Seed Swaps

compost needs help

30 Apr 2011
Cloudy 14°C / 57°F

I have been throwing things in plastic trash cans with dranage holes for almost a year now. I am not seeing compost. It is mostly where I dump the rabbit manure when I clean her cage. What can I add to it to make it compost better? It’s sprouting what maybe squash seeds so I know it didn’t get hot enough.



Compost needs an equal balance of green (veggie scrap) & brown (ex.dried leaves) and plenty of moisture. But if you have sprouting seeds you’ve probably got the moisture.

Posted on 30 Apr 11 (about 5 years ago)

so which is rabbit droppings?

Posted on 30 Apr 11 (about 5 years ago)

According to this site, rabbit droppings are considered a green. Do you turn or stir the bins ever? If the materials have gotten too compacted and are not getting enough airflow throughout, decomposition can slow down quite a bit.

Posted on 30 Apr 11 (about 5 years ago)

I do have to stir more. When I find the lid, I can turn the whole can on its side and roll it. I think I’ll poke more holes in the side of it too. What are some sources for brown besides leaves? I only have 2 trees and the leaves blew away in the fall.

Posted on 30 Apr 11 (about 5 years ago)

If you have any junk paper sitting around, that’s what I used last summer when I was in the same “need browns, have no leaves” boat. Newspaper, junk mail (not the shiny stuff), phone book pages, thin cardboard, and brown packing paper all worked well for me when shredded or ripped into small pieces. Good luck!

Posted on 30 Apr 11 (about 5 years ago)

since paper is brown, I should have an even mix since the rabbit’s litter is shredded paper. Maybe it’s just an oxygen issue.

Posted on 01 May 11 (about 5 years ago)

Question that occurs to me is, what do you expect to see when you look at compost? Could it be that your material is already broken down enough to be used as compost, but not what you were expecting?

Posted on 01 May 11 (about 5 years ago)

well, first I expect to not recognize anything I put in there. I was imagining crumbled dirt looking stuff.

Posted on 01 May 11 (about 5 years ago)

Has it been warm enough to get started? Have no idea about your local weather. Could be it will start breaking down faster once it has been warm for awhile. Or maybe you need a shot of the right kind of microbes to get it going, if so I believe you can get that online or in your nursery.

Posted on 01 May 11 (about 5 years ago)

Your compost should look something like this:

Soil-like, lots of humus. It should smell sweet, like fresh turned soil. Should be pretty crumbly.

I’m assuming you’re adding the straw with the rabbit droppings as well? Straw has a pretty high carbon to nitrogen ration ( high C:N ) so it could be you’re sitting with too much carbon. Though I’ve heard rabbit urine is almost pure ammonia ( Nitrogen ) so hard to say.

If you are just doing the droppings they can be directly applied into the garden. If it’s a veggie patch, hot compost to kill any pathogens would be a good idea.

Balancing the C:N ratio is the key to getting the compost pile cooking. Aiming for a 30 – 40:1 ratio is ideal. If you’re too green ( nitrogen heavy ) or too brown ( carbon heavy ) you’re not going to get any action. Because you’re in a plastic bin you may also be suffocating your microbes, I would recommend leaving the lid on, but jabbing some air vents in the side of the plastic bin. That or you will need to give it a good stir every day or two. Airflow could also be killed by too much water. You want it damp like a sponge, not sodden.

Size also plays a role, if you’re doing less then about a cubic meter you may be too small to get it up to temperature, meaning it’ll take longer.

Posted on 02 May 11 (about 5 years ago)

Thanks everyone! I don’t put much hay in, she eats most of it. I will drill holes in the side and stir more and see what happens. How do microbes come from the store? Would it help airflow at all to put some vermiculite in the bin?

Posted on 02 May 11 (about 5 years ago)

Compost starter is sold by gardening outlets such as this. There is some naysaying about this, but you can’t please everybody. I’m a pragmatist, not a purist, and I will try anything that might help me. I don’t have any personal experience with this, so treat it as just another idea in the stream.

Posted on 02 May 11 (about 5 years ago)

I never have been able to get compost going in a closed sided bin, even though I have a fancy compost tumbler. When I did my own compost I just used the plastic bin until the stuff was decomposed enough to not attract rats, then dumped it into an open sided bin where it got air. Since I was not fussy about the ratio of greens to browns etc it sometimes heated up, sometime not, depending on how many dead leaves were in it, and it often took about a year. But then it was great compost. In my current garden I just haven’t wanted to sacrifice the space, and am mostly growing natives that don’t want compost. Also for the veggies I dont want to get too much organic matter into their soil and build up an excess of symphilans. Now I just dump any waste that will not attract rats and will decompose eventually (grass clippings, leaves, veggie trimmings, pet rat bedding) as mulch in inconspicuous parts of the garden like under the fruit trees, and put the other stuff in Seattle’s “clean green” bins and let the city compost it. The stuff I dump is “slow compost”, it doesn’t heat up but does eventually decompose and get incorporated into the soil.

Posted on 05 May 11 (about 5 years ago)

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