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<  Composting, Mulch, and Soils  ~  Tonic for Compost piles

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 12:13 am
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:51 pmPosts: 307Location: Alaska
Supercharge the bugs

1 can of coke (not diet) or any cola
1 can of beer (aarg, tough to do but not wasted)
1/2 cup of amonia
1/2 cup of liquid lawn food
1/2 cup of liquid dish soap

mix in a 20 gallon hose sprayer
add a 6" layer - spray add onther 6" layer -spray
& so on
or mix it in 4 - 5 gallon buckets & sprinkle it on.

Really speeds up the process

I loved the idea of using pallets for a compost pile. I'll get my pile under control & looking better soon. Had some pallet that were going to the dump but not now! Thanks

Using compost & perlite (50/50) for seed starter also in my bag o tricks now. Another THANKS.

Picture of compost tumbler I made (don't use it much anymore) & compost pile I'll clean up with pallets.
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on the way to the garden to get the pictures, 3 of my broccoli eaten buddies showed up. Ate the rhubarb that was up. Cow with last years twins. 4' fence is no match. They didn't even leave any compost material behind.
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PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 12:14 pm
User avatarJoined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:37 amPosts: 912Location: Zone 6/7, Culpeper, VA
What, exactly, is this volatile mixture supposed to do? I can't imagine it increasing the "good" flora & fauna one wants working in their compost pile. The whole idea regarding making & using compost isn't speed - it's producing an organic material beneficial for plants. No one in their right mind would add ammonia or dish soap to their compost pile. "Supercharge the bugs" - what the heck does that mean? Certainly nothing good for the "bugs" one makes compost for.

What you're suggesting, frankly, isn't any better than just going to your local box store & picking up some chemical fertilizer. Unless all you're interested in is price.

I'm thinking you should toss your "bag of tricks" & try a more natural method, cause this one absolutely stinks. :roll:



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PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 1:31 am
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:51 pmPosts: 307Location: Alaska
Not disagreeing with your method (which is a very very good method where temperatures are higher) but in cooler climates speed means we get or don't get enough compost to use.

Some information about the tonic ingrediants:

Have a cat litter box, you have ammonia.

If you ever use manure in compost, you have amonia.
Ammonia is one of natures chemical compounds.
Ammonia is a natural emission from manure.
(manure waste is used on many large farms to help make fuel & fertilizer)
"Ammonia is a compound with the formula NH3. (1 part nitrogen, 3 parts hydrogen) It is normally encountered as a gas with a characteristic pungent odor. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to foodstuffs and fertilizers."

Dish soap is a surfactant & allows water to be absorbed in organic material quicker by reducing the water tension (which allows it to be eaten by the bacteria faster & easier) + some of the bad bugs the compost attract don't like it (& stay away) but the bacteria, that actually break the organics down, love it.

Cola is corn syurp which enables the bacteria to grow & multiply quickly + caffine that helps them do it 24 - 7 :).

Beer is naturally ferminted grain, a little grain alcohol so they can party or have fun doing it (eating the organics that is) + activation of the enzymes in the organic material.

Many folks won't use the tonic, but it is an option that some may want to consider. It just speeds the process and does not add bad, un-natural or unwanted chemicals to the end product, good compost.

Actually it don't "stink" at all when a good compost pile is working well & efficient.



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PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 10:33 am
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:02 pmPosts: 1927Location: PNW
I've heard of molasses being used, but never soda. Hope the concoction does what you want it to.


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PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2008 10:47 pm
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:51 pmPosts: 307Location: Alaska
Here is where the recipe for the compost tonic came from
Jerry Baker America's Master Gardener
http://www.jerrybaker.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=2
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 10:12 am
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:02 pmPosts: 1927Location: PNW
Ok, that explains it! :lol: He has some unusual ideas and I never have felt inclined to try them with some of the things he uses. Let us know how it goes for you and have fun experimenting.


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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 10:18 am
User avatarJoined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:37 amPosts: 912Location: Zone 6/7, Culpeper, VA
Just another occasion - which gardening (& cooking) is full of - where we'll just have to agree to disagree.

No one will ever convince me that household ammonia, dish soap, & commercial lawn fertilizer have any place in a compost pile.



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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 1:07 pm
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2006 11:42 amPosts: 186Location: Portland, OR
I knew as soon as I saw it this was from Jerry Baker. Overall you are going to find a WIDE divide between people who believe in what he does and people that think he is an absolute crack pot. Hell you might as well start talking about religion, because peoples responses to Jerry Baker seem to run to the same extremes.

I can say, there is nothing "organic" about his practices. And as some one else mentioned you will get the same "kick" from things like molasses and you won't get the down sides of colas (ya know all the things you can't pronounce and the "coke will dissolve a piece of meat over night" acid's).

Also, being cold outside shouldn't hamper a good compost pile much. My favorite is to see my compost pile steaming and snow free when there is tons of snow on the ground.

