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Soil and Composting: aerated compost

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Forum: Soil and CompostingReplies: 41, Views: 286
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jimwil22
rhinelander, WI
(Zone 4a)

June 4, 2011
4:02 AM

Post #8607724

anyone try biodynamics ? -- it is basically aerating compost but with a few added pluses -- organic methods
of growing the compost in cow horns and the aerating is done by the person stiring it in a bucket of lake water instead
of using a pump or mechanical stirrer -- i have tried it with success but don't know if it is any better
than the modern methods of aerated compost -- also the biodynamic compost pile has other ingredients
like valerian , nettle , yarrow , dandelion etc , horsetail is used to protect .
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

June 7, 2011
3:07 AM

Post #8614657

Cow horns?

postmandug

postmandug
Bardstown, KY
(Zone 6a)

June 7, 2011
11:06 AM

Post #8615600

Yeah PP, I can't understand how you get the cows to stand still that long!!!

Doug

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 8, 2011
8:01 AM

Post #8617584

Maybe the cows toss the compost with their horns?

postmandug

postmandug
Bardstown, KY
(Zone 6a)

June 8, 2011
8:26 AM

Post #8617668

From Wikipedia:

500: (horn-manure) a humus mixture prepared by filling the horn of a cow with cow manure and burying it in the ground (4060 cm below the surface) in the autumn. It is left to decompose during the winter and recovered for use the following spring.
501: Crushed powdered quartz prepared by stuffing it into a horn of a cow and buried into the ground in spring and taken out in autumn. It can be mixed with 500 but usually prepared on its own (mixture of 1 tablespoon of quartz powder to 250 liters of water) The mixture is sprayed under very low pressure over the crop during the wet season, in an attempt to prevent fungal diseases. It should be sprayed on an overcast day or early in the morning to prevent burning of the leaves.
Both 500 and 501 are used on fields by stirring about one teaspoon of the contents of a horn in 4060 liters of water for an hour and whirling it in different directions every second minute. Although some biodynamic beliefs refer to buried quartz "fermenting", a 2004 review commented that it is unclear what this actually means, as rock does not ferment.[

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 8, 2011
8:52 AM

Post #8617751

Thanks to postmandug, I found the complete article:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodynamic_agriculture
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

June 8, 2011
9:09 AM

Post #8617790

Sounds like voodoo.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

June 12, 2011
10:00 AM

Post #8625620

I agree. No problem with the organic methods they employ, but the intestines things, and medicina herbs etc- too fringe for me. If one of those has better results than a compared organic farm it could be because the biodynamic farmer is extra dedicated at every step.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

June 13, 2011
5:40 PM

Post #8628394

I'm not positive the name was "biodynamic", but one author claimed big benefits from powdered quartz - if you first stirred it in a bucket of water, counterclockwise for hours.

The book wasn't nominally about pagan magic, it was supposedly just "how to improve soil".

If I'm going to rely on magic, I'd rather just drum and chant and dance naked around a fire in good company and howl at the moon. That's fun!

Especially, I would call it what it is, not pretehnd that magic was engineering or vice-versa.

Corey

jimwil22
rhinelander, WI
(Zone 4a)

June 20, 2011
4:56 AM

Post #8641865

lol magic is a good term for it i guess , but the modern organic methods work well but
need lots of compost
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

June 20, 2011
10:09 AM

Post #8642463

Rather than sacrificing a chicken, I'd rather just turn it loose to rummage in -- and poop on -- my compost pile. Thanks all the same. ;)

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

June 20, 2011
6:57 PM

Post #8643487

I should really emohasize that I was talking about ONE author who went so far around the bend, he couldn't even SEE the bend any more from where he was.

I don't mean to call organic gardening methods or bio-organic principles "magic". They are natural methids, and maybe super methods, but not supernatural methods as far as I know.

Corey
jimwil22
rhinelander, WI
(Zone 4a)

June 21, 2011
2:21 AM

Post #8643948

thanks
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

June 21, 2011
3:56 AM

Post #8643986

So what's the question, then?
jimwil22
rhinelander, WI
(Zone 4a)

June 25, 2011
4:42 AM

Post #8653182

biodynamics supposedly works well in areas with poor soil , like australia , but the mechanical
stirring of compost + water seems to work well -- don't remember why Steiner thought the
cow horns in the ground would potentise the compost , i agree it sounds weird but
maybe it is not widely accepted because we have access to richer soils and compost.
kmom246
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

July 16, 2011
2:32 AM

Post #8695289

Sorry for the length of this post...

