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Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

Posted by greenepastures 9 (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 5, 14 at 8:31

I saw this clip on the tube...the gardener used beer, cola and ammonia to inoculate his compost pile....would the use of these liquids be considered organic?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDPAbkUUT-o


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

I doubt it would be organic. But, why not just inoculate the new compost pile with old finished compost, or compost tea? That would probably be better than just the sugar and yeast in the beverages.


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 5, 14 at 12:20

It depends on your preferred definition of organic. Some would say that any molecule that was assembled by a living creature is organic, and by that definition, the compost pile is organic. On the other hand, chemicals like water and hydrogen cyanide have been detected in outer space, and are thought to have originated there, in chemical reactions taking place where nothing lives. Which leads to the question: Can we put down water on our gardens and compost piles, and still call them organic? People who study chemistry usually define organic to mean molecules that are based on carbon, and are also relatively large and complex, as molecules go. By this definition, urea, benzine, acetic acid, and olive oil are all organic chemicals. If you want to market your produce as USDA certified Organic, then there are specific rules you must follow, with regard to fertilizers and other inputs like compost, water, and insect control measures. I don't think you can put cola into a compost pile and call the resulting material USDA certified Organic, because the cola does not fall within the rules, as I understand them.


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

To: Natures_Nature

I thought not! Old finished compost you say? Or compost tea? I have both so I'll try them.

Thanks! Any other compost tips?

I put a couple shovels full of finished compost into a turned pile along with some chopped kitchen waste. The pile was open for a couple days to get some air during which time it was rained on a little. I closed it up yesterday and covered it. I checked the temperature today and unfortunately the temperature is still a cool 72 degrees. It hasn't re-heated at all. What happened?


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

To Eric:

I'm new to gardening and my preferred method is Organic..meaning compost, compost teas, manures, cover crops, kelp, seaweed, dolemite lime, blood and bone meals, bat guanos, fish fertilizers, sphagnum peat moss, leaves, straw, worm castings, molasses, epsom slats, humic acid and, occasionally, urine. Other additives include wood ashes, dolomite lime, azomite and coffee grounds.

That may not make me 100% organic but I should be in the 95 - 99 percentile range!!


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

Greenpastures,

I noticed you said you were a beginner. The best thing that helped me when I was starting out was learn about the soil food web and get a basic understanding of what goes on under there. You are really growing the soil to grow the plant. Dr.Elaine Ingham is a soil scientist for the USDA, i advise you to research her and the soil food. It is crucial to understand the soil...

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil food web


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

"I put a couple shovels full of finished compost into a turned pile along with some chopped kitchen waste. The pile was open for a couple days to get some air during which time it was rained on a little. I closed it up yesterday and covered it. I checked the temperature today and unfortunately the temperature is still a cool 72 degrees. It hasn't re-heated at all. What happened?"

It has to do with the carbon to nitrogen ratio, moisture, air, size of organic matter,etc. you probably didn't have the right balance of carbon to nitrogen. Again, Dr.Elaine Ingham covers composting. Lookup something along the lines of "Dr.elaine ingham compost" "dr.Elain ingham soil foodweb".. You'll find several informative articles/videos.


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

Thanks Natures

I was watching a clip earlier....what I saw was good..


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

Best of luck! Please, do not hesitate to ask any other questions you may have, we'll be glad to help you! Enjoy them videos/research!


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

They are all "organic" although the cola might not be acceptable to many organic growers. The cola and beer provide sugars that the bacteria that will be digesting the material in your compost pile could use, but that is no more healthy for them then for you. The ammonia is a source of Nitrogen that is not very healthy for the bacteria either.
As an organic grower I would not use any of those materials in an effort to speed up the digestion of the materials in my compost piles.
If you want a printed copy of what is discussed in the video nature linked it is available at this link.

