Easy compost recipe?

brownmolaApril 1, 2014

I am having the hardest time with composting. I have a tumbler and have had the same mix in it for at least 6 months. Although I do see what appears to be something that looks like compost (could also just be the coffee grinds : ), I still see lots of leaves, eggshells, fruit rinds so it doesn't appear to be breaking down very well.

Since fruit appears to have the ideal C/N ratio, could I just empty the tumbler and just put fruit peels/fruit waste into the bin without anything else? If not, can someone give me a simple compost recipe? I've found recipes online and they were either too complicated or the materials they suggested were not available.

I have lots of fruit peels/waste, some vegetable waste, grass clippings, some small leaves and can get shredded paper or cardboard.


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May be to late since you have already mixed it, but you may want to try these calculators that list an abundance of browns and greens.



    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 10:25AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

A tumbler composter is an all-at-once batch maker. In other words, they often have a special "recipe" you should follow to "fill" the device -- often only partial fill -- then mix.

If the instruction sheet is missing, perhaps you can locate one on the manufacturer's web site.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 5:24PM
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Actually,I would think it difficult to keep the material from rotting in Southern Coastial Ca. Is it moist? Could a large amount of somthing weird like cleaner or disinfectent found it's way in? I would try adding more green/N to the batch before giving up. If those who feel composting requires precision could see how hap-hazzard I go about it they would ask for my union card on the spot.
The materials you named as abundant makes you a prime candidate for worms. Why not look around and ask a few questions on the V.C. forum? Maybe try your hand at both,I do and injoy it.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 9:12PM
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Thanks! I just ordered a worm bin and will try that as well. The compost pile I currently have seemed to improve when I added more grass clippings, so maybe I'll continue to add that.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2014 at 11:14PM
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Spend some time with the linked composting tutorial.

Here is a link that might be useful: Composting Tutorial

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 6:43AM
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Watch this video. It has opened up my eyes, plus I like the simplicity.

Here is a link that might be useful: everything you know about composting is wrong

    Bookmark   April 5, 2014 at 9:52PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Definitely filling your bin with only fruit/veg waste would be a bad idea. Too much moisture and nitrogen, and you'd probably end up with a stinky mess. You'll need some browns like shredded paper to absorb nitrogen, moisture and create fluff.

Stop adding at some point so the batch can finish. That's the problem with tumblers - you need two. Or, when it's not recognizable food waste anymore, empty it into a wire mesh bin (some chicken wire will do) to finish and start a new batch.

Crush up eggshells a bit in your hand and they will disappear faster. Some people dry and blenderize them.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 11:16AM
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Thanks Samdelok. Interesting video. Maybe I'll just do coffee grounds and shredded leaves. My compost does seem to look better since I have just been adding coffee to it.

Thanks Toxcrusadr, I've just been adding coffee grounds to it but will stop so that it can finish the batch. Should I be pulling it out of the tumbler to "finish" or will it eventually finish inside the tumbler?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 1:01PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

It will finish in the tumbler. Removing it just frees up the tumbler for a new batch. Otherwise what do you do with all the great kitchen scraps? It's a shame to waste them while waiting for a batch to finish.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 6:06PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Choosing the word 'recipe' is a bit of a worry, imo. Composting is not meant to be a precise, measured, scientific procedure for the home gardener. It has many functions, providing soil conditioner and plant nutrients being just two of them. For me an equally important reason for composting is to recycle organic matter produced on my land back into my land and to keep imported organic matter from my kitchen and household out of the waste stream. By making compost only with a restricted list of ingredients the environmental reasons for composting are lost at a stroke.

As toxcrusadr says, what are you going to do with all the compostable materials flowing through your household if you don't compost them? Send them to landfill?

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 8:11AM
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Campanula UK Z8

I compost everything - if it was once alive, in the (enormous) heap it goes. And, like a lot of things, size counts. A truly massive heap (like my giants - 3m x 3m - I have to toss the rubbish with a hayfork to reach the tops) will compost anything in time - even pernicious weeds, roots and seeds. Pillows, wool jumpers, cotton, newspapers, cooked foods - in they go. Turn the heap only once a cycle, when changing bins over and I have lots of really decent stuff to apply to my land with a generous hand. Who cares about a few germinating seeds which were still on top - not me - they just go into the next compost pile.
I am in agreement that recipes and rules are not particularly helpful unless you are working to deadlines, with limited time and space.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 8:38AM
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I firmly believe in the KISS principle for many situations in life. Keeps the stress to a minimum. Composting is one of the few areas in life where one can really test the rules without serious consequences and should, and can, be fun and need not be difficult.

If you have been running that tumbler for 6 months I suggest you dump it out in a pile and start a new batch in the tumbler. Keep adding coffee grounds to the pile and keep it moist but let it sit awhile to see what happens. If nothing seems to happen you could bury a bucket of kitchen scraps in the center of the pile to see if it starts to heat. Meanwhile you are starting a new batch to experiment proportions with.

Making compost is like cooking without recipes, it's a constant fun challenge. I'm never concerned with whether my compost pile heats or finishes on any schedule as I know it will become compost eventually. When there are no recognizable bits I often use it as mulch whether it's really finished or not. Makes no difference to me or my soil as the organisms continue to work on it wherever it is.

Only my winter accumulation of scraps are composted, the summer scraps are trench composted to feed the worms.

BTW I never waste time washing or grinding up eggshells, just hit them with the shovel as I'm turning the pile and I've never seen one in the garden.

KISS and have fun.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 12:26PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Campanula - it sounds as if you and I are using the Brit system i.e. no system at all. If it ever lived in it goes. And amazingly our gardens seem to manage on it. Of all the things in the world to worry about making compost is not one of them.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 2:27PM
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Thanks everyone. I think I will start a new batch with just using coffee grounds and leaves and see how it goes from there. I'll save kitchen scraps for a future worm bin : )

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 4:45PM
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>> Of all the things in the world to worry about making
>> compost is not one of them.

Well, like you said, that's the Brit system! Compost problems seem to be directly analogous to time. People who don't care one bit about how long it takes to make compost (compost pile!) never seem to have problems. They know it's O.K. for the process to be long term, and it'll be ready next year.

My excuse is I hate to work at it.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2014 at 4:55PM
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I did my last batch for about 4 months and when I looked inside this last weekend, there were only a few recognizable things. As I sit here and think about all the stuff that went in, I guess I have to say I somehow got lucky on how it broke down.

But without a specific recipe, I did consider the following things:

If it looked too wet, I added more browns
If it looked too dry, I added more greens or moistened it.
I also threw in small amounts dirt now and then for additional microbes to have fun at the party.

I can't say I followed any pattern of 1:1 or 4:1 on different parts. I just looked at it and added what I thought would help it not look like mush or not be too dry.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 1:45PM
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