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Kisal
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My compost is so hot it's smoking!

I just went out to the compost bin to empty my little kitchen "collection bucket" onto the pile. I took the lid off the bin, and a cloud of white steam/smoke rose up. I could feel the heat radiating from the pile! I used the aerator to stir it up a bit, and white ash came to the surface.

I am in awe! I've never had compost get hot like that before! :shock:

(Please don't laugh at me! I'm just excited to see it working so well! :oops: )
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

rot
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kewel

..

It's great when that happens. Isn't it?

Doesn't happen enough.

..

cynthia_h
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Way to go!!! :D

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applestar
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That's fantastic! :D It really make you want to keep it going doesn't it?

The Helpful Gardener
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White ash? :shock:

You can start a fire in compost (it's hard to do in a small pile, but occasionally happens in big commercial operations; s'why you see overhead water spraying at these places sometimes, for cooling more than anything). And too hot can be bad for some of our aerobic guys, especially fungal side. 137-140 for three days is just right. 150 and above can be detrimental, 180 is roasting everything but the most thermophilic organisms... cool her down a wee bit, Cap'n; she canna take very much more of this... (picture [url=https://redlightnaps.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/james_doohan_3314501.jpg]Jimmy Doohan[/url]delivering this line in his best brogue, as he sweats over a compost bin...)
:lol:

HG
Scott Reil

rot
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white ash?

..

White ash or some kind of leaf mold?

At 140 F plus I've seen the white ash type stuff around leaves mostly. I don't think it's real ash in my case.

..

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Kisal
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I've gone out every day to water it and stir it, just to make sure it doesn't overheat. It's cooled down a bit now. Still working well, though! :)

I posted not long ago about the yard maintenance guy not being able to get the lawn clippings and leaves in the bin, and putting out an old garbage can for him to use for the "overflow." But the compost has worked so much that the volume has decreased by half now. :)
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

rot
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kewel

..

"But the compost has worked so much that the volume has decreased by half now."

kewel

..

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gixxerific
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Congrats, but what am I doing wrong? Mine is as cold as polar bears toes. :lol: I have a bit of everything in there. It's going but nothing like that.

How big is your pile? :lol: Did I just ask how big your 'pile' was? That aint right. :P

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Kisal
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gixxerific wrote:How big is your pile?
I have an Earth Machine compost bin. It's 33" in diameter by 33"' tall, and holds 10.5 cubic feet of compost, which is about 80 quarts.
"Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams

Charlie MV
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My pile is in 4 bins. I keep one smoking hot and turn it every other day. Each bin is 4'x4'x4'. The bins are made of PVC picket fence I bought from big box. I made a 16' straight run and then divided it like this.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
x ------------x------------x-------------x-------------x
x-------------x------------x-------------x-------------x
x-------------x------------x-------------x-------------x
x-------------x------------x-------------x-------------x
x-------------x------------x-------------x-------------x

The 'x" are the bin. The "-" is so I could draw it.

I load the left most bin, get it really hot. I toss it back and forth from the first to the second bin. As it cooks I move the pile to the right. By the time it's in the right most bin, it's rich black and cooked. Last year, the bins were a foot overfilled in height and spilled about 2 feet to the front.

In my best Forest Gump voice I'll tell you: "Composting Works!" I had a 12 foot mutant okra plant and a dozen ten footers. We can't eat fast enough. We have two freezers full of corn, peppers [red, green, yellow, banana and really freaking hot little things that looked like a red-green bean] tomatoes, okra, pole beans, butter beans, pink eye purple hull peas, squash, zucchini and cucumbers which are mostly pickles now.

A really hot compost pile takes on a life of it's own. It can also own you. Be careful, it's addicting.

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N2H2o
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my compost is usually warm to the touch and 6"s or so deep there is a greyish color on the leaves or whatever,.,. i assume its a mold or fungus breaking everything down. if you have ash i would assume you would have smoke too. i doubt its ash. sprinkle some water on it every other day or so.
Been gardening all my life and cant get enough of it.

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applestar
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gixxerific, is your GREEN to BROWN ratio about right? What about the moisture level? Maybe it's time for a shot of molasses? (I can't remember the specific recommended amount -- I use a glug or two) Dissolved in hot tap water then diluted with a gallon or so of rain water. Another "added goodness" moisture source I use is drowned weeds.

Ah, that reminds me -- thanks! -- I want to see what kind of liquid or dry molasses they have at the feed store -- it's sure to be more economical for using on the compost pile than the good organic black strap molasses (which I want to reserve for baking and ACT).

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gixxerific
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applestar wrote:gixxerific, is your GREEN to BROWN ratio about right? What about the moisture level?
C:N supposed to 30:1 correct? Or is it 3:1 either way I have a smaller, yet growing pile. About 2-3 ft high 4 ft wide and deep. It was mostly greens from the garden and yard but I have been shredding paper for it and adding accordingly. We just spent a day splitting wood and I added a wheelbarrow full of the scrap that ended up on the driveway, I tried to pick out the big chunks of bark but there was a ton of composted to partially composted tree stuff. So I think as of now it may be right on or more carbon stuff.

