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How long to Decompose?

 
                    
Posts: 47
Location: Bainbridge, Wa
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Heya,
I am setting up a new garden bed soon, and am curious about the timeline of getting this stuff to be plantable.

I have not ever used this, but we got a giant dump of horse manure and woodshavings for free and am thinking of putting down leaves or straw, then spreading the manure and chips on top, then spraying with some compost/worm teas and then put a chicken paddock on it january/feb.  If I do it this november, with the Washington Weather (and elninia) when do you think it will be ready next year?

Thanks for your time,
Russell
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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I'm not in Washington but in Michigan it would be ready if you put enough soil on top by next year..it might heat up a lot this winter..might even be able to seed some greens on it over the winter?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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May I recommend putting the straw or leaves on top of the manure? If the manure is a little "hot", excess nitrogen will be used to break the leaves down into humus, but if not, the nitrogen will go into soil. This buys you some leeway in the amount of fertility you apply.

If there is nitrogen-poor material on the soil surface, it will draw fertility from the soil until it is decomposed; nitrogen-rich materials on the surface can release ammonia and other foul-smelling substances.

I think having chickens living above the soil, intermittently, would give you much of the same benefit you would get by applying compost tea. It may be worthwhile scheduling the placement of chickens in a particular area and the application of mulch to give detritovores have a chance to do their work for a few weeks, before they're scratched up and eaten. Mulching a manure-covered area with leaves should allow the worm (etc.) population to explode, and chickens will be happy to turn over the leaves or straw once they're allowed back in that section.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9445
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I plant immediately in new beds, with a good layer of soil over the other materials (3-4 inches).  I know some folks think this is a no-no, but I don't have any patience. 

 
Raven Sutherland
Posts: 162
Location: MAINE
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you can make sweet smelling compost in a month or less if you have the right carbon/nitrogen ratio and moisture in the pile.

If done right it should be heating up (180 degree's)and producing steam in a day or two then finish the first heat in a week or so and being reduced in size........ start to cool off...

thats when you turn the outside of the pile to the middle and get it to go thru the second heat and should be "again" producing steam in a day or two.

turn it one more time then sift out the fine stuff
but before it cools off "for good" utilize the bacteria
still left ..........to start working on your next batch.
 
John Saltveit
gardener
Posts: 2001
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You can put the mix below your fruit trees, bushes, etc. now.  Just don't put it on edible vegetables, especially leafy greens and eat them soon. I think if you put the manure now, but don't mix it into raised beds for leafies, you're fine for planting other vegie seeds in the spring, like, May or so.
John S
PDX OR
 
                    
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Joel Hollingsworth wrote:
...

If there is nitrogen-poor material on the soil surface, it will draw fertility from the soil until it is decomposed; nitrogen-rich materials on the surface can release ammonia and other foul-smelling substances.



Not always, Joel. A layer of woody mulch on the surface does not pull much if any nitrogen from the soil. Mixing it into the soil will usually cause a significant drop in nitrogen. And as the coarse woody materials like cellulose and lignin break down on the surface, it feeds free-living nitrogen fixing bacteria - in the long run, adding those nitrogen poor materials increases soil nitrogen!

Putting fresh straw or material that has soluble starches and gums on the surface can definitely tie up nitrogen as those components dissolve and percolate into the soil.

The biggest problem with coarse woody materials on the surface is that they can block somewhat the incorporation of high nitrogen compost, chop-and-drop mulches, etc.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9445
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I've never noticed any bad smells in my garden.  Lately it's been smelling mostly like earthworms! 
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
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