• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

twigs + fast composting  RSS feed

 
monty ali
Posts: 52
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How do you get twigs to break down fast in a compost pile? I've set up 3 compost piles from twigs, kitchen scraps and grass and whatever else i can find the compost pile seems to be working ish... rather slower than i'd like its been a couple of months and the pile is sort of hot but the twigs are not breaking down at all so how do i get the twigs to break down fast? and how do i get my compost pile to really start cooking?
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How thick are the twigs? What plant? Green or dried?

You can try turning the compost frequently to speed up the process. Twigs take longer than other materials though (any woody material takes longer).

Did you use any carbonous materials? What does the compost look like at the moment? Does it smell?
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wood is so high in lignin, the only way I can imagine to really speed things up is to create lots of surface area by running them through a chipper.
I put a lot of twigs and small sticks through my piles, and unless the sticks are really big, they just get forked in along with everything else.
After learning about hugelkultur, I see any buried bits of wood as a valuable resource!
 
monty ali
Posts: 52
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The twigs are between 1-2 cm in diameter they are mainly from ash trees and privet hedge. the heap looks like a half rotted mess at the moment, the waste food i've put on there does smell. I used to have a chipper but the blades broke, i can't seem to find replacement blades anywhere for it! which is pretty annoying! some of the twigs are quite long otherwise i would be tempted to just mix it in to the soil i've tried breaking them up by hand but it's quite messy and very time consuming.
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
1-2 cm is what I would call a branch rather than a twig, and not something I would put in a compost because it won't break down in time.

Re the smell and look, it sounds like you don't have a good mix of ingredients in the compost, so one thing you could do is rebuild it. You will need some (a lot of) carbon material eg dried leaves, newspaper, autumn residue from the garden (eg spent stalks)... This needs to be mixed or layered with the rotting vege scraps and grass. You need much more dry material to wet. Have a read up on some of the other threads on composting for how to make a good mix. A soggy, smelly compost means there is too much green and wet material in the mix - composts shouldn't be rotting.

The other option would be to make it into a worm farm. You will still need dry material but it might be more manageable this way. What kind of compost structure are you using?

Either way, when you remake it, take out the sticks/branches and do something else with them (hugelkulture). If they are still long this won't be too onerous (or do you have a really big compost?).
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
184
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Just placing twigs on the soil surface is extremely valuable, as they will foster the growth of fungi which turn them to soil.

 
monty ali
Posts: 52
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The mix is about 50:50 to woody materials to green materials. But i the twigs and things make up about half the woody materials. Do you think i should rebuild? I took apart one of the heaps today and used the composted ish parts as mulch for one of my raised beds, and began a heap for leaf mould. Can i use fresh cut green leaves for leaf mold?

Rose - what do you mean by compost structure?

 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
88
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'd use the sticks in a dedicated 'slow' pile, as that quantity in the compost would be annoying to turn, aside from putting the c:n ratio out: the nitrogen could well be long gone before the carbon-eating beasties could start on the sticks.
I use quite a bit of paper and cardboard in my compost.
 
Dave Miller
pollinator
Posts: 416
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I always put my sticks/branches into a separate pile to dry out. Once they start to rot (snap easily, punky, fungi growing on them), I mix them in the compost pile. It is very difficult to turn a pile that has large, fresh branches in it - they interlock with each other, so when you try to lift up your pitchfork it is like trying to lift the entire pile.

If you have the space, just leave the stick pile - this is ideal habitat for all kinds of useful creatures, including garter snakes which like to eat slugs! See http://www.dgif.virginia.gov/habitat/brush-piles-rabbit.pdf
 
Rose Pinder
Posts: 410
Location: Otago, New Zealand
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Monty, I meant is it in a bin? What size/shape? Or a pile? etc
 
monty ali
Posts: 52
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
they are in 3 compartments made from pallets about 3 and 1/2 ft high each. i've been through and taken out most of the twigs so hopefully that should start doing something now
 
James Flour
Posts: 14
Location: PNW
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I made a test once in the woods when I was doing side pruning on fir trees. One series of slash piles I left just as brush piles, another I covered with moss and forest floor litter. The litter pile kept moisture on it and broke down relatively qucker. Eventually though, the harvester came through and squashed them all into the dirt and that made them break down really fast. I suggest you get as much dirt in the pile as well, that should keep things moist and help break it all down.

I don't think you are going to get "fast" though.
 
God is a comedian playing for an audience that is afraid to laugh - Voltair. tiny ad:
Ernie and Erica Wisner's Rocket Mass Heater Everything Combo
https://permies.com/t/40993/digital-market/digital-market/Ernie-Erica-Wisner-Rocket-Mass
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!