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New to composting! It all turned liquid... help please!  RSS feed

 
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Hello Everyone,

I'm new to gardening and have a few questions regarding composting.

I've been collecting fruit and veg scraps from my kitchen in a bin in my garden. It took me around 4 months to fill up the entire bin and in that time nearly all the organic matter had turned to a dark smelly liquid.

Unfortunately, I didn't aerate it very well over the 4 months (only when id add some more scraps), so I was wondering if this liquid is now unusable as i read that it might harm my plants?

I'm following a guide to making compost tea and I currently have a bucket outside with the liquid, scraps and filtered water.

If i stir the mixture once or twice a day is this enough aeration? (The bucket is wide and without a cover)

Any help would be greatly appreciated as I live in a developing country where its hard to find any information or products around composting.
 
pollinator
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Location: Australia, Canberra
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Hi Max, welcome to the forum.

The liquid coming out is good for plants. just dilute a little and water the root zone.

If you don't want liquid then you need to add some dry material like hay, dry leaves from autumn, cardboards etc. and this dry material would be 20 to 30 times more than the kitchen scrap.
 
pollinator
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I'm trying this with nasty stinky fermenting barrels:  


 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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You are making Bokashi, not compost. 

Compost contains nitrogen holding items like green leaves, grass clippings and spent coffee grounds and then you also are adding in lots of "browns", carbon containing items like dead, dry leaves, small twigs, straw, old hay, etc.
While you can add vegetable leftovers to compost, just putting these items into a bin will start the fermentation process from yeasts that is air borne getting into your bin.

The liquid from the bokashi is great for applying to a garden, the act of pouring or spraying it on the soil will add the O2 needed to start the die off of ciliates (we don't want ciliates in our soil).

Redhawk

 
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Max, what you've got is called plant liqueur, and it's highly desirable when you want to make liqueur.  (Not for us to drink, for the plants to drink.)  Other really great plant liqueurs are made from comfrey and stinging nettle.

But as the others have said, you need the carbons (leaves, mowed weeds or grass) to soak up the moisture.   Think of your compost pile as a vacation spot for bacteria/fungi to break down your pile.  They want it warm, they want it not too wet, not too dry, they want to lounge in the perfect temperature so they can feast on your pile.  That's why we turn a compost pile, to be sure the carbons are getting contact with all the nitrogens (like manure, rotting veggies, green leaves)  If your pile gets too dry you might see ants moving in.  That's not a problem, just wet it down, keep it more damp.

I used to keep big garbage bags and a broom in the trunk of the car, go around town collecting fallen leaves to add to the pile.  Big, old trees bring up really great minerals that are in those leaves.  I've stopped getting straw bales from elsewhere because they brought in big weeds I didn't have before.   I shred all junk mail paper, and old paper and compost it, too.  Some municipalities will give you the shredded trimmings they trim off street/road plants. 

And do be careful of the temperature of the center of the pile.  It can get up over 130 F and actually burn you, so always use a tool to turn it.  If you want to test how hot it is, use the back of your hand, which is more sensitive to temperature, and you'll feel how hot it is.  Once you see whitish stuff in the center of your pile, you're on the road to greatness!

 
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