How to compost cuttings correctly and KALE?

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by vicarious1, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member

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    Location:
    Burnaby North on a slope facing south & a view :-)
    COMPOSTING Questions Vancouver Canada

    A few in this Forum know my garden by now from photos. For those who don't it is situated between to houses and get nice full south sun in summer but in winter its mainly shade.
    I had to cut down all the RED RUSSIAN KALE as it was so infested by aphids I could not eat it anymore. So i cut it down to the earth with the hope that it will make new growth by the next month...
    Had to cut down also part of the curly Kale as so infected. Soapy water etc did not help in the long run. ( I still don't know can I plant my Kale seeds and Brocoli seeds NOW outdoors or must I sew it indoors and then move the seedlings outdoors IN WINTER or will they die. I do NOT have much indoor space to play nearly none.

    Question 1/
    is now I put all the cut off in one empty flower bed..I would like to know IF I cut it all in small pieces and bury it in the earth of that flower bed. Will it be rotten and falling apart by spring? My big black municipality plastic composter is 80% full and I want to keep the space for my kitchen veggies cut offs for winter.
    Question 2/
    I did put to many needles from the pine ( maybe one 8th of the whole composter)
    I wonder what can accelerate the compost. I did add the comfor leaves that I was told accelerate the composting but see no big change when I turn. I still can see
    things 99% as they were say 1month after..
    I do turn it and add moisture etc....NEver knew it was so difficult to compost and the Racoon is trying now and then to have a go at it. but has not managed yet.

    Thanks for reading this far.
     

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  2. Grant Gussie

    Grant Gussie Active Member

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    You won't get a lot of decomposition of burried material over the Vancouver winter... the soil is too wet and cold. You need warmth and oxygen for rapid decomposition. But thats OK... the kale will rot in the spring/summer of next year and wont be any hindurance to your flowers until it does. Bury all the organic material you want. It will rot within a year. Just not within a month or two if the season is cold.

    The lack of warmth is also probably the reason your composter isn't composting as fast as you would like. Below a certain mean daily temperature the composter will not trap or generate enough heat to keep its center near the 35C optimum. For a typical suburban composter, that mean daily temperature is about 15C, depending on how "hot" your compost mix is. But conifer needles are very "cold" (i.e. they are slow to compost and therefore thet dont generate much heat) so you just arent getting the warmth needed. You need a sunny spot and summer temperatures to get rapid decomposition in the Pacific northwest.

    But again, so what? A compost of confier needles and fine leaves DOES NOT HAVE TO BE FULLY COMPOSTED to be usable in the garden. Just mix it with the soil. Unless the leaves form a solid mat that water and roots cant penetrate (and confier needles NEVER do that), your plants wont mind.
     
  3. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member

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  4. Grant Gussie

    Grant Gussie Active Member

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    Don't sweat about it. Just put on the ground wherever you want to put it, whenever you want to put it there. Now its best to leave it until its dark and crumbly, which should occur by mid may. But if you can still see some banana peels and you don't mind looking at them, just use it. I put it around my plants just before the summer drought sets in to serve as a mulch. Or I dig it into the soil in early spring. Whatever. Its all good.
     
  5. 2annbrow

    2annbrow Active Member

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    Location:
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    An additional question or 2 on compost:
    I was told by a local "Never compost anything from a tree that doesn't have anything growing under it - it will kill your compost."
    With a compost "heap," is it good or bad to find fungi growing on it?
     
  6. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member

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    My god :-) the pine needles I composted come from a tree where NOTHING will grow under I tried to plant IVY and even that hasn't grown more than 50cm in 2 years ...:-)
    Anyway thanks for all the advise.. lucky the needles don't make the majority I just tried to add something that was sort of airy.
     
  7. JanR

    JanR Active Member

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    I don't think pine needles will be a problem as I have often heard that you should add pine needles to acidify your soil, so I don't think that they will be a problem.

    In the spring, you could put your compost through a sieve (1/4 inch mesh). You just put the fine stuff on your garden and put the rest back on the compost pile.
     
  8. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member

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    Thank you .. Yes I have a stainless steel mesh and will do that .. I can smell it from here :-)
     
  9. Madi

    Madi Member

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    I could be wrong as I am still a newby at all this garden stuff but I thought you were not supposed to 'smell' compost, at least other than the earthy smell.
     
  10. vicarious1

    vicarious1 Active Member

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    thanks for you imput well pine needles to have a smell (of pine freshness :-) but now its gone...all seems Ok as this post was quite long time ago.
     
  11. Blue Fox

    Blue Fox Member

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    Vicarious1 - With your pine needles, add dolomite lime and mix it / water it in. Don't use hydrated lime.
    I also mix in moldy chicken feed (feed stores sometimes have broken bags of feed half price), alfalfa pellets or flour that's gone rancid or off. You want heat? That's the best!

    In compost piles that are a bit slow I've also added the bagged chicken manure (I don't get steer manure or mushroom manure as they usually contain chemicals from the feed lot or mushroom barn). You can add the chicken manure to a bucket of water, mix it and then pour it on. That way it will percolate through the whole pile.

    to 2annbrow - Also don't use the leaves from Juglans, walnut trees.
    As to the fungi, it depends on what kind they are - if they're ones that came from kitchen waste, just mix them in. It kind of indicates that there's something wrong with the mix if you get lots, and multiple crops of them. What are they growing on?
     

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