As far as moisture I haven't been watering it much but we have had a lot of rain, an inch is projected for today.

I just went out and gave it a light turn it's moist but cold. Last weekend I took all the big vines and greens off the top, than scooped up the goods at the bottom into my wheelbarrow put the big stuff on the bottom than threw all the wheelbarrow goodness on top with 4 pumpkins in the middle. Than a few day's later I threw all the scrap from splitting on top of that. Hoping to get it going but it has been cold here lately. But like I said I throw everything in there. It is still new somewhat, the majority of it was in my trash can composter till about a few month's ago until I had room for an actual pile.

Sorry to steal your thunder Kisal :oops:

Charlie MV
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gixxerific, one difference I see in what you and I are doing is I run everything through a chipper. The small particles break down quicker. My start to finish process is less than 4 weeks if I stay on top of turning. I never pay attention to ratios. I do keep the pile moist while it cooks. Someone here said to pee on it so i do that late at night. Neighbors fuss you know. If you do pee in the compost, stand on a box and yell 'RANGER". It will make you laugh I promise.

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C:N around three to one, folks, and multiple inputs works great. Took a klong time to convince DW to keep kitchen scraps but even she's on board after seeing how fast it cooks up.

I was turning piles today (no thermometer but HOT) and it hit me. The "ash" is actually fungal spores (probably Aspergillus, the most common fungus in the environment), usually associated with grass clippings in my pile, and the "smoke" can actually be airborne spores (might be steam, but seeing this today it was spores, not steam, that made the most "smoke"). Make sure you have good ventilation and don't inhale any "smoke"; mold spores, ANY mold spores do not much belong in your lungs. We can deal with the amounts regularly found in the air no problem but concentrated quantities are NOT good. There have been two [url=https://aspergillusblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/warning-for-all-gardeners-man-killed-by.html]fatalities reported from high dosage incidents[/url]with Aspergillus; one a Midwestern farmer entering a silo of spoiled grain (enclosed area, and his walking in stirred the spores up) and the other an English fellow who bagged his grass clippings in plastic bags in the fall, let them sit all winter, and then opened the bag in spring, with his face right over the opening. Normally Aspergillus is harmless and as I said, everywhere, but one species (there are 160+) A. niger, or black mold is a real bad guy indoors, associated with wet dank situations, but not one you would see in normal composting operations.

I am not trying to scare anybody; the incidence of two people among HOW many composters out there let you know this is a one in a million shot, like turning on a light switch and getting electrocuted (might happen but you still use electricity, right?) I just want folks to be aware that like garbage disposals, carving knives or scissors, compost is a tool that handled incorrectly, can hurt you. Let's be careful out there, people...

HG
Scott Reil

Charlie MV
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Scot, is the mold dangerous in steam? I wear a mask to chip and when there are dry particles but never saw the need when everything was moist.

The Helpful Gardener
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Charlie, as I said above, the mold is not dangerous in anything other than concentrated quantities. This is the most common fungus on the planet, yet how many folks do you know that have had aspergillosus? I have worked with compost for years, worked and lived with people who have made compost for years, even commercial operators working with hundreds of yards at a time, and I don't know anyone who has had aspergillosus. Our bodies are equipped to deal with this in anything short of obscene quantities; in both the cases I showed above, there was direct exposure to massive quantities of spores in contained enclosure. ALL that I am saying is, don't do that... the chances are that nearly everybody reading this is breathing aspergillus spores as we speak, and has been for their whole lives, and so far, so good...

We have become creatures of fear from being bombarded in our media by things to worry about, and because humans respond more (and faster) to fear than nearly any other stimulus, advertisers, lobbyists and politicians are all using it as the primary tool to get us to do things like buy, vote, or protest. In this day and age of information, we have multiple tools to self-inform and yet our tendency is to react first (fearfully) and check later (if at all). I posted this piece to inform, not alarm, but as I always say, don't take my word for it. Do your own homework, folks; find out what you find out from multiple sources, and come back and inform everyone else. Spread information, not fear, but don't hide truths that you don't like. I don't like that there are ANY down-sides to composting, but in fairness I wanted to tell you all how NOT to do it so we don't get anyone else huffing bags full of spores like the guy in England. Look at it this way, you can drown in water, so should you stop drinking it? I'm just drown-proofing everybody... :mrgreen:

HG
Scott Reil

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HOT

So I turned my compost this weekend -- I started it last weekend.

And to my surprise (not sure why -- maybe because I am a newbie at this)
it was smoking -- it was hot...

I do not own a thermometer -- is it something I need? -- or can I just let it sit .. and cook itself with out worries about the temperature it gets to?...

-- I have to admit I was tickled pink about the "smoke" and everyone heard about it this weekend!

S.

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The bacteria and fungii do not need a thermometer to continue business as usual; it's just humans that want to quantify this. If it's hot, it's aerobic and healthy, so you are good. Just keep turning...

HG
Scott Reil

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