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how do I get compost going?

I have a rotating compost bin that has a good mix of brown and green materials in it, but the material does not seem to be working. How do I get the material to start working so that it will become compost? The temperature only averages around 100 degrees or so.
 
Welcome curtskinn! Tell us what's in your compost tumbler. Is it full?
 
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I have grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and some aspen shavings in the tumbler. The container is only about 1/2 way full.
 
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That would explain it. You need something to get it cooking. Coffee grounds, manure or fresh grass clippings, or some molasses. My tumbler is fussy. It won't get going until I make it happy and fill it more than 3/4ths full to start with. Don't forget some moisture. If you make a molasses tea, you will get both a compost starter and moisture. Not soaking wet, just damp.
 
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Hmmm...what is a molasses tea?
 
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I buy liquid molasses at our feed store by the pail. Gallons are also available. You mix a tablespoon per gallon of water and spray the plants or soil. In the soil, the micro-herd love it. In the compost, the sugar helps get the pile cooking. Here's a link to making a compost or molasses tea factory
TEA
 
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Hey Dave, do you ever spray your compost pile (the one on the ground) with molasses to feed the herd? Can you just use molasses and water instead of brewing it up? I didn't quite understand what you were saying.

Thanks for the link to the best directions I have ever seen for the compost tea brewery! He mentioned using pond water... do you think he meant to use all pond water for the full 4 gals of tea?
 
Laura
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As I build my pile I add molasses water from my sprinkling can about every 3 layers or so. I don't measure, I just pour some molasses into the 2 gal. can and fill it with the hose. The pile can go from 75 degrees the day I make it to 125 in 24 hours.
They say to use pond water because city water can ruin/ kill the bacteria you are growing in the bucket. You are welcome for the link.
 
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Thanks, I see things clearer now. I think the pond water would add some more variety to the microherd, too. Now I have to choose a pond that hopefully doesn't have too much chemical run off that has leached into it from my farming neighbors.

I am going to try the molasses when I turn my first compost pile here that I have been building from grass clippings, kitchen waste, and straw (wheat, I think). It is about half the size it was when I built it and it has been cooking for about a month. I'm thinking it is about time to turn.
 
Laura
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Most all suggestions I have seen here are gimmicks. All you need to get compost composting is the right mix of material and just enough moisture. More often than not when I look into why someones compost barrel is not working I find the mix is simply too wet. Compost should not be wet, just barely moist, so the bacteria can get to work. Too much moisture excludes the air the bacteria also need to function.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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Kimm, what is your idea of the "right" mix?
 
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Actually, I think getting a compost right, is kind of like getting a good sour dough. Once you get it, it is realatively easy to keep it going. But can be the devil to get, and get it good.

Kimm1 I think you probably have been having a great compost for years, and have got the secret. Kind of like knitting, looks so easy til a non knitter picks it up.

If a gimmick or two gets someone better results more power to all. Mrs. k
 
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I have no "secret" for making compost, I just make it as described by Sir Albert Howard or as near to that as possible. However, most of the time when someone does have problems it is because the compost material is too wet. Material only needs to be just barely moist, not even damp. Compost that has wee critters that you can see in it is too wet because most all of the wee critters that you can see need a pretty moist environment to live in, but the bacteria that will digest that material do not need an environment that wet and if the compost is that wet air is dispaced by that moisture. Compost that is that wet will start to smell bad and is going into anaerobic (in the absence of air) digestion.
 

The sign of a good gardener is not a green thumb, it is brown knees.

West central Michigan along the lakeshore.

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