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Switched from Oak Sawdust to Sphagnum Peat Moss (Having issues now)

 
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Because our source of fresh oak sawmill sawdust has moved out away from the area we decided to go with the compressed bales of sphagnum peat moss from brand called Premier Horticulture (here is a link to what the package and brand is but we bought it local Type of bale of peat

We have made the switch for about 2 months now and our pile is not getting hot. We have used the sawdust method for over 7 years with perfect results but with the peat we can not seem to get it to warm up enough. With it 20 (F) outside our pile is a little over 60 (f) inside. This is nothing compared to what our sawdust piles did. We do not get the heat and steam like we did with sawdust. We do not see the bugs either (pill bugs and millipedes) like before. The paper and waste is breaking down and the pile is shrinking but not near as fast as the sawdust.

So is their a difference in the way to work with the peat over the sawdust?

The peat seems more absorbent than the sawdust was (the buckets can end up much heavier and still appear dry and without smell) as opposed to the sawdust. Is the peat just not wet enough or is it to wet or??? Is there not enough #2 to #1 ratio (was trying to be kind on the wording)? I am totally at a loss right now. Oh and the piles do not smell bad either, its like everything is fine except slower shrinkage and cold temps.
 
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Hi James,

I look forward to what others think, but I will share this at this point.

The peat moss you have purchase may be treated...some of the commercially bought baled products are. Also remember that most of these riparian-aquatic moss species, by their nature, do not decompose. We are often finding 10,000 year old organic artifacts and more buried in peat bogs. This is not just a combination of the tannins themselves but the source of the tannins. There are trees coming out of some in New Zealand that are allegedly over 100,000 years old and producing remarkable lumber. I suspect that the moss is contributing to the slowness of break down. This is just a different form of decomp, and may actually be a better method for trapping all the nutrients in the compost.

Lets see what others think.

Regards,

j
 
James Steig
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hi James,

I look forward to what others think, but I will share this at this point.

The peat moss you have purchase may be treated...some of the commercially bought baled products are. Also remember that most of these riparian-aquatic moss species, by their nature, do not decompose. We are often finding 10,000 year old organic artifacts and more buried in peat bogs. This is not just a combination of the tannins themselves but the source of the tannins. There are trees coming out of some in New Zealand that are allegedly over 100,000 years old and producing remarkable lumber. I suspect that the moss is contributing to the slowness of break down. This is just a different form of decomp, and may actually be a better method for trapping all the nutrients in the compost.

Lets see what others think.

Regards,

j



I just hope it allows it to heat up enough for use after sitting for the year as we have always been able to do in the past. If it can not be used then the point for us is, well pointless.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hmmm, we will have to see what others say. If I recall, most compost that is aquatic moss based can have up to a 3 year turn around unless the moss becomes a lesser component.
 
James Steig
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Hmmm, we will have to see what others say. If I recall, most compost that is aquatic moss based can have up to a 3 year turn around unless the moss becomes a lesser component.



So you think we would have to allow it to sit for 3 years before its safe?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Gosh James, we are slipping down a path of subjectivity...

This is a cultural, as much as, good practice perspective. For example, in Japan, as they have for thousands of years, spread urine, and black water with little compositing (other than what it does after spreading) into gardens and rice paddy. I compost(ed) with meat and a annimal carcesses. So this is as much a "choice" of what to do, as it is, "what do I do that works."

I think if you fold in 30% leaf litter (maybe a bit more) and other organics you could get your heat back up. Do you have a supply in your area for some horse, cow, goat, compost to perhaps augment your compost pile. Each system we develope does so take on a life of its own with us, and how we interact with it.

Not much help, sorry. I am sure others will pop in soon.
 
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Some experimentation might be in order. Since you have been doing this successfully for 7 yrs and the cover material is your only change I would suggest adding water to the pile as a start. Don't be shy about it, start with a decent amount for the size of pile and do that for two openings and watch for a change. If the pile is too wet it should get worse but if you see an improvement you can vary the amount of water based on results. A second suggestion is to switch back to the sawdust. Given the cost of the peat could you hire someone to bring a large amount of sawdust into your area?
 
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where as your sawdust had all the microbes ready to go to work the Sphagnum Peat Moss does not
It is more or less sterile and will not aid in composting until it is broken down itself
you need a kick starter.
and i agree with Jay c .White Cloud about the need to compost and or adding leaf litter or something else.
 
Wyatt Barnes
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I vote for road kill, or road kills, depending on the size. Small white tail deer, medium kangaroo, small panda. Don't suppose there are any spotted owls lying around?
 
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