Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Compost Lessons

I'm teaching a class on composting at WCC next week. It's always a lot of fun. Chocolate and a breakout session are involved.

I wonder, if you had only one tip, piece of advice, lesson learned, or other wisdom to share with people new to composting, what would it be?

This is the third year I'm teaching this course and my syllabus is all set... but I'm always eager to learn from others and am happy to share anything new I may learn from you, oh so knowledgeable blogging friends!

22 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great class to teach. I guess my best tips would be to keep the pile moist and turn it often. Of course I usually forget these tips half way through the season, lol. :)

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  2. Tell them not to worry, compost happens no matter what you do or don't do to it. You can help it along though of course. Have fun.

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  3. One "helpful hint" would be to spray it with liquid fertilizer once in a while if it doesn't seem to be breaking down. That little burst of nitrogen is a good kick start. On that same note, I would let them know that all of the commercial "compost starters" are a complete waste of time and money!

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  4. My tip is to keep your kitchen scraps in the freezer until you take them out to the compost pile. They will break down much faster after experiencing all those ice crystals and you don't have to worry about having a nice looking pail or a smell on the kitchen counter. Have fun in your class Monica!

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  5. I've found coffee grounds made all the difference to my compost. I collected them at work, and they heated up the compost and made it get through the winter better. No idea why that worked, but it did.

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  6. My one tip would be to be sure to give a new compost pile a bit of help with a shovelful of good garden soil to help it with microorganisms. Second tip is to turn it and be patient. Oops-that's two more. Better quit now while I'm ahead.

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  7. My tip would be, when creating a garden don't forget to leave space for it! LOL We have no room!-- Randy

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  8. I guess the single most important thing about composting is that you can never have enough of it.

    I have learned that the more finely grass and leaves are chopped, the faster they decompose.

    Been thinking about experimenting with a brief period of anaerobic composting. Completely submerging the grass in water for a week or two, then draining it and adding leaves or shredded paper. Just an idea. I want to see if the process can be speeded up. The water should also make decent fertilizer.
    Marnie

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  9. Hi Monica.....I always add comfrey leaves to mine......everything rots so much quicker.
    You can grow it in the garden, it is such an easy plant......

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  10. I don't think I can add any new tips besides those already mentioned here, but I know if I were taking the class, I'd like to get some good ideas on an inexpensive way to build a real compost bin. I've hinted to Hubby how much I want one...maybe my birthday present?:)

    I do have some tips for those who want to get some compost at their local landscape recycling centers, however: bring your own bags, wear old clothes, and take along your garden gloves. These tips come from my first experience getting compost there this week:)

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  11. It's not really a tip Monica, just an observation - compost can attract fungus gnats, which might put some people off. Covering the top of it with dried leaves will help somewhat in keeping them away.

    On the other hand, hummingbirds LOVE fungus gnats. There are several plants in my garden they also love, most especially hanging basket fuchsia I put out every year, and a couple of varieties of hostas I have. In our yard, hummingbirds spend at least as much time hovering over the compost catching gnats as they do sipping nectar from their favorite flowers in our garden. I LOVE that our compost attracts hummingbirds!

    One more thing - even apartment and condo dwellers can compost with a worm bin. The compost can be used to enrich balcony containers, and compost tea makes a very nice organic fertilizer.

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  12. water the compost not the garden

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  13. I was going to say add some worms but someone beat me to that tip.

    My other tips would be to make sure they know not to throw any kitchen scraps that have animal byproducts in them. No meat or buttered veggies. That should help with any smell.

    Also, well rinsed egg shells make an excellent addition to compost piles. This is the exception to the above rule. But as I said make sure they are clean.

    Jessica

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  14. Monica, no tips but seem to have gotten quite a few good ones. Hope your class goes well.

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  15. Hi, Monica;
    My tip is on the compost bins... I found this to be an expensive lesson in what not to buy. A tumbling container seems to work best, saving the hassle of doing that with a garden fork.

    Consider a tight, tight lid so the raccoons don't decide to live with you.

    And, a smaller container, with a filter, for the kitchen counter is way convenient and prevents those little flies from tormenting you.

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  16. I compost the "slow way," in that I only occasionally turn everything over and water once-in-awhile. It still works and I'm always happy! :-)

    Advice: I don't throw anything with seeds that might sprout in the pile. But that's especially because I do it my slow way.

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  17. During drought times, I try to remember to give the compost bin a sprinkle of water...

    Happy Earth Day and have fun at your compost class...

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  18. I would love to be in the class. I have learned not to add green onions with the bottom root still attached. They will take root and so will potatoes.

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  19. Thanks for all the tips and reminders. I have nothing to add- just a question-- does anyone know when the ann arbor perennial exchange is? or others?
    thanks!

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  20. Oh, Du gibst sogar Unterricht in Compostlehre. Super! Nein, ich habe leider keine weiteren Tipps. Da hast Du sicher viel mehr Ahnung davon als ich.
    Schönes Wochenende wünsche ich Dir. Bei uns ist der Frühling endlich richtig angekommen.
    Liebe Grüße
    Birgit

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  21. My one tip: no matter what you do or don't do with your compost pile, you will eventually get compost! There are lots of ways to get there faster, or make it higher quality, but in the end, do what works best for you and your garden.

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