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Common household remedies request

What's the lazy man's way to compost?

Since I banked my house with leaves in trash bags last year, I've got a ton of dead leaves now. So I dumped 'em out of the trash bags -- which I will recycle flat on the ground to kill off some rhizomic plants I don't want by depriving them of light -- into a huge pile, and dumped a box of compost starter on the leaves, and then turned them with a pitchfork. And something indeed does seem to be happening to the leaves -- it looks like they're starting to break up.

Now, I've always resisted composting, because it sounds like work, and also because, back in the day, composting was one of those topics holier-than-thou types would use to drive you into a conversational corner. But now I can't bear to waste the leaves, and besides, composting is going to save me money.

So and but I've got a vague feeling I ought to be doing more than having a big pile. Do I need to put the compost inside a fence or container of some kind? That sounds like work.

And what about kitchen scraps? I generate a lot of coffee grounds, and an increasing amount of vegetable and fruit scraps, due to dietary changes, but if I dump them on the compost pile, will the stink cause the neighbors to comment? (Yes, I know about no meat.)

And so forth. Frankly, what I'd like to do is just leave the pile where it is, let the microorganisms do the work, turn the pile with the pitchfork every week or so, and then shovel the whole pile onto the garden before winter hits -- since when Fall comes, I'll bank the house again with a new generation of leaves, which will go on the pile in the spring...

But is that a rational plan?

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quixote's picture
Submitted by quixote on

Yes. Eminently rational. And if things haven't completely broken down when you're spreading the compost as a pre-winter mulch, they will have done by Spring. Some nitrogen helps speed up the breakdown process (the bacteria need it). Legumes, like alfalfa or vetch you may have pulled as weeds, add nitrogen. Or, less green but also effective, just sprinkle on a teaspoon or so of Miraclegro every few layers. Obviously, the usual thing would be to add some chicken or other animal poo. That doesn't necessarily create a stench, if done in small quantities (which is all you need), but depending on local ordinances it might not be a good idea.

You don't need a fence. Piles are fine. Fences are invented by workaholics.

Hookfan's picture
Submitted by Hookfan on

is supposed to be optimal mix. Your leaves are "brown", most table scraps and grass clippings are "green". But I haven't found it makes much difference as everything you mention using will compost eventually. No fences are necessary, but I've found elongating a row of potential compost makes life easier-- easier to turn and keep aerated, and easier to keep moist. Those two things seem essential-- keep it aerated by turning, and keep it moist. Nature does the rest. And, I've never had scraps smell if they are folded into a compost pile. Good luck. . .

Submitted by jawbone on

fertilize/build up the soil around the tomatoes or other veggies. In winter, just pour on the gardens. Or, easier, just toss the peelngs onto the snow (unless neighbors might take offense). Or add to the compost pile for the "green" or fresh part.

BTW, just heard on radio recently that coffee grounds are not as acid as had been thought, so they can go anywhere, not just to acid-loving plants.

The writer how suggested using a blender also suggested buying a cheap blender at a rummage sale to use just for the compost prep.

caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

in the garden? Or does it need to go in the compost pile and season a bit?

My concern about composting food scraps is RATS. I hate them. They are the big reason I am not a good composter. Are there anti-rat ways of composting? I'd be all for that.

Submitted by lambert on

Good point!

Racoons won't go for coffee grounds, but they might for banana peels and so forth.

a little night musing's picture
Submitted by a little night ... on

I would dig a trench near the plants, and then pour and cover. Or bury scraps, at leasy 8 inches deep, as I recall from what I've read.

Here is some other advice.

caseyOR's picture
Submitted by caseyOR on

in the blender thing. If I puree my cut up banana peels, leek greens, carrot peel, etc. with some water, I can then pour that mixture directly into the garden? Around the tomatoes and the cukes and the peppers and everything else?

How often can I do that, do you know? Everyday? Once a week? 3-4 times over the summer?

Submitted by hipparchia on

i used to just toss my veggie and fruit peelings, coffee grounds [earthworms seem to really like coffee grounds], etc, right into the garden around the plants as often as i had stuff to throw out there, but then i wasn't in a place where i had to worry about critters all that much, nor did i have all that much kitchen waste.