Should I stop adding to my compost pile?

wasabi_VA(7)May 23, 2011

I've been adding greens and browns to a new compost pile since February and turning it frequently. It is in a pallet bin about 3'x3'x4'. It went through a nice heat generating stage but has cooled off a bit. Last time I turned it things had become a uniform dark color and looking about 50% broken down. I could keep adding but am thinking I have this pile about right and just need to let the current materials get broken down. I can start another pile as I will have quite a bit of pulled garden plants as plants bolt, etc.

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The bacteria that digest the material in your compost pile work and generate heat as they do, but that is concentrated toward the center of the pile. As those bacteria digest the material in the center and run out of food anad slow down the heat they once generated is no longer there and you pile cools down. Turning that material, so the pretty much undigested stuff on the outside gets turned to the middle will stimulate those bacteria to get back to work and generate some more heat. Now when all the material is converted and there is no more raw material to digest those bacteria stop working and do not generate any more heat.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 7:28AM
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Sure you can.
I start a new compost pile every fall & spread the old one in early winter to turn it in.
If you are no-till you can put the finished compost on top your beds, anytime of the year.
I have even put shredded & whole leave in the garden in late fall & tilled them in. So if you till, the compost does not have to be completely finished, if you are you are not planting winter crops. Just till it in & let is rot over the winter. Some person will find fault with this method, but it works well for me.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 12:18PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

I am continually adding raw materials to my pile. I don't mix or turn. Finished compost is at the bottom, unfinished raw materials are on the top.

About twice a year, I open up one side of the bin, I shovel off the unfinished stuff, from the top, onto a tarp. I shovel out the finished stuff, from the bottom, into a wheelbarrow or garbage can w/ wheels. Then I slide the unfinished stuff, on the tarp, back into the bin, where in about six months it will be the next round of finished stuff.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 12:28PM
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joepyeweed, does your pile get hot?
Do you get enough compost from your non turn pile for your needs?
How big is you pile & what are your "sides" made of?
Your system sounds simple & easy, just wondering how it works.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2011 at 9:55PM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

My pile gets hot occasionally. But for the most part, I have a cold compost system.

Does anyone ever have enough compost? ;-) My garden plot is probably smaller than most, its just 10 x 10. I intentionally keep it small because I don't have a lot time or sunshine (shady lot). It took a long time to get a good first batch (cold composting is slow), but now that I have a continuous operation, I get at least two or three wheelbarrows full, twice each year. I do have a screen that sets on top the wheelbarrow when I am shoveling out finished stuff, to help screen out unfinished stuff.

My bin is 4' x 4' x 4'. I bought two 8' prefab fence panels from Menards and cut them in half and then hinged them together. I stapled chicken wire to the inside. The entire thing will fold flat, if I want to move it. The hinges allow me to open one or two sides.

Here are a couple pics:

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 10:46AM
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