What makes good compost?
Okay, all you experts, here's a question that may seem basic to the experienced gardeners, but is a puzzle for some others. What should actually be added to a compost heap for it to be good and healthy? We've been discussing the pitiful excuse for soil that's in my chicken pens, and it brought up the thought of manure in general.
I've never really done a true compost heap that's anything more than leaves and grass clippings left to break down. I haven't added in anything from the kitchen because I had no place to collect it that wouldn't create a problem.
This year I started one by piling up some of the bedding from the sheep pens and then adding in grass clippings and so on. My neighbor brings me a bag of the cedar bedding from their chick nursery now and then, and I've added it also. I haven't built a regular compost box, because we have so much room. It's easier to just keep it in a pile where it's more accessible.
Am I correct in thinking that some of the good things to use are coffee grounds, egg shells, produce trimmings and so on? And should I be careful about adding in too much poultry manure? In other words, more than just a little? What about horse manure from my neighbor's barn, or will I just be starting up a huge crop of weeds transferred from his pasture? The grass hay and oat straw from the sheep pens does not appear to be causing a seeding problem. When I use it as mulch, it isn't sprouting, but it's hard to say what it will do if it's tilled into the ground later.
All the garden mulch from this year will be tilled in and a new layer put down next spring to check the weed growth, but I just don't know about the material to add to the compost heap. Can we get a new thread going with some good ideas in that direction? I'd appreciate your input.
(In theory, it would even be possible to dump in all the waste from when we go fishing, and then cover it up . . . IF I wanted every raccoon in the county in there digging for it. I definitely do not want that. I was just being a wise guy, even though it does make an amazing mulch. Sorry about that.)