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Composting

I read a question about composting yesterday and cannot find it today. I am giving this link on composting from the city of Austin that pretty well covers it:

http://austintexas.gov/department/com...

One of the tricks is to mix the greens and browns as described. Also try buying some worms to help it along plus frequent turning.

Hope this helps. J.

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  1. Thanks for sharing: I was under the impression it should be half and half, green and brown. No wonder my compost is sort of funky!

    2 Replies
    1. re: coll

      That Austin, TX website is a great resource for setting up a home-composting system, singlemalt. The three-to-one ratio of browns to greens is pretty standard and works well.
      "Add roughly one share of
      nitrogen-rich greens and three
      shares of carbon-rich browns."

      Regarding worms: You would purchase worms (affectionately known as "red wrigglers") only if you are setting up a vermicomposting system. For the backyard pile, don't worry: make it attractive to worms with a good balance of composting material and as long as it isn't freezing or boiling, and they will come on their own! Used coffee grounds work particularly well as an attractant.

      1. re: coll

        If it is sort of funky, it is possible that it isn't getting aerated enough. You've got to be able to turn it or toss it fairly often.

      2. Buy worms? Really? The worms found our compost pile and there are hundreds of them.
        We keep it simple with mainly kitchen scraps. The end product is amazing.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Motosport

          Me too, mine is a raised bin and I wonder where they come from, but I have more worms than I can shake a stick at!

          I do like to go to a local farm around this time of year and pick up a couple of bags of their manure to mix in. It's goat, horse and chicken mixed, seems to do the trick.

          1. re: coll

            Never shake a stick at a swarm of worms!!!!

            1. re: Motosport

              Oh I thought that was snakes. My mistake!

        2. One thing this website doesn't discuss is bokashi composting, which can really speed up the process. I live in an apartment, so i don't have room for a regular compost bin. So, i use a bokashi bin, which makes great compost tea, then i give the compost away when it is through making the tea.
          I think even if i had a yard, i'd do the bokashi composting first, then throw it in the outdoor bin. You don't have to worry about the ratios, dairy and meat (small amounts) are ok.
          Anyway, here is a good resource.
          http://www.bokashicomposting.com/

          9 Replies
          1. re: TroyTempest

            Hi Troy, Glad you brought up the Bokashi method , because it is great for small space and/or indoor composting.

            I actually compost outside in my yard AND in two Bokashi buckets in my garage. Because of the unique Bokashi micro-organism fermenting-method, I'm able to compost all kitchen scraps, including meat, dairy, bread, pasta, fatty/buttery scraps, and cooked foods. I've been layering in however many scraps I have and the fermenting process proceeds no matter how many I add.

            The outdoor compost bins hold garden clippings, non-flowering weeds, Fall leaves, and corn husks and other large amounts of vegetative and fruit peelings that might take up a lot of space in the Bokashi bucket (think prepping eight artichokes or the like.)

            When a bucket is full and the contents have fermented for a week or two more, the resulting residue is GOLD. I dump mine out in one of my compost-bins, but you can just bury it in your garden too. The worms love it and I usually find at least a shovel-full crowding around to chomp on that delicious Bokashi-stuff. They convert it to worm castings, and there's not much better for your soil.

            1. re: Goblin

              I'm guessing there's some kind of cost involved? The beauty of regular composting is making free garbage into GOLD.

              1. re: coll

                Hi Coli, You are right; there is some cost involved to either building or buying the specialized Bokashi bucket system. The site that Troy gives a few posts up sells new buckets for $53--this includes the screen, some Bokashi bran as the innoculant, a bucket with a spigot, and a cover. You can also buy the systems on Amazon for less. The buckets last for years--mine have been producing for six+ years and show no signs of wearing out or otherwise decaying. You can also find instructions for building and assembling your own bucket-system on the Net. I also buy a really large bag of bran innoculant that also lasts about 2 years, also available from various sources.

                As I said above, what I like about using the Bokashi-system is that I throw NO food scraps away at all. LIke many Hounds, I like to cook and I seem always to have plenty of meat, fish, poultry, dairy, etc, scraps to dispose of, both raw and cooked. All the stuff that you're supposed to avoid putting into outside compost piles because of critters. Not that such scraps wouldn't turn into fine compost eventually--"everything rots" is the composter's mantra--but critters and dogs would be attracted by the smells to dig them up. I have experience here with my three dogs! The fermented contents of my Bokashi buckets do have a slight "pickled" smell but it doesn't seem so attractive to animals. I always bury them down deep into my outside compost bins OR dig into my soil (16-18 inches deep is recommended) after which they turn into great worm-fodder which melts away into terrific compost. And as Troy said, you also get a lot of high-quality compost-tea.

                Sorry to sort of hijack the thread! Oh well; it's still on the subject of composting, right? ;-)

                1. re: Goblin

                  Any info on composting welcome! I do keep hearing about your method. I have an off the ground compost bin that you turn seven rotations a day; I initially put so much money into the raised beds etc last year just to get started, that I want to wait until I feel like I "broke even" before investing anymore. I did just buy a blower/vacuum/mulcher device at BJs yesterday, curious to see if that does anything for my compost, as well as the rest of the lawn which is its main purpose.

                  1. re: coll

                    Anything that chops up leaves is appreciated by your compost-pile! Also makes a great mulch.

                    1. re: Goblin

                      That's probably it for this year, but maybe next year will be Bokashi!

                  2. re: Goblin

                    Have also done a bit of bokashi and it went well, an intriguing way to convert waste to gain. I made my own home rig with a spigoted Gatorade-style container (think any contractor truck, that 5-gal drink container strapped to the back) and some repurposed plastic containers at the bottom to allow for drainage. Bought my bokashi bran separately online.

                    Very nice way to compost all of those uncompostables (fatty meat scraps, fuzzy cottage cheese, chicken bones, etc.). I worried about odor emanating but was never a problem; one does need to be aware that there's a big microorganism rave going on when one opens the lid ("You guys keep it down in there!").

                    Need to have a final resting place for the fermented product -- an outdoor compost heap/bed to bury in, or a like-minded friend with a garden. :)

                    1. re: DuchessNukem

                      DuchessNukem, what a helpful description of how to make a DIY Bokashi-bucket! Laughed out loud at the "microorganism rave" idea!

                      It's true; there is an obvious pickled-smell when the top is opened, which is why having a tight lid on the bucket-container is important, as well as using the bran innoculant.

                      Here's another website that gives a very good description of the whys and wherefores of this system:
                      http://www.timetorecycle.com/compost/...

                      Can you tell that I love the Philosphy of Bokashi? We waste so much food in this country. I just wish that restaurants/school cafeterias and anywhere where a lot of uneaten food scraps accumulate would do large-scale Bokashi systems, like they do in Japan. . . I like to envision huge piles of high-grade composted soil, containing giant forklifts of worms. ..

                      At this point, people start looking at me strangely. ;-)

                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                        I made my own as well, after buying my first. I found that with 3 kids i needed more than one bin. After the first bin gets full, I generally let it sit inn there until it is pretty finished making tea, which takes about a month. Anyway, for the one i made, I used a 5 gallon pickle bucket that i got from a hamburger place. I bought the spigot from a brewer's supply store.

                        One more good link:
                        http://www.compostguy.com/bokashi-res...

              2. singlemalt,
                I assume that you know that Austin energy will give you a rebate for your composting system*

                * certain requirements must be met of course