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hybrid hot/cool compost  RSS feed

 
Rose Pinder
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Location: Otago, New Zealand
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I can't make an 18 day compost at the moment (don't have the time to commit to the every 2 days turning). But I have a bunch of materials sitting around and would like to build a compost in one day and then maybe turn it occasionally. In the past I have had bins and I would let the compost sort itself out over 3 or 4 months. I don't have bins now, so will build a round pile. I'm wondering if there is a mid point between a hot fast compost and a slow cooler one, and what the optimal arrangement is.

I generally don't need weed seeds killed but there is probably grass seed in this lot so it wouldn't hurt to have it well heated a few times. Am thinking that if I turn once every few weeks and add grass clippings or manure slurry to the mix that might reheat it? We're going into winter and it would be good to have the compost ready by the spring.
 
Travis Johnson
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You should be fine. I say that because I am probably one of the worst people at making a compost pile which is just as you describe, grass and manure slurry. I don't even mix mine that often, maybe once or twice and in 6 months it is this beautiful, rich, black compost. The longer you wait the better, but my grass clippings tend to be fairly long and heavier on the side of clippings then manure. As I said, I am horrible at composting, yet it comes out perfect every year.

In fact today is compost day for my wife and I. We are going to dig into that gem of a pile as we start getting our garden ready.
 
Rose Pinder
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Location: Otago, New Zealand
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Thanks Travis. I'm actually wanting something faster than that, so don't want to do a cold compost. Am hoping someone has figured out a happy medium between hot and cold. I have a pretty good range of materials, green and dry.
 
Travis Johnson
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Oh it is not cold composting by any means. Even in the dead of winter it is cooking and melts the snow on top of the pile...
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Rose, if you want compost in under 18 days you want a tumbler, that will take 14 days and all you have to do is give it a spin once a day.

Any compost that has a fair amount of greens (like grass clippings) is going to heat up fairly fast. (ever bag up grass clippings then go back and touch that bag a day later?)

Redhawk
 
Alexandra Clark
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Location: Long Island, NY
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I adore building compost piles and working with the biology of them because, well, I am a student of biology!

I have a mixed pile myself. I kind of use the lasagna technique when building. I live in the North East US and we have 20 full grown oaks on our property along with other mixed hardwoods. I leave the leaves on the ground all winter so they begin to break down and share their nutrient treasures with the soil before harvesting them.

Layering heavy carbon like leaves and fallen branches and alternating with green stuff is key as well as water to make sure the whole pile is active.

Once you have the nice round pile, at least 4 x 4 I would say (mine is 5 high by 10 long lol) walk all over it to compact a bit so everything can come together and not exist as separate zones.

Then, save kitchen scraps and if you are up to it, urine and spent coffee or tea.  We have a big bucket outside the garage that we toss scraps and old coffee into daily, when it is full, simply take a long metal rod or old tomato stake, push a hole into the compost as far down as you can go and move it around, creating a funnel. I like to leave the stake in there for a few minutes and pull it up to feel the heat of the pile. It should be nice and warm but not hot for a mixed pile.  Then take the scraps, which should be rather watery and pour it into the hole. This brings nitrogen into the zones that need to be activated, along with natural fermentation elements like yeast that occur regularly in the air (think sour dough starter)...

I then simply dig a hole at one end of the pile and dig in--the bottom is black gold. I take what I need and the weight of the pile collapses over it. I NEVER turn my pile and some is always ready for top dressing plants. If you need a large amount of compost all at once, this is probably not the way to go, but I convert a literal ton of biomass every year, having achieved almost zero waste going into the landfill except for the occasional bag of poison ivy vines. Using this process, the compost is always ready. Best of luck!
 
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