Some modern neo-pagans would say that the proper stirring direction for growth or positive change is clockwise. Preferably on a waxing or full moon. :-) Myself, any direction that gets the chicken coop cleanings turned so it can get past that awful "first burn" stage where it is just dumping ammonia works for me!! I have never been able to have enough carbon for my pile on coop cleaning day (two dozen hens, a rooster, 3 ducks) to keep the first week's ammonia smell down. The up side is that I can have sweet smelling brown gold in about 2 months if I'm diligent. IF. :-)

Apparently, according to the article, I am practicing a form of biodynamics, even though I had not read any of Steiner's writings. So here goes (oh, and as a side note, I AM a practicing neo-pagan witch, but that does not generally impact the technical part of gardening other than a garden is a lovely place to sing to the moon and connect with the elements).

So, my thoughts on the matter...

As for the "medicinal herbs," pretty much any culinary herb these days was used medicinally at some time in the past. So if one pulls up the aging culinary herbs with long tap roots and compost them, then they are possibly more likely to bring in those roots some of the "buried minerals" to help balance out the compost. Other herbs that use other nutrients from the soil will bring those nutrients to the compost. What everything brings to the pile is way too complex for me, however, so instead of x amount of this or that, as Steiner recommends, I just try and make sure that "some of everything" gets into the pile. Much of it is "pre-composted" by my flock, but many of the old herbs go straight into the pile because I don't want to upset the birds' systems (they don't like most of the strong smelling herbs, anyway - much preferring baby spinach!). I believe that this diversity of materials (shredded bills, chickie-poo, extra basil and rosemary, flowerless weeds, etc.) helps to make my compost more nutritious.

Technically, I think that the nutrients removed by harvested food should be returned to the compost pile; however, I cannot get past the "ick" factor, even though I know that my compost stays in the 150*F range for weeks and would kill most pathogens. At least the nutrients used by my chickies and duckies go back. I cannot find a logical or scientific reason why I should not compost my own waste... other than "ick."

Cow horn might add calcium into the compost. Maybe cow horns are common where Steiner comes from. Myself, I bury egg shells. Sometimes not crushed - they get well crushed as I wrestle with turning the compost pile. (At 3 ft tall, it is more than half my height - and it's a lot younger than me, too!)

Because, like many gardeners, I don't want to use toxic chemicals, I must share my harvest with "others." Stinky garlic water and row covers help, but any sunflower planted after the first few generations of grasshoppers have grown up have only a 25% chance of living long enough to bloom. But I take solace in the fact that 100% of the grasshoppers I capture get eaten by happy chickies. I didn't read deeply enough to know Steiner's thoughts on this, but I so relish feeding the grasshoppers to my waiting ladies that I had to sneak it into the post somewhere)...

My compost pile is hot enough in the beginning that I could put meat in it. Instead, it usually gets bone meal and blood meal. If one were on a full-fledged farm, one might add the slaughter ofal to the compost instead. At that scale of production, the compost "pile" would be significantly bigger than mine.

I make compost "tea" with which to invigorate ailing plants. It's a foliar spray. It isn't exactly how Steiner says to do it, but it seems to work.

So, I guess my point is, if one takes out all the mumbo-jumbo stuff, it's really just composting and gardening.

My own mumbo-jumbo includes talking to my plants, and asking the powers that be to bless my garden. I also like to bless my plants with a kind of "may the force be with you" kind of feeling. But that has nothing to do with the chemistry and biology of compost. That has to do with the Spirit of things. And THAT is a whole 'nother conversation.

Bless this garden that I grow, to feed our bodies and our souls.

Blessed Be.

Karla

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

July 16, 2011
7:17 AM

Post #8695524

Karla- I think we're all enjoying your post, long though it may compared to average.

I agree that the original site basically advocated composting, with some fun (ny) mumbo jumbo thrown in for personality.
kmom246
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

July 16, 2011
5:02 PM

Post #8696434

Everyone was having so much fun with the "magic" thing, and I AM a neo-pagan, that I just had to chime in. Glad you enjoyed.
jimwil22
rhinelander, WI
(Zone 4a)

July 19, 2011
4:52 AM

Post #8701181

thanks for the comments -- we can make the "compost tea" in a way that suits us best but
maybe "nothing is new under the sun " also applies , if we explore outer space in the future
maybe we will find new ways of making our teas , or rediscover the methods of
Luther Burbank or George Washington Carver, or the Findhorn method.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

July 19, 2011
6:40 PM

Post #8702643

>> maybe "nothing is new under the sun " also applies , if we explore outer space in the future ...

My keenest interest in the "Gerard O'Neil L5 space colony" idea was in the gardening / farming aspect, especially the recycling of plant and other waste. They intended to use a high temperature and pressure "Zimmerman wet oxidation" process (maybe catalysed with iron salts) that produced CO2 and salts.

Now that I've read about the "hot pile" composting techniques here, I think the space colonies would be better off composting for a few months, perhaps "Bokashi-ing" first, then using the compost in soil. The CO2 might take longer, overall, to be fully recycled, but I but the plants would grow better with compost!

