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Article: Confessions of a Crude Composter: Dairy? Meat? Roadkill??

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Forum: Article: Confessions of a Crude ComposterReplies: 31, Views: 456
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North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

January 17, 2008
5:07 AM

Post #4413648

Details, please. It all goes in the corral and then you plant edibles on the pile?
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

January 17, 2008
5:22 AM

Post #4413697

omigosh, a comment on my article. But obviously I wasn't explicit enough. Yep, I just throw whatever I have onto the pile, including sour milk, moldy cheese, dead animals I pick up off the highway, fish carcasses. My rule is: If it falls in the forest, does it rot?

Of course, I have the luxury of space & time. I build the little corrals of straw bales, then keep throwing stuff into it & smashing it down for a year, until it seems really full & the bales are starting to wobble a bit. The following spring, I top the whole mess with more straw, stomp on it awhile, then plant seedlings into the straw with a handful of dirt & some moisture-absorbing crystals. That's it!

I do plan a follow-up article dispelling some myths about compost, so watch for that, my brave soul!
Fredericksburg, VA
(Zone 7b)

January 17, 2008
11:07 AM

Post #4413970

WOOHOO! Well done, I'm multi-colored with envy! I might be able to fudge this on the back part of the property, but putting in the front would get me nasty grams from the county.
Thanks so much for sharing, it looks wonderful!
Nantucket, MA
(Zone 7a)

January 17, 2008
1:08 PM

Post #4414169

Summer, you are a hoot and a creative gardener to boot. I do a slow, low, no turn, no work compost pile, but the idea of corralling it in with straw bales is tempting if just to contain the mess while it becomes black gold. I think I could plant the tops of the bales a la the straw bale veggie garden idea. Do you do that too? I grew up on a horse, so this corral idea should be a no brainer for me, but I would be hard pressed to chuck in the dead critters. My dogs would be out there rolling around in dead bunnies and fish guts and finding no loving from me. Paper perhaps, though with all our wind, I would have to bury it well or my garden would look like our town dump. Thanks for the ideas and the amusing article. Patti

This message was edited Jan 17, 2008 8:10 AM
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

January 17, 2008
1:49 PM

Post #4414281

I tossed the stuffings from some old chairs that I re-did - linters and excelsor - in my casual compost pile in the spring and by fall it was compost! I hand shred my junk mail and dump it in the pile - which looks more like a mountain in the winter and a mound by summer. If I could get away with dumping all my cedar sawdust cat box litter in my neighbor's flowers instead of just occasionally :) - I would probably put out a trash barrel once a month or less. BTW - his flowers are gorgeous!


Central, AL
(Zone 7b)

January 17, 2008
4:36 PM

Post #4415036

My only concern is certain "compostable" waste matters could harbor disease carrying organisms. Not to mention that those will attract wildlife to your backyard such as Racoons, and those that like to turn your compost over for raw, wasted products. Otherwise, the artcle is well written.


Central FL, FL
(Zone 9b)

January 17, 2008
5:24 PM

Post #4415290

Thanks for a good article and a different perspective on composting. I think I might start using this method...with the exception of roadkill.

Two questions:

I know you've said before that you're not concerned with toxicity from colored ink. Not having researched this myself, I'm wondering how you reached this conclusion. If the inks are indeed toxic, wouldn't their bad effects be cumulative and only become apparent over time? I'm hoping you're using these things because you've read that they're definitely not toxic. We'd hate to see you start glowing in the dark!

What if a roadkill animal had rabies, for example? Could that still present a danger, even after decomposition?
St. Thomas

January 17, 2008
6:09 PM

Post #4415543

Summer, I love your cavalier approach to composting.
Although I have personal reservations about adding roadkill, I have seen someone throw a whole goat [dead] onto a compost heap. I know that in chicken pens dead birds are quickly trampled and break down in the manure. I dont't think many diseases would survive composting, without a host they should just die out, but i would myself start off any KISS compost with ornamentals and wait a year or two before i plant vegetables. Great article!
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

January 17, 2008
8:41 PM

Post #4416197

Hey everybody! So delighted to get such great responses. I have done a TON of research into the less-conventional compostables & will do my best to answer questions about toxicity, concentration & disease then, because they are valid concerns. Watch for that article in the next week.

Yes, the bales work great for that popular strawbale planting method, plus you don't have to go through all that persnickety teaspoon curing method. And an unintended plus is that the bales look very orderly until the last winter -- they're actually the neatest part of my garden usually, and the neighbors love them, especially because they can get rid of their nasties over at MY place!
Quincy, IL
(Zone 5b)

January 21, 2008
3:50 PM

Post #4432734

Great article! I'm looking forward to your next one with more details. And I'm glad to hear I don't have to worry too much about green/brown layers. I've never been perfect at doing that with my compost pile. Given enough time, it all rots eventually!