Kat


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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 2:44 pm
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:51 pmPosts: 307Location: Alaska
I'm glad I was honest & told where the tonic recipe came from. I could tell by the responses that I "did a bad sin".
I couldn't "feel the Love" in any of the responses.
I haven't tried it (the tonic) yet & maybe now, never will.
Glad I got the "friendlys" back on my side.
I guess I'll leave the controversial stuf to the politicians.
My compost pile is almost thawed, I pulled the top layer off down to the frozen layer, it's looking good. Would like to know how to generate enough heat to keep it thawed through the winter. Nuclear reactor? :shock: :)



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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 3:18 pm
User avatarJoined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:37 amPosts: 912Location: Zone 6/7, Culpeper, VA
You're too funny Dave. :lol: I'm sorry if I sounded snarky, but I've seen folks add the most friggin unbelievable stuff to compost piles & then boast how much they're doing for the environment. Meanwhile, what they've got is a pile of toxic waste brewing in the corner - lol!!

What are the approx. dimensions of your compost heap? Maybe it's not thick/dense enough? Do you have access to any types of fresh manure - horse, cow, poultry? (Carnivore manure is a whole nother can of worms - lol!) Fresh manure produces a LOT of heat & makes a great activator.



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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 3:42 pm
Joined: Tue Dec 05, 2006 3:29 pmPosts: 1357Location: Sunol, CA (9B)
I'd never add good beer or soda to the compost pile, though 'lost soldiers' do get dumped in it. I brew my own beer, so the compost does get several pounds of depleted barley, several ounces of steeped hops and about 1/2 gallon of trub, a brown mixture of protein, beer and live yeast, per batch - oh, and 50c beers that don't look and taste 'used'... Now that's supercharging it (and me). When I go to all-grain brewing it'll be >10lbs of barley per batch.

I saw once on 'dirty jobs' that mushroom compost was made by piling up manure and straw then dumping lots of urea on it. The compost got steaming hot and went from a pile of poop and straw to crumbly black goodness in a very short time frame. You could consider doing that. Probably more effective than ammonia since urea is the next step between ammonia and plant food. If you're after the sugar in soda, a bottle of corn syrup would be much cheaper than soda. I'm sure the bugs would love it.


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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 5:06 pm
Joined: Mon Jan 23, 2006 11:42 amPosts: 186Location: Portland, OR
It really is about the size and the mix. To really get things hot it has to be built full size and then let it rip. Mine never gets really going until it is over three feet high (the box is 4ftx4ft). I used to never have enough browns, at the time I started buying straw just to add browns that finally worked. Now I have enough livestock (rabbits and chickens) that browns are never in short supply.

The best thing that ever happen to my compost - rabbits and chickens. Between the manure, straw and spilt grains my compost IS like a nuclear reactor. It works well since the animals get thoroughly cleaned out every week or so, that creates my brown layer, then in between I am adding weeds, kitchen scraps, grass clippings etc, then the cages and coops get cleaned again, so I end up with a good layering of green/brown/green/brown. Seems to work for me.

Kat


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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2008 5:12 pm
User avatarJoined: Tue Jan 31, 2006 11:37 amPosts: 912Location: Zone 6/7, Culpeper, VA
Yup - same here!!

Back in NY I had chicken, rabbit, & horse manure; here in VA I just have horse, but it still works great. I don't even have to turn my piles (unless I feel the need for additional exercise - lol) - they cook along without any help for me. And there's never any snow on them, I can turn & find earthworms in them any time of the year, & they end up as black & crumbly as a good homemade Devil's Food cake.



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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 3:12 pm
User avatarJoined: Thu Jan 19, 2006 6:52 amPosts: 5285Location: UK
All of these things can be useful in a pile, as is almost anything that bacteria can feed on, but there's something ethically wrong with buying stuff to put in a compost pile.


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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 10:28 am
Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2006 6:02 pmPosts: 1927Location: PNW
Good thought! :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:19 pm
Joined: Sat Jun 14, 2008 6:56 amPosts: 34Location: Raleigh
Dave --

I am just going through some of the old posts. Did you ever try out Jerry's recipe? I checked out one of his books from the library once but didn't try any of the recipes.

With that being said, I have pour flat soda, flat beer on my pile whenever I get it and I do consider the sugar as a booster.

John...



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PostPosted: Fri Oct 01, 2010 11:59 am
Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:17 pmPosts: 21
Before putting down any recipe for dealing with garden issues, examine what the ingredients are and what they aim to accomplish. The explanation of the contents of the recipe makes sense for me.....sugar, like nitrogen, is used to facilitate breakdown. Soap as described, is in practically every recipe for how bugs are zapped. Think of it as an astringent...it dries our skin, so it can do a lot of damage to a bug and it enables the other ingredients to be held in solution. Unlike a dormant oil/lime sulfur/copper sulfur solution for spring and fall dormant spraying that has to be shaken often, soap keeps the solution mixed.
The use of pop...soda...should be the type of regular...not diet...(don't know the reason) and mixing in some fertilzier just speeds things up.
Its a well-know fact that putting a handful of fertilizer into a compost pile replaces the nitrogen that is used in past breakdown. Whether it actually needs the added ingredients is up in the air. Ammonia, nitrogen in a bottle, is used commonly to zap bugs, especially in early spring on hostas to control the soon-to-be-menace of slugs and snails....9 parts water, one part ammonia and used just before the outbreak of leaf buds kills 95% of soon-to-be adult stage bugs.
Everything that is commonly found in our kitchens are being put to use by the bug spray manufacturers.....they just use the more common chemical names.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2010 3:25 pm
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:08 pmPosts: 187Location: Zone 5
Very insightful post, Jeannie. I'm also a huge fan of hostas, so really enjoyed your tip on slug/snail treatment. I'll definitely be giving that a try. Maybe it'll relieve me of my early morning slug detail. :)



