Newly Registered
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Joined: Sat May 25, 2013 5:00 pm

compost pile is cooling off

my 4ft x4ft open compost was cooking great - up to 120 deg then cooled off
Should I add more "greens" and try to get it cooking again or just turn it over and let it set

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2661
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 2:52 am
Location: SE-OH USA Zone 6-A

Without knowing where you live (cause that part of your signature block is blank) about now could be a prime date to put compost to feild.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 728
Joined: Wed Sep 24, 2008 1:15 am
Location: Ventura County, CA, Sunset 23

Just turn it over. Assuming it isn't that old it will heat up again only less so. When it passes peak temperatures, turn it again. Otherwise just turn it about once a week until you can't recognize the feed stocks you put in, or close to that, and apply to the garden.

Keep moist.

Don't stress it.

Got other stuff to compost? Start another pile.

to sense

Greener Thumb
Posts: 970
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 4:50 pm
Location: MO

I would tend to let that batch finish and start a new one, UNLESS there were not enough greens in it and it needs more. If it was fairly well balanced I'd turn it and let it finish and use it, and start a new pile for incoming materials. Compost is very biologically active when 'fresh' so I don't keep it around too long.

Posts: 13906
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: Hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

I thought ideally to hot compost you should:
1. Build the compost with roughly equal volumes of layerd greens and browns (30:1 C:N ratio)
Making sure layers are wet (like a wrung out sponge). Fresh manures counts as greens in a pile.

2. Build the pile at least 3 x 3 x 3 ft. and build it in a day or a week. Cover it with a tarp, cardboard or burlap to hold in the heat. Start a new pile do not add anything more to the pile, it will take longer to finish.

3. If the pile is built right it should heat up within 2 days and reach thermophilic temp range 40-60 degrees centigrade. Try to keep pile from going over 65 degrees centigrade because the heat can kill beneficial bacteria.

4. Pile should stay hot for 4-5 days (steam will visibly be coming off the pile). During this time the pile should not be turned at all

5. After 5th day pile should be turned so what is on the outside of the pile is turned to the inside of the pile. The more often a pile is turned the faster compost is made.

6. Compost made hot and quick finishes without losing as much volume as slow cold composting.

7. Hot composting can kill most (not all) weed seeds and harmful bacteria like those found in fresh manures.

8 Cold composting. Pile is built by layering greens and browns, but may be built over a longer period of time. Eventually to get the pile to finish composting, you should stop adding and start a new pile instead.

9. Cold compost does not get hot enough to reach the thermophilic range.

10. If not turned frequently, compost will take longer, maybe a year to be completely broken down and volume will be significantly reduced.

Newly Registered
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat May 25, 2013 5:00 pm

Great responses - Thank you
Think I'll start a new pile as I just got a fresh batch of fresh-cut
grass from next door to add to my leaf pile

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