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Some Composting Questions from Newbie with pets =)  RSS feed

 
Allecia Fruth
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Ok so I've been doing tons of reading, watching videos, etc etc about permaculture, composting, and all things related.

I have several critters, hamsters, rabbits, exotic birds. So to take immediate action I want to start with their bedding. I don't even have a garden yet(well technically I own part of a bordering field L shaped outskirt of my property about an acre of currently planted cotton, previously peanuts, someone planted that owns a lot of land nearby) and didn't know where his border was.

But composting takes time so I'll work on the placement of garden, chicken run, etc later. I eventually want to find a bunch of free pallets and use those but for now I think a basic hardware cloth wire round pile away from the house would do fine.

So...questions I can't seem to find answers to...one is How long approximately?

I'm going to use some sense here and consider pet bedding a "green" ? Would that be correct? And I should have about 3 times more browns? I know I read wood shavings take forever to break down but what would about the minimum amount of time be? Especially considering its winter and probably won't be getting warmer anytime soon? My only real "browns" at the moment I could think of would be newspaper, dead twigs. Not really many dead leaves left but I have lots of dead wiregrass(which my yard is covered in however it has been raining 2 days solid). So I'm pretty certain I will have trouble keeping the 3 brown to 1 green ratio, any other suggestions to rectify that, buying straw maybe to add? But I do have lots of newspaper plus it is used in my bird cages. I know pet bedding is kinda of a controversial subject but definitely okay to use with flowers/shrubs not eaten(what about fruit trees? I'd be giving any on the ground to birds anyways and just eating what was picked... and I did read above ground veggies/fruits were ok) and I would really like having a ton less bedding going to the landfill, it probably takes up half my XL trash can each week.

For now could I just pick a dirt spot near where I would later want to plant(thinking the dirt tractor path near the cotton) and start unloading? About often would it need turned, weekly, monthly, more in the beginning and less later? I also read more turning means you need more browns. So would it be better to turn less since I have mostly greens. So it can have plenty of time to let it compost? I'm not looking for anything quick, if it wasn't ready for 6-12 months that would be fine.

Is the reason why you want to sort of dig up the spot its going is to give better access for the worms and then the seeding grass/weeds in the dirt won't soak everything up and grow a lot or ? Oh and my birds bedding frequently get seeds like millet, sunflower, safflower, etc. It likes to pop up under my outdoor flight cages. So is that going to cause issues with them growing in the pile or ? I really wouldn't mind it growing, I had a few gorgeous sun flowers that bloomed at my last house near the birds.

So I guess I'm basically asking if it would be ideally done near where I plan to plant later on? Seems easy enough, pile in wire holder(yes I was thinking of using the most of the roll about 15ft wire length, stir, stir some more and wait... Then get soil all around it all turned up in spring, remove wire, spread, plant seeds, add mulch and its started...Thats the theory anyways. I really have a decent bit of land to work with(almost 3 acres) and the 1/2 acre on 2 sides is already started plus there is a nice path with small clumps of weeds where the tractor previously came through.

Is it true that piles with mostly greens should be allowed to sit more and get stirred less? Oh and I do want to make a bin with worms later but that is a later project. But I'm sure they would do a better job breaking down the bedding and newspaper.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Welcome to permies, Yes I would consider the pet bedding a "green", greens mean nitrogen which is what heats up the compost pile. Browns are things with out nitrogen; cardboard, dead leaves, very small wood (twigs or chips) etc. Don't forget kitchen scraps, left over lettuce parts are an example, even cooked bones can go into a compost heap. You don't actually have to turn it, more so you want to get new air down into the heap so it continues to heat up. I use a piece of pipe and thrust it into the heap all the way around, about 1 time a week, do this top bottom to top to get a lot of air holes into the heap. another nitrogen rich item is coffee grounds.

You want to dig the soil a bit so that water will drain out of the heap and worms can come in easily.
 
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