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#3709579 - 07/14/14 10:28 AM Compost Question...
BlountArrow
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I started keeping a compost bin last year early on and have it going just about all year. I throw my plant/veggie matter in there along with the horse and cow crap. This early spring/winter I had some very rich compost. It was an amazing thing to me as I have never done it before. It was very fine, had no odor to it - just amazing how all those things work together.

But, there is one problem. I have a blue million tomato plants sprouting from it anywhere I use it. Lord only knows how much viable tomato seed is in it. Literally I probably have 1000s and 1000s of volunteers growing anywhere I use it that I have to trim out. This might sound like a good problem but when I mixed in my compost as a seed starter and attempted to start my tomatoes, peppers, egg plants, etc it was near impossible to tell what was sprouting. For example, I ended up not getting a single egg plant to start because I picked the wrong sprout to keep when 10 or so started coming up in the same pod.

Is there any way to kill the viable seed in compost without "hurting" the nutrition of the compost?
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#3709588 - 07/14/14 10:42 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: BlountArrow]
DaveB
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I know of no way to stop the seeds from germinating, why tomato seeds are so tough is beyond me. I have had similar problems with them but not as severe as yours. Anything that would kill the seeds I think will ruin the compost.

I guess one way would be to throw all your compost on your yard and mow down the mater's.

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#3709697 - 07/14/14 12:33 PM Re: Compost Question... [Re: DaveB]
TAFKAP
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I'm going off of ragged memory here, but I believe "true" composted compost has undergone the process where heat and gas byproducts of the micro-organisms is what kills all the viable plant matter. It sounds like you have very nutrient-heavy stuff, but perhaps not a true "compost" if it's sprouting its own crops.
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#3709748 - 07/14/14 01:14 PM Re: Compost Question... [Re: TAFKAP]
DntBrnDPig
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The heat cycle should have killed off those seeds I would have thought. Crazy.

Maybe just keep the compost 'cooking' for a little longer. Eventually all those seeds will germinate and die.
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#3710002 - 07/14/14 04:21 PM Re: Compost Question... [Re: TAFKAP]
BlountArrow
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 Originally Posted By: TAFKAP
I'm going off of ragged memory here, but I believe "true" composted compost has undergone the process where heat and gas byproducts of the micro-organisms is what kills all the viable plant matter. It sounds like you have very nutrient-heavy stuff, but perhaps not a true "compost" if it's sprouting its own crops.


Don't be hatin' on my compost!
_________________________
"The world is so dreadfully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain."
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#3710004 - 07/14/14 04:23 PM Re: Compost Question... [Re: BlountArrow]
BlountArrow
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Well, it sounds like I need to turn up the heat. Maybe a few days under some thick black plastic every so often will cook it down faster.
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#3710479 - 07/15/14 05:33 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: BlountArrow]
a retrohillbilly
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Hard to get heat all through the pile, it never gets hot enough around the edges. Just use pro mix for seed starting.Or start a second pile for seedy stuff.
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#3710513 - 07/15/14 06:58 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: a retrohillbilly]
BlountArrow
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 Originally Posted By: a retrohillbilly
Hard to get heat all through the pile, it never gets hot enough around the edges. Just use pro mix for seed starting.Or start a second pile for seedy stuff.


I wondered if I might be better off to use an organic seed starter and then re-pot them into something that actually had some nutrition (like a mix w/my compost) once the "desired" seedlings had emerged. This year i started off with seed starter and compost mix and the problem was again that too many veggies sprouted.
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#3710666 - 07/15/14 08:59 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: BlountArrow]
chunkandwind
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Are you turning your pile?
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#3710694 - 07/15/14 09:35 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: chunkandwind]
BlountArrow
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 Originally Posted By: chunkandwind
Are you turning your pile?


Yes, sir. I'd say two or three times a week.
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#3710729 - 07/15/14 10:15 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: BlountArrow]
gil1
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Two or three times a week is way too much. Every 15 days is the magic number. It really depends on the time of year and how far along the material has composted. But you're not giving your compost enough time to cook when you turn it so often.

