My library recently switched from paper slips for marking holds to sticky labels instead. They are shiny fluorescent colored on one side and sticky/peelable on the other. They are pretty easy to tear so they aren't plastic tape but still might contain some plastic? Do you think they're compostable? I don't want to ruin the pile I'm starting but I want to compost everything I possibly can.
And one more question that may seem stupid but I figure composters probably know: A lot of insects start from eggs that are laid by flying insects, etc. Where do worms come from? I know they like healthy soil but how do they get there?
I was thinking about how a lot of my soil on the homestead is very clay heavy and not worms in the places I've dug. I was thinking about adding mulch and manure and my compost pile and how earthworms are a good sign and it occurred to me that I have no idea how worms get there.
The coated paper will have ick on it, either plastics or other synthetics to make the paper shine. The only thing I would consider with them would be to inoculate bags of them with oyster mushroom and let them go crazy. The fungi will break things down to component parts, and while I would want to have the fruiting bodies tested before eating them or feeding them to anything, the spent substrate would compost very nicely, indeed.
Worms lay eggs. Even if the adults don't survive a hard freeze, there are many cases where eggs will.
Your ideas about adding mulch are great, but I would take it easy on the manure for now. Have you had your soil tested? That would be a good place to start.
Much of amending clay soils involves adding minerals of different particulate sizes. Clay is the smallest, small enough as you probably know to make it impossible for water to pass through. By adding different sizes of particle, space for water and air is opened.
Organic matter is similarly important, but the big reason it's huge is because it's the healthy soil bacteria that go to work decomposing it that worms eat.
Pictures are always appreciated, yes, even of compost. Let us know how it goes, and good luck.
EDIT: For more on soil, I recommend this list of threads by our own Dr. Redhawk. There's some truly mindblowing stuff in there.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Chris beat me here, and he has given lots of great information and ideas.
I will only add some things for the heavy clay.
Deep rooting plants like alfalfa, daikon radish, rape along with any or all of the different types of clovers and most other "cover crops" will change heavy clay into good, rich soil just by growing and dying and re-growing over a fairly short period (a few years).
Good composters usually have at least 3 heaps going at any given time, this is because it is best to build a heap and let it work through rather than keep adding to it.
Mushrooms are great to add to a compost heap at any time, the spores will grow and send their threads all throughout the heap, allowing easy traveling by bacteria and all the other microbes found in a compost heap.
Coffee grounds are loved by all the organisms we want in our soil, they act like children in a candy store when spent coffee grounds are present and the coffee grounds bring another host of microorganisms to the composting party.
For heavy clays, once you have some good compost made, brew a tea or an extract, poke some deep as you can make them holes in the area you want to treat and fill those holes with the tea/ extract.
This will put your microbiome down deep, where it can start working on the minerals in the clay and that means humic material will start to accumulate in those holes and then begin to spread through the clay.
Once this happens, the clay will breakup into more friable soil. If you also add gypsum powder, then you are jump starting the whole process of clay breakup, the more compost you can get into clay, the better it becomes.
If you then start to add some sand you will increase drainage in the clay, clay with water being able to move through it starts to become crumbly as air gets into the clay and promotes healthy colonies of microbiome critters.
When you do all the above in an area, that area will cease to be heavy clay and be well on the road to becoming good, friable, crumbly soil, rich in minerals and other nutrients.
Re. worms: So worms lay eggs but if there aren't any worms there to lay eggs, where do the worms come from when the soil is good? Do they just wiggle a long way from neighboring soil?
I haven't had my soil tested yet. I haven't been responsible for it for very long and I've been focusing on cleaning up the mess I inherited and then trying to winterize and start some perennials, sketching what I think I want for future state, etc. I read the thread(s) on planting fruittrees, especially the info about planting in clay as I have a few bare root trees arriving in a week or so (I hope!) and plan to plant those along with some berry bushes. I have a bunch of seeds/pits I've collected for another area which I will also plant and see how they do.
My place is just under 10 acres with a lot of it forested with evergreens of various kinds. Most of the leafy trees were harvested for firewood when I was growing up so there isn't a lot of natural mulch without cutting down trees and shredding them. The cleared areas (a couple acres worth, I think) have suffered the last few years as my dad had it mowed by a landscape company which collected all the cuttings and hauled them off. I am appalled at how patchy looking those areas are now when seen close up compared to how thick the covering used to be. But easier to plant seeds too. The patchy parts are a blend of grass, salal and black berry mostly. I ordered a bunch of clover, radish and similar seeds and plan to spread them although I'm not sure if I should scatter them now or closer to spring.
I have a large pile of wood chips from some work that was done a couple years ago which is just laced with mycellium and mushrooms and the last time I was there I dug a large/wide hole (clay) and dumped in my produce scraps I had saved along with shredded paper and then added some dirt back in and stirred some of those wood chips in and covered lightly. No idea how that will look/work but I will see when I get back. (Or you can tell me now how wrong that was. ;))
I don't have animals and don't plan to have them. I can get horse manure in town and that's what I planned to try in some areas but if that's a bad idea at this point I will wait.
I have so many ideas of things I want to work on and am trying to approach it in a good way for long-term planning when I am not there constantly. (I live three hours away and have been going 1-2 times per month.) ex. I am not a coffee drinker so I don't have coffee grounds to collect and I'm not there to pick them up regularly if some store saved them for me. I'd like to contact the power line crews and offer to let them dump chips but would not be there to supervise or see if they were dumping where I wanted for a few weeks.
So any suggestions are appreciated. I will read the soil threads too! And I will get pics in a couple weeks when I'm there again.
Thank you for the extra info on worms. That totally makes sense.
I am hoping to borrow a friend's truck and get the horse manure sometime this winter and yes, let it sit for at least the winter. Since it rains a lot, should it be covered or is exposure to the elements part of the reason to let it sit?
I am in a hurry to start projects and make plans and want to make regular progress. But I'm not in a hurry to start a garden since I won't be there to tend it. My goal for the next couple years is to work on soil building and get the perennials (like fruit trees, berries, etc.) into the ground. If they don't make it, I can try again next year and if they do, I'm that much farther along. There are also some maple trees (and other tree varieties) on the property and I plan to transplant some of the seedlings from under those to other areas where I believe they will flourish and not shade my planned garden space but increase the diversity. And that I'd like to do that sooner rather than later.
Thanks for the suggestion on the winter vs. spring planting!
I like to cover horse manure with something not quite waterproof, but I also mix it with used straw and wood chips, so the cover is more to keep the rain from washing through because I am trying to capture the microorganisms when I make a heap.
Horse manure looses a lot of the nutrient and biological value if rain saturates them, The microorganisms will wash through and end up in the soil below.
This isn't really a problem if you spread it where you want those things just before winter, what is left behind is partially digested grasses on the surface.
If you are getting a large enough quantity you might try both methods to see which works best for you.
I make both, I have two heaps working now and just last weekend I spread out about 1 yard of donkey manure over her old pasture, this weekend I'll be spreading the winter grass seed over that area because we have more rains coming next week.
Sonja, where does the horse manure come from? There's an unexpected and very horrible issue coming up with animal manure the past several years. Herbicides of the aminopyralid type are often used on hayfields or grain fields, because they kill broadleaf plants but not grasses and cereal grains. This family of herbicides doesn't degrade even with composting or being eaten as hay or straw by cows or horses, etc. So please find out what the horses were eating, and if that hay or straw was sprayed. Otherwise, even if you compost the manure, it may continue to prevent your beloved plants from growing and thriving for several years. Well, any plants except grass and corn.
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