Can a neglected compost be saved? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-04-2011, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
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I have seen several threads on composting issues, but they are all pretty old and none really address my specific question. I have a compost bin in the back yard, just a plastic bin which I drilled holes in. This is my second attempt since the first one just was not looking right and I didn't think I had paid enough attention to it. I dumped it and started over. My problem is, I often forget, or am simply too lazy to go out there every week and mix it up and wet it. It has again become dry and for lack of a better word, dead. But the thought of starting over is not pleasing. If I put more time and effort into keeping it moist and stirring it once a week, can it be salvaged? Any advice on this would be much appreciated. For the record, my ratio of brown to green seems to be fine. I am pretty sure the only issue is neglegence on my partgreensad.gif

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#2 of 10 Old 01-05-2011, 08:15 AM
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I will admit, I "compost" in the way most kids clean their room.


I don't know if you can really screw up compost, I mean, worst case is  you have dirt right? (At least this is my philosophy) I have one of the rolly bins now too. Which is a big plastic barrel with holes drilled in it. I am thinking about installing some kind of agitator, like crisscross wires to help break it up. I have problems with it clumping together. Otherwise, I just dump things in there until it gets 1/2 full, then kick it around the yard until it gets lighter :) I don't water it, I don't take it's temperature. I don't know diddily about brown to green. But my plants seem to like it :)


I have found that if DH goes on a throwing my compost away spree and I don't put anything in for a couple weeks, it doesn't get kicked, and it is REALLY neglected, I just dump it under the walnut tree and pretend it didn't happen.


I am subbing for suggestions. As you can see I am not a master compotser. (Which my parks service offers a class in that I have thought about taking!) But I wanted to share my opinion and I am open to suggestion!

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#3 of 10 Old 01-05-2011, 08:23 AM
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I'm not a master composter either (but no slouch, I've got a pretty good pile going plus a tumbler), but the only scenario in which I might throw out a batch would be if it were roach-infested. But even then I might try to fix that (if for no other reason than a roach infestation would need to be addressed either way).


Yeah, just wet it again and work it. You don't "have" to turn it, it just makes it compost faster and perhaps more evenly. So the only real problem is that it's dry. Easily solved. Yes, most of the nice little organisms died off when it dried out, but if you wet it again, they will come back.

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#4 of 10 Old 01-05-2011, 08:49 AM
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I'm a lazy composter.  I don't run mine and the only water it gets is from the rain or when I rinse out my compost bucket and toss that on top.  I'm surprised at how good it looks for how little I do for it. 


I would definitely start using the compost bin again and not dump anything out.  It'll pick back up and start going again.

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#5 of 10 Old 01-13-2011, 09:38 AM
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I agree with the PP that your compost will probably re-awaken if you moisten it.  If there are a lot of leaves in there, make sure that the moisture gets distributed throughout instead of just running down the sides and out through the holes.  You can throw in a litte ordinary soil, as well, to re-colonize it.  If that doesn't work - especially if the pile doesn't seem to be warmer than the surrounding air - try mixing in a couple gallons of used coffee grounds; sometimes the brown/green ratio seems okay but the pile has run out of gas. 

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#6 of 10 Old 01-13-2011, 11:19 AM
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That's true, other ways to jumpstart would be to dump in a puree of foods. The puree is easier for the bacteria to eat (though it runs out quicker, too), so they can multiply pretty quickly and then branch back out to the rest of the food in the pile.


By "puree of foods" I mean running some kitchen scraps through a blender with a little water too. Get a nice and nasty puree going, lol.

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#7 of 10 Old 01-13-2011, 01:45 PM
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Do you know anyone who raises livestock?  Maybe you could get a couple of trashbags full of poo/hay/bedding?  I do that for a couple of people.

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#8 of 10 Old 01-19-2011, 12:29 PM
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Another lazy composter here. Several years ago, I was very heartened to read (in a John Jeavons book, I believe - or maybe it was Toby Hemenway) that compost made the slow, lazy way actually seems to have more nutrients. Woohoo!

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#9 of 10 Old 01-28-2011, 12:49 PM
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Cheers to the lazy composters! champagne.gif


We just bury our compost directly in the ground. Beautiful soil has been the reward!


Super simple: Keep a trowel handy. Dig a hole, drop in the food scraps, cover with dirt/soil. (Digging and covering discourages rodents, but sometimes we just throw the items out in the soil...depends on what it is. So far, coffee grounds and cardboard egg cartons don't attract anything.)


We do work our way from one end of the garden beds to the other, so it all has time to decompose by the time we get back to that area. If something still is intact, we mentally make note and move on to the next available spot. Corn cobs and husks take a REALLLLLLY long time to decompose...for example. LOL I've got our neighbors and friends bringing me THEIR food scraps and coffee grounds (we don't drink it). When I find a bag of rotting veggies or fruits tied to our front door knob, I get excited! biggrinbounce.gif  When my DD's best friend's mother drops off her DD, she always brings me a bag of coffee grounds. smile.gif

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#10 of 10 Old 01-28-2011, 04:49 PM
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I don't do anything to my's really a garbage can with the bottom cut off that I buried about a foot down with the lid part still up (make sense? maybe not..)  Anyway, I rarely turn mine and it is FULL of red worms!  I really don't even wait for it to fully decompose before I'll dig a shovel full or so into the beds...


I say take a deep breath, relax, and don't stress!!!  wink1.gif  If it's dry add some water, other than that just let it do it's thing (well, unless you want to turn it but it's easy to forget!)

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