trashy compost

slowpoke_gardenerDecember 7, 2011

I have been trying to get a supply of organic matter for next year. The mushroom compost from Ft. Smith has more sand in it than I like. The compost from the landfill cost $10.00 a yard but it has too much shredded plastic in it. I try to pick out most of the shredded plastic as I unload, but it will need to be sifted.

The picture shows what I picked from one yard. I have both, 1/4" and 1/2" hardware cloth. I will build a sifter

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Pallida(Zone 7b)

Larry, Good Grief! Remember the good old days when everything wasn't bagged in plastic?
Would someone give you the old hay out of their horse barns? Would that work?


    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 4:46PM
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Yuck! I don't envy you that compost, but I sure admire you for being that far along with you garden chores. We cleaned up some more of ours today. Got the asparagus ferns cut back and mulched and all of the peppers pulled. Spread lots of chopped leaves in the raised bed which is going to be part of my onion bed for Spring. Last year my ground stayed too wet for too long, so I decided to try using raised beds next year. It will probably be a dry Spring just because I'm preparing for a wet one. LOL I will finish clean-up and add more leaves. I hope I get to till the leaves in then start bringing in compost. I hope to do several loads this winter and the mushroom compost I get always looks good.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 5:05PM
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Jeanie, I do have some hay, about 1.5 round bales, about a yd. of shredded leaves, about .6 yd. of oak shavings, about 3 yds of trashy compost. My soil NEEDS a lot of organic matter. I have slacked off with organic matter in the past 2 years and have an infestation of root knot nematodes. I want to increase my input of organic matter as one step in fighting them.

I stopped using the landfill compost about 2 or 3 years ago, believe it or not it was worse then than now. Its a lot of work but I can sift out the plastic from the landfill compost, but I cant sift out the sand from the mushroom compost, and with the nematodes I don't want to add any sand.

This is the second year I have grown a cover crop of Elbon rye. I started because of the vast amount of organic matter it produces, now I will have to see what it will do for the nematodes.

All the people I have been getting the organic matter from have been having major health issues. Also I expect more of my time will be spent in helping them and I may be cutting back on my gardening anyway.

I feel fortunate that I can only complain about organic matter and nematodes, and so many others are facing life threatening issues.


    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 5:42PM
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We got free mulch one time from the country and it had chopped limbs in it that would have taken years to break down. They were 6 or 8 inches long and as thick as a golf ball. That was the last time I tried that. Last year I bought a work truck mostly for hauling things for my garden and yard but I think we only brought in one load of compost because of the weather. We were either soggy or cooking for most of the gardening season this year. Hoping this is a better year.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 6:12PM
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Pallida(Zone 7b)

Larry, bless your heart! We should ALL be thankful for our blessings, when there are so many with health problems, financial problems, etc.
If we have another Summer like the one this year, we will all probably spend less time gardening. For those of us who love being outside and in our gardens and flower beds, though, I am sure we will go down fighting.

Jeanie. ((*=*))

    Bookmark   December 7, 2011 at 6:49PM
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The city compost I get is hit and miss. It usually always has some trash and pieces of metal and wire in it. I find a lot of rocks in it, too, and sometimes the compost looks more like wood mulch than compost. Like maybe they're not giving it long enough to cook and break down or there was just too much wood and not enough leaves/soft stuff in the yard waste. It works out fine for me, though, because I spread it around my trees and shrubs where I need mulch anyway.

For the veggie garden I decided to pick up a few loads of both cotton burr compost and composted manure from a local bulk materials place. The manure in particular has a very fine, soil-like texture which should make it easier to work with in the garden than the woody city compost. I was a bit disappointed in the cotton burr compost, though. The bagged Back to Nature stuff I bought from the nursery had a fine, fluffy texture with no large pieces in it, but the stuff I got from the bulk place still had a LOT of cotton tufts and woody stems in it. Hopefully some of that will break down before spring.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 9:41AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


My experience with municipal compost is the same as yours, and I have not brought in any 'outside' compost in years. After you sift it, I bet you'll be pretty happy with it though.

The hay I use as mulch, along with shredded leaves and compost from my compost pile all have helped a lot in terms of soil improvement over the years, but since heat eats compost, I still have to add huge amounts every year or the soil reverts back to rock-hard clay. I have gotten really picky about hay because of all the herbicide residue contamination issues.

Like Carol, the garden was either too wet (in May, or October-November) or too dry and hot for me to focus much on soil-building this past year, so it is extra important that I get lots of organic matter added this fall and winter.

I do have a huge compost pile that has cooked down quite a bit. Right now it is about 6' wide and 12-15' long and a couple of feet tall and I intend to rake off the upper layer that hasn't broken down, remove the finished compost and then start building the new pile.

My favorite way to compost is to put shredded leaves and grass clippings right in the garden pathways as mulch. I usually start out with a 2 to 4" layer and add more leaves or grass clippings or hay whenever I can. By winter, they've broken down into compost and I can stand there in that path and shovel the decomposed mulch right into adjacent beds. That's my favorite lazy way to compost because I don't have to haul wheelbarrow loads of compost from the pile to the garden. This year it was so dry, though, that the pathway mulch didn't decompose much, but since rain began falling in September, the mulch has begun decomposing so I probably will be able to add it to beds in January or February.

Miraje, I've noticed that too with a lot of local compost---it is more mulchy than composty. Eventually it does break down. I think it is getting harder and harder to find quality compost without paying a premium price for it.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 10:14AM
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mrsfrodo(z7 OK)

I also needed more organic matter last year and OK Gardenweb came to the rescue. Bridlewood will give you the compost for free if you load it. If they load it with the skip loader, it is $10 a load. Be careful not to load more than you can unload- the last load literally took me a month to unload. LOL- wonder what everyone passing my truck at work thought? The compost is horse manure and horse bedding which is usually well enough composted to sow seeds in.

Elizabeth is a good lady. She would be happy to get rid of the compost, but please only call if you can pick it up. We don't want to overwhelm her with calls and cut off this great source.

Here is a link that might be useful: Credit to GWs who helped me

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 8:34PM
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