[tomato] Responce to Marguerite.

Paul Reynolds (Tomato@GlobalGarden.com)
Mon, 08 Mar 1999 19:13:54 -0600


Basically, my heap is a heap cause I just let nature take it's course
with it.  I just don't have the time or the yard space to do what I
really want right now.

The size of my heap is about 3.5x3.5 and by no means as big as I want.
I end up throwing a bunch of the kitchen scraps away as well.  Another
additive that I use is ash from my smoker and my grill, two separate
sources of ash.  In the grill, I burn scrap lumber from the remodel that
has been an eternal project.  I don't bother to pull nails, I just load
it up and burn it and all the scraps, including nails, goes into the
heap.  Burnt nails add a source of iron and a few other metallic

Believe it or not, I was taught in Horticulture classes that when
planting a tree, especially a fruit tree, throw lumber scraps, sweet and
common nails and whatever else you can get, other than plastics and
rubbers, into the bottom of the hole.  Sweet nails give a source of zinc
whereas commons are a source of iron.  The break down of these from the
originating source is so minor that you don't have to worry about

I discovered that I had a much better break down of the material in my
heap last year and the only two things different was that there was less
greenstuffs and kitty litter was added.  I've increased the amount of
kitty litter this year, so, I will know more in about 2-3 months when I
go out to screen it.  Shoot, I've not even turned it this year and there
were limbs of 2 inches in diameter in the bottom.  I do know that I've
never had problems with breaking down rines of various fruits since
using kitty litter.

As far as starting a heap, the best thing I can recommend is start 2 or
3 and compare how they work out.  I've done nothing special other than
add soil when the temperature is too low in my heap during summer months
when it gets dry.  You need to be sure and keep your heap moist to keep
the temperature up.  Not saturated though.

There is a wealth of information available on composting. Might contact
your states environmental protection agency and see if they have this
info.  Here in Texas there is a major push for recycling and we even
have rules for commercial composting facilities.  In fact, you can check
at www.tnrcc.state.tx.us and see if there is any information on that
page. Also, that is the place of my employment.  :-))  I'm a regulator,
one of the bad guys in the black hats.

Hope this helps.  If you have any other questions, just ask and I'll try
to answer, if not, send you where you might hopefully get some answers.
Thanks for the site, it is bookmarked.


Paul Reynolds
Austin Texas