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Banana Plant Soil, Additives, and Fertilizer This forum is an area where you may discuss the soil to grow banana plants in, as well as soil additives such as teas, composts, manures, fertilizers and related topics.


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Old 05-20-2012, 09:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Red face Making A Compost Pile

Hey fellow bananagriculturalists,

I have a query about composting. I tried my hand at it before but both times the piles never took off (got hot, and steaming inside). The usually dried out pretty fast, so I suspect I may not have had enough greens in it or something. Does anyone have any advice for/experience making a nice pile? Dimensions, moisture, sun exposure, the works.

The materials I have are (fresh) horse manure, seaweed, some cardboard and brown paper bags, newspaper, old vegetables from the garden, and of course soil. In what proportions should I mix these, and what would the seaweed be considered as? I already started by using the remains of the last failed pile as a base (spread fairly thinly on the ground) and added some shredded paper and brown paper bags to that, then horse manure, then covered that with seaweed, and started putting on cardboard before the mosquitoes ran me inside. It was raining intermittently today so I didn't really need to water the pile.

Lastly, please bear in mind that I would like to hot compost these materials in order to use the compost as soon as possible, so any advice on that would be appreciated as well. Bananas are not patient when it comes to being fed lol, and my soil is way less than I would like it to be (not to mention shallow and rocky).

Thanks in advance for the help!

Regards,
Dan


Side note: Interestingly enough, even though people say worms don't like salt, while I was picking up seaweed from the beach today I found a pink worm wriggling through it, literally feet away from the salty ocean water lol. It also wasn't the first time I've seen them in the seaweed. The things people will tell you....
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Old 05-20-2012, 11:51 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

Do you just pile them up together, or do you have a fence around it to allow the pile to have some depth to it?
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

No fence; I'll be creating depth by making the pile tall, almost pyramid in shape
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Old 05-21-2012, 05:38 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

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No fence; I'll be creating depth by making the pile tall, almost pyramid in shape
I'd recommend a square or circular fence (chicken wire maybe) to keep it from spreading too far, and to give the depth that will aid in moisture retention which promotes heat generation in the center.
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

Couldn't it be done without a fence? I'm sure I've seen pictures of piles just laying unenclosed on the ground that are a good height. The area where I live isn't very windy, so there wouldn't be a problem with the pile being blown flat or spread out if that's what you're wondering about. I'd prefer a free-standing pile since I'd have to buy the chicken wire. Aren't materials sometimes composted just using a standard pile?
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

Create Your Own Compost Pile | Composting | US EPA



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Old 05-21-2012, 09:03 AM   #7 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yug View Post
I'd recommend a square or circular fence (chicken wire maybe) to keep it from spreading too far, and to give the depth that will aid in moisture retention which promotes heat generation in the center.
Yug is right. In order to prevent the compost from being spread everywhere and to concentrate it in a pile it is better to have some type of containment. Otherwise the wind, rain, birds and etc can spread it all over. I have used everything from wood, brick, rocks and wire fencing to do the trick. Often the cheapest routes are better.

Keep it moist to the touch (not soggy), turn often and provide it with a source of nitrogen. The nitrogen helps speed decomposition of the organic material (browns/ carbon). If you add soil as mentioned just do a little bit. By adding a bit it will increase the microbial activity in the pile.

Good luck and keep us posted.
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Old 05-21-2012, 09:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

i think a couple things come into play when making compost
appearance,and space available..
i have a huge yard..and its a deep lot..so im the only one seeing
the compost..
for me.. i use straw,shredded leaves,grass clippings,and rabbit
manure.. i add rock phosphate to stabilize the nitrogen.
i just layer the ingredients up to 5ft..depending on how much straw
i got a good deal on.. .. usually they are 20'X12' i turn mine
once in a week and 1/2 ..then twice after that.. they usually cook down
in under 2 months.. for use..
good luck to you !!! making your own compost..you will be hooked
at this wonderful soil ammendment !!!
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:11 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

Here are the basic practices we use at the farm I work at (http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/sustainag/soft/):
-at least 3ftx3ftx3ft, though they usually end up around 4ft.
-roughly 1/3 "greens" (mainly food wastes) and 2/3 "browns" (normally landscape trimmings)
-alternate layers of materials, build up to size before turning
-water and completely turn once per week once up to size
-turn every week as long high temps are generated, when no more high temps are generated, it is left to sit for a few weeks to a few months to cure depending on how desperate we are to use it.
-covered with a piece of old carpet to retain moisture, keep sun off, and keep birds out when sitting



Right now we have 4 simultaneous piles contained by cinder blocks, though we recently got a grant to expand and will likely just start off making big loose piles. In a home situation, it is nice to have a containment as every little bit you make it precious, but it is not necessary to have the process work. We turn once per week, which is not totally necessary, but it speeds it up.

