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Is My Wood Compost Ready To Use?

 
Posts: 14
Location: South East Michigan
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forest garden chicken homestead
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Hello friends

I recently was delivered 30-40 yards of composted wood debris. A local guy that cuts firewood had a few piles of debris leftover from cutting. The piles sat there for a few years and seem to be nearly composted.

My question is, because it's so fine (looks a lot like finished compost with chunks of larger wood pieces) and he's added debris to it this season, how do I know when it's finished and ready to use? The newer stuff has been mixed in with the older stuff when he loaded it and delivered.

I've examined it and saw plenty of fungal hyphae throughout. Overall it seems ready to used, but I don't want to fry anything either.

I'm hoping to used it around some deciduous and fruit trees.

You can see from the image the piles were steaming when delivered. It was also about 19° F.

Thanks.

08A1E67B-2079-4C25-8DE3-5B8B9F307E7C.JPEG
[Thumbnail for 08A1E67B-2079-4C25-8DE3-5B8B9F307E7C.JPEG]
 
Posts: 852
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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It looks like you can use it now, but the heat of it would not make plants happy around their roots if you dig it in, so either leave it on top, or if mixed in, wait a week or so to plant so it will cool down.

If there's any recognizable pieces (of anything in a compost pile) then those can be sifted out and put in a pile that has layers of soil in it,  to finish.  Or at least toss the biggest pieces out of there and finish them separately.

If you want to use it all now, and leave chunks of wood in there, and if you mix it into the soil, the wood chunks will absorb water that has nitrogen dissolved in it, so the first year the plants need extra nitrogen.  After that, those chunks should be broken down enough to help improve the soil

 
zakk barozzini
Posts: 14
Location: South East Michigan
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forest garden chicken homestead
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Thanks, Cristo!
I was thinking the same thing, but always good to get a second opinion. It'll be a good side dressing for some trees this spring.
 
zakk barozzini
Posts: 14
Location: South East Michigan
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forest garden chicken homestead
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**UPDATE**

So I built a trommel sifter. It took a couple of updates, but it’s pretty dialed in now. I can sift 3/4 of a yard in about 25 minutes. The end result is some beautiful compost.

CF27A498-2BE0-482E-BD7E-B820DEB3A69A.jpeg
[Thumbnail for CF27A498-2BE0-482E-BD7E-B820DEB3A69A.jpeg]
ED598085-5734-4C49-AE1D-31F574408E48.jpeg
[Thumbnail for ED598085-5734-4C49-AE1D-31F574408E48.jpeg]
 
zakk barozzini
Posts: 14
Location: South East Michigan
1
forest garden chicken homestead
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**UPDATE**

So I built a trommel sifter. It took a couple of updates, but it’s pretty dialed in now. I can sift 3/4 of a yard in about 25 minutes. The end result is some beautiful compost.

CF27A498-2BE0-482E-BD7E-B820DEB3A69A.jpeg
[Thumbnail for CF27A498-2BE0-482E-BD7E-B820DEB3A69A.jpeg]
ED598085-5734-4C49-AE1D-31F574408E48.jpeg
[Thumbnail for ED598085-5734-4C49-AE1D-31F574408E48.jpeg]
 
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