I’m trying to condense what I’ve learned about composting, and still have several questions. You’re welcome to answer me directly, if you think it is common knowledge, or to the list if more people will benefit.

  • (1) Would you compost in a device, like the black plastic thingies, or just in a pile in the garden?
  • (2) You would NOT include potatoes in your compost? Or you would just get rid of obviously diseased ones? (Yes, I plan to grow potatoes.)
  • (3) If I’m building a pile rather than sheet composting, do I need to chop up my kitchen goodies like orange peels, or can I just spread them in a layer and cover them with soil?
  • (4) If I use worms, is it more needful (or less?) to chop up kitchen waste?
  • (5) What happens to the worms when a pile is composted? How do I get them into the next pile and not just worked into my garden, when I understand they’ll all perish?
  • (6) What happens in the cold winter months to a compost pile? I’ll still have kitchen scraps…can I put them in a layer and cover them with soil? Do I still need to aerate or turn over? If I’m building a pile all winter, will decomposition wait until spring?
  • (7) In colder climates, like mine, should I build the pile in the sunshine? (I ask because a shady place is perfect location-wise, but I really do want compost, so if it needs to be sunny I’ll do it.)
  • (8) Are apple seeds killed in a compost pile? In other words, can I put apple cores in? What of other non-weed seeds that I don’t want to become plants?
  • (9) Last–for now–do any of you grow fruit organically? Can you tell me how or steer me to a book, catalog, or website detailing it? My ultimate goal is self-sufficiency, but my MIL who has gardened for years (organically, I might add), says fruit is impossible. Last year she finally decided to spray her apples with chemicals and got a bumper crop. This year she’s decided fruit isn’t worth the effort and is removing all her fruit trees. Please–tell me it ain’t so! Is it doable?

I’m having a problem getting my compost going and I need some advice. I’ve done some rereading this evening and I see that I’m not getting enough C into the mix for the first thing, but I haven’t found an answer to my real problem…constant input of kitchen waste. We typically fill up two 4 litre pails with kitchen every 2-3 days, so I’ve go that input as a constant. How do I deal with this for composting. Everything I read makes composting sound like a sporatic thing.

Build your pile at time A then it is finished at B. But for me between A and B I still have lots of stuff that needs to be dealt with. Over the past year I’ve been making essentially a „rot pile”…I kept adding new stuff on top (most N unfortunately) and turning. What I got is dirt looking stuff, but not compost I think. Now I’ve sifted from the „done” pile and started a new pile, but still have the constant input problem. Is the solution vermiculture (worms)? If so does anyone know a Canadian supilier of worms? Do I need multiple piles? Should I stockpile kitchen scraps until a point when I can build a proper pile with the right C/N balacne?

I think multiple piles would be very helpful. That way, you could have a pile that is allowed to go through a complete cycle, as well as one that you can keep dumping your kitchen scraps into. Your system would then be: Take a bunch of your existing pile and set it aside (or use your whole existing pile if you have the space). Let’s call that Pile »A’. Don’t dump any more onto it, dump new waste somewhere else.

(Pile »B’) Keep turning and maintaining pile »A’ until it has formed nice compost. In the meantime, dump all new waste on pile »B’. Once »A’ is finished, pull the compost out and use it or store it until you are ready. Pile »B’ now fills the role of pile »A’ and vice versa. For carbon, you can add some sawdust or newspaper to the pile, or even some sticks from around the yard as long as you chop them up well.