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Things everyone should know about compost but probably don't

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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Sorry it took so long to get back to this thread.

About the fungi and electricity.

Fungi respond to the electrical impulses that plants give off sometimes in conjunction with a release of exudates, by letting these impulses travel along the mycelium threads, this seems to signal bacteria and other organisms that are far away to come to where the signal originated.
This means that many more bacteria can come to service a plant than what would be in the immediate vicinity of the plant.
Fungi also respond to the electric charges that we call lightening in much the same way, so far I have been able to record the event and the strength of the charge but I still have to find out the maximum distance and which if any bacteria respond.
It is also possible that along with a lightening charge dispersal there could be a response to the accompanying ozone which is created by the lightening.
Since I am in the process of the work, I really can't say much more at this time.

Redhawk



Dr. Redhawk,

Thank you for your post. I want to apologize for replying so late, but I suppose being on permies I should assume you would be proud of me for being outside instead. I have been thinking on your response for a long time now and greatly appreciate your research. I look forward to your book
 
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Jay Angler wrote:Bryant Redhawk wrote:

Almost never do those who write about compost heap making remember to bring up soil as a component of a good compost heap.

It's worse than that Dr. Redhawk. I remember reading at least two sources of composting instructions saying specifically to *never* add soil to one's compost heap. Since I've never been very impressed with my composting efforts, we're going to try your way!  Thanks!



I was also taught not to add soil to a compost heap.  The reason being that the microbes and other life working in garden soil are adapted to working at soil temperatures, not the warmer temperatures generated while compost is actively decomposing.  So adding soil would slow it down.  My heap, I'd add, is contained and lidded, and populated by tiger worms.  I'll have to have a think about this!  
 
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I just realized that today, May 29th, is Learn about composting day, observed on this date since 2011 so I thought I would bump this thread
 
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Soil can be thought of as a buffering agent for compost,

This is true even when worm composting. Sometimes you can put too much food in there for the worms to eat and the bin will get unbalanced. One of the things that will help in these situations is to add some soil, or even plain dirt. Dirt will bring in with it bazillions of bacteria that will get right to work trying to clean it up so the worms aren't run out of their own bin by too much of a good thing.

Yeah, you might have to remove some food, add some bedding (coir, sawdust, paper, leaves, what-have-you), but dirt is often part of a good recipe to correct an unbalanced bin.
 
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Is there a list of preferred animal manures for hot composting?

I currently have access to all the aged horse poo I can handle.  I can also get all the wood chips I can use. Lucky me living in a hardwood heavy suburbia.  

I suspect there are also some small farms that grow pigs, chickens, goats etc. with
little to no chemicals. I realize some medications may be required at times to keep the animals alive and producing.

I have a vacant lot next to my house and the owner almost never comes to see it. once in 12 years maybe.

I would like to start a hot compost pile and let friends/neighbors come and get what they need from this pile. In fact I can make several piles each a cubic meter in size.  
I can also introuduce them into Dr. Redhawks soil series and methods of growing healthy crops.  I think leading by example is the best way.  My fruit trees are so healthy now. minimal insect and disease problems.
 
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Manures for hot composting, in the order of "hotness":

Goose and Duck
Sheep
Chicken
Game Birds

Manures that will hot compost but not by themselves:

Goat
Donkey
Horse
Bovine
Hog

Manures that can be used directly on gardens (no composting or aging required:

Guinea Pig
Rabbit
Deer

How's that Dennis? I tried to cover all the manures we would normally have access to.

Redhawk
 
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Jay Angler wrote:It's worse than that Dr. Redhawk. I remember reading at least two sources of composting instructions saying specifically to *never* add soil to one's compost heap. Since I've never been very impressed with my composting efforts, we're going to try your way!  Thanks!


I've read that advice too, including that you shouldn't even put the roots of pulled weeds in the compost because they might have some soil on them.  Oy.  I never followed that advice, but in past lives, I dutifully knocked what soil I could off the roots.

