Adding 21-0-0 to speed up composting process?

thisisme(az9b)May 10, 2011

I have a large compost pile (25'X12'X3') filled with fresh chipped tree trimmings. Its roughly 20 percent green, 80 percent brown. I just started this compost pile and hope to never buy soil for my garden again. I will be needing soil again though in another 4-6 months for my Fall Season Plantings.

If I were to add a sprinkling of Ammonium Sulfate 21-0-0 to the compost pile the next time I turn it. Will it speed up the composting process? If so what are the drawbacks of doing so if any?

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gargwarb

If nitrogen is a limiting factor in the decomposition of your pile then sure, it would help. However, you would lose a lot of nitrogen to volitalization. You would lose less nitrogen if you used urea. A good rate would be 1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of urea per cubic yard, which would translate into about 35 to 50 lbs. for the whole pile if you were able to get it mixed in uniformly.
If you want to go organic, blood meal at about 3 lbs. per cubic yard (100 lbs. for the pile) should help out if you're C/N ratio is high. Of course, if you have more "greens" available you can do that and skip the fertilizer all together.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 4:35PM
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thisisme(az9b)

Thank you gargwarb. I don't have access to enough green material to put a dent in the pile. A couple 5 gallon buckets worth is just not going to do it. I think I will go with urea or Ammonium Sulfate. I hate to even think about what 100 lbs of blood meal would cost.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 2:10PM
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darth_weeder(z7 NY)

blood money
I'm sure

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 2:57PM
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greendesert

Whoa, that sounds like a huge compost pile. I'd like to see a photo of that.

Sounds like you could use a ton of chicken manure. I thought that stuff is pretty hot. Just make sure it stays wet enough, because here it will dry up super fast in the heat. Also, if it dries up too fast, it could ignite.
How do you plan to turn it? Sounds like you'll have some really nice soil for your garden in the not to distant future. I wish I had done something like that myself. I only have 2 55 gallon drums that I fill up, but they're pretty easy to turn. You should post photos. I'd like to see that pile melt and turn into compost. (You should have a pretty significant volume reduction as it composts).

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 4:00PM
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gargwarb

blood money
I'm sure

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 4:49PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Ammonium sulfate provides N but also creates an acid reaction that might slow miccorhizal/microbial action. I use 46-0-0 (urea) and it works quite well without the sulfur content. Not saying that ammonium sulfate isn't good, especially if you have mixed in alkaline materials like wood ash or alkaline soil as part of the mix.
hortster

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 8:57PM
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madmagic(dtown Toronto)

25' x 12' x 3' of fresh chipped tree trimmings? Sounds like the perfect place to bury the bodies...

All the best,
-Patrick

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 8:58PM
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jonhughes(So.Oregon)

Patrick, You weren't listening, he said he did not have access to greens (bodies would be greens ;-)

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 9:40PM
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thisisme(az9b)

greendesert the pile is on the east side of my back yard. Its from the gate all the way to the shed. You will see it next time you come over. They wanted me to take all 29+ cubic yards but I talked them into leaving just a little over half. If APS is your utility I can tell you who to call or email to have chipped trees delivered to you for free. There are other places out here in the East Valley but I know where you live far to my west.

I ordered a pitchfork from Amazon.com. It should be here early next week.

Here's the one I got. I ordered something else for the garden for $ 5.99 and got free shipping for both.
Bond LH020 Fiberglass 43-Inch Garden Fork
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003VTZVBA

hortster our native soil and water here are very alkali and the ph is high. This being the case would Ammonium Sulfate be better in this situation?

You guys are funny. John I always love your pictures. Mine is only one pile though. I did not know bodies would be considered greens. What is the Nitrogen content of a human body? I could call around like I did for the mulch and see if someone will deliver for free.lol

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:18AM
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thisisme(az9b)

greendesert forgot you mentioned chicken manure. I bet it would do the trick as good or better than anything else would.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:24AM
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gargwarb

Ammonium sulfate provides N but also creates an acid reaction that might slow miccorhizal/microbial action. I use 46-0-0 (urea) and it works quite well without the sulfur content.

Actually, urea does acidify and the acidification you get from ammonium sulfate isn't because of the sulfur
Sulfate does not affect the pH. You need elemental sulfur for that. If it did, gypsum would be an acidifyer (and no, it's not because calcium and sulfur balance each other out. Calcium does not raise the pH and sulfate does not decrease it.)
As the ammonium component oxidizes from NH4 to NO2 and NO3, H+ is released, dropping the pH.
Likewise as the nitrogen in urea, which is (NH2)2CO oxidizes from NH2 to NO2 and NO3, it releases H+ ions, dropping the pH but by half that of the same amount of nitrogen in ammonium sulfate.

But anyway, that's more of a soil concern and you won't end up with "acid" compost. The microbes will be perfectly happy with either. (unless your doing a 50/50 blend of sticks and fertilizer)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:49AM
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gargwarb

native soil and water here are very alkali and the ph is high. This being the case would Ammonium Sulfate be better in this situation?
Unless it contains a hefty liming component, your pH will be pretty much neutral when the compost is done and will not have a significant effect on the pH of your soil. Again, ammonium sulfate will work to a point but you'll be losing money (nitrogen) when a good portion gasses off into the air. Using Ammonium sulfate in a loose and airy pile of moist compost is different from tilling it into dirt.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 8:58AM
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thisisme(az9b)

Thanks everyone. I have a bag of ammonium sulfate but looks like I will be going to the store to buy a large bag of urea.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 11:52AM
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gargwarb

My point was that if you're going to buy something, buy urea or blood meal.
If you already have a bag of ammonium sulfate, you might as well use it. You will get some nitrogen out of it and the amount you get may be enough. That is, of course, assuming that the C/N ratio in the pile is even high. If the C/N ratio is okay, adding nitrogen in any form won't provide a whole heck of a lot of benefit.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:29PM
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jolj(7b/8a)

thisisme, thanks for this thread.
My other brother(not the round up user) has a friend who needs a place to dump large loads of wood clips.
I not sure if it will be 29+ yards or not, but we told him to bring it, when he works this part of the County again.
Your thread will help me compost my stuff. I have grass, 10 acres of it, I would give you a few loads of it if you lived closer.THANKS again.
gargwarb, WOW!!!
That was text book answer, better yet, I could understand you. Thanks for the whole enchilada, with out the boring dull sides.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 7:42PM
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thisisme(az9b)

I want to thank everyone who posted and especially gargwarb. This is my first time composting and I think I know what I'm doing now thanks to you.

jolj don't you just love this place? Always something knew to learn or someone new to help out. If it looks like its going to take a while before your friend can deliver. Try calling your local utility company. They are always clearing trees away from phone lines and power lines. A lot of tree services are more than happy to drop off a load rather than paying to drop it at the dump. Garbage companies often have a service where you can get chipped wood or leaves too. Some cities offer free mulch from all the city and park trees they have to maintain too. No one should ever have to pay for mulch or chipped wood. I wish I knew what I knew now years ago.

Happy composting

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:48PM
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