Only grass and leaves in compost

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by delikatny, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. delikatny

    delikatny Member

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    My compost receives mostly grass clippings and dried oak leaves from the previous fall throughout the summer. Not an ideal mix since it is mostly grass (80% grass I would guess).

    It however does a good job of disposing of these materials. What can I add to this mixture to make it more suitable for ammending my garden soil? I end up with about a cubic meter of this stuff every year.
     
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Paragon of Plants Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Any sort of shredded twigs.
     
  3. cowboy

    cowboy Active Member

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    I would sprinkle soil throughout your compost mix. Even better, but a lot more work, would be to make a soil or clay slurry that coats the compost material. This has two benefits. One is that it introduces soil organisms into the compost. The other is that the clay particles and soil humus increases the CEC of your compost thereby holding onto nutrients especially nitrogen. If you have it, also sprinkle old compost into you new batch.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If you are asking about digging it into vegetable beds, once it becomes decomposed enough to use it won't matter that much what it consists of. Concerns related to pH and minerals can be addressed directly, at the site of the beds, using appropriate materials. Use the composting system to process whatever garden debris your site happens to generate.
     
  5. 1950Greg

    1950Greg Active Member

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    It seems to me that you have a good mix. Maybe what you want to do is layer the to ingredients. The moist grass with the dryed oak leaves on top and so on. If I recall oak leaves take a long time to break down and would porvide some textureto the mix. Any vegetable peels from the kitchen would do just fine also.
     
  6. delikatny

    delikatny Member

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    Thanks to all for the replies. Things dont seem to grow well in this stuff after it is fully decomposed. I suspect that there would be little nutrient value to it and possibly quite acidic from the oak?

    I usually save leaves from the fall and layer them with the grass during the summer when I have a lot of grass and no leaves.
     
  7. edd

    edd Member

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    Hi Delikatny!
    It,s interesting to read various posts on this subject.I have been gardning for 40 some
    years and never stopped learning about feeding and building the soil.Due to the size of my garden,composting is not an option to me.What I do though is bury kitchen wastes in between rhe rows of plants on a daily bassis.(NOT DAIRY OR MEAT PRODUCTS)In the fall, leaves and grass clippings are sheet composted.This is the first year I have used comfrey with good results.Started out with 12 root cuttings this spring and added another 20 roots this fall in it,s own growing bed.If interested about
    comfrey and its uses,do a goolge search on the word "comfrey".Once growing ,it,s free fertilizer for years to come.
    edd
     
  8. delikatny

    delikatny Member

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    According to google comfrey is a medicinal herb. What does it have to do with composting I have to ask?
     
  9. Debby

    Debby Active Member 10 Years

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    Comfrey is "good medicine" for the composter. Some people grow it exclusively for adding to the compost. One plant is sufficient.
     
  10. edd

    edd Member

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    comfrey is also used as a fertilizer.Cut leaves are placed in a 32 gal plastic container,half full of leaves and half with water.ferment this for about two weeks then feed to plants.wounderfull stuff but it will smell.comfrey root can grow down to 4 ft or more.roots take nutrents that have leached down into soil beyond the reach of garden plants.this ends up back in the leaves.leaves can also be used as a mulch that will enventually decay nutrients back in soil.As a google search try "comfrey fertilizer"
     
  11. delikatny

    delikatny Member

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    Wow thanks. I didn't know that.
     
  12. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    Wow, I've learned some new things here as well, thanks for posting.
     
  13. ANAEROBIC

    ANAEROBIC Member

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    Posted by anaerobic 32405 (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 23, 07 at 1:50

    Buy a 50 ft. roll of turkey wire 4 ft. high with 2" x 4" spacing. Cut it in three 15 ft. lengths with 2" extra wire sticking out at one end to hook onto the other end. Bring the ends together to form a large cage about 4 ft. in diameter. Use the 2" piece to hook the ends together from top to bottom. Now weave vertical blind slats in the fence wire horizontally all the way around from top to bottom to make a large basket. This 50 ft. roll will make you three baskets. Be sure you locate each basket on level ground. Fill each basket with leaves,any kind except pine needles, and keep adding leaves for at least 2 weeks as they settle. This is very, very important because the leaves will pack down like a sponge. At the end of 2 weeks put at least 6 inches of planting soil on top covering the entire surface over the leaves. You must plant now because the weight of the soil will press the leaves down further and it will be hard to plant reaching over the fence wire after it settles. It will continue to settle for about 2 to 6 weeks depending on the type of leaves and the amount of rain. It should stop settling at about a 3 ft. height or waist height, ideal for those using wheelchairs. After the soil has settled to this point cut the top 10 inches of the fence wire off leaving 2 inch pieces sticking up all the way around, about 90 pieces. Bend these down inside to avoid being cut by the sharp ends. Save the part you cut off for use later. In 2 to 3 years it will have settled to about 2 ft. or less. This is slow composting also known as anaerobic digestion. In the end you end up with good humus. When you are ready to start over just lift the wire cage off leaving a large cake of humus, set the cage in a new location, put the 10 inch piece back on top, fill it with leaves, keep adding leaves for 2 weeks, add 6 inches of soil and you've started all over again. Plant.
     
  14. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    Thank you anaerobic! Great suggestions!
     
  15. ANAEROBIC

    ANAEROBIC Member

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    I forgot to mention that the roots of the flowers or vegetables will feed off of the nutrients in the leaves of the large basket gardens. The leaves also hold a lot of moisture depending on the amount of watering or rain. Some of the leaves will hold water in a cup shape inside the cage and after a hard rain I haven't had to water large plants for a month. Signed: Anaerobic.
     
