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 Post subject: "Hot" Compost
PostPosted: Thu Jun 09, 2011 10:54 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:13 pm
Posts: 2
Kinda new to the composting thing but have been doing a lot of reading...primarily here at the Dirt Doctor's website. Question...How hot and for how long should my compost stay hot to make sure all seeds are killed? My pile was in the range of 130 to 160 for about a week and has since decreased to about 100 to 110. I turn it at least once a week (although I was gone to Alaska for 2 weeks and it didn't get turned). Should I be trying to keep it hot? Like I said, I'm new to this and all advice is much appreciated!!

Blessings,
Joe


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 Post subject: Re: "Hot" Compost
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:43 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 2:17 pm
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Location: Jamestown, NC
Personally I would let it sit 2 weeks or maybe even a little longer before turning it. If you notice it cooling off before the 2 weeks go ahead and turn it. I use to turn mine frequently which did speed up breakdown it seemed but it didn't seem to take care of the seeds or even pieces of potatoes that I had thrown in the barrel. I had sweet potatoes growing in my bin in the middle of winter.

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 Post subject: Re: "Hot" Compost
PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:14 am 
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Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:07 am
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I just finished a Master Composter course. They recommended turning the pile based on temperature. The bacteria are working the pile well in the 130-160 range but the drop below 100 indicates lower bacteria involvment and an appropriate time for turning.


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 Post subject: Re: "Hot" Compost
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 1:32 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 08, 2011 11:13 pm
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Thanks for the replies!! Turning the pile when it gets down to 100 degrees or so seems to be doing the trick. This has been every one to two weeks. I didn't realize how much everything was composting until I started a new pile. My first pile is close to being usable I think. Will it stop heating up before it's finished?


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 Post subject: Re: "Hot" Compost
PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 5:37 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2009 1:58 pm
Posts: 144
Location: Arlington, Texas
Yes, it will. And you don't want to use it close around your plants until it has cooled off. That said, we routinely use partially completed (but cooled) compost as a topdressing mulch. We're just very careful not to put it near plant stem or allow it to touch plant leaves. If it's still cooking hot (which means high nitrogen levels) it can burn your plants.

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 Post subject: Re: "Hot" Compost
PostPosted: Sat Dec 10, 2011 3:35 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:07 am
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Alternating levels of carbohydrate (brown, "carbon material) with protein-type material (green, "nitrogen" material) with a 70% brown, 30% green ratio will attract the heat-loving bacteria. And the pile needs plenty of moisture for the bacteria to thrive. It will work without turning but faster with periodic turning when the center of the pile drops to <100%. Enjoy ---


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 Post subject: Re: "Hot" Compost
PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:57 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:07 am
Posts: 15
Last week, I turned my compost pile for the first time since it was built in November. Original construction: 70% dry leaves and 30% green leaves and grass placed in alternating levels in a square-yard heavy wire cage. I did not have a thermometer but the temperature in the center had decreased signifcantly based on touch. The pile had decreased to approximately 60% in volumn since November.

I alternated the working compost with layers of new green growth (mostly weeds) from a yard cutting in the new construction. February. The new pile filled about 90% of the cage and returned to a "hot" center quickly. Two weeks later, it has decreased another 50% in volumn.

I left two-three inches of completely composted material at the previous site and built the new pile next to the old. I think it will be ready in another 4-6 weeks. :D


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