• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Drunken Composting

 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
bike books forest garden tiny house transportation urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is a video by Reaganite71 about drunken composting!

Please may this be moved to the composting section, thank you. I accidentally posted this in the wrong section.
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
Posts: 9049
Location: Portugal Zone 9 Mediterranean Climate
682
bee bike books duck forest garden greening the desert solar trees wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dave Burton wrote:
Please may this be moved to the composting section, thank you. I accidentally posted this in the wrong section.


Done, no problem. The fastest way is generally to hit the 'report' button and tell us in the 'comments' box.
 
Will Scoggins
Posts: 62
Location: Northeast Arkansas
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I heard him say the beer was for yeast and the cola for sugars, what was the ammonia for?
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
bike books forest garden tiny house transportation urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The ammonia/urea contains nitrogen which helps increase the Carbon:Nitrogen ratio.
Here's a quick breakdown of what browns and greens in composting are:
http://www.homecompostingmadeeasy.com/carbonnitrogenratio.html
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If veggie scraps are 25:1 ratio, and so are coffee grounds, could a whole pile of these materials activate on its own and become quality compost? 25 or 30:1 being the ideal range for complete compost?
 
Dave Burton
pollinator
Posts: 1026
Location: Greater Houston, TX US Hardy:9a Annual Precipitation: 44.78" Wind:13.23mph Temperature:42.5-95F
109
bike books forest garden tiny house transportation urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, a compost pile will usually work whenever it is around the range of 30:1 carbon-nitrogen ratio. This is easily accomplished by layering half greens and half browns. No mathematical calculations really need to be done.
A cool fact partially related to this is the fact that many plants and organisms in general have endophytes and microbiomes of organisms living inside of them. This is one of the reasons why fecal transplants are emerging in the field of medicine because many people's human microbiomes are not functioning properly.
Since endophytes have coevolved with many species, they are probably ready to live on their own after their mutualistic host has died.
 
dan long
Posts: 272
4
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
George Meljon wrote:If veggie scraps are 25:1 ratio, and so are coffee grounds, could a whole pile of these materials activate on its own and become quality compost? 25 or 30:1 being the ideal range for complete compost?


the answer to your question is a big "yes, but....".

anything will eventually break down. Wether it's a peice of meat that breaks down into a stinky pile of goop in the space of a week or a pile of sawdust that is going to still be mostly saw dust after 50+ years. What your trying to accomplish with a 25-35:1 ratio is a hot compost. Hot compost also requires air and water. If you make a big, 5x5ft pile of coffee grounds, it will go anerobic really fast. That is because coffee grounds are very small. You would have to be out there turning it just about every day to make sure it didn't turn into a smelly, anaerobic pile of nastiness. Personally, if I had nothing else to mix in, i would use the coffee grounds as slug-repellent mulch. That being said, they are an excellent addition to the pile. I use coffee grounds in my kitchen scraps bucket to cut down on the smell and absorb some of the water so that it doesnt get slimy and nasty.

Veggie scraps are great but they are generally too wet to use on their own. Again, you would be turning that pile just about every day the first week or two. Besides that, they will attract critters if not covered up by something else.

I really feel like "browns and greens" composting is impractical. I prefer to think "wet and dry" and "coarse and fine" the green:brown ratio is pretty flexible and usually works itself out unless you get REALLY crazy like try to make a pile of fish scraps or, on the other extreme, add a big ol' bucket of sawdust to what was an otherwise healthy pile.
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
dan long wrote:
George Meljon wrote:If veggie scraps are 25:1 ratio, and so are coffee grounds, could a whole pile of these materials activate on its own and become quality compost? 25 or 30:1 being the ideal range for complete compost?


The answer to your question is a big "yes, but....".

anything will eventually break down. Wether it's a peice of meat that breaks down into a stinky pile of goop in the space of a week or a pile of sawdust that is going to still be mostly saw dust after 50+ years. What your trying to accomplish with a 25-35:1 ratio is a hot compost. Hot compost also requires air and water. If you make a big, 5x5ft pile of coffee grounds, it will go anerobic really fast. That is because coffee grounds are very small. You would have to be out there turning it just about every day to make sure it didn't turn into a smelly, anaerobic pile of nastiness. Personally, if I had nothing else to mix in, i would use the coffee grounds as slug-repellent mulch. That being said, they are an excellent addition to the pile. I use coffee grounds in my kitchen scraps bucket to cut down on the smell and absorb some of the water so that it doesnt get slimy and nasty.

Veggie scraps are great but they are generally too wet to use on their own. Again, you would be turning that pile just about every day the first week or two. Besides that, they will attract critters if not covered up by something else.

I really feel like "browns and greens" composting is impractical. I prefer to think "wet and dry" and "coarse and fine" the green:brown ratio is pretty flexible and usually works itself out unless you get REALLY crazy like try to make a pile of fish scraps or, on the other extreme, add a big ol' bucket of sawdust to what was an otherwise healthy pile.


Great answer, just what I am looking for. Let me take it one more step. Grass hay. Said to be 32:1. I've got a field of 12 acres with a mix of grasses, yarrows, asters, susans, clovers, etc. I'm having it baled up for 1.10 a bale - I'll have 250 bales (only doing 5 acres). That's more than I can 'ruth stout' around, and since I've not got a barn I will like to compost a ton of these bales. Yeah? Just unpack the bale and add water? Turn every couple of days and viola? I really hope the answer is yes. I don't like waiting on oak leaves to break down and will need to go to length to run them over with the tractor to cut them up.
 