  16. matsorjc

    matsorjc Member

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    Try mowing/mulching your leaves, they should break down faster. I usually leave my grass in the autumn so that I have a nice mix to go with the shredded leaves.
     
  17. ANAEROBIC

    ANAEROBIC Member

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    I am in no hurry for compost or humus. The idea behind the Large Basket Gardens is to support the raised beds with the compressed leaves as long as possible. In the end the result is a high quality humus. While the plants are growing they will feed off of the nutrients in the leaves. The leaves in a cupped shape will hold water for quite a while and I have't had to water large plants for up to a month. When the soil has settled below the 3' height the sides will keep plants. The big advantage or this type of raised bed is that many handicapped persons can take care of planting, weeding and harvesting at a waist-height level. I realize that most people are in a hurry for compost but this is another ball game altogether. This is not the normal way to make compost I know, and by the way, composting is aerobic. The Large Basket Gardens are not exactly composting. This is known as Anaerobic Digestion, no air, no turning, no work, no hurry. But in the end you still get the same thing, good old humus. Signed: ANAEROBIC
     
  18. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    Anaerobic,
    Could you use a 55 gallong plastic barrel cutting the two ends out, drill holes on the side and then pile the leaves and dirt?
     
  19. ANAEROBIC

    ANAEROBIC Member

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    The main reason for using the Large Basket Garden is to save the leaves, a valuable source of plant nutrition. I have put as many as 40 or 50 large plastic bags of leaves in one of these Large Basket Gardens. In a period of 3 years I have picked up over 3,000 bags of leaves. I have built or helped to build more than 60 of these structures in the county I live in. One 86 year old lady has 10 Large Basket Gardens in her back yard. She says it is no trouble to care for them. A personal friend and his wife have 12 in their yard and they are enjoying them year round. I have 20 in my yard and it is a labor of love. I am 79 years old and I can't handle gardening on the ground,(220 lbs.). I don't even own a hoe. I don't even need one. If every city would furnish this $10.00 cage to it's residents to put their leaves in it would save the city thousands of dollars in costs of trash pick up. Look at all the free humus they would end up with. The idea for these raised beds came from having my bulldog dig up my first ground level bed. Then I read where people found plants growing in their compost pile. So, I said to myself: "Why not do this on purpose?". Thus, the idea for the Large Basket Gardens.
     
  20. Karalyn

    Karalyn Active Member

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    That's wonderful! Sort of like the lasagna method. I have an abundance of 55 gallon barrels that come from the business we own. We have a specialized soap in them to clean restaurant hoods and their fans on top of the roof to get rid of greasy fat that can start a kitchen fire.
    I've been using them as filter barrels for my koi pond, cut in half of 2/3 on one end and 1/3 on the other as water garden plants and goldfish carry over and the other end has the holes in it to access the soap originally with a screw top, and I'm using them as planters until some day my sons or hubby will build me some wooden ones and they are a quick fix when I have carpal tunnel and not always help to use as a replacement for raised beds as well. As they are portable and can roll to a desired spot until I get someone to build rectangular planting beds with the larger wood and use of a saw.

    I already yesterday started added leaves to a hole in the ground and started to pile dirt on top from your ideas. This area has never been planted with anything and has received grass and fallen leaves for at least the 15 years that I have lived here and I'm sure for the 15-20 years prior, so when I started to dig into the partially dead grass on purpose by me, the soil was wonderful. Just have a problem with a large pine tree roots. They are small ones where I'm digging so I'm cutting them.

    And I intend to keep adding soil to make a berm and my high school football player helper likes my idea, so that means I will get help with this quickly as he has vision! LOL

    My sons just look at it as more work for Mom. If they had their way they would make the whole acre just grass! Which is fine if your time is limited and they like to drive the tractor and lawn cutter or riding lawn mower (which doesn't work very well at all right now).

    Right now this area has a chain linked tall fence that isn't even attached to the post very well and the posts aren't in concrete. (Eventually we'll put up a new wooden fence. Hasn't really been a problem as we had both backyards open with the previous owners.) The guy put it up to keep his Airdales wire terriers Not sure the name, but large terriers that love my fish ponds and love to go into my doggy door which is small!

    So I'm ready to start planting shrubbery over in that area which is on the westside of the yard and gets full sun. Also, this new neighbor doesn't keep his expansive lawn green and weeds are developing and blown right through the fence to my grass. The previous owner would just flood irrigate the whole backyard and it was very nice.

    But he didn't have these big dogs that tear up everything. The first dog was a female and then they kept a male puppy of hers as of this past summer.
    Anyway, I noticed a new trampoline was torn up by their first dog, and at first it was the protective padding on the side and I would keep finding these foam type curved mats, which I was thinking to use for insulation for my ponds. Then I realized they were coming from the trampoline. Now I noticed the trampoline black mat is shredded or parts of it was hanging down.

    It is a big job to take care of his lawn and a few trees, and he only has one son that is probably 9 or 10 right now. His wife works and he has a dry wall business that keep s him busy. Just like my husband, so if we didn't have me nor all our sons we would be in a bad way. Plus he doesn't flood irrigate and my son says his pump is too small to water the yard or his irrigation pond is too small. Not sure exactly. I've offered to water when he is gone during the hot summer days. But the wife said her hubby can do it.

    Oh,well, more info than needed, but it helps to understand my landscaping project. LOL
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2007

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