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PostPosted: Sun Aug 08, 2004 12:39 pm 
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Location: Monroe, LA
I have a fairly large compost pile, about fifteen feet across and right now about seven to eight feet high after adding grass clippings again. I've been using my front-end-loader on my tractor to turn the pile occasionally and it has "heated up" for a few days, was stinky for a day or two, and then cooled. I thought that the heating process had been sufficient to kill off the weed seeds but a couple of days ago I started noticing bermuda sprouting in several places and also what looks like cocoa grass sprouting. The pile was then about four to five feet high. This morning I cut grass (about fouj acres) and raked the clippings and mixed into the pile hoping to heat it up again. Will this eventually kill the bermuda and cocoa grass that's in the pile or is there a solution?


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 8:10 am 
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Is your hot compost pile over 2-3 months old?

For very weedy or seedy plant materials in compost piles, you either need more composting time, or more moisture and more internal heating, from extra nitrogen or sugars, in order to speed up decomposition and microbial growth in the pile.


No seeds or weeds and survive in a hot pile (over 140 degrees F), with constant moisture, nitrogen, and aeration taking place in the pile.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 12:13 pm 
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The pile is probably 4-5 months old. After noticing the bermuda and cocoa sprouting (not a lot really, but more than I wanted to see) I knocked the pile down and added pea vines from the garden and a large amount of grass clippings. Mixed it well and it's HOT again now. The pile has shrunk somewhat in the past few days and is about five feet high now and 15 in diameter. How often should I turn it? Seems I probably should try to rotate the stuff on the outer parts into the center to heat... It's in the direct sun and I've been watering it about every two or three days.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 12:23 pm 
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That's fine! It's your choice whether you want to turn it frequently or not. You can make perfect compost from a hot process without turning, if you design your pile right, and keep it moisturized and aerated.

I have made an extremely hot, fast, no-turn pile by shaping my compost pile in a donut or volcano shape for maximum 24 hour aeration toward the center of the pile. NOTE: Make sure to use at least 2-3 times more browns than greens, and more plant matter than animal matter in the pile. Then every so many days, I just sprinkle aerated compost tea or any high nitrogen-microbial (or sugary) tea all over the pile. This adds extra water, nitrogen, and microbes for faster decomposition.

The compost is ready to be used as a mulch for no-till gardening, or as a soil amendment for mixing in your garden topsoil, when the compost has cooled down, looks dark brown (not necessarily black), very crumbly, mostly homogeneous, and of course pleasant smelling.

As Malcolm Beck (author of the book "The Secret Life of Compost") said once, don't waste time but trying to get that "perfect black looking" compost by waiting too long. Humus is the final end of compost. It looks like black dirt.

I can make and sell tons of compost in 1-2 months, but it takes me 6-12 months to make humus.

Happy Gardening!

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The entire Kingdom of God can be totally explained as an Organic Garden (Mark 4:26)
William Cureton


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 1:40 pm 
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"NOTE: Make sure to use at least 2-3 times more browns than greens, and more plant matter than animal matter in the pile."

I don't have many browns available this time of year... Would grass clippings that have dried in the sun be considered a green or brown? Other than vegetation removed from my garden (that is green) grass clippings is about all that I have available.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 10, 2004 2:18 pm 
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True mature compost and humus in topsoil is mostly carboneous. Thus there needs to be more "browns" than "greens" in your compost mixture. You can compost 100% nitrogen sources like animal manures, but they will stink very bad, and they haver more water than carbon in them. Carbon is a natural odor eater and it helps form humus and helps buffer and neutralize toxins, pathogens, etc. from organic matter into safe, healthy compost.

If you need more carbon, why not use other sources like shredded pine needles, white papers or cardboards, 100% cotton cloths, etc. in your piles.

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The entire Kingdom of God can be totally explained as an Organic Garden (Mark 4:26)
William Cureton


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