Questions Submitted in
Composting in a Barrel Tumbler
January 4, 2014
I have attached my CAD drawing for a compost barrel I am building. I have heard from many sources that New Mexicans over aerate their compost and dry it out. There will be (12) 1″ holes around the whole barrel. I was wondering if I have too many aeration holes?
The Worms in My Compost Died and My Compost Smells Bad
January 17, 2014
I have successfully composted kitchen and yard waste in my backyard here on the west side of Albuquerque for at least 12 years. Summer before last, all the worms in my compost died and I began having problems I never had before. I purchased earth worms last year to add to my compost, and they had died by the next time I turned my compost (about a week to 10 days). Since that time, it is not composting (smells, rots, my cucumber got fungus (?) and died). Can you give me any ideas? Thank you!
Getting Started with Composting, Choosing a Method
January 19, 2014
I live in El Paso and am looking to begin composting. We generate a lot of kitchen scraps (vegetable trimmings) and would like recommendations on how to get started with composting. I am leaning toward a plastic compost tumbler. Do you have recommendations for what tumblers work best in this region?
Plastic Turn Bins
January 28, 2014
Question from a Master Composter: I’ve never used one of those plastic turn bins and don’t plan to get one. But I often have friends ask me about them. Since I don’t have experience with one, it’s a hard question to answer. I’ve gotten a vague impression that expert composters don’t like them, but I’m not sure. I was wondering what you guys think about them and what I should tell friends when they ask about getting one.
Modifying a Compost Bin for the Desert
March 28, 2014
I attended John Zarola’s wonderful Composting Basics class last month and gained lots of valuable information. The most important thing I realized is that my homemade compost bin was too open and evaporation was high. I plan to fix the problem by nailing plywood to the outside to retain moisture but would like to know if plywood is appropriate (versus treated wood) and if so, what thickness would you recommend? Unlike the bin in the attached photo, my bin is not against a wall but sits in the open.
Where to Get Earthworms
April 21, 2014
Where would I find earthworms to buy in order to introduce them into the soil of my raised garden beds? I do not want red wigglers for composting but earthworms to help with aeration and soil health in my garden beds. I live in Pecos, NM and the soil here is very rocky (I live at 8,000 feet) so we bought organic topsoil mix to put into the 4′ x 8′ raised beds (2 of these). We would like to put some earthworms in the soil before planting and don’t know where to find them in bulk quantities.
Where to Direct Questions About Gardening
June 16, 2014
I am new to NM and raising a few basil, tomato, green chili, oregano, peppermint and flowers. I have seen a little cream colored moth on the plants and also white butterflies. Something chomped my cosmos too. (A grasshopper by the looks of it.) Will a spray made from garlic shells work to deter them? Or an earth friendly dish soap solution?
July 3, 2014
I’ve recently started Bokashi composting to supplement my vermicomposting. I know that I need to reduce the amount of water / moisture. I need your help to eliminate/reduce the nasty smell of the liquid that drains from the bottom of my bucket. Any ideas? Will reducing the water help? Or do I need to use more Bokashi mix? Or??
Flying Insects Attracted to Worm Bin
July 7, 2014
I attended both of your spring classes on composting and vermicomposting. I have started my vermicomposting as I learned in my classes – however I am having one problem. Everything seems to be going fine except that I am attracting an unusually LARGE amount of gnats, fruit flies, small flying insects. In both classes they said you could do this indoors which I am doing – but I must be doing something wrong because of all these insects outside my compost bin. Hope you have some suggestions as to what my problem might be.
What Kind of Worms Am I Using?
July 7, 2014
I got really excited about starting a compost bin so my food scraps don’t go into the landfill. I went to the bait shop and the clerk didn’t exactly know which varieties of the worms on sale were “red wigglers,” if any. I bought some called Big Reds from a company called Evergreen Night Crawlers. I’ve had the worm bucket going for three weeks. We added a lot of scraps in the first week, and then noticed there was some mold, so decided to stop adding food until we noticed whether the worms were turning that food into dirt. Two weeks after that, I am finding that the food is breaking down, but I don’t know if that is due to regular old rot, or if the worms are working. The smell has a rich, earthy scent, with a whiff of alcoholic decay. Strong when you stick your face in the bucket and inhale, but not offensive. When I poke around, my worms look active and definitely alive. Do I have the right worms? Does this process sound like it’s off to a good start?
Making Compost from Alpaca Poo
July 17, 2014
I have a small herd of Alpacas and would like to make a compost product out of their POO. I would like to talk to someone about: (1) The feasibility of marketing and selling composted Alpaca POO (what is the economic value of the compost). (2) Whether a 6 cu-yd dumpster would be a suitable container for making compost, if earthworms are used to break down the POO and if other ingredients like soil and leaves, etc. should be added to the compost mix to support the breakdown of the organic matter in the poo. We would welcome a visit to see if we are going about this in the right way.