The simple answer is yes, succulents can be composted, but there are some things to consider prior to throwing them in your compost pile. Succulents can propagate from cuttings and/or leaves so you might end up with succulent volunteers coming up out of your compost pile, or even in your garden after you’ve utilized your finished compost. If you have a hot compost pile, then volunteers should not be an issue. If you do not have a hot pile, it’s recommended that you shred or chop up your succulents before composting them. Given the high water content of succulents you’ll want to make sure and add some “browns” to your bin to balance out your moisture level. Also, if you are composting spiny cacti, then you will have to take care when handling it. The spines eventually decompose, but until they do, protect your digits with gloves!
Archive for the ‘“Rotline” Question of the Week’ Category
Do you have too many slugs in your compost bin?
In a spray bottle, mix in 1 cup ammonia to one quart water. Go out at night and spray slugs wherever you find them. Ammonia will have no affect whatsoever on your compost. It will only kill slugs and snails. If you go slug hunting in daylight, check under rocks, pots and lids, any dark moist hiding place. You can somewhat trap them by placing said hiding places in proximity to the bin.
Even though slugs contribute to decomposition, they tend to stray from the bin into the garden. Many people find this unsavory, so if you have too many slugs, fill up your ammonia sprayer and take it to ‘em.
May I add shredded mail and computer paper to my worm and garden compost bins? Are the inks toxic?
That is a frequently asked question, thanks for bringing it to the blog! The inks used today are non-toxic and are readily broken down through composting. The see-through address windows in the envelopes, however, don’t break down and will remain in the finished compost. One can tear out the window or not compost that type of envelope. Also, thick, glossy, colored paper doesn’t break decompose easily. Don’t forget to add shredded cardboard, it is a favorite worm food and will disappear quickly.
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Solana Center For Environmental Innovation
137 N. El Camino Real
Encinitas, CA 92024 Saturday, September 24, 2011
8:00 a.m.-10 a.m.
San Diego Zoo 2920 Zoo Dr. San Diego, CA 92101
Learn the ins and outs of backyard composting and vermicomposting. This workshop covers how to select a bin that suits your needs, maintain it, harvest it and more! A limited number of compost bins, worm bins, composting tools and books will be available for purchase after the workshop. Bring your questions and enthusiasm!
Believe it or not, this is the most frequently asked question at the Solana Center.
Currently, the cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas and the Unincorporated County of San Diego off-set the price of compost bins for their residents. Solana Beach has subsidized bins in the past and we are looking forward to a new agreement in the near future.
In all other areas, residents pay the discounted price of $89.00 for a worm or compost bin. The bin prices in your area can be found on our web site: www.solanacenter.org.
If you live in an unsubsidized area, let your city hallknow you request funding in the future.
Foliar application, spraying worm tea, is one more way of applying worm tea to your garden. Make sure it is well strained so the nozzle doesn’t plug up, a nylon works well.
Dilute the strained tea to the color of a dark cup of tea.
Spray in the morning, particularly on the underside of the leaves. This is the time the “stomata”, pores of the plant, are open. Spraying helps strengthen the cell walls and reduces aphids and white fly. Your plants will love it!
Yes, it is a great solution when a compost pile is just not feasible because of small yards or sensitive neighbors. Here’s a cheap and easy way to convert one of your garbage cans into a compost bin.
- 30+ gallon plastic garbage can, with locking lid (optional: bungee cords to hold the lid on)
- Drill with 1/2″ to 1″ drill bits for drilling holes
- Bricks or something to rest the bin on top of
Begin by drilling holes into the body of the trash can, about 4-6 inches apart, around the circumference and vertically. Drill a few holes in the lid and the bottom of the bin to allow for air circulation and fluid drainage.
If the bin is going to be placed on soil, use the shovel to dig a hole the same diameter of the bin. Dig the hole about 6 inches deep, or deeper if you like. Place the bin in the hole and back-fill any remaining space to secure the bin in place. To encourage earthworms, you can experiment by drilling more holes in the bottom and sides of your bin that are below ground.
Begin filling your bin. Some suggest filling the bottom couple of inches with loose carbon materials such as wood chips or dry straw to help with air circulation and moisture retention.
Finally, affix and secure the lid and leave in place.
If you selected a circular bin, and it’s freestanding, you have the option of rolling the bin (with the lid on!) to turn and aerate the contents. If you can’t roll your bin, that’s not a worry. You can turn the contents using a compost turner or aerator, or just leave the contents alone.
The worms one finds on the sidewalk and in the gutters are earthworms. Earthworms are deep burrowers, leading a solitary life and surface only to look for a mate or when the ground is too wet. They feed as the move through the soil and will not thrive in the confines of a worm bin. In contrast, worm bin worms, Red Wigglers, are surface feeders and do well contained in bins and they thrive in crowded conditions. The best thing to do with “lost” earthworms is to place them back on the soil so they can burrow back under the surface.
“Rotline” Question of the Week: My static compost bin is almost full. How will I know when the compost is ready to use?
Posted in "Rotline" Question of the Week, How to, Master Composters, tagged ammonia aroma, ammonia smell, compost, compost pile, Composting, decomposition, gardening, harvesting compost, static compost on December 7, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Static composting can take as long as a year to complete. Since you’re routinely adding new material to the top of your pile and you’re not really mixing the entire pile, then you may have compost ready to use near the bottom of your pile. If you have the space or the means, access the oldest, lower layers of your compost. The compost is ready when it is dark brown, has a crumbly texture, and smells earthy. The materials you added to the pile should no longer be recognizable. A good and easy way to test if you’re compost is mature is by doing a bag test. Simply fill a baggie with compost and seal the baggie. Leave it alone for a week or so. To re-check your compost, open the baggie and smell. If it still smells earthy, your compost is ready. However if you smell ammonia or any off odors, then the microorganisms are still busy eating and you’ll need to wait longer for your compost to mature.
Many people are alarmed to find grubs taking up residence in their compost heaps, and the large population can worry some. Don’t worry, these guys are probably nothing to fret about. Most likely, they’re doing exactly what you want them do, which is EAT! They consume your organic matter and in turn leave you an abundance of nutrients. The grubs are beetle larvae and there are several types that can inhabit your compost heap.
The larvae of the green fruit beetle (aka the figeater) are large C-shaped white larvae about 2 inches long with gray rear ends. The larvae are nicknamed “crawly backs” because they wiggle on their backs with their legs in the air. The adult green fruit beetle only eats rotting fruit, so you don’t usually have to worry about them being pests in your garden.
Other common white grubs found in garden soil and compost heaps are the larvae of the June beetle. Both the larvae and adults can be damaging to your garden, so you should be careful to screen them from your compost. You can also pick them out and feed to the birds (chickens love them!).
Another common grub in a compost heap is the larvae of the black soldier fly, and it is also beneficial in consuming nitrogen-rich organic material such as your food scraps. You will find the larvae inhabiting the top couple inches in your compost. Young soldier fly larvae are a gray-white color, segmented, about an inch in length and very active. As they mature they turn a dark brown color. They are torpedo-shaped and flattened, with tough-looking skin covered in hairs and spines. The larval body bears no legs. The adults are also harmless. They live only a couple days, feed on your food scraps and lay their eggs in the compost.
If you still prefer to limit the larvae population in your compost, try burying your “Nitrogens” under a few inches of “Carbons” so the adult beetles and flies won’t be attracted to your heap. This will also help manage house flies and fruit flies.