I don't compost tomatoes (just the plants) for that reason. They are difficult to compost.

Lastly and most importantly, you can't compost year-round without at least two piles. I have 11 piles because I need compost year-round for two cool season (spring and fall) crops as well as a summer veggie crop. You need to stop adding material to a pile long before you ever use it.

I usually give it six months to a year without adding anything to it before I'll use it for the garden. You need to allow everything to fully compost. Meanwhile, you are adding your leaves and grass clippings and kitchen waste to another pile while the first pile is cooking.
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#3710731 - 07/15/14 10:16 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: BlountArrow]
TAFKAP
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Registered: 11/06/09
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 Originally Posted By: BlountArrow
 Originally Posted By: TAFKAP
I'm going off of ragged memory here, but I believe "true" composted compost has undergone the process where heat and gas byproducts of the micro-organisms is what kills all the viable plant matter. It sounds like you have very nutrient-heavy stuff, but perhaps not a true "compost" if it's sprouting its own crops.


Don't be hatin' on my compost!


Not one bit......I precluded my statement with the "ragged memory" clause \:D
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#3710738 - 07/15/14 10:19 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: gil1]
gil1
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I'm actually writing an article on compost coming out in winter for The New Frontier magazine. Below are some tips/highlights.

GILíS COMPOST TIPS

Try to balance about 2/3 brown matter (carbon) with 1/3 green matter (nitrogen).

Bag green matter (grass clippings) and any other green matter in spring. Add to pile throughout the year, not just in spring when clippings are abundant.

Bag brown matter (leaves) and add to pile throughout the year (not just in fall when leaves are abundant).

Make sure you donít add anything (plants, weeds, lawn clippings) that has been treated with chemicals.

Try not to add weeds to your compost. The tiny seeds may not fully cook, leaving them to later germinate in your garden.

Add in layers and cover.

Make sure bottom is open to dirt so worms can reach your compost.

Add water as needed, especially in summer. You need more water than you think.

Shredding bigger articles (like leaves) beforehand speeds up the composting process.

You must have at least two compost piles if you want to keep adding material throughout the year.

Cover with a moverís quilt or burlap. It keeps the animals out but lets some air in. I got several old moversí blankets at U-Haul Ė they discard them from time to time.

Turn the pile every 15 days for quickest results (but no sooner).

For faster composting, keep your pile or compost bin in direct sun.

If adding ashes to your compost bin, do so sparingly. They are alkaline and affect the pH of the pile.

Form the pile into a volcano shape with a hole in the top to capture water and allow for air circulation.

5-6 months before you add compost to garden, stop adding to the pile! Thatís when you can start on your second pile. This will give the first pile enough time to fully compost before adding to your soil.

Do not amend your soil with material that has not fully composted. The material will not have a chance to compost before rotting, which is bad for your soil and everything growing in it. Also, animals might dig up your garden and could get sick.

Planting in soil that has not fully composted is not a good idea. When the soil starts receding/composting/compacting over time, your plantsí roots could be exposed, and it could damage the plant.

When finished it should look, feel and smell like rich, dark soil. You should not be able to recognize any of the items you put in there. You can strain out some of the bigger items in a pinch.

Apply finished compost to your garden about 2-4 weeks before you plant, giving the compost time to integrate and stabilize within the soil.
_________________________
It is not the killing ...; it is the contest of skill and cunning. The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport.

Dr. Saxton Pope

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#3710749 - 07/15/14 10:24 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: gil1]
DntBrnDPig
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Good stuff there.
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#3711958 - 07/16/14 03:18 PM Re: Compost Question... [Re: gil1]
DaveB
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Gil1===
You said no chemicals. What about adding fertilizer? Nitrogen specifically?

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#3712014 - 07/16/14 05:03 PM Re: Compost Question... [Re: DaveB]
gil1
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 Originally Posted By: DaveB
Gil1===
You said no chemicals. What about adding fertilizer? Nitrogen specifically?



