Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Is Anyone Else Compost Challenged?

I love a good load of black gold as much as any other gardener, but I am almost at the point of giving up on it. I just don't have any place that is sunny enough to be productive.

Since I have to throw the stuff someplace, I've been dumping everything at the edge of the wooded lot for the past two summers. It's about the only spot I have that is at least in a bit of an opening. It's way to far away from a hose, so if it does not rain, I'm out of luck on the watering part.

I also don't put any food waste in it.
Oh, and I don't turn it either.

I just throw plant debris and grass clippings in a big heap and let nature take its course. I figure that at some point it will disintegrate.
Nature is not working any harder than I to get the job done. It's been a full year and so far I have no usable compost.

Has anyone been successful composting in the shade? How long does it take? Do the seeds remain viable because it's not hot enough to kill them? I ask this because my last attempt to use the compost resulted in feverfew growing rampant in every area I put the compost.

Just to the left of the compost heap is this path that leads to the rockwall garden. Can you see the white arbor at the end? All the way down the path on each side are more heaps of compost- wanna -be piles.

If all this stuff ever ripens, I will be rich in gardener's gold!


  1. You should try one of the composTumblers, you can google it. We have used them in California, Northern Minnesota and now in Mexico and they do a great job of turning these discards into great compost.

  2. It looks like you have a pretty good mix of green and brown vegetation. Also, it needs to be turned every so often so it will get air to the center. The microbes necessary for decomposition cannot thrive in an anerobic (airless) environment. I have one of those garden claws and I just twist the pile a few times whenever I think of it, which unfortunately, is not nearly often enough. Hey, it's tough for us short garden gnomes!

  3. Zoey,
    I think you'd be surprised by your compost pile! For zillions of years, nature has taken care of it's waste without any turning or hosing by us!!
    Look at all those leaves!! I would run thru there with the bag on my lawnmower and toss the results on my veggie bed!!

  4. We compost too but our spot gets plenty of sun. We also compost our fruit and veggie waste and paper shreds all in the same heap. Bill wets it and turns it and it makes beautiful steaming compost!

  5. Zoey:

    Don't give up, just keep dumping!! I have composted in the shade. It just takes a long time but that is what we all have! Also, you will have to dig down to get it. It is there! Keep dumping, keep piling and nature will do the rest. You will have seeds as cold composing does not kill them but keep at it. Throw some soil on the top once in a while. Composting is nature's cycle and it will happen!

  6. I don't have the room you do for composting, so I use black bins. I pay a lot of attention to layering, and I use compost accelerator. I can ditto the recommendation for one of those garden claws to turn the pile.

  7. San, I will have to check those out. Thanks.

    Sissy,that's my theory, too...if nature does it that way, who am I to change things? LOL. But I don't know if I can wait a decade!

    Giddy, I am not sure I know what the garden claw is. I will have to check that out, too.

    Sue, paper shreds...what a great idea! DH has a lot of those as he shreds everything! If I throw anything in the garbabe with my name on it, he pulls it out and shreds it.

    Ginger, I am so glad to hear someone has had success in the shade! Although if the seeds remain viable, that's a big negative.

    Karen, you do it the precision way that serious comosters do. I am a lazy composter. :) I would prefer to let Nature do it....if she would just get to doing!

  8. I think Giddy has the best advise, apart from buying a composter like Karen has, or San. I think I saw a pic of her claw on her blog, plus one of her compost heap.
    My hubby turns our compost heaps every so often. He used to add manure, which helps 'cook' the mix, but we don't have the cows around anymore. He still adds some old hay.
    He used to dump a spreader load of manure up in back of the barn and add old hay bales, then he'd turn the heaps with the bucket loader of the spreader occasionally. We now have the most wonderful compost, which he brings down a bucket load at a time and plops at the edge of our yard for me to use. I must take some photos for you! It truly is black gold!
    It does have weed seeds, which is a pain, but I just pull them out.

  9. Zoey, I meant to say we also have a current compost heap (and several older ones that will be ready in successive years) on the edge of our yard where I dump my food and garden waste and Ross turns that occasionally too. He has made a wire enclosure (like Giddy's, only longer) which helps to keep it compact. It's had plenty of water this year with all our rain, but he's been known to water too. The resulting compost is really worth the work!

  10. Zoey, still more compost thoughts...Ross and I had a conversation about it yesterday because I went up in back of the barn and took pics for you. He says turning is the answer to killing the weed seeds and yes, it's darn hard work to do by hand! He rarely turns the enclosed heap by the house because he can't do it with the bucket on the tractor.


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