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What Does Really Great Premium Compost Look Like? Like This!

compost vermicompost

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#1 solid7

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Posted 09 April 2017 - 10:48 AM

This is vermicompost. At least, it started out that way.  Last year, one of my bins got overrun by geckos, which decimated the population of my worm bins.  At first, I was really pissed - but then, things just kept going on, as normal. It seems that where the worms left off, the mites, roaches, soldier flies, and others, kept right on going.  In fact, I prefer this consistency of what I'm getting now, over my worm castings.
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Composting is often a multi-step process.  Unfortunately, nature doesn't work uniformly, so composting needs some refinement, often times. (at least, the way I use it in my containers)
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This is some of my "raw" product.  As you can see, it's still got "remnants" in it.
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From the first picture, you can see that I have some of my "raw product" in a screen.  I'm working a small batch for a single planting here.  I prefer not to store my compost, as I like to use it with all of its microbial load intact.
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This is about how much I use for a 5 gallon bucket: (for reference, that's a 13 gallon tub, and this is approximately a #1 nursery pot full)
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And finally, this is a better idea of how the compost should behave.  It should not be "heavy" or "muddy".  It should not make bricks, like adobe.  It actually should feel like millions of little feathers in your hand. 
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Dave2000 - "Problem is, you happened upon the REAL DEAL."

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#2 solid7

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Posted 09 April 2017 - 10:49 AM

After screening the "remnants" from the "raw product", they should be returned to the bin, for further processing...


Dave2000 - "Problem is, you happened upon the REAL DEAL."

#3 CAPCOM

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Posted 09 April 2017 - 12:00 PM

Cool!

Really need a pictorial and step by step procedure to really get a grasp on the process, time required for each and maybe additional expenses involved for all necessary equipment.

I knoe in the past I am guilty of jumping into something that looks as good as what you have only to be disappointed in the huge after expense in either $$$ and or time.


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#4 solid7

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Posted 09 April 2017 - 12:28 PM

I wasn't so much attempting to lay out the process, as the end product - but since you asked, I'll show you what I do.

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My system is what's referred to as a "flow through".  I built this one, myself, and have been using it for 4 seasons now.  It consists of (2) 27 gallon totes.  

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One has the bottom cut out, and has a PVC ladder, to replace the floor.  This is a structure used to support the compost, but allow convenient harvesting from below.  The top tote, is stacked upon a concrete landscape border, on either side of the PVC ladder.  this prevents sagging, and acts as a standoff, to allow the compost to be harvested.  In addition, the bottom container can catch leachate, which is hugely beneficial to your container mix, as an innoculant.  Finally, a trap door is made to accommodate harvesting. (just perforate the container, but don't break off the resulting flap - I cut this with a steak knife)

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From the bottom view - taking a quick peek through the "trap door", we can see part of the PVC ladder.

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What to add to the compost?  Really, any green waste, with the exception of root vegetables - garlic, onion, ginger, etc - and absolutely no processed oils, meat, or animal fats.  Worms hate that stuff, but pets and wild animals don't.  As you can see, I have lots of produce - including the seeds of mangoes, avocadoes, etc - and some of those leaves from the surrounding area.  I also tend to throw in any plants that I cut down.  This time of year, I am culling my tomato plants, after the winter harvest.  (In they go)  If you don't generate enough waste to feed your worms, a visit to your local supermarket dumpster will cure what ails you.  Since I'm not hot composting, I don't get too carried away with C:N (carbon to nitrogen) ratio, but I do mix browns and greens, at will.  Occasionally, a layer of cardboard is added, to provide a "push" barrier, as well as new bedding.  You don't want your critters living in their own waste.

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You will need a good tool for harvesting.  I found this one to be the ticket.  Just scrape the bottom of the PVC ladder, and down it falls, as it's ready.

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There is a simpler method for composting - although it complicates harvesting.  That is, a simple container, with some small holes in the bottom, and just load it up.  This is my rabbit manure ageing container.  But it was also my first cold composter, years ago.  Notice, I put a piece of screen patch over a 1-1/2" diameter hole, on either end of the container, to keep it oxygenated.

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Of course, I live in a sub-tropical climate, where my critters are active all year round.  Worm bins are relatively clean, and can easily be started and run indoors.  If you have a damp basement, it just doesn't get any better


Edited by solid7, 09 April 2017 - 12:33 PM.

Dave2000 - "Problem is, you happened upon the REAL DEAL."





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