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PostPosted: Mon Oct 04, 2010 4:18 pm
Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2010 3:17 pmPosts: 21
Love2Garden, the application of ammonia (1 part) and water (9 parts) has to be applied just as the leaf buds are about to open. If done later, it can burn the soft tissue.
The soil around the plant should be done as well to get the little beggars that are coming out of the soil. Just like when we use a dormant spray for our trees, shrubs and roses, if done after the leaves open, it can cause harm.

As far as dormant spray, it is now common to add something to the oil, lime suflur mix....its the addition of copper sulfur as in the product Bordeau Mixture.
The copper sulfur will kill bugs that seem to be not done in by the other two.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 05, 2010 8:33 am
User avatarJoined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:14 amPosts: 106Location: Ontario
Jeannie wrote:
the application of ammonia (1 part) and water (9 parts) has to be applied just as the leaf buds are about to open. If done later, it can burn the soft tissue.
The soil around the plant should be done as well to get the little beggars that are coming out of the soil. Just like when we use a dormant spray for our trees, shrubs and roses, if done after the leaves open, it can cause harm.

I do have one small issue. This treatment will also kill off beneficial microbes in the soil and on the leaves, leaving the sites open to a speedy re-infestation. My suggestion, go ahead, but shortly after applying the above treatment, add ACT to replace the good microbes killed.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:53 am
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:51 pmPosts: 307Location: Alaska
I've tried so many ways to get the piles cooking & breaking down faster i don't remember what all I've done.
My best results have been with no tonics.
, I mix in fresh grass clipping to get it warming up
add some air vent pipes
& mix the top 12" if I put in allot of new stuff

I get good compost in less than 1 year now,
I just started my "this years garden, GH & leaves/grass" compost bin.
I'll mix some fresh grass clipping as soon as I get some this coming spring (but use some of the moldy grass/leaves for the base layer of a few new raised beds come spring) &
it will be done & ready to put in the "done" bin by August 2011

In my smaller bin (with air vent pipes) , (leaves/grass & kitchen scraps & garden scraps throughout the year) I have tons of earth worms. Don't know where they came from,
but I just mixed it yesterday & noticed several on the top 12".
It seems to be pretty much done now, (started it this spring).
I'll let the worm work over the kitchen scraps I just threw in till they head south (down)
for winter. I'm confident it'll be usable come Spring (love that word SPRING! SPRING! SPRING!>>>>>>...... :) )

I have a "done" pile of HM compost, 15 yards or so & a 10 yard fresh pile cooking.
I just cover them for the winter. Plan to mix the fresh pile one more time before snow hits I hope.

I don't add anything as far as "tonic" anymore. Never noticed it to speed it up or slow it down. Was just more work. Fun experiment but now I have tons of compost & have time to let MN work at her pace, which I don't think I improved by adding tonics.

Learning for me was slow & fun.
Here's what I know works here in Alaska.

Garden/ GH scraps , leaves, grass etc piles:
Moisture is 1 key (& this is a narrow window,)
to wet is the worst, it makes a rank smelly concoction which is hard to mix/move/use or be near

to dry ; not much happens after the green grass cooks, you get a white powder on the leaves & it just sits there waiting for water. But mix in some fresh grass & spay it with a hose while mixing & in 3 days it's cooking

Air is the 2nd key
The "air vent pipes" IMO helped speed it up the most. Probably because I don't get around to mixing it often enough, well now with 2 air pipes about every 18" deep evenly spaced, I don't mix it. I think the worms do some.

To re-start the pile come spring, I mix in fresh grass clippings (pure greens) as soon as I can. (a little mist spray as I mix it, but not much) Get it hot & cooking (not as hot as the HM pile though). It's done mid summer.

My HM piles,
I mix & spray water 4 - 5 times during the summer & cover.
They get pretty hot, but thats a good thing, no weed seeds.
They're about 6' high X 8' X 12' stacked like a giant loaf of bread.
When the shrink down by 30 - 40 % (+/-) they're done & won't get hot when mixed & no apples.



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PostPosted: Sat Oct 09, 2010 12:10 am
Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2008 10:08 pmPosts: 187Location: Zone 5
The resident COMPOSTING KING! Always enjoyed your posts, Bogy - your Alaska slant makes for interesting reading - plus I learn lots. For example... just figure out what works best in your climate and let nature take its course after that. :)



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