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Sienna Dawn
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Location: Pensacola, FL

My compost is *finally* getting hot!!!

Until I came and read this forum, I couldn't figure out what the heck I was doing wrong with the compost pile. It was just not heating up. I know, I know... it doesn't *have* to get hot to work, but I wanted to cook them durn weed seeds. :twisted:

I started poking around in this forum and finally got it. Cottonseed meal! I had bought several bags of it for an organic fertilizer ... and boy is it organic! P-U! :shock:

Annnyway... I added a couple of shovel-fulls to my cold pile and a couple of days later... viola! Hot stuff!! ::does compost happy dance::

The beauty of this place is... nobody here thinks your weird for dancing around a pile of rotting leaves and kitchen scraps. :wink:

Thanks y'all!
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."
--Thomas Paine

Charlie MV
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Do you have grass clippings to add to your leaves?That will heat it up.

Remember it's only weird if you eat the compost. Pretty much anything else is fair game and ok. :)

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Sienna Dawn
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Location: Pensacola, FL

Yup. Grass clippings, egg shells, coffee grounds, veggie scraps from the kitchen, leaves, twigs, weeds from the garden... all that stuff. It just wouldn't heat up, no idea why. That cottonseed meal seemed to be just what it needed.

And, I'll take your 'no eating the compost' to heart. LOL!!
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value."
--Thomas Paine

Katy
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Eating compost

Hi It has all the nutrients might be better than some of the food we eat. :lol:

astevn816
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Compost Lasanga

Think of a compost Lasanga, the first layer should be green, the second layer should be brown, about 50/50 mix but this does not have to be exact. Between layers you might add a few twigs for air circulation. A little bit of moisture and time is all that you need.

Samantha
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Re: My compost is *finally* getting hot!!!

Sienna Dawn wrote:Until I came and read this forum, I couldn't figure out what the heck I was doing wrong with the compost pile. It was just not heating up. I know, I know... it doesn't *have* to get hot to work, but I wanted to cook them durn weed seeds. :twisted:

I started poking around in this forum and finally got it. Cottonseed meal! I had bought several bags of it for an organic fertilizer ... and boy is it organic! P-U! :shock:

Annnyway... I added a couple of shovel-fulls to my cold pile and a couple of days later... viola! Hot stuff!! ::does compost happy dance::

The beauty of this place is... nobody here thinks your weird for dancing around a pile of rotting leaves and kitchen scraps. :wink:

Thanks y'all!
Or scooping it up in your hands and Smelling it :lol:

knight_47
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Location: the deserts of az

sorry for the lame question, but i've just started my first compost bin.

what do you mean hot/cold? is the compost suppose to litereally be hot? or is that a terminology for something??

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Gnome
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knight_47,
is the compost suppose to litereally be hot? or is that a terminology for something??
Yes compost can be hot, literally. So hot at times that it is uncomfortable to plunge your hand into it for very long. As noted it is not a necessity for it to heat up but it does make the process go quicker and can help to destroy some weed seeds.

To get a pile to heat up several things are required, the correct ratio of Carbon to Nitrogen based materials, some refer to this as browns and greens. Adequate levels of Oxygen and moisture. Lastly, the pile has to have enough mass or it will not heat up even if everything else is correct. About 3 cubic Ft seems to be the minimum, 3 X 3 X 3 Ft.

If everything is in balance the pile will literally heat up within a day or so. After a few days it will begin to cool at which time the pile is turned to incorporate fresh Oxygen and to redistribute the material from the outside to the inside. Eventually the pile will no longer heat up and the material approaches completion.

Norm

knight_47
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thanks for the info/tips Gnome, very helpful!

Freddi
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Years ago I would pile up my grass clippings to mulch over my garden. One day I tried using my hands to pick the clippings up to spread and whoa! Imagine my surprise at the heat they were producing! Also all of those wonderful microbes....which I didn't know about at that time! LOL...good bugs all!

Question: We've collected/composted many years worth of alpaca manure which is mixed with wasted hay. One pile has been composting in direct sun, with lots of water (gets run off from the downhill side of the barn roof) and I'd like to start using it for our planned raised garden vegetable bed. I've used the wasted hay for mulch on my flowers and was unhappy with all of the weeds I had to deal with.

