View Full Version : compost and soil tests
13-01-2004, 11:01 AM
Happy new year. Thanks for the dam replys, I'll give the alfalfa bail a try.
Firstly I need to find a way to organise my compost. I'm at our property every 4 to 6 weeks and it's hard to keep the compost in the right condition. Does anyone have any ideas for this problem?
Also where do I get soil tested in Sydney or around Foster/Tuncurry?
13-01-2004, 02:52 PM
the compost thing is an interesting one...
i've struggled with it for a while...
after countless episodes of gardening australia (i've certainly had more than my 'bloomin lot') and more than a few books on the topic i've had sevreal successful 'hot' composts produce lovely stuff. the key is to have enough of the right ingredients...a good carbon (straw, paper etc), nitrogen (lucerne, chook poo, any other manure) mix.
what i have is a large 2m by 2m chook wire cage that i throw all sorts of garden and kitchen gardbage in. this is my slow compost (anerobic, i think)...i water it occasionally, right now it has three pumkin vines and a cucumber growing out of it. i plan to turn it over to the chooks when it is full and then use the remains in a hot compost.
i only hot compost when i have enough good material...and i suggest you read up on the topic - i haven't found it to be as easy as people say - but after many trials you get into it - like baking bread, or riding a surf board - you get a feel for it...
i make a hot compost when i am cleaning out the chook shed, get a bale of pea straw or lucerne, go round and weed and trim the garden, bring home some shredded paper from work and one layering, a good watering and two turns later - in 3-4 weeks i have compost ready for the garden.
that's my strategy anyway. i think the idea of just having a compost pile that you throw organic matter on is good - but you'd have to wait a year or two for anything decent...so if you want it to feed your garden - start reading up on the aerobic method....
17-01-2004, 09:06 PM
The grass on my acre is thick and has been growing very fast over summer. After mowing I can't just leave it lying around as it looks crap and also kills the grass under it as its composts down. Accordingly copious amounts of grass clippings has been my main compostible ingredient. OF course composting grass alone is not easy. Although grass contains a carbon nitrogen ratio suitable for composting on its own, it tends to just turn into a pile of muck if the moisture content in not kept exactly right.
As I am very keen to turn this otherwise wated source of nutrient into something I can use, I will keep trying to make a good compost from it. I think the key is in turning (and fluffing) regulary and layering with straw (or newspaper).
I have just put my first lot of finished chook pen originating compost out as an above ground veggie garden. I reckon it's about 3 cubic metres of great stuff. Am putting in a green manure crop of buckwheat to keep it weedless until I'm ready to plant veggies in 5-6 weeks (still a bit scorching in Brissie at the moment). If anyone has any suggestions for better composting of the grass clippings I would be grateful.
19-01-2004, 01:27 PM
well. if you get 3 cubic metres out of composted chook pen
i'd keep a bit and do some layering.
layer the grass with the chook pen waste, some other garden clippings and maybe get some shredded paper from a local buisness (this has helped my moisture/carbon problems)...or a cheap bale of straw/hay for the mix....
i have heard of someone who layers grass/paper/sprinkle of dynamic lifter to good effect.
20-01-2004, 07:28 PM
Thanks d_d - I'll definitelly give the paper a go (newspaper and shredded paper from work). As for the chook compost, a bit late to use that now as I've got a heap of buckwheat shoots that have come up in it (where I have placed it for my new garden). I was a bit lucky in that when I bought my place (only about 4 months ago) the last owner was a bit lazy in mucking out the chook pen. I broke my back getting all the muck out. It doesn't help that the pen, although reasonably large, only has a relativelly small access door (something I'll be changing when I get the chance).
My 10 chooks (6 when I got here and 4 that I bought) have been great. I get an average of 7 eggs a day, which is quite good considering the 6 that were here already appear to be quite old. Chooks obviously like good treatment. They get as much food as they want and are also free ranged for a period of each day.
It will be interesting to see how the chook pen compost goes as a straight veggie garden mix. It is well composted, so I don't think I'll have any problems there. Haven't checked PH yet as I only have the green manure in at first - though assume it will need lime.
I'll let you all know how the grass compost goes - it's been composting really hot for a week now, so I'm hoping the seeds are getting killed. Will dig over and layer on the weekend.
21-01-2004, 07:33 AM
make sure the paper is shredded fine and watered well! a sprinkle of chook poo or a layer of two of lucere might be a good addition too i'd say.
the chook pen stuff - if nice and old should be dynamite.
i have a friend up castlemiane way whose folks live on an old chook farm. he gets trailer loads of old chook poo and it is great stuff his tomatoes plants are beautiful and green and abundant!
our chooks have not been as nice to us this summer. the december heat i think threw them - so when you onlt have three, an egg a day isn't too bad, but we are treating them well and will see them through to better laying days.
23-01-2004, 03:28 PM
One of the keys i found to getting a hot compost happening was to make sure i didnt skimp on the water when doing my 'layers' of composting material. The other thing i found was to cover the pile! I did this by breaking up a bale of sugar cane mulch into 'biscuits' and covering the top and all sides with about a 10-15cm layer. Check the pile in a couple of days for heat.
I also found once when it didnt heat up enough to dismantle the whole lot and rebuild.... this worked a treat. I also try to build the heap where i want it to go.... saves shifting it later :)
I use a whole mix of stuff from manures, mushroom compost, grass, carbon(such as paper or leaves) and most important comfrey and things like tansy and wormwood. These are good 'activators' for bacteria.
It can take awhile to get building compost right.... so dont give up..... happy composting.
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