I suspect that a lot of the people who are writing compost advice and instructions, especially in random articles on the internet, are just repeating stuff they read elsewhere, often without understanding the context in which the advice they're repeating was given.

When I was buying my new house, I decided to do some internet searches to see if any new info or useful tips on composting had come out in the 12 years that I had been living in an apartment.  Almost without exception,* I found list after list of composting dos and don'ts that just repeated the same specious advice over and over. Of particular interest to me were the wide variety things they said that you should never put in the compost and the often senseless reasons why.  

I started to wonder if many of the people who wrote those articles had ever even composted anything beyond yard waste before.  Because according to them, I was doing it all wrong way back when, and I'm doing it all wrong now. In fact, I just emptied my kitchen compost bucket into my closed add-as-you-go bin that is partially full of mixed materials, and just about everything I put in was on the verboten list.  Including:

- The 2 innermost cloves of a fist of garlic.  NO! GARLIC HAS ANTIBACTERIAL PROPERTIES
- 1/3 of a red onion.  EVEN MORE ANTIBACTERIAL PROPERTIES
- Leftover rice from takeout. NO GRAINS!  THEY ATTRACT VERMIN!  AND NO COOKED FOODS ARE ALLOWED BECAUSE SOMEHOW THE APPLICATION OF HEAT RENDERS FOOD UN-DECOMPOSABLE.
- 2 eggshells. THEY TAKE TOO LONG TO BREAK DOWN.
- A banana peel.  I DON'T REMEMBER WHAT'S WRONG WITH BANANA PEELS, BUT THEY WERE DEFINITELY ON A FORBIDDEN LIST SOMEWHERE
- Some spoiled milk.  NO DAIRY!  BECAUSE...REASONS.
- The center ribs from some curly kale and the stems from 2 button mushrooms.  I GUESS THOSE ARE OKAY.

You'd think a compost sinner like me would end up with a stinky vermin-ridden mess instead of beautiful sweet crumbly finished compost, but apparently I'm doing something right after all.

In the end, I have made some changes to my composting practices based on things I've learned on the internet in the past few months, but those have all come from this site and the few others that take a more serious approach.  

And yes, I now add soil like a good girl.


* Note that I did say ALMOST without exception.  I found Permies while searching for composting info.
 
Dennis Bangham
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Manures for hot composting, in the order of "hotness":


How's that Dennis? I tried to cover all the manures we would normally have access to.

Redhawk


Thank you Dr. Redhawk.  This is exactly what I am looking for.
Now to see what hobby Farmers are in my area that need someone to remove their composts.
 
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I have usually been a lazy composter. I have created some big hot piles that I turned a few times, but most of my composting has been done in a tall plastic barrel device where I purposely did not include the bottom piece. This allows worms from the ground to freely migrate into the mix.

This tower was used mostly for kitchen waste which tends to be too wet. So I often added dry leaves and dry soil.

Because of the soggy nature, I generally put quite a bit of soil in one corner of the composter as it was being filled. This was meant to be a dry corridor for worms and somewhere they could retreat to if things got too gummy. Worms were always found throughout the mixture.

Although it usually had the lid on, there was sometimes enough moisture that leachate would come out the bottom. Brassicas were planted all around it and they grew extremely well, more than 2 feet tall.

A couple times I came upon rock powder amendments that are generally broadcast on the soil. I put them in the compost with the theory that they would adhere to soil particles and be less likely to leech. And I figured that they might be used in the gizzard of worms, becoming pulverized.

I've also done trenches. I dig the trench and deposit the days scraps and cover with soil each time. By the time a trench is filled it may contain 1/3 kitchen scraps and 2/3 backfill soil. This is done in the row between vegetable crops. After filling a trench, it becomes necessary to put a board down for walking, to avoid getting really squishy goo on shoes.
 