Will the weed seeds be dead after all of this time? No new manure or hay has been added since last spring.

The worms love the pile and yet no flies seem to bother the pile.

Thanks!
Freddi Dunleavey
Highmount, NY

rot
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Some like it hot

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It's really the heat of a hot composting pile that will kill the weed seeds. Worms will take care of any pathogen issues if you let them do their stuff long enough but since worms don't directly eat weed seeds that I'm aware of, expect some weeds.

If you mulch well with compost, the weeds should come out of the ground fairly easily. Each year, the weeds come out easier and easier for me where I've been adding compost. I've been getting fewer and fewer weeds over time to because I get them early and I no longer throw any flower heads from weeds into the compost. Avoid the flower heads and you'll avoid the seeds.

Next pile get yourself a compost thermometer and after the temperature peaks, turn your pile. Repeat a couple of times each time after the temperature peaks. If you're getting over 120 or 130 F for a few days you should be cool assuming you've mixed the pile while turning so the outside stuff becomes the inside and visa-versa.

After the heat, you can always let it sit for as long as it suits you and let it go cold and slow.

I like the low energy approach of making a pile and harvesting after a year but you have do deal with weeds because you don't necessarily get the heat.
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Freddi
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Location: Catskill Mountains, New York State, USA

Thanks for the reply to my compost comment. The problem is that this is a pretty large area of compost....like three years worth! Turning it is not an option for me with my arthritis. Guess my hubby will have to get out the tractor and bucket!

Would you suggest just top dressing the planting area with the manure/hay mixture as opposed to mixing it in to the new soil? (We have no soil around here, just rocks and a bit of dirt....the local saying is:
two rocks for every dirt".)
Freddi Dunleavey
Highmount, NY

rot
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I'm too lazy to till

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I don't have a big spread. I just top dress everything. It's a slow way to go though. While the upper layers are doing well, we still have a lot of lousy subsoil. That's why I was on such a kick to compost as much and as fast as possible for awhile.

Some folks will tell you how tilling is bad for the soil and breaks up the soil structure and leads to erosion and so on. I've heard some of those folks go ahead and till anyways. I've also heard of commercial farmers going no till.

You might get better advice over on the garden side of the forum. I'm content to top dress. Our sub urban yard was fully planted when we moved in. I don't know what kind of worm action you get in the Catskills but our moderate climate allows for worms all year round and I count on feeding the worms to work the compost into the soil. To that end I'm just putting as much organic material as I can on the soil. I'm just trying to feed the critters in the soil and let them feed the plants.

I will use coffee grounds directly on the ground and mulch that with excess grass clippings.

Once that organic material starts working into ground our compacted clay starts to loosen up.

The coffee grounds and grass clippings break down in months. I will also crunch the dried leaves from our avocado tree and that leaf mulch will last longer but I can only apply it in the wind protected areas.

I've heard of people mulching with straw and hay but I'm too cheap to buy the stuff. If someone wants to unload some rotting hay, I'll be happy to compost it or mulch with it.

two cents
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Freddi
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Avocado tree! Oh, I only wish! :D We are on the southwestern side of a ski center, so I could only dream of one of those!

We do seem to get a lot of worm activity (I call the robins "worm rats") and am thrilled when I find a lot of them. They do love the manure.

We've never been a big farm, but cleaning up alpaca beans twice a day for 6 years has given us 2 nice big piles....the orignal one and the one below the barn. The barn pile is the newest and the oldest pile is just about gone (for the flowers).

I also have a household compost pile and finding out about the "green and brown" element has been helpful.
Freddi Dunleavey
Highmount, NY

rot
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Avocado Tree v Alpaca Ranch

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Hmmm? Alpaca ranch on the sunny side of a ski resort. I know a lot of people who'd like that. I think you'll be just fine importing avocados when you really need them. I'll have to send you some when the tree recovers from the freeze last winter.

What do the Alpacas eat? I wonder if their beans are like rabbit pellets and can be spread directly in the garden.

May your piles be steaming.
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