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Compost pile won't reheat after first turning. Please help!  RSS feed

 
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Here on Island of Maui on Eastern side of Island I have built a pile 4 ft by 4 ft using four 5 gallon buckets of wood chips, four green leaves and grasses, two of cow and horse manure repeated to fill. I also sprinkled about half a bucket of bio char, placed 1 dozen comfrey leaves in center, and tarpped. After 5 days pile only got to 110 degrees at hottest points. The pile had dried out considerably (I couldn't squeeze one drop.) I turned the pile adding perhaps too much moisture and now a day later the temps have dropped to 80. I am concerned that I turned my pile too soon and halted the process. Mahalo nui
 
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Morgan Carey wrote:Here on Island of Maui on Eastern side of Island I have built a pile 4 ft by 4 ft using four 5 gallon buckets of wood chips, four green leaves and grasses, two of cow and horse manure repeated to fill. I also sprinkled about half a bucket of bio char, placed 1 dozen comfrey leaves in center, and tarpped. After 5 days pile only got to 110 degrees at hottest points. The pile had dried out considerably (I couldn't squeeze one drop.) I turned the pile adding perhaps too much moisture and now a day later the temps have dropped to 80. I am concerned that I turned my pile too soon and halted the process. Mahalo nui



It just needs to dry out a little. Turn it a couple times.
 
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Hi Morgan, I wouldn't be too worried about it. Think since you've just turned it, there ought to be plenty of oxygen for the microbes, and if it doesn't start to heat back up, I think it likely has burned through the nitrogen. You ought to know in another day or two if temps are rising, and if it's just staying warm, mix in some green stuffs and it should increase in activity nicely.
 
Morgan Carey
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So the pile has cooled down a little more(second day after second turning. Should I turn it again mixing more greens into it? It feels counterintuitive to wet it down again, however although it feels very moist I can't seem to squeeze a drop.
 
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I would have not used all that wood.  Way too much.  Biochar not needed either.
 
James Freyr
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Hey Morgan, it certainly wouldn't hurt to mix more greens into it. If if feels wet, I wouldn't add any more water just yet. Try mixing the greens in, and check it again in a few days, I bet it'll be warming back up again.
 
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James is on the money about adding more greens to get the heat going again. Instead of turning it just open the center from the top and add the greens into the hole, then cover again.
If you can't get enough green material see about getting hold of and using spent coffee grounds as part of the addition of greens.

I usually wait at least a month before I turn, if I turn. Using a 3/4 inch pvc pipe and shoving it in all around/ up and down the heap will punch holes for air and it is lots easier to do as well.

Redhawk

PS. don't worry, as long as you can get the heap heating again all will be well.
If the heap dries out just mist it down and let that moisture seep into the heap instead of hosing it down.

With that amount of wood chips see about finding some mushrooms and whipping up a slurry to add to your heap, it will do wonders for your compost and then your soil when you use the compost.
 
Morgan Carey
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Thanks so much. Bryant, about the slurry, how many(volume) mushrooms will I need, how do i make it, and do I spray or pour in center.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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I use a blender to make mushroom slurries, just add what mushrooms you can find then add water to cover the mushrooms and whirr it up for around a minute, that usually gets it nicely chopped up fine.
You can pour this into the heap or over the heap, and you can use it directly on your soil around your plants or anywhere you want to add mycelium hyphae.

It doesn't usually matter if you have a variety of mushrooms or just a single species (I've done this with one single mushroom too).

Redhawk
 
Morgan Carey
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Mahalo. Pile is back up to 110 degrees after adding more greens, urine, and mushroom slurry(Thanks Bryant) Gonna add some chicken poop today and hope I can get pile up to that 130-140 range.
 
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making compost is like religion. Everyone thinks their way is correct, but in reality there's lots of ways to achieve the same results. I never turn or heat up compost piles. Some of my piles are just a pile of woodchips that sits for several years. The point of compost is to add organic matter to the soil. Do it anyway you want, but it doesn't have to get hot. When you see steam rising out of a hot compost pile, you are seeing nutrients vaporizing into the atmosphere.
 
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