Will Scoggins
Posts: 62
Location: Northeast Arkansas
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
George Meljon wrote:
Just unpack the bale and add water? Turn every couple of days and viola? I really hope the answer is yes.


I've always heard that urine (high nitrogen content) can really speed up process with hay. I've read Paul refer to a haybale as a urinal, the carbon traps the smell and the nitrogen speeds the breakdown.
 
dan long
Posts: 272
4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
George Meljon wrote:
Great answer, just what I am looking for. Let me take it one more step. Grass hay. Said to be 32:1. I've got a field of 12 acres with a mix of grasses, yarrows, asters, susans, clovers, etc. I'm having it baled up for 1.10 a bale - I'll have 250 bales (only doing 5 acres). That's more than I can 'Ruth Stout' around, and since I've not got a barn I will like to compost a ton of these bales. Yeah? Just unpack the bale and add water? Turn every couple of days and viola? I really hope the answer is yes. I don't like waiting on oak leaves to break down and will need to go to length to run them over with the tractor to cut them up.


I have had pretty poor results trying to compost straight grass hay. I was even pouring all of my own urine onto it. I hypothesize it is just too coarse so it doesn't heat up in the early stages. If you layer in some "fine" materials, it will likely go faster. Likewise if you have access to a woodchiper you can throw them in.

That being said... Do you REALLY want to turn 250 bales by hand? Im sure you would be a BA muscle-rockin' MoFo by the time that stuff was composted down to "black gold" but I doubt that is the path you want to go, right?

I would highly recommend You inoculate those with mushroom spawn. They will break down almost as fast as if you'd turned and watered them once a month but you will save your back and get fresh mushrooms. Thats a win/win right there!
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
dan long wrote:
George Meljon wrote:
Great answer, just what I am looking for. Let me take it one more step. Grass hay. Said to be 32:1. I've got a field of 12 acres with a mix of grasses, yarrows, asters, susans, clovers, etc. I'm having it baled up for 1.10 a bale - I'll have 250 bales (only doing 5 acres). That's more than I can 'Ruth Stout' around, and since I've not got a barn I will like to compost a ton of these bales. Yeah? Just unpack the bale and add water? Turn every couple of days and viola? I really hope the answer is yes. I don't like waiting on oak leaves to break down and will need to go to length to run them over with the tractor to cut them up.


I have had pretty poor results trying to compost straight grass hay. I was even pouring all of my own urine onto it. I hypothesize it is just too coarse so it doesn't heat up in the early stages. If you layer in some "fine" materials, it will likely go faster. Likewise if you have access to a woodchiper you can throw them in.

That being said... Do you REALLY want to turn 250 bales by hand? Im sure you would be a BA muscle-rockin' MoFo by the time that stuff was composted down to "black gold" but I doubt that is the path you want to go, right?

I would highly recommend You inoculate those with mushroom spawn. They will break down almost as fast as if you'd turned and watered them once a month but you will save your back and get fresh mushrooms. Thats a win/win right there!


Thanks for the tip on the mushroom spawning!

I am still grasping what 250 bales will look like stacked up, but no, in no way did I want to turn it all to compost! Haha! I will probably try a few piles of grass hay mixed in with some fresh grass, coffee grounds, etc and see how it goes. That aside, I really will look at the mushroom spawing thing now in order to work that into the system. Thanks a ton!
 
Susan Doyon
Posts: 146
Location: Massachusetts
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
mixed grass/ weed hay in a wet environment breaks down pretty fast here in Massachusetts our hay was mostly fine grass /weed from a field that had not been manured or seeded for many years we had an open trailer load that got wet , and the year before last put it down as mulch the next spring Ken ran over it with the rototiller on the tractor and there is really no trace this year .
if possible cut very early and frequent so the grass is not headed out , or use 2nd and 3rd cut
the dryer your area the slower it will break down ( also needs to be in contact with some soil or compost to get it going faster
be aware , we used first cut and it does sprout ! so you end up flipping flakes of hay


 
Tim Malacarne
Posts: 226
Location: South central Illinois, USA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If there was room, I think I'd have the stuff blown into silage wagons, then unloaded all in one spot and piled. Might get stinky for awhile, but I bet the breakdown would be lots quicker... Esp with some manure... I like to take some already working compost to "seed in" and get the whole big pile going... Best of luck to you, TM
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Update:

It ended up being 211 bales. It's not that much to look at stacked 3-4 high and 4 wide.

Anyway, we've been spreading it around the garden in areas we will be plating into next spring, killing off grass etc.

The compost pile only took 2 hay bales I think. No more than 3. It's heating up just fine, it seems. Certainly been getting that ammonia smell, so I know it was anaerobic after this first week. I'm just letting it play out for now. Cutting back on water.

I wonder what my true carbon to nitrogen ratio is for this hay. Seems a little higher in N than I expected...
 
Tim Malacarne
Posts: 226
Location: South central Illinois, USA
2
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you can find a friendly dairy farmer who uses bag silage, they have some silage that they can't feed, it's already heating when you get it. A very high quality compost ingredient, a favorite of mine...
 
He was giving me directions and I was powerless to resist. I cannot resist this tiny ad:
Learn, Design, Teach, & Inspire with Permaculture games.
FoodForestCardGame.com
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!