Sorry, what I meant is that you shouldn't put materials in your compost bin that have been treated with chemicals such as pesticides or weed killer, etc. - like grass clippings from a lawn treated with weed killing chemicals.
_________________________
It is not the killing ...; it is the contest of skill and cunning. The true hunter counts his achievement in proportion to the effort involved and the fairness of the sport.

Dr. Saxton Pope

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#3712129 - 07/16/14 07:39 PM Re: Compost Question... [Re: gil1]
WMAn
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I started my garden last year and initially I resisted getting into composting. It seemed like too much work and I did not know where to start.

After poor results from some of my veggies, I decided to take on composting this year. It is so much fun!

I am a Christian and the whole, "Dust to Dust" aspect of composting really appeals to me. When I'm building a pile, I remind myself that we'll all end up as compost one day.

I also enjoy the work. My business has taken off this year. Monday through Friday, I'm at a desk, staring at a computer, dealing with people, at home, and dealing with kids. Being alone, building a pile, and getting some physical exercise feels really good.

If you want to know what's going on with your pile, you can get a compost thermometer for about $25 on Amazon. I did and it has been very informative. My early impressions are that 140 degrees (the temp reportedly needed to kill disease pathogens and seeds) is hard to obtain.

I have two piles going. One is straw, grass clippings, and leaves. The other is straw, grass clippings, and horse manure. Both are running between 110 and 120. My next experiment will be adding some blood meal to a pile to see if I can raise the temperature.

Another way to deal with weeds is to bury the compost you apply to your garden. Instead of applying it to the top of your garden, prior to planting place it 4" or so deep and cover with soil. The soil will keep the weeds in the compost from sprouting and the compost will have another year to age and be acted upon by the soil life before being brought closer to the surface by tillage and replanting.

Mulching with straw or hay is another way to prevent weeds.

If you want to learn more and you have a Kindle, you can google Tennessee READS to find the Regional eBook and AudioBook Download System. There are a lot of great gardening books that deal with composting on there.

Two I really liked are:

Let It Rot
Mini Farming

They are all available for free on your e-reader with your local library membership.
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#3717033 - 07/24/14 03:52 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: gil1]
BlountArrow
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 Originally Posted By: gil1
Two or three times a week is way too much. Every 15 days is the magic number. It really depends on the time of year and how far along the material has composted. But you're not giving your compost enough time to cook when you turn it so often.

I don't compost tomatoes (just the plants) for that reason. They are difficult to compost.

Lastly and most importantly, you can't compost year-round without at least two piles. I have 11 piles because I need compost year-round for two cool season (spring and fall) crops as well as a summer veggie crop. You need to stop adding material to a pile long before you ever use it.

I usually give it six months to a year without adding anything to it before I'll use it for the garden. You need to allow everything to fully compost. Meanwhile, you are adding your leaves and grass clippings and kitchen waste to another pile while the first pile is cooking.


Im realizing I misspoke earlier...I actually didn't compost year round because I would have stopped gardening around October-ish and that was when the composting additions would have stopped. So I believe what I used this spring would have been fully composted; it was very rich, dark, & odorless as you say. However, I've now learned I'm turning too much and since I would like to compost year round I now know I'll need another pile started. Great info and great article. Thank you.
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"The world is so dreadfully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain."
-Ronald Firbank

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#3717034 - 07/24/14 03:58 AM Re: Compost Question... [Re: WMAn]
BlountArrow
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Registered: 07/13/12
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 Originally Posted By: WMAn
....
I am a Christian and the whole, "Dust to Dust" aspect of composting really appeals to me. When I'm building a pile, I remind myself that we'll all end up as compost one day.

I also enjoy the work.


I couldn't agree more. It may sound corny to some but there is truly something spiritual about piles of leaves, poop, plant matter, old veggies, coffee grounds, tea bags, you name it; turning into rich, black, crumble in your hand dirt!!
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"The world is so dreadfully managed, one hardly knows to whom to complain."
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