Win a copy of For the Love of Paw Paws this week in the Fruit Trees forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • paul wheaton
stewards:
  • Jocelyn Campbell
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Burra Maluca
garden masters:
  • James Freyr
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton

the second and subsequent "cooks" (not getting hot enough after the first turn)

 
pollinator
Posts: 168
Location: Manila
33
urban cooking solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello All, Could you kindly advise me how to get my compost piles heating up again after the first turn? I don't have a thermometer but I am almost always successful in getting my finely processed leaf mould to heat up in the bin after drizzling with urine & woodash and liberal amounts of coffee grounds. It's the subsequent cooks that don't seem to get hot enough after turning (i typically turn after 96 hours). I remedy this by adding a small amount of additional carbon ( around 20 percent more chopped-up leaf mould) but then I worry that the 'cook' will be uneven and some parts will always remain uncomposted. Thanks!
 
pollinator
Posts: 376
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
76
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Pusang,

I'm no expert (I assume an expert will chime in pretty soon) but my guess is that you're running out of nitrogen too fast. The urine is boosting all that microbial activity the first turn, but since it's liquid it is quickly used up. Leaf mould can have a relatively small amount of nitrogen itself, so I would suggesting getting more greens, like kitchen scraps or grass clippings, or a bunch of manure. They're loaded in nitrogen, but will release it more slowly throughout the compost process.

Good luck!

Nathanael
 
gardener
Posts: 6284
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1033
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To get your compost heating the first go round you mention adding urine and wood ash along with coffee grounds.
But you don't mention making these additions after the turning, which is all you need to do.

Redhawk
 
steward
Posts: 5078
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
1408
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Leaf mold is primarily carbon based (assuming they are dry leaves) so having a balance of nitrogen based feedstock (green stuff, food scraps, coffee grounds, manure) will help the pile stay balanced and hot.
 
pusang halaw
pollinator
Posts: 168
Location: Manila
33
urban cooking solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks to everyone. I do add urine & woodash after turning (limited coffee grounds though) but strange how additional nitrogen doesn't always get things heating-up again. At least not as hot as the first cook. Could I be burning thru the carbon too fast before the first turn? Or perhaps it went anaerobic and 4 days might be too long to wait?
 
Bryant RedHawk
gardener
Posts: 6284
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1033
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hau Pusang,  any heap of vegetative material that goes anaerobic will let your sense of smell know as soon as you open the heap up.

Most likely you are simply experiencing what happens in the process of decay in a compost heap.
Leaf mold is a little different than a compost heap, in a leaf mold heap there are very few if any green organic materials introduced, that makes it hard for a second heat to get up to the initial heat and subsequent heats from turning will probably be lower in temp than the one just prior to the current turning.

Nitrogen is only one part of the heating equation in composting by the hot method.
There are sound reasons for the 1/3 rule of thumb for building a compost heap (1/3 brown matter, 1/3 green matter, 1/3 manures and soil).
In a standard heap the green matter is what provides the nitrogen and some of the moisture needed, but you also have to have a good amount of oxygen (air) in there as well as potassium and phosphorus to get the top heating effects.
In a leaf mold heap the big three have to be added and the O2 needs to be introduced and usually we have to reduce the amount of moisture if the leaf mold is decaying as it should.
Turning can do most of this but generally in a mostly browns situation we want to simply introduce O2 instead of turning the heap.

Keep in mind, it isn't necessary to have more than one high heat session when making compost, unless you are composting animals most of the pathogens will be dealt with in the first heating.
The fungi will come and populate from there and fungi will remediate any left behind pathogens if given the time to do so.

Redhawk
 
pusang halaw
pollinator
Posts: 168
Location: Manila
33
urban cooking solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Bryant RedHawk wrote:hau Pusang,  any heap of vegetative material that goes anaerobic will let your sense of smell know as soon as you open the heap up.
...
The fungi will come and populate from there and fungi will remediate any left behind pathogens if given the time to do so.


Thank you very much again, Professor RedHawk. I am so relieved because my bins smell nice and earthy and have not gone anaerobic at all since i started this batch. There is some kitchen waste but safe to say it's 90 percent chopped up dry leaves. I'm also very pleased to know how my compost might be fungi-dominated. Here's a photo to give you an idea how far along i've gotten (will turn again tomorrow):
 
gardener
Posts: 2698
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
499
cattle chicken bee sheep
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I know this is basic but i have over watered after turning it, basically putting the fire out. I have also underwatered it or allowed it to dry out. I turn mine with a skidsteer and i can feel the heat and see the steam when i turn it. Thats always a good sign. Mine is so manure heavy (use what i got) that restarting never seems to be a problem
 
pollinator
Posts: 2289
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
182
books composting toilet bee rocket stoves wood heat homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I’m going to ask: Why are you turning your compost at all?

Turning compost does speed the process considerably, but if you don’t turn it at all it will breakdown just fine given enough time. We don’t turn our at all, but it typically stays in place for 12 months before using. We have two big bins that we alternate with.

Your fear that “it will never compost” if it doesn’t get hot is unjustified.
 
Nathanael Szobody
pollinator
Posts: 376
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Michael Cox wrote:I’m going to ask: Why are you turning your compost at all?

Turning compost does speed the process considerably, but if you don’t turn it at all it will breakdown just fine given enough time. We don’t turn our at all, but it typically stays in place for 12 months before using. We have two big bins that we alternate with.

Your fear that “it will never compost” if it doesn’t get hot is unjustified.



Hehe, and i don't even compost at all. I just put it all down as mulch
 
pusang halaw
pollinator
Posts: 168
Location: Manila
33
urban cooking solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

wayne fajkus wrote:I know this is basic but i have over watered after turning it, basically putting the fire out.

been there  many times.

I have also underwatered it or allowed it to dry out

not a real problem, right? can always start over with additional material. At least that's what i would do.
 
pusang halaw
pollinator
Posts: 168
Location: Manila
33
urban cooking solar
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Michael Cox wrote:I’m going to ask: Why are you turning your compost at all?

lots of reasons. My heroes (Elaine Ingham and Geoff Lawton, etc.) tell me to, so do the good folks here - i want to emulate them. Also because I mainly do container gardening and I'd rather make my own, as fast as i can.

Your fear that “it will never compost” if it doesn’t get hot is unjustified.

It would really be wonderful if this would apply to my needs but I need lots of compost - NOW 🙂 🙂 🙂
and there's a tiny bit of dog poo (maybe some cat too) among the leaf mould and i want to kill all the pathogens  - is that enough justification?
 
Nathanael Szobody
pollinator
Posts: 376
Location: Boudamasa, Chad
76
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

pusang halaw wrote:...I need lots of compost - NOW 🙂 🙂 🙂
and there's a tiny bit of dog poo (maybe some cat too) among the leaf mould and i want to kill all the pathogens  - is that enough justification?



Love it

Just FYI, I've done lasagna beds in containers and it works great, especially with worms.
 
Are we home yet? Wait, did we forget the tiny ad?
Dave Burton's Boot Adventures at Wheaton Labs and Basecamp
https://permies.com/t/119676/permaculture-projects/Dave-Burton-Boot-Adventures-Wheaton
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!