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil Biology Primer

This post was edited by kimmsr on Mon, Jan 6, 14 at 7:29


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

I distinguish between the two kinds of 'organic' by capitalizing or not. i.e., organic chemicals and Organic gardening.

greene, your pile sounds like it has passed the warm stage and is in the cooling down stage. That means it used up the N supplies it had, and if it's not very decomposed, it either needs more or you will have to wait a longer time for it to pull it out of the atmosphere. The amount of kitchen waste you added probably was not enough to get the whole pile going again. Finished compost will do virtually nothing to help it go faster - if it's already decomposing, it has all the microbes it needs already, they just don't have the N to get going fast, and finished compost doesn't have fuel since it's already decomposed.

What I do is just start a new pile and let the old one finish on its own, rather than try to reheat it. But if it was really really on the brown side, I don't blame you for wanting to boost it.


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

Dear ToxCrusader:

I don't think it's a Nitro shortage...there's enough dairy manure in there to stink up the entire neighborhood. There's blood meal and bat guano in there as well. I didn't add any water because the open pile got some moisture from the rain (albeit droplets from under the tree line.)

I did add 3 shovels full of finished compost that I purchased (of average quality...but cheap) and it was dry. I thought the pile might be moist enough so I didn't add any water.

The carbon source is predominantly straw and oak leaves. What gives?


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

What ratio of carbon to nitrogen? How many shovelfuls of manure/green material, how many shovelfuls of the leaves/hay/brown material? Im to lazy to look at your previous post again, there could just be Soo many variables. That's why I just advised you to gain knowledge on the whole subject, instead of getting stuck in one specific part. It's much easier to look at things as a whole, figure out how it works together, then figure out the parts later on. It's easy to get caught up on a specific part of something, but that one part would amount to nothing if it wasn't for the other parts, if it wasn't for the machine as a whole.


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

Particle size? Are the leaves and straw shredded or as you found them?
Was the manure fresh or aged?
Do you smell the manure a foot away from the pile?


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

"the gardener used beer, cola and ammonia to inoculate his compost pile."

DUH! That's a standard "hot pile" technique with a gimmick of useless additives. Total waste of money.

1 - There's not enough sugars in the beer or cola to jump-start much (especially with light beer).

2 - There is NO YEAST in the typical American canned beer. They get filtered out before bottling or canning. Even if there were bazillions of yeast cells, beer yeast is not going to break down anything in a compost heap. It's a specialized fermenter, not a lignin or cellulose metaboliser.

3 - The 8 oz of household ammonia provides some immediate nitrogen.

Here's why it really works.

He's using grass clippings. High nitrogen "greens".
He's layering them with dirt or old leaves or something ... a brown.
He's layering in some kitchen scraps.
He's moistening each layer.


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 7, 14 at 10:48

I did not quite understand the question, but now I think I do. You are asking why the pile is 72 degrees F, and not the 110 degrees F that you might have been expecting. If your pile was 10 feet in diameter, and 6 feet high, it very likely would be reaching 110 degrees F, in the center. A compost pile loses heat to the surrounding environment, and this heat loss is more severe during the winter months. In a big pile, the outer 2 feet of compost insulates the stuff in the middle of the pile, so at least some of the pile will be warm, even in cold weather.


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

We don't know where the OP is, but Zone 9 is pretty far south.

I too am a bit confused by this pile, but I still suspect it is just beyond its very hot stage and would need much more high-N materials to heat up. But it doesn't really need to, if it had manure and it got hot, start a new one and let it finish till spring.

A picture would tell 1000 words about what's going on in there, though.


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

Ammonia is the origin and beginning of life on the Earth (amino acids..) So why it should not be considered organic ?


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RE: Ammonia in compost,,,organic?

Do you mean organic or Organic? :-]

Off the top of my head, Nature doesn't collect ammonia in concentrated form in a plastic bottle, for starters.


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RE: Nature

It also occurs to me that there are many things in nature that no organic gardener (heck, no gardener of any kind) would put into their garden. Lead...petroleum...hot lava...you get the idea. :-]


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