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Discussion Starter #1
Not quite sure on how to use compost for the garden. I'm going to try making some manure tea from it like I saw in a picture that moonwolf posted, but other than that, how do I use it? It's like a sludgy texture at the bottom of the bin and has little bugs crawling through it when I move it around with the hoe. Ick.
I could really use your advice on this. I don't want to mess with it until I know what I'm doing. Thanks.
 

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Metal melter
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I'd say you don't have enough air circulation if it is sludgy. You mentioned a "bin"...is it plastic?...are there drain holes?

I use mine just like dirt. I fill up my raised beds with the stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It's wooden. There are thin slats along the sides and bottom.
 

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Tub-thumper
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It's good to turn it on a regular basis, as well.

I'm not a compost expert but I try to keep a fairly even balance of green and brown and it seems to work okay for me. When I first started, I didn't have a good balance and got black sludgy ick on the bottom of my pile, too.

/VM
 

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Discussion Starter #5
via media, I've been turning it consistently and I just added more grass clippings and kitchen scraps to it on Sunday night. I'm anxious to use the composted portion which was why I was asking. Thanks for the replies so far.
 

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'They' always say that finished compost should have the texture of a wrung out sponge. This escapes me-I can't picture dirt-like stuff being like that.

Anyway, yours does sound too wet. I just turned my pile after many weeks b/c couldn't get to it due to rain. Its still 'crumbly' and not all has composted. I still have tiny sticks & a banana sticker here & there.

I use a garden fork to load it into a little wagon then scoop it around the plants. Then if it hasn't just rained, I water it in a little.

Hope this helps.

Patty
 

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using compost:

well, I just used some finished compost in the small trench where the leeks are growing. I'll sidedress the onions next as they are growing. I'm going to add some also to sidedress around the squash plants. This time of year I guess the most use I get out of compost is sidedressing growing vegetable plants to give them a boost and help balance out the soil where.

Maybe if I were you and having that 'sludgy' wet layer at the bottom with the live bugs crawling around it, just use whats finished over top of that and add a thin layer of soil on what's left with the 'sludge' and start mixing new compost from there.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes, Tricky Grama, that helps alot, and Moonwolf, I'll try that too. Thank you for all of your help.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I found out what I was doing wrong! I told DH about this thread and how your replies explain that the composted muck should be more dirt like, and he asked me "Have you added soil to the bin?" Duh! Silly me... so I added some top soil and turned it. That should hopefully fix things now.
 

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You don't necessarily need soil, although that adds microbes that will eat your garbage. Just make sure you have a good ratio of greens (leftover plants) to browns (dead leaves and paper) and you will be fine. There really is no BAD compost.

I put a little in each hole I dig to plant seedlings. Or you can put a little next to the stems of plants (called "sidedressing" ) and this will fertilize them.

As for the manure tea, I am using a very simple method. I keep a five gallon bucket next to my rain barrels. In it I put a scoop of composted manure and filled the bucket. I keep a stick in it to stir every day and whenever I'm in that area. That aerates the water giving the microbes oxygen to work.

When I see eggs of squash bugs on leaves, I break those off and put the leaves in the bucket.This way I make sure they don't hatch. Adds more organic matter to my tea.

THen when I water plants, I add a large can or two of my compost tea for fertilizer.
 

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STILL not Alice
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I don't add dirt to my heaps (other than what's clinging to roots of discarded plants) and they're just fine.

I do notice that if I have too much "green" (nitrogen) the pile can get sloppy, so I flip it and add more "brown" (carbon) to it and it's all good. My favorite brown these days is shredded junk mail and paper from the office. :)

I'm only running one pile right now, as there are too many volunteers in the other two piles and I want to see what happens with them. LOL!

Gardening is such a fun adventure!! :hobbyhors

Pony!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hey Pony, I haven't added paper other than tea bags and coffee filters. Maybe that's my problem? I have a recycle bin full of newspaper that I can start adding. Can sticks and small branches be added to the pile as well? or do those take a long time to turn into compost? I just pruned some trees. Thanks for the added reply! I'm really naive when it comes to this garden stuff.
...but I'm quickly learning!
 

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http://www.css.cornell.edu/compost/chemistry.html
This is a good link to explain how compost works and ratios to use. You said you have wood slats on the bottom of your bin? Ideally your compost should be sitting on soil...that's so the microbes in the soil can enter the compost and do their work.

Sticks and branches will eventually break down, but very slowly. I chip mine and use it as mulch around bushes and trees rather than mixing it with my compost.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Naturewoman, the bin is sitting on soil but I think you mean the pile should be, right? I'll check into it on that link. Thanks so much for providing it. It's going to be very resourceful!

Thanks also for the reply on the sticks. I have a chipper and will add it to the trees, bushes also., along with DH's sawdust pile from his table saw.
 
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