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does my compost need to be in the sun to do well?

Posted by gina0475 pa zone6-7 (My Page) on
Mon, Apr 21, 08 at 17:44

I have mine in a garbage pail that I drilled holes in, just started it a few months ago and had it full from some left over leaves and food scraps but I have not turned it yet I am just wondering since it is mostly shade, will this slow it down?
and any tips and hints in addition would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: does my compost need to be in the sun to do well?

Gina0475 asks:

"I am just wondering since it is mostly shade, will this slow it down?"

No, that will not be a problem, but the volume may be. You did not mention how large your can is, this information may help those who use drums/tumblers give you a better answer. Compost happens in both sun and shade...


RE: does my compost need to be in the sun to do well?

To get compost you need four things; air, water, browns, and greens.You can use a hot compost method or a cold compost method.

In order to use a hot method you need a lot of material at one time, most say a pile 3' by 3' by 3' at least. The hot method will make compost faster but takes more work. You have to shred the material and turn it every week or so.

If you are adding material a little at a time you are using a cold compost method. It will take 12 to 18 months after you stop adding material, but you are not having to turn the pile so much. You still need to make sure the pile does not dry out.

Current thinking is the hot pile is better for killing weed seeds but it also kills good things. A cold pile does not get hot enough to kill the good bugs so it is a better soil amendment.

RE: does my compost need to be in the sun to do well?

If you've been putting in food scraps for a couple of months, you probably have something cooking in there. It's probably been cool and moist in the shade, so the microcritters might need some time to adjust if you move it to full sun suddenly. However, getting it a little warmer will almost certainly get things happening inside that can! Can you lash down the top with bungee cords and roll it around every few days?

Compost-in-a-can often takes on a life of its own once a community of microcritters gets going, so don't miss the fun of looking inside from time to time to see what's happening. The leaves will take a while to disappear, but now that the weather is warming up, the compost itself will develop a very healthy appetite for kitchen and garden waste.

Here is a link that might be useful: my website

RE: does my compost need to be in the sun to do well?

I have a compost bin that is much smaller than the 3x3x3 that is generally recommended (it's less than half that volume). It has a shed on one side and a fence on the other. It's shaded by several large trees. I'm not sure it ever gets any direct sunlight. I never had a compost thermometer until pretty recently, but I now know that my compost has gotten to at least 165 F.

But even if it doesn't get hot, it will still turn to compost, even if it takes a little longer.

RE: does my compost need to be in the sun to do well?

No. The sun has nothing to do with the heat being generated by the bacteria that are digesting that material. The sun may heat up a compost pile, but that does nothing for the digestion process. However the sun can cause moisture loss by heating your material enough to cause evaporation of the moisture you put in, so putting your compost in the sun can be more of a detriment to the digestion process than a help.

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