(Or maybe use the rapid Zimpro process to pasteurize & oxidise dilute gray water, but compost the solids.)

I think the choice depends on how much "inventory" of organic matter a space colony has, and how fast it has to turn around the CO2 ... whether they "farm", "garden", or just have "houseplants" to refresh the air.

Corey



sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

July 20, 2011
11:49 PM

Post #8705281

Surely a space colony would have to reuse every bit of organic material it produces. Is there carbon on the moon? The CO2 made by people would have to be dealt with quickly. But obviously a space colony would want to make use of everything it has and we organic gardeners can't help but see manure as a resource
Corey before you live on the moon you have to get there- Read Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. A hilarious yet informative book about the challenges of space travel!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

July 21, 2011
1:08 PM

Post #8706553

They (like the L5 Society) used to think not, but then someone detected carbonaceous gravel, as if a carbonaceous chondrite (asteroid) had hit relatively gently and crumbled rather than vaporized. Now there is some speculation that patches of regolith may have enough C to be worth harvesting.

>> Surely a space colony would have to reuse every bit of organic material it produces.

My guess is that "it depends". If there were several small stations or habitats that did NOT recycle, before a real colony got going, they might have a lot of dried out solid waste inventory they could trade to a recyling colony: ten tons of dry waste for one ton of fresh tomatoes.

Or, say the iron and aluminium and glass and oxygen for a colony all came from the Moon by mass driver. It might turn out that enough C and N for gardening/farming might only weigh 10% of the structural mass and hence it might be practical to import enough C that you could afford to park a lot of it in the form of soil.

I think the overall effect is to slow down the rate at which CO2 scrubbed out of the air would be turned into somehting edible. In other words, increase the "inventory" or ratio of stored carbon in the ecosystem, compared to the amount of food generated per day.

Said yet another way: how many pounds of food per day can you produce, if you only have a finite amount of organic matter to divide among air, soil, plants, people and "waste processing".

If compost in the soil speeds up plant growth enough, that might be an efficient way to use mass compared to more acres of soiless hydroponics ... if you have the OM to spare.

Corey

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

July 24, 2011
3:52 PM

Post #8712974

Well, you would also want to re use liquid. A hydroponic system sounds more efficient- you could start that way until there IS OM piled up.

But maybe we should let this thread die gracefully instead of continuing off topic. We could always have a Soil and COmposting on the moon thread.
kmom246
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

July 24, 2011
7:02 PM

Post #8713228

I like the idea of a Soil and Composting on the Moon thread - sometimes I feel like I am trying to compost on the moon here in the high desert! :-)

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

July 25, 2011
2:46 AM

Post #8713514

>> A hydroponic system sounds more efficient- you could start that way until there IS OM piled up.

Agreed. If I ever design a lunar colony or orbiting habitat, I'd use hydroponics at first with fast oxidation recycling ... and also import food for some years or decades. As the imported carbon accumulated, at first I'd expand the hydroponics area, and then start letting some of the crabon recycle slower by composting it and using it in soil, expecting soil organisms to digest it to humic acids and then CO2 over months or years instead of hours or days.

I don't feel TOO bad about hijacking a thread when there are no more posts appearing on the original topic.

Corey

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

July 26, 2011
4:18 PM

Post #8716971

I will let you go to the moon and set us up- you seem to have a big headstart on this whole thing!

I also doubt the thread police will come for us here.

kmom, the east coast is having a heat wave, I'll need some tips from you soon!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

July 26, 2011
6:03 PM

Post #8717159

I would say "move to the PNW, but it seems that everyone in CA did that a decade or so ago and drove all real estate prices through the roof. We called it the Californication of Seattle.

P.S. Don't tell anybody that we do have sun in the summer. Everyone is supposed to think that it rains 5-7 times per week ALL YEAR here, instead of just the 9 months per year it really does rain that often. If they knew we had 2-3 months with some sun, they would ALL move here! (So we believe.)

Corey
in the Pacific NorthWet
kmom246
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

July 31, 2011
1:41 AM

Post #8726764

SallyG - mulch, mulch, mulch. Drip irrigation on a timer. mulch some more. good luck!
bellieg
Virginia Beach, VA

July 31, 2011
4:26 AM

Post #8726834

My way of composting is very basic, I do not have time to do other stuff to it.

Belle
jimwil22
rhinelander, WI
(Zone 4a)

August 2, 2011
4:36 AM

Post #8731521

with all the composting places opening up it's good to make your own so you know what's
in it

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

August 2, 2011
9:37 AM

Post #8731969

And- why spend tax money to haul it away and then your gas and $ to haul it back once 'rotten'?
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

August 2, 2011
8:40 PM

Post #8733397

I had a 16 count carton of eggs that got old. So I put them in my compost pile, buried, whole. They were there about a month.

