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Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

Posted by uscjusto none (My Page) on
Mon, Jul 29, 13 at 2:50

I have a bunch of watermelon, cantaloupe, and jackfruit rinds that are fairly big in size. I also have a bunch of corn cobs.

Is it ok to throw them into my compost pile when they are big? Are they going to compost at a really slow rate (months or a year)?

I'm diligent at turning my pile and adding the right ratios of browns and greens. I just hate throwing big things into my compost pile but I'm getting tired of chopping up kitchen scraps into smaller pieces just for my compost pile. Composting is supposed to be easy and fun, and its becoming a chore if I need to chop everything smaller.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

Melons are mostly water and will be disipated in 2 weeks so no chopping nessary but they need dry brown to prevent wetting the pile too much. The cobs take as long as about any brown commonly used.
I might go as far as saying the cobs need to be run through a chipper if you expect them to compost in less than a year.
I hear what you are saying about chopping being a chore. I to feel composting should be relaxing or people will not do it long term. I chop very little unless it's going to the worm bed,then I never chop melon,peaches,lettuce,cukes and the like. Until I got a chipper/shreder and occasionaly now,I just wadded newspaper and it did ok given 6 to 12 months depending on how diligent I was about moisture and turning. SOooo,I suggest you try tossing everything short of tree stumps in the pile to see what happens. Good luck,relax and watch the butter flies and bees.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

In my experience melon rinds, if not chopped into smaller pieces, can last in a compost pile for quite some time, months not weeks. Corn cobs not chopped can last years, if not chopped into smaller pieces.
Most every article on composting you can find will suggest that what goes into your compost be chopped into small particles that the bacteria that will be digesting them can more easily munch on.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

Well said, kimm.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

In my composting system anything still recognizable when the rest of the compost seems 'done' can either be put back in the pile or buried between plants. It's not a problem either way and can take as long as it needs to completely decompose. I eat a lot of avocados and never again see the rinds and pits this way. Watermelon and cantaloupe rinds are buried out of sight in the summer as I do trench composting then. I have no idea how long they take to decompose and it's not a concern.

I agree the composting process should be as easy as possible and I've found this works well for me.

In an ideal world I'd have a chipper for faster composting but the cost cannot be justified by me.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

When do you trench compost your big items? In between growing seasons of your vegetable garden?

Where do you make the trench? In between plants or rows?


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

I cut the average piece of canteloupe rind into about 3 pieces. Similar size for watermelon rinds. I don't see them hanging around when I turn, which is usually several months out.

Corn cobs used to bug me until I started breaking them into 3 pieces. This is about as small as you can go by hand. They still don't compost very fast but if I'm digging the compost in prior to planting I don't notice them. Out of sight, out of mind.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

I changed my mindset for my composting bin.

I'm going to throw bigger pieces in and even sticks (which I avoided adding previously). I just threw in a bunch of pineapple rinds.

Everything composts in the end and I can throw in semi-finished compost into a trench of my raised bed. I can always sift compost too.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

Two points...

One... If it rots, throw it in the heap. Add some brown stuff, last year's leaves, hardwood sawdust or planer shavings, anything that can be categorized as brown... for goodness sakes stop fretting over stuff that's just gonna rot. I normally turn my huge compost pile once a year. If you're compost is taking longer than a season to rot, it is likely too dry and/or too small. The silly little black boxes you get from the city are not composters, regardless of what they call them. They are digesters... a place to hide waste while it rots - not composts. They're too small to heat. You need at least 3' x 3' bin to heat. Twigs are good because they hold the structure open for aeration.

TWO. I have owned a Kemp shredder for about 35 years. It's on it's second motor... and is worth every penny. I would not garden without one. Spend the money. I shred when the material comes out of the heap and is heading for the garden. It is pure gold at that point.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lively Dirt - The Garden Blog


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

I have a cold compost pile. (Sometimes it gets hot.)

The pile changes from year to year but I always have compost.

