I have tried looking for information on this but haven't found much yet. I will keep looking. The main issues with matter that runs off asphalt roof shingles has to do with trace amounts of lead and arsenic that can be in rainwater that runs off roofs. Roof rainwater also may contain bird droppings, which can harbor some diseases. For that reason, it is best for those who use rain barrels to water plants at the base, not on the leaves.
The main solid material from roofs that end up in gutters is the gravel that gives the shingles their color and added protection from the sun. The gravel may have some adhesive that is used to glue them to the shingles, or asphalt. But I personally wouldn't consider that to be harmful. I have always put the leaves, etc that I clean out of the gutters in my compost. Whatever is there would be further diluted by all the other organic matter in the compost bin. If the roof is in really poor shape, and you find bits of shingles in the gutters, then I would probably NOT recommend putting them in the bin. The bits of shingles could contain asbestos or fiberglass. If anyone else has more information about this, hopefully they will chime in and share it.
Hello, I have a newbie question about composting. I was wondering if it is safe to use the decomposing plant matter from rooftop gutters in our compost bin. My husband was not sure if there would be harmful chemicals from the shingles on the roof or other roofing materials.
I'm not sure what rats will and won't eat. Leaves, grass, coffee grounds should all be safe. Vegetable scraps may attract them, as well as bread or maybe eggshells. Perhaps using an enclosed container to compost in, even if you don't turn it, may be enough to keep the rats out. Either a large metal or plastic garbage can with a lid that will keep the critters out. Rats can chew through plastic, but they have to have a reason to think there is something edible in there first worth getting at. Covering the scraps with a thin layer of soil or with coffee grounds may also disguise the scent. I have to do more checking. Just have mice where I live, and I have found one in the compost bin, and have had shrews actually nest inside it (they are more carnivores, but do eat the earthworms. Didn't find any in this year, but of course, they had already eaten all my earthworms and I haven't replaced them yet). We have lots of chipmunks as well, but they have never seemed interested in the compost bin.
I have a question - for passive composting - so you have a list of things not to compost? I live in the city and I know that a rat or two lives on the block. I've been putting off composting, not wanting to provide a food source for the rats. I was thinking of getting a closed composted on a stand that you turn, but I'd also like to do passive composting in my garden.
If you plan on planting potatoes next spring, passive composting is a great way to get a head start. Dig a trench where you plan to plant potatoes next year - the deeper and wider, the better. Fill the trench with chopped up leaves, and other scraps if you have them (using a lawn mower and bagging works great, just empty the bag into the trench each time it fills up). The leaves will break down better over the winter if you chop them up first instead of putting them in whole. Be sure to pack the leaves down, so it is a few inches below the beginning soil level. Add an inch or two of soil on top of the leaves and leave the rest mounded next to the trench. In the early spring, gently push the seed potatoes in to the soil in the trench (it should have settled some over the winter), and cover with soil. As the vines get taller, use the extra soil to hill them up. Because you are planting in loose compost as opposed to soil that compacts over time, it is easier for the potatoes to grow larger, as well as much easier to dig them up in the fall. Most if not all of them will be inside the compost trench.
I separate composting into 2 categories - active and passive. These can be further subdivided if you like. Active composting involves turning the compost pile regularly - at least weekly - either with a fork, shovel, or by using a compost tumbler and turning it. The reason for this is that it incorporates air into the mix, and helps the compost pile to stay warmer. By keeping the compost pile at around 160 degrees, it helps the scraps break down faster and also will kill most weed seeds. Don't worry about it getting too hot for the earthworms, though. While it IS too hot for most worms, earthworms will do just fine in a hot compost pile.
Passive composting basically is where you just let the pile sit and leave it to the worms and other soil insects to break the compost down for you. This takes more time, but is less work. Again, you can put your scraps in a regular bin, in a large pile, or even dig a large hole near your garden plants, between rows, or behind and under bushes. Just add the scraps to the hole and cover with a bit of soil each time. Once the hole is filled, cover it with the rest of the soil and dig a new hole to fill with your new scraps. This is great if you don't have a place for a compost bin or pile. Since the soil is frozen in winter (at least where I live), to do this year round you need to pre-dig several holes in the fall to last until the soil warms up again.
Earthworms - these are great for composting. These are the "red wigglers" that are sold as bait. You can buy them in places that sell bait, or you can get them for free if there is a local stable nearby that will allow you to have some of their horse manure. That's what I did. There was a huge pile of well rotted manure, had some mushrooms growing on it, and we were getting loads of it to take to the garden plots we rent from the park district. I noticed that the older the pile, the more it was loaded with earthworms. So I just took a 5 gallon bucket, filled it with the manure/worms, and dumped the whole thing in my compost bin. I am a passive composter, so I just let the worms do all the work for me. I sift the compost when I clean out the bin. The finished compost falls through the holes, and the unfinished gets put back on the top of the bin. When I scoop the finished compost into buckets, I also pick out the worms and throw them back on the top of the pile and tell them to get back to work!
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