Some leaf piles of 2 plus yards have netted me large clumps of white/gray mold? I figure this is the real stuff/leaf mold?
More than a few years ago my dad got an idea to go to the local feed mill and compost corn cobs, lots of corn leaves and dry stalks in this.
We must have brought back more than 20 yards of this stuff(many truck loads in a few weekends)(the mill was glad to see it go, it was on the third floor and we shoveled out a doorway and it fell 30 feet to the truck and dad scooped what fell on the ground)(we were big gardeners and this was a hot sticky messy project)(he had 4 willing? strong helpers)(teen boys). It was a big pile. I was the youngest and still liked playing in the pile.
This was placed on top of the old compost pile of 5 plus yards of stuff, well rotted.
That pile burned that year, we put it out several times.
It would smoke and smolder and yes it did catch fire.................. most of the time it was just hot, dad would have us put our hands in it and dig in it just to check out what was going on.
Dad figured out that we had to stop putting it out with water. Somehow the water was part of the problem. So we would spead the smoking charred parts thin over that part of the lawn. It killed the grass.
We would keep the shovels right beside the pile.
But, we didn't turn our piles and dad told us not to, and not to play or dig in it. We had to stay away from it just so it could rest. Somehow digging and playing in the stuff was also part of the problem I was bummed, becaus et was a blast before the law made me stop.
Of course the fire brigade, still had to be on the ready.
He started to use it in the garden, but it killed everything in that part of the garden that year.
The fire portion eventually stopped, but we watched it steam for a long time.
He didn't use it for 3-4 years after that.
YES compost can catch fire...mostly it steams...and it can smoke...and yes flames...believe me.
Do not compost just corn refuse in huge piles.