• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Hot or not - Food for Thought

 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Like prolly a lot of folks here, I've made truckloads of hot compost as well as boatloads of vermicompost over the last 30 years or so. But as I was looking out over the field and into the woods it occurs to me that mother nature has built amazing topsoil and never built a single hot pile. Leaves and needles fall where they fall and grass and weeds die and fall over and all slowly decompose to feed the soil food web. I wonder if hot piles don't "burn up" some of the goodness that might be gleaned if we just were more patient and let things slowly rot and feed the soil. I'm also remembering one year I piled all my leaves from the yard in the garden inside a 12' piece of snow fence that formed a circle. The following spring as I tilled the garden, when I got to the spot where the leaves were, the tiller sank effortlessly to it's full depth - no small feat in my tough soil at the time. Coupled with everything I've been reading about "no till" Gardening/farming...perhaps just piling on organic matter in the garden is better than making hot compost? Food for thought.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3793
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
147
bee books forest garden fungi greening the desert hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
And don't forget that the fungus helps break it down in the forest!
aspen leaf mold 2.JPG
[Thumbnail for aspen leaf mold 2.JPG]
 
Sam Boisseau
Posts: 155
Location: PNW, British Columbia
9
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I find myself making less compost piles. I spread the chicken manure on my future beds, then try to mulch on top, months in advance before planting. Gotta plan ahead and have a sense of what crops can grow in stage 2 compost. Might want to keep some hot piles for specific crops.
 
Johnny Niamert
Posts: 268
Location: Colo
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Michael Vormwald wrote:perhaps just piling on organic matter in the garden is better than making hot compost?


That's the way Mother does it.


Leaf mold from hardwoods is considered the finest compost by some people. It's essentially a pile of leaves, kept moist until it's broken down. Which depending, can take up to a few years. With the low levels of N and high levels of C and lignin content, you can really get some nice humus going.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1424
Location: Central New Jersey
40
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Mother Nature works on a different time line than we humans . I do not know whether "better" is a useful term here, as it is more an issue of "different" without value judgment. There is also the question of what we are growing and which sort of soil will work best for the plants in a given situation.

I expect that much of it is a matter of time and timing. We are not nearly so patient as the ecosystem surrounding us.
 
Tim Malacarne
Posts: 226
Location: South central Illinois, USA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

I may or may not be undecided, I don't know....

I kinda prefer the hot method. I figure that I want to fool those weed seeds and burn them up.

To each their own!

Best, T
 
Rebecca Norman
gardener
Posts: 1109
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
103
food preservation greening the desert solar trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
ruth stout the mulch goddess, would have agreed with you. When she spoke of the work people did to build and turn their compost piles, I think she said she needed to go lie down with a drink thinking of all the wasted work. This was before worm farming. She advocated that you take your kitchen scraps, weeds, and anything that you might like to compost, and just tuck it under the thick mulch and forget about it.
 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have read reports that suggest that much of the carbon is released into the atmosphere (instead of the soil) during hot composting. Many experts seem to be beginning to agree that slow composting may in fact be "better"not just different. Perhaps animal manures are 'worse' than green/brown vegetation...I'm unsure.
http://appliedmythology.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-shocking-carbon-footprint-of-compost.html

Peter Ellis wrote:Mother Nature works on a different time line than we humans . I do not know whether "better" is a useful term here, as it is more an issue of "different" without value judgment. There is also the question of what we are growing and which sort of soil will work best for the plants in a given situation.

I expect that much of it is a matter of time and timing. We are not nearly so patient as the ecosystem surrounding us.
 
George Meljon
Posts: 278
Location: Southern Indiana zone 5b
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think another benefit to hot composting is the final product, if you have a huge amount of N and C to start with, has been heated up away from the garden beds instead of in the garden beds.
 
Jamie Wallace
Posts: 82
Location: Lantzville, Vancouver Island,BC Cool temperate, Lat. 49.245 Zone 8a
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Michael
I agree that longer term hot composts result in a large amount of carbon being lost to the atmosphere. This 18 day method seems to be the best of both worlds.
http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/

Today is day 18 of my first try using this method and it has worked very well.
Interestingly enough, my grandmother never composted but placed food scraps just below the soil surface.
 
Michael Vormwald
Posts: 154
Location: Central New York - Finger Lakes - Zone 5
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, you can lead a horse to drink but you can't make him water!
 
2017 Appropriate Technology Course at Wheaton Labs http://richsoil.com/pdc
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!