The pile is is about 6' x 6' by however tall I can stack it. I might turn it once year if I feel motivated to do it. I don't cover it. It just sits there and turns to compost that is blacker than the ace of spades. sticks, small 1" branches, leaves, kitchen scraps, news paper, cardboard, pond debris, invasive pond plants, corn cobs, fruit rinds, egg shells, large grasses, dead gold fish, pine needles...

Not everything decomposes fast and the stuff that doesn't gets sifted out though a hardware cloth and tossed back into the pile keeping the pile's digestive bacteria working on the new material.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

I second the trick of breaking the corn cobs -whole, they last for years; broken in half or thirds, they're gone by the next year. Peach pits, now, that's another story.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Mon, Jul 29, 13 at 22:32

I do not cut, and we only eat melons between the end of apples and the beginning of peaches, and we keep eating them until grapes. So, maybe 40 melons a year. The seeds attract rodents, but that is the same whether you cut or not.

You can trench but you can also topdress if odor is not a problem. This year I have topdressed garlic and potatoes, and trenched some greens. Greens and potatoes are the best ever, the greens the greenest without any supplementation, and potatoes and garlic soon grow to hide those big chunks, egg shells, and stubborn grapefruit rinds. Tomatoes and squash do the same. By harvest time, very little is left. Really, trenching preserves nitrogen better than any other method, and unfinished compost is the best soil conditioner through earthworm action. Topdressing is for the lazier gardener. I prefer to add immediately before or after planting (for garlic and potatoes, you can do it after).

I am also in favor of having large woody pieces in the beds, to keep a good fungi population, and corn cobs are never broken up, though with the woody things I prefer to bury. Try it, and you will see that the vegetables always grow roots into the chunks.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

Is it true if you trench/bury a lot of woody things into the soil then it takes nitrogen out of the soil as it breaks down. When it takes nitrogen then the plants have less of it? Seems counter productive.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?


•Posted by uscjusto on
Mon, Jul 29, 13 at 19:09
I changed my mindset for my composting bin.
I'm going to throw bigger pieces in and even sticks (which I avoided adding previously). I just threw in a bunch of pineapple rinds.

Everything composts in the end and I can throw in semi-finished compost into a trench of my raised bed. I can always sift compost too.
=============================================
Atta way uscjusto. You will feel much better about the intire experience hereafter. Next time some self appointed expert tells you about boring laborous chores that must be carried out in order to make decent compost,just smile pleasantly , nod in agreement and picture yourself tossing kitchen scraps on the pile without even removing them from the cardboard box then sitting down to injoy iced tea and admire the garden.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

I have a 3 bins and I generally have an old weatherboard across the top of the one where I'm collecting/dumping goodies.
I also have a cheap stainless steel cleaver tucked down the inside of the bin, and if an enormous brassica stalk or something shows up, I can hack it up a bit.
I wouldn't generally bother with smaller things like corn cobs; if it's still there when the rest of the compost's done, it goes with it onto the garden.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

"Is it true if you trench/bury a lot of woody things into the soil then it takes nitrogen out of the soil as it breaks down. When it takes nitrogen then the plants have less of it? Seems counter productive."
That is a very simplistic explanation.
If you place any high carbon material in soil the Soil Food Web will go to work digesting that material and will use much of your soils readily available Nitrogen to do that depriving the growing plants of much of that N. When that material has been digested and those wee SFW critters have expended their lives that N they used will be put back into the soil where other members of the SFW will feed it to the plants growing in that soil. The N will not be lost, as some have suggested, but tied up for a time.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

  • Posted by glib 5.5 (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 30, 13 at 10:50

A piece of wood will act as a nitrogen buffer and very slow accumulator. The overall contribution over time is positive, that is, it adds nitrogen via the bacteria that feed on it (during and after fungal decomposition). In the beginning it might take away some, then it is a very slow release thing. Again, if you dig it up, you will see lots of roots getting into it. My thyme was planted in a stump, several years ago. It is still there, and looking prosperous.


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RE: Thick fruit rinds and corn cobs in compost?

And larger chunks of wood have a smaller surface area in contact with the soil in comparison with wood chips or sawdust. There is less N sequestration as a result. This is apparently why hugelkultur works, where you bury chunks of wood under the garden.


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