Is Vancouver landfill's compost any good?

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by fern2, May 18, 2007.

  1. fern2

    fern2 Active Member

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    Has anyone used the screened compost from the Vancouver city landfill?? Is it any good? And can I add it to my garden right away or do I need to let it 'cook' for a while longer? Their website says the compost has already been left to sit for 12 months, but when I dug into the pile it was still steaming - which makes me think that it's not finished curing and that the detritivores are still finding materials to break down. And if that's true, isn't it risky for me to use it right away? Won't it burn or steal nutrients from my plants?
    Oh, and should I consider adding some kind of gravel (etc) to the soil+compost or will the compost improve my drainage on its own?

    A master gardener told me that the landfill's compost is relatively pH neutral and would be good to use in an area of my garden that needs lower levels of nitrogen than most. Does anyone know if that's true?

    So can I use the compost right away or do I have to wait until late summer (or next year) before it's safe enough to add to my garden?? And do I add it on top of my existing soil or mix it in (& to what depth)??

    Thx!
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2007
  2. globalist1789

    globalist1789 Active Member

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    It's pretty good compost. Mix it with your current soil to about 2 shovel depths if you can, and then you can use it as a mulch too. Use it where ever you want and when ever you want.
     
  3. fern2

    fern2 Active Member

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    Even though it's steamy and still has lots of sticks & woody bits in it? Really??
    Ok... (warily)
     
  4. globalist1789

    globalist1789 Active Member

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    Sure. Soil always has material at all levels of decomposition in it. The fact that all you can find is little sticks and woody bits tells us that it is OK. Do you see the little pieces of tomato, lettuce, potato peel, etc? No, because it is composted. Bits of wood don’t hurt anything, and in a pile like that you could be waiting decades before a big piece of wood disintegrates. Smell it? Does it smell like rotting food? Shouldn’t.
     
  5. Helen Leung

    Helen Leung Active Member 10 Years

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    During the month of May, vancouver residents can go and get as much of this compost as you want. Just bring an ID with your address on it. I love this stuff. Plant my dahlia with only that last year and they bloom like crazy!
     
  6. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I'd be more worried about bits of plastic, broken glass, druggies' syringes, discarded diesel oil, etc., etc., etc. . . how much of a guarantee of freedom from such contaminants is there?
     
  7. Carol Ja

    Carol Ja Active Member 10 Years

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    None of that should be in the compost.
    I wonder if the druggies really use the three R's. In Vancouver, it seems like they just throw it on the ground. although I will say it seems to be contained to select areas.
     
  8. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    . . . where it gets hidden in the autumn leaf fall, then swept up and put in the composters. That's exactly my worry!
     
  9. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Well, it worries me too, and so I wouldn't plunge my hands into it. I live in an area where needles and condoms are sometimes found, and am very careful that they don't get into whatever I put in yard waste, but others, including the city crews themselves, may not be - during autumn, you have to be watching your area every day to catch everything before it is covered by leaves.

    It is typical of bureaucracies that they fail to fully address these risks and don't tell us exactly what precautions are taken. I'd value knowing what "screened" involves.

    But apropos using "fresh" compost... I am very lazy about composting so whenever possible I put my composter in a bit of a hole where I will be later planting. Against the best advice, I compost almost only kitchen waste, as I can't handle the volume that yard debris would add. When I pull up the composter, which I do before everything has fully composted (though after it sits for about a year), I simply cover the contents with soil and plant on top. I have had shrubs and perennials that are nearly planted IN partially composted kitchen waste, and most do fine (and if they don't it's usually too much sun or similar placement issue). I haven't analyzed the chemical results of my strategy, but I'm sure it's less than ideal.

    Most mulches are also, in effect, uncomposted materials. Bark mulch, pine mulch, straw and the like and even fallen leaves all break down and contribute/use their chemical components in the process. I don't think soil is ever "finished" and plants seem able to cope with this.
     
  10. fern2

    fern2 Active Member

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    A quote for Michael F:
    So syringes wouldn't be left behind (& we hope no one gets stuck) but small pieces of glass & broken condoms might (but by then they'd be no more offensive than the pieces of garbage bag that I've been picking out of the pile I collected).

    And one for KarinL:
    to remove things like the whole avocado pits I regularly find in my backyard composter.

    Well, based on your replies, I think I'm going to trust that the city's compost will at least do no (serious) harm and might build up my soil beds, even if it doesn't make the flowers dance with glee. Thanks guys. I really appreciate your insight & experience...
     
  11. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Thanks! Looks like they're taking good care over the quality of the product.
     
  12. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Well great, I didn't find that on the website. Thanks. And here's to gleeful flowers :-)
     
  13. fern2

    fern2 Active Member

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