I am particularly interested in what you have to say about colored inks on newspapers. My town recycles newspapers, but I wouldn't mind recycling them on my own, if I can do it safely (for myself and the soil).
Arlington, TX

January 21, 2008
4:19 PM

Post #4432908

No one has mentioned the olfactory factor. It's my understanding that most of the fussing with compost piles are to keep the smell down. On your own land away from the house I know is doesn't matter much, but I live in the city surrounded by neighbors, all of which are at some time down wind. How much of an odor do you get from your corral in the hot months?

Thanks for an entertaining and informative article. Looking forward to more from you.
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

January 21, 2008
6:17 PM

Post #4433463

There's never an odor, Ivy. I've never understood why that's such an issue with some people. My suspicion is that most people focus on getting their compost to "cook" as quickly as possible. I just cover any malodorous ingredients with shredded paper, leaves or straw, so there is a lot of air circulating through my piles

Angel, I've done lots of research on the inks, so will get the follow-up piece done ASAP!
Brigham City, UT
(Zone 5b)

January 21, 2008
6:52 PM

Post #4433596

I am looking forward to your next article. This one was very informative. In the city, small city, with neighbors all around and only 1/3 of an acre I don't have a large area for composting, actually I have rather evaded the subject all together. I do have piles from the past 2 years that I have added to and just left at the back of my yard. Do you cut the larger stems/plants up? I am rather lazy, throw mine in a pile and leave them. They don't seem to compost down very fast that way. I recylce my newspapers at my local city center. Every time I throw a banana peel away I get a guilty thought.
Your article makes me want to do better. Thanks.
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

January 21, 2008
7:16 PM

Post #4433698

You CAN do better! But I feel for you on the small lot issue.
I'll address this better in the next article, but I actually have 4 compost setups:
1) A barrel for stuff that will rot very quickly. This is mostly kitchen scraps & tissue paper. That way I get a regular stream of compost for small projects.
2) My straw bales for everything but branches. This composts over several seasons.
3) My "burn pile." This is for the many branches that fall all over the place. I've never actually burned them so they'll probably be compost someday.
4) A worm bin, which I have varying success with.
Fairfield County, CT
(Zone 6b)

January 21, 2008
7:27 PM

Post #4433744

I'm glad I'm not the only person who feels guilty when I throw away a banans peel or an apple core!
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

January 21, 2008
7:37 PM

Post #4433792

I felt guilty last night because I was eating sunflower seeds while watching television & actually threw a handful of shells in the trash rather than get up & take them to my compost sack in the kitchen.

Never again!
Muskegon, MI
(Zone 5a)

January 22, 2008
12:59 AM

Post #4435359

Great article! I'm looking forward to reading more. Thanks for making my day. Helen
Spokane, WA

January 26, 2008
6:59 PM

Post #4457193

So glad for this article. I feel sooo guilty also when I throw away biodegradables. I also have a small lot and don't feel sure about how I could set up a composter, but would love to. Lord knows my clay soil could really use it!
Rumford, RI

February 25, 2009
5:45 PM

Post #6188769

Disease transmission should not be a concern. The infectious organism which killed or harbored within the animal (ie. rabies) needs a living host. The concerns over "mad cow disease" (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease) are from the direct ingestion of infected cow tissues, particularly brain matter. The transmission is from prions buried within the tissues. Plants don't absorb these prions into their system, and the prions will decompose with the flesh.

We throw everything into our heap including seashells and bones. We don't add enough grass and leaves, so there is a smell and also happy maggots which speed up the breakdown process. Luckily, we have an empty corner away from the neighbors.

This message was edited Mar 5, 2009 2:54 PM
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

February 25, 2009
11:33 PM

Post #6190113

That's fantastic! Yes, people are so worried about putting this & that into their compost piles, yet they'll shove any old thing into their mouths!


SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

February 26, 2009
3:52 PM

Post #6193048

You've got a dmail. Please repost link to your article here. Thanks!

North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

February 26, 2009
8:56 PM

Post #6194437

I just switched my cats to a flushable corn-based litter, so a month from now when I completely toss the entire box of used litter, I might just toss it into my non-veggie-garden compost pile. The perennials will be happy, I'm thinkin'.
Rotonda West, FL
(Zone 10a)

April 19, 2009
4:59 AM

Post #6430777

Wow !! Bravo,Well Done! I so enjoyed your article... I have never done the layer thing and I too belive that many things are meant to go back to the earth.. I even collect fruit scraps from work to compost lol and recently I have been taking the dryer lint lol...I love my plants.. even down to when I see people trim theres I often take them and either compost them or start new plants out of them... I did a pumkin patch today, completely by accident... when I took the lid off of my compost bin and there was 20 or so pumkin vines growing, I just turned them into a full on pumkin patch... Thanks for the great article.. keep em coming!
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