If you use roughly a 2:1 Carbon:Nitrogen (C:N) ratio, keep it moist and well aerated, and get it up to at least ~3ftx3ftx3ft, you should have no problem getting a nice hot pile going. Often ours will get so hot you cannot even put your hand on it for more than a second, sometimes it is getting up to about 160F.
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Old 05-21-2012, 01:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

I guess all of those methods work well if you enjoy the exercize, not me I'm lazy. Just pile it up in wire rings about 4 foot high by 4 foot wide and watch nature do its trick. Not the fastest way but with the worms joining in it only takes about 6 months. Now we are composting mostly cattle manure and hay that isn't eaten with some occasional green stuff. Most of the green stuff is eaten by the cattle, bananas for feed for the cattle is why we got into bananas. Never leave the gate unlatched, our cattle would enjoy a feast and that has happened.
What really matters is how fast you want the compost. Our way works good for us because we get more than we can use in a short time, and the worms really speed things up. We all of the time have 2 composting and building another to replace the first to be used. Good luck.
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Old 05-21-2012, 05:51 PM   #11 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

That worm you saw was a blood worm or bristle worm. They will both injury you so do not pick them up.
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Old 06-25-2012, 03:03 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

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That worm you saw was a blood worm or bristle worm. They will both injury you so do not pick them up.
From what I've seen of a blood/bristleworm these appeared to be rather earthworms, but better safe than sorry
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:59 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

Been thinking of using an old truck bedliner to compost in. I think it would keep it contained fairly well and make turning the compost easy due to the shovel sliding easily along on the plastic. Any thoughts on this?
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:59 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Been thinking of using an old truck bedliner to compost in. I think it would keep it contained fairly well and make turning the compost easy due to the shovel sliding easily along on the plastic. Any thoughts on this?
Seeing as how people compost fine even in piles on the ground, this sounds good to me. Turning can be a chore with larger piles, so whatever makes it easier. Also, I like your quote. God does grow the bananas
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Old 06-27-2012, 07:10 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

When it comes to composting the less work the better, I prefer anaerobic.
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Old 06-27-2012, 01:56 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

we pile all our stuff up in a big pile surrounded by treated 4X8 fence panels on three sides. Then we turn it a few times a year with the skid loader.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:40 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

This probably wouldn't be a way most people would do it, but if you want organic material in a certain spot fast.......


I have a few black garbage cans with lids. I take them and put them next the bed where the stuff needs to go, they get heavy. I put all of my compost things in there with the lid on.

And let nature do its thing.

Now it doesn't turn to black treasure, more like brown, very smelly stew(like money and a good dinner to me . Its fast though, as fast as you can fill your bin or whatever. Taking only a couple weeks, rather than months. I then dump it on the bed, mix it in, let it mellow for a few days, And BAM!!


Works great. I do all of my corn beds like this and use no other fertilizer the whole season
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:52 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

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This probably wouldn't be a way most people would do it, but if you want organic material in a certain spot fast.......


I have a few black garbage cans with lids. I take them and put them next the bed where the stuff needs to go, they get heavy. I put all of my compost things in there with the lid on.

And let nature do its thing.

Now it doesn't turn to black treasure, more like brown, very smelly stew(like money and a good dinner to me . Its fast though, as fast as you can fill your bin or whatever. Taking only a couple weeks, rather than months. I then dump it on the bed, mix it in, let it mellow for a few days, And BAM!!


Works great. I do all of my corn beds like this and use no other fertilizer the whole season
This sounds like a really unique method. Do you think it would work with trashbags?
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Old 07-04-2012, 11:28 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Making A Compost Pile

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Now it doesn't turn to black treasure, more like brown, very smelly stew(like money and a good dinner to me . Its fast though, as fast as you can fill your bin or whatever. Taking only a couple weeks, rather than months. I then dump it on the bed, mix it in, let it mellow for a few days, And BAM!!
You are basically starting an anaerobic process which generates a slight temperatue increase and also could take a year to complete. Then two weeks into the process mixing it into the soil.
Why wait the two weeks?
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Old 07-05-2012, 01:27 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Quote:
You are basically starting an anaerobic process which generates a slight temperatue increase and also could take a year to complete. Then two weeks into the process mixing it into the soil.
Why wait the two weeks?
Well it clearly does not take a year.

You could throw the scraps right into your soil, but its still going to take its time. Why not speed it up?

There is plenty of oxygen getting into the mix if your going to mix it of course.
The heat from the sun is working on it though, that's not a factor in normal composting. With the external heat, instead of relying on microbial work, and the enclosed space, it works very well at breaking down waste.

As I said its not the same end product as actual composting, but you end up with a nutrient dense byproduct, that in the end will boost the organic content of your soil and aid in beneficial microbial growth.
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