I forgot about them and was adding some more scraps yesterday and started digging a large hole, turning over some scraps already composted and all of a sudden I hit bang. I could not figure out what could me in my pile that sounded like I had hit a small pail. Dug in again, and another bang. Third time, I went easier and it was the eggs exploding when I hit them with my small child's shovel.

And the smell was rotten egg gas. Which I covered up immediately. I guess I will not do that again. Sharon

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

August 3, 2011
8:18 AM

Post #8734095

Haha!
Too bad it didn't sprout chickens for ya!

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

August 3, 2011
1:09 PM

Post #8734654

>> it was the eggs exploding when I hit them with my small child's shovel.
>> And the smell was rotten egg gas.

Or, crack the eggs when you first drop them in, and turn it and water it to dilute them, then cover over.

What a great source of Nitrogen!

Corey
WormsLovSharon
Las Vegas, NV

August 3, 2011
8:46 PM

Post #8735714

I actually put them in whole on purpose. I wanted to see what happened. I just forgot where they were.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

August 4, 2011
5:45 PM

Post #8737365

I've been wondering WHY so many people say never to compost meat products.

I usually have a few tiny scraps of dried-up cat food and used to throw them away, but lately have been scraping them into the quart tub I save vegetable scraps in, for composting.

The only reason I can think of is that they might attract rodents. This area is so urban I don't expect it to attract anything else, and the quantity so small in comparison to my coffee grounds and veg scraps that it won't attract rodents either.

If they were going to stink, they would stink up my kitchen even faster, and they don't.

But I have three hot dogs in the fridge that got too old for me to risk eating, and those might be "too much meat" even if I chopped them fine. My new compost heap is tiny, not even knee-high yet.

Corey


bellieg
Virginia Beach, VA

August 4, 2011
7:03 PM

Post #8737519

Corey,
I know that meats are not supposed to be composted but I do it anyway. I have big trash cans with lids covered with plastic so it smells for few days. I use baking soda for the smell and add grass clippings on top. My compost is not going to get used till spring so it has lots of time to decompose. Sometimes I fear that my neighbors can smell it but we have almost 1/2 acre lots. No one had complain yet!!! Next door neighbors know that I compost, in fact 2 of them are starting to compost and also has veggie garden this year.

Been composting for years.

Belle

This message was edited Aug 5, 2011 3:23 AM

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

August 4, 2011
7:44 PM

Post #8737651

Belle, your plan sounds good to me. If they aren't complaining, no problem. And if they're starting their own piles, they must think your's is sweet!

Mine isn't contained, so i'll watch for rodents and pests.

Corey
kmom246
Murfreesboro, TN
(Zone 7a)

August 4, 2011
7:47 PM

Post #8737662

corey, what if you put the old hot dogs in a blender with some water? Bury in a thin layer under your young compost pile?

or... Wrap and label WELL and freeze and then add to pile after the pile is bigger?

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

August 4, 2011
9:09 PM

Post #8737834

>> Wrap and label WELL and freeze

Good point! I already promised my DSO not to test them for Salmonella by eating them.

I have thought of buying a blender at Goodwill for chopping bark chunks, and this would be a great way to foil pests. If they want to eat hot-dog-flavored clay dirt, be my guest.

But chopping fine is easy enough, I have sharp cleavers and chef's knives.

Maybe I'll consolidate some tiny piles of pulled weeds and some Bok Choy that bolted, and add minced dogs when it starts to cook at least a LITTLE. It won't get hot, but I can recognize when the innards are active enough that solid chunks begin melting. Add the minced meat toward the bottom of the "active zone".

One thing I tried a few days ago is looking good: where I had a little pile of pulled weeds and some unused paving stones, I leaned the pavers up against the weeds like a truncated pyramid. It seems to hold in the water a little, and those weeds might be "melting" a little faster than the main pile. Of course, I'm also watering it every few days and that hepls a lot.

I can lean some pavers against my main pile after putting everything loose into it, and if need be carry a gallon of water at a time so it can't dry out. Hopefully the fresh additions will stimulate some bacteria and worms.

Clearly meat DOES break down in nature, since we aren't hip deep in carcasses.

I'll let people know if I attract a horde of rats or health inspectors. With all the budget cuts, I'm more likly to be visited by saucer people than a public health inspector.

Corey

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

August 5, 2011
8:09 AM

Post #8738425

Large hunks of meat, not buried well, might bring larger hunks of disgusting flies and maggots. I'm sure small bits are fine.

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

August 8, 2011
1:03 PM

Post #8744678

Thanks, Sally. The point about maggots is especially well-taken. I'm squeamish about some things. I'll bury them and then not look for weeks!

Corey

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