Compost failure to thrive

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By Teri S. Holmes, Tulsa Master Gardener

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Compost failure to thrive

  1. 1. Composting When things aren’t working OSU Extension Master Gardener Program Presented by Teri S. HolmesAsk a Master Gardener
  2. 2. KEYS TO COMPOSTING Moisture Aeration Microorganisms Volume—3ft x 3ft Surface Area Carbon/Nitrogen Ratio —”brown” stuff and “green” stuff—25:1 is ideal Ask a Master Gardener
  3. 3. COMPOST MATERIALSAcceptable materials Unacceptable materials Clean paper  Dairy Products Coffee and tea grounds and  Fats, grease, lards or oils filters  Meats, fish bones, or scraps Dryer and vacuum cleaner lint  Pet wastes (dog and cat Eggshells primarily) Fruits and vegetables  Diseased, insect-ridden plants Grass clippings  Black walnut leaves or twigs Hay and straw  Coal or charcoal ash Houseplants Leaves Nut shells Sawdust Shredded newspaper Wood chips Ask a Master Gardener
  4. 4. Diagnosing Failure to Thrive Pile doesn’t seem to be decomposing:  Is the pile dry?  Add water until sponge wet  Has the pile “compacted”?  Aerate pile  Is the pile too wet?  Add dry carbon material  Do you have sufficient “mass”?  Add more compostibles to the pile. Ask a Master Gardener
  5. 5. Diagnosing Failure to Thrive Pile doesn’t seem to be decomposing:  Is the pile in contact with soil?  Remove any barriers between soil and pile/bin.  Are materials chopped/shredded?  Shred/tear/smash/chop materials into smaller pieces to create more surface area.  Is the pile exposed to the elements?  Do not seal pile off from weather elements (e.g. cover and seal with black plastic). Ask a Master Gardener
  6. 6. Diagnosing Failure to Thrive My pile STINKS!!!  Is the pile too wet?  Add dry material  Is the pile compacted?  Aerate  Have you added meats, fats, or oils?  Remove IMMEDIATELY! Consider disposing of all material and starting over. Ask a Master Gardener
  7. 7. Other Issues Help!! I think animals are living in my pile!  Don’t make your pile attractive to wildlife:  NO meats, fats, or oils.  Cover/bury spoiled, overripe fruits and vegetables in the pile.  Utilize a bin instead of just piling on the ground. Ask a Master Gardener
  8. 8. Other Issues I can’t keep my dog out of the compost!!  No meats, fats or oils.  Use a bin with a lid  Bury all overripe fruits and vegetables  Warning: Onions are toxic to canines.  Causes a form of hemolytic anemia.  Consider fencing off the area. Ask a Master Gardener
  9. 9. RESOURCESComposting Leaf Composting, Recycling Yard Waste: “Don’t Bag It”, OSU Extension Service brochure L-252 http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2865/L- 252.pdf Backyard Composting in Oklahoma. OSU Extension Service Fact Sheet, F- 1744 Composting, USEPA. http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/rrr/composting/index.htm Keeping Organics out of Landfills. USCC. www.compostingcouncil.orgVermicomposting Vermicomposting. USEPA. http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/rrr/composting/vermi.htm Vermicomposting—Composting with Worms. OSU Extension Fact sheet, BAE-1742. California Integrated Waste Management. Vermicomposting. http://www.ciwmb.ca.gov/Organics/Worms/WormFact.htm#02 Ask a Master Gardener

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