some projects this past year that are not doing so well.

    I started a compost pile that I cant get to heat up.I used pallets.I put chicken and rabbit manure,straw and grass in it.Its breaking down but its taking its sweet time doing it.

    We have a greenhouse.We put volunteer tomatoes in it.One of them has yellow leaves at the bottom of it.I looked in all the gardening books but can't pin point what it is.One of them has little tiny red bugs :confused: on it at the bottom.I sprayed a mixture of soap,listerine,ammonia,and water on it but they are still there.I shook them the other day to pollinate and a tomato horn worm fell off of it.We found two more today.

    I'm going to have to try harder I guess.

  2. I never could get a compost pile to work for me either. Now I just go ahead and throw the material directly on the garden and let nature do the work itself. Another problem I've had is that if I have a big heep of compost pile setting there in the rain, the rain is leeching the nutrients into the ground. I have never tried one of those barrel thingies, where you place the material inside and roll it around everyonce in a while. Supposedly in about a weeks time you have compost ready to be used.

  3. Shrek

    Shrek Singletree Moderator Staff Member Supporter

    Apr 30, 2002
    North Alabama
    Sweeten it with a little bread yeast and sugar. Or better yet use worms. Worms prefer to compost cool piles :)
  4. Quite a number of years ago I traded for a chipper/shredder to use in making a quicker compost. The smaller the material is the quicker it can break down.

    Having made a lot of compost since then, I really believe that MOST people make their compost piles way too dry. The pile shouldn't be saturated to the point water runs out of it, but after a day or two the pile should still be quite damp inside when you put your hand into it. If it isn't, add water. All of that dry matter is like a big sponge and needs moisture.

    Mix, mix, mix. As you build a pile mix the ingredients together well. To every few inches of layered material, scatter a shovelful of dirt into the mix. This is all of the bacteria/starter you need. The next day turn the pile and mix it as you do. This is your first real chance to see if it has enough moisture. If it has enough moisture let it heat for a couple of days before turning it again. If not, add water and turn again the next day. Once you have the proper moisture, turn about every four days until you are satisfied with the resulting compost. Remember a quick compost won't look like fine particles of dirt, but will be broken down into a nice dark brown material that smells wonderfully earthy.

    The fastest pile I ever made was ready in about two weeks, really closer to 10 days.
    It was drizzling as I ran wheat straw and leaves through the shredder. A neighbor decided to mow the leaves off of his lawn, so I added the very damp clipping/leaf material to the pile, AFTER it had gone through the shredder. I also had a sprinkler adding water as I built the pile. The next day I had to add additional water as the dry matter had soaked it all up.

    Another good method of composting is to sheet compost, i.e. layer material over your garden space, then roto-till it all in. That exposes much of it to dirt and the bacteria, worms, etc. If this is done in the fall it will pretty well have broken down into soil by spring. Shreks worms are excellent composters. If you have a layer of material heavy enough to insulate the ground from freezing, they will work all winter long.

    RANDEL Well-Known Member

    Dec 10, 2003
    yes i agree about making sure the pile is wet enough. out in new mexico i used to have to really water the piles every few days. it was like christmas running out there first thing in the morning to see if the piles were hot yet. they always heated up for me, even in winter. i was using horse manue layerd with spoiled hay, with a little garden waste or whatever tossed in.

    you have to get the ratio of carbon to nitrogen just right to get the pile really cooking.
  6. I've had trouble with compost piles too - Mine was filled with ants!
    I'm sure I had the wrong mixture, but seeing all those ants pretty much discouraged from finding out what was wrong. I just wanted to get rid of it!