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I'm one of those weirdos wh ohappens to have good soil.  You bet yer booties I throw some in my pile.

I did something unusual:  I composted in winter last year.  For some odd reason, the plants that were fed with this particular batch of compost reacted almost immediately as though they were fertilized with a perfect synthetic mix.  Knowing that I never come up with anything new, I began searching online for newer and better and the latest composting methods and if someone had come up with a forumula that works this well.  Indeed:

Johnson Su Bioreactor  

I figured that my moisture content was not high enough.  In no way will I bother to build like he does.  I had an accidental Johnson Su Bioreactor and just needed to qualify the parameters that caused it.  Namely, the cool weather.  More specifically, higher moisture content over a longer period of time.  I rebuilt my compost pile to contain the moisture into the pile and reduce the air flow.  

Best compst ever.  Needs only to be turned once in its lifetime, not unlike Charles Dowding's compost pile.  
 
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This is a very interesting thread and concept.

I have a large pile of biomass in a little spot in one of my fields. It contains a mix of grass, leaves, Spruce, Cedar, Juniper, all sorts of wood shavings, and a mess of other stuff I cannot remember. At the moment I do not have access to a loader to cover it with soil but that That is the plan.

My only comment is  that some folks may misinterpret the reason to prevent carbon dioxide from leaving the heap.

Carbon dioxide is not pollution, and is extremely beneficial in the atmosphere. And although carbon is very important in the soil, and a great fertilizer, it is also very healthy for the planet to have significantly more CO2 in the atmosphere than we have now.
The earth absolutely thrives at CO2 levels 10 times higher than today! This is proven by science.

Carbon in the soil and CO2 in the atmosphere, the more the merrier!
CO2/carbon feeds the world

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Brad Hengen wrote: This is a very interesting thread and concept.

I have a large pile of biomass in a little spot in one of my fields. It contains a mix of grass, leaves, Spruce, Cedar, Juniper, all sorts of wood shavings, and a mess of other stuff I cannot remember. At the moment I do not have access to a loader to cover it with soil but that That is the plan.

My only comment is  that some folks may misinterpret the reason to prevent carbon dioxide from leaving the heap.

Carbon dioxide is not pollution, and is extremely beneficial in the atmosphere. And although carbon is very important in the soil, and a great fertilizer, it is also very healthy for the planet to have significantly more CO2 in the atmosphere than we have now.
The earth absolutely thrives at CO2 levels 10 times higher than today! This is proven by science.

Carbon in the soil and CO2 in the atmosphere, the more the merrier!
CO2/carbon feeds the world



I am going to have to disagree with your thought of more CO2 is beneficial, science has proven that this particular green house gas is causing the heat up of the planet, therefore it is not beneficial as you think.
The levels you mention (10 times higher), Occurred in a different age, now, if you want to have animals like sabre tooth tigers and their companion animals roaming the earth again, then sure we need higher temps and more CO2 to accomplish that scenario.
When the atmosphere was even close to what you mention, Modern humans were just getting a foot hold and were more food animal than predator, since most of the predators were larger than the humans.
Earth will thrive, no  matter what levels of any of our atmospheric gasses are, but Humans probably wouldn't be here or we would be very much like the ancients, hiding high up on cliffs or in caves.

Redhawk
 
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I have read that the increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is changing how plants grow, particularly that they produce less protein, including in the pollen, which is adding to the stress on our bees (I think both honey bees and native bees) which are already highly stressed. Yes, there are plenty of non-bee pollinated plants, but loosing all the bee-pollinated ones will make the planet look very different.

I'm currently reading a book about all the ways to try to get more carbon into the soil (polycultures of both annual and perennial plants sounds pretty miraculous as does mob grazing). I had not been as aware of how more soil carbon is part of infiltrating and holding water in the soil, which is very important for both drought management *and* flood management.

Carbon is cool stuff and free for the taking if you compost and grow lots of plants!
 
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