Is it okay to use this compost

richdelmoMay 23, 2014

My compost is well broken down but because I don't pay much attention to the proper green brown ratio it never gets very hot and when it does it's only temporary, it does take awhile to be ready. It contains mostly grass clipping and mowed tree leaves, but not always at the same time.
Since it doesn't stay hot I'm thinking pest organisms could potentially exist. So is it okay to use or not and other than allowing it to get how is there anything else I should do.

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I doubt my compost has ever been 'finished' as I live in zone 3, am somewhat lazy (and busy with the rest of my life), and I rarely notice much heat, so I never obsess about compost. I almost always use it as mulch altho sometimes have mixed some that looks mostly finished in planting holes along with alfalfa pellets and the existing soil. Never had a problem with either method and my plants aren't complaining. I also have a large resident population of earthworms who like being fed this way and in return provide lots of castings.

When compost has few identifiable bits you can safely use it as mulch.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 9:41AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Compost doesn't have to get hot to be good compost. You should use your compost. Plant pathogens do not develop in the pile, so if they are in there it's because the materials you put in already had them. Do you have plant diseases you're trying to control? If not there should be no problem.

Nature does not make hot piles, and She does just fine. They're mainly a way to make compost faster because humans don't have the patience Mother Nature has. :-]

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 12:21PM
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As Tox indicated compost happens. Some people obsess and will tell you that the materials must get to X degrees to be real compost while others are more laissez-faire about the whole thing and wait months for theirs to "finish".
Some people will tell you that you cannot ever put unfinished compost on your garden while others have with none of the dire problems predicted.
Ma Nature makes, and has been making, compost for a long time and does not follow most of the "rules" and she does fine. If you want compost in 14 days there is a way to do that but it is a lot of work. If you don't need compost for six months there is a way to do that too, as well as anything in between.
If that compost is well digested, very little of what went into it is discernible and it has a nice smell it most likely is ready to use and probably could be incorporated into the soil with no problem. If that compost still had a lot of identifiable material the it would not be "finished" although it probably would smell nice and pleasant, and the should only be laid on the soil as a mulch.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 7:43AM
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Use it.

I have a slow, no-turn method with mostly leaves, chipped branches, kitchen scraps and sawdust (used kitty litter minus poop). I pile it into the bin, keep it moist with a drip line, and break down the bins when I need compost or mulch. Usually a bin has been slowly decomposing for over a year, maybe two, before it is sifted and used.

It does NOT kill weed seeds, although most of them die of old age in the bin. The most prolific "weed" is have is Matt's Wild Cherry tomato.

Here is a link that might be useful: No-turn compost

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 11:12AM
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Thanks all I will use it both for mulch and planting. I do have some problems with my veggies but as far as I know not related to compost, I was just wondering about the compost. Now if you can help with cuc beetles and SVB I would be a happy gardner. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 8:46AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Hey if you find an easy solution to those monsters I want to hear about it too. Hate em. :-]

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 11:18AM
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"Nature does not make hot piles, and She does just fine. "

That's kind of a silly attitude, because nature doesn't have any problem with things like fireblight destroying your crop... that's just dandy in Nature's mind.

That being said, unless you're worried about some specific pathogen, there's really no worry here. The idea that heat only kills the bad things and doesn't kill the good things is just fantasy.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 11:22AM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

I was not trying to discount every benefit of a hot compost pile, and my answer was not silly. I was simply pointing out to the OP that (with specified exceptions) their compost was perfectly usable even if it didn't get hot.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 1:31PM
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