April 19, 2009
6:03 AM

Post #6430912

You are EXACTLY what this planet needs. YOU keep 'em coming!
Petersburg, VA

July 24, 2009
6:19 PM

Post #6860057

Great article. We have a left over mound from last year (first year) and I started composting in a 4X4 square fence this year. It's full and to help it to move along faster, I think I'll line it with straw bales. You also made me think of things that I am throwing into the garbage that really should go into the bin. All the articles say no meat, but my dad used to put all of the left overs from cleaning fresh fish into a hole dug into the ground and cover with a little dirt. Next year, he'd plant the veggies in that spot and dig another hole. Our veggies were spectacular! Since we raised rabbits to eat & knowing my dad, other animal parts probably went in too.
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

July 24, 2009
6:30 PM

Post #6860092

Now you're thinking! So glad that my article gave you some ideas. "All the articles" say no meat because they're just repeating what they read in all the other articles, don't you think?

We put meat in our bodies but it can't go in the compost? Something's wrong with THAT picture (says the vegetarian).
Cloverdale, CA
(Zone 15)

October 2, 2009
2:27 PM

Post #7126639

So wonderful to double the pleasure: this article is informative and a joy to read.
You can tell who are the two composters at my office, especially around noon when we're all eating lunch at our desks. I have a small vineyard and my colleague Jerry has a little farm and I unthinkingly call down the hall, "hey Jer, trade you grape must for rabbit poo?" (Must is the goo you get after you've pressed out all the juice.) Jerry shouts back, "sure, and do you need worms?" That's when everyone else starts yelling, "shut up, shut up, shut UP!" It's a relief to know I don't have to keep turning that compost heap.
Annapolis, MD

February 4, 2013
1:03 PM

Post #9408315

I've been enjoying all the threads to this article. I started a compost pile last summer in a bin the county provides for a discounted price & can't wait to see what I can shovel out of the "door" at the bottom of the bin come spring. However, when I lived in Utah many years ago, I had not heard that you shouldn't put meats & dairy in the compost so I threw everything in. In a matter of weeks, I had rats in my back yard, digging in my compost. Then I understood why we are advised not to put in meats & I haven't done so since. Not worth the risk! However, I've never heard of not putting citrus in compost & my current compost is full of citrus peels & overripe clementines. Don't see a problem, they seem to be breaking down OK. Anybody have anymore input re citrus?
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

February 4, 2013
1:59 PM

Post #9408371

Mossbound, I hope you have really good luck with that composter. The bottom doors on them have always confounded me since the bins can warp with all the weight in them. But that's what shovels are for.

Critters dig in my compost all the time, unpaid little aerating assistants to my mind. And a shooting gallery for my little monkey of a cat Rosie. If you are in an urban or suburban area, I'm sure you could risk attracting pests. When I lived in the outskirts of Chicago, my half-acre was overrun with deer & raccoons, which I seldom lay eyes on here in the country.
New Zealand

February 5, 2013
2:45 PM

Post #9409532

Kia Ora,
here in Christchurch, New Zealand our city council has adopted a 3 bin waste collection system.
We have a green bin for compostables - any greenery, meat, bones, fish dairy etc...
we have a yellow bin for recycleables
& a red bin for the rest.
Green bins are picked up weekly, the yellow & red on alternate weeks.
The council has a massive composting site & sells bags of the finished product.
I would rather compost my own but on a small suburban section it is not always practical & at least I know my green matter is going to be useful & not in land fill.
Perhaps if enough people in city or small suburban areas push for it their local councils could do the same thing.
Haere Ra
Rose Lodge, OR
(Zone 8b)

February 6, 2013
8:47 PM

Post #9410795

Omigosh. I must move to Christchurch.
New Zealand

February 7, 2013
1:18 AM

Post #9410857

lol - Christchurch was always known as the Garden City..
since all the earthquakes - not so much.
Some beautiful gardens were lost along with historic homes & buildings.
Between liquifaction silting up gardens & areas red zoned (no go area) so that nobody can maintain the gardens it is a sad picture.
But rather than up sticks & shift half a world away you could promote the idea of local councils investing in composting plants - they recoup the expense by selling the end product :)
But if you did come down under to Middle Earth I'd be happy to give you the grand tour of ChCh :)

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Other Article: Confessions of a Crude Composter Threads you might be interested in:

SubjectThread StarterRepliesLast Post
Finally!! threegardeners 2 Jan 17, 2008 9:03 PM
validation laurawege 1 Jan 17, 2008 8:43 PM
Summer, we think alike!! :) soulgardenlove 3 Jan 21, 2008 7:17 PM
Oh, I wish!! gloriag 4 Feb 9, 2013 8:18 AM
Love your casual approach to composting michaeljo 2 Jan 29, 2013 1:59 AM

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