old yard heap - ok to make compost?

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  #1  
Old 03-22-06, 01:37 PM
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old yard heap - ok to make compost?

I have a huge pile in my back yard that is several years old. Originally it consisted of grass clippings only but more recently it has taken on small amounts of sod, small branches, leaves, dirt, more grass clippings, some dandilions, and lot of rain. I removed a lot of the bigger branches and foreign debris (trash). The consistency near the bottom is dark and slimey. Any thoughts?

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  #2  
Old 03-22-06, 04:34 PM
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Composting

Grass clippings are best left spread out to dry for a day before putting in compost pile so they don't turn into slimey sludge. What you have is what is known as a cold compost pile which takes 2-3 years to compost. Compost needs a pH near neutral (7). It needs a ratio of about 25-30:1 of nitrogen (greens like grass and leaves, coffee and tea grounds, table scraps (no meat), to carbon (browns like fallen leaves that can be bagged and kept on hand for use during the growing season, straw, hay, peat moss, dried grass, or shredded paper). Compost piles need to be turned or stirred for aeration. They need water. Additives of soil, lime, and bonemeal expedite composting. If you squeeze compost it should feel damp like a wrung out sponge.

It sounds like your pile may be too wet. Spread it out to dry and then reassemble or mix in peat moss to absorb some of the water. If too dry, poke holes in the pile and water. By weight, contents of pile should be 50/50 greens and browns. If pile does not heat up, you need more greens. If pile smells of ammonia, you need more browns.

Learn about composting at http://www.gnb.ca/0009/0372/0003/0001-e.asp
 
  #3  
Old 03-22-06, 04:36 PM
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Get a pitch fork and turn the pile over a few times. Grass clippings tend to make good compost and so do most leaves, but some take longer than others to break down. Weeds in a compost pile are not a good idea, but a properly functioning compost pile will generate enough heat to kill most weed seeds. Composting is actually quite a bit more complicated than it would initially seem.
 
  #4  
Old 03-22-06, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by mitch17
Composting is actually quite a bit more complicated than it would initially seem.
I'll say... thank you both for the information. Looks like I have some work to do.

Dave
 
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