drying, sifting, storing compost

tom117(9a)February 6, 2007

I welcome comments on my habits.

I make a 1.5 cubic yard batch of compost twice a year in my single bin. One spring I didn't get around to using the newly finished batch, and so I stored it. I have been one pile behind in using it ever since.

When each batch is finished, I spread it out on tarps to dry thoroughly. Then I laboriously screen it and use the largest pieces as mulch or put it back to start the new pile. The rest I put into plastic sacks at about 2.5G each, that being a convenient amount in weight and size to carry through the beds when I disperse it. I squeeze the air out and twist the sack shut and place all of them in a 55 gallon drum. It fills the drum entirely. I put the air-tight lid on the drum, then wait about 6 months before using.

One Fall, when I opened the drum I found the very finest, blackest, most completely composted material I have ever seen. It all looked like worm castings, but I don't remember if I found worms. I don't know what I did differently when I put it up the Spring before, but I suspect that I skipped the drying and screening process which might have allowed for anearobic activity to take over.

I wonder if anyone suspects anaerobic decompostion or worms.

I have started using more coffee in my piles and have lots of tiny worms in my almost-finished batch. I think my usual drying and sifting would likely kill the worms, and it seems like they would die, anyway, in sealed-up sacks of dry compost. What do you think? And do you think they would live in wetter material in sealed sacks for 6 months?

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squeeze(z8 BC)

sounds like a lot of work for no benefit ... all that's needed to 'store' compost is to pile it out of the way and let it be to mature at it's own rate ... the worms will be much happier, and you'll find when you go to use it a year later it's much finer and requires less screening, or none

if the material is still wet/moist, the worms will keep working for a long time, even closed up, if you really dry it [or when it dries on it's own], they'll leave lots of cocoons and die off

also if the compost is basicly "done" but simply not fully mature, and isn't soggy, dripping wet, there won't be any "anaerobic decomposition"

Bill

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 1:16AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

I have to agree with squeeze, Tom. My only comment on your habits would be 'Why'? Do you have a lot of spare time on your hands? If you have compost just put it on your garden. It doesn't matter when or where. Why move it around repeatedly? And why dry it? You have to spread it on your tarps, so why not spread it on your ground? If you put a second bin beside the first you could just move the compost from one to the other and avoid all that unnecessary effort.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 5:55AM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

No, mine goes from bin to garden. I don't even own a screen, or even a wheel barrow to lug it around. Sometimes I use my neighbor's, or mostly I use an $8 kids plastic sled- it's much easier.

Karen

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 8:00AM
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blutranes(z8 Mid Ga)

Tom,

I found myself in the same dilemma with extra compost a few years back as you did. Since that time I have always been at least a year or more ahead in compost making. However, I do not let my compost dry or seal it in bags, this is not a good thing in my opinion. Since the composting process does not stop after the initial heating process has ended, one may want to make sure said compost is in the best environment for continued decomposition. With maintaining adequate moisture and air, composting will continue with a lowering of the C:N ratio in the compost. This is the best situation to find oneself in, again IMO.

You may find the link provided of interest to your situation. Do have a great day todayÂ

Blutranes

Here is a link that might be useful: Superior Compost Making

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 6:09AM
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kqcrna(z6 SW Oh)

I can't imagine having too much compost. I didn't think there was any such thing.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 7:51AM
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