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Question: 828-4012
I have a compost pile in the shade. I used lime on it. When can I use the material in the garden? Carol, Norwich, CT

Mort's Answer:
A good compost pile needs a winter to cure the contents. It was once thought that compost needed to be neutralized from acidity with lime. This is not the case. It will sterilize itself through the winter and go to near pH 7. You can turn tumblers to mix organic matter. A mix of a third twigs and small branches and two thirds soften tissue is the ideal formula. This fall, you can turn your pile by taking material from the bottom and throwing on top of the heap. Shade is not that important. It will heat up in the center of the pile through the winter and cook from the inside. The frost will act as a shell for this remarkable transition from cool to hot.

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Question: 844-4412
Can I use tomato and walnut leaves in my compost pile? Dick, Richmond,IN

Mort's Answer:
All vegetable leaves are good for the pile. Walnut and oaks emit a compound that inhibit the growth of other plants. I would not use it in my compost. Grass clippings should not be used if a herbicide has been used on the lawn. Shredded leaves make for a quicker turn to humus. Every gardener needs a sense of humus.

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