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How to tell it's done?

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How to tell it's done?

Post  wncsohn on 5/13/2012, 10:05 am

We've been turning our pile every few days for about 1.5 months now. It's smelling like wonderful soil and I was wondering ...

How do I know when it's done? The temps are still about 100 degrees, so I'm not sure if this indicates that it's not finished or not. Can anyone help me here? I'm eager to use my compost!!!

Carol
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Re: How to tell it's done?

Post  GWN on 5/13/2012, 10:19 am

Hi there
I am sort of new to the hot composting myself, however I have heard it said that when you no longer can recognize the "ingredients" of your pile.... and that smell you are mentioning.
I am sure that TTT will be along soon to tell you more.
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Re: How to tell it's done?

Post  Rob C on 5/15/2012, 7:57 am

I'm not an expert on the subject, but if the temp is still 100 degrees I would say it's not done yet.
Has the whole pile been built and turned for 1.5 months or have you been adding as you go?
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Re: How to tell it's done?

Post  llama momma on 5/15/2012, 9:26 am

When it looks like soil and smells like heaven, I use it. Also, I screen it through 1/4 inch hardware cloth to get the best composted material with a fine texture. Throw the unsifted pieces back to the compost heap to continue to break down. Been very satisfied with the results.
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Re: How to tell it's done?

Post  wncsohn on 5/15/2012, 10:44 am

Thanks for the replies everyone.

I've decided to let it keep doing it's thing for a while longer. My boys and I went out and turned it again on Mother's Day (Sunday).

It's a "create the entire pile at one time" type of pile. Stuff I'd been "saving" with the addition of a trunkful of horse manure. It's no longer a "hot" pile but it's still a little warm. Or it was before we turned it again! Wink

It smells wonderful, no longer like horse manure, but you can still see bits of the leaves that were added, although they're small pieces and not "whole" leaves anymore.

Maybe I'll give it another week, then start "sifting". We'll see how the temperatures are over the next few days.
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Re: How to tell it's done?

Post  mrwes40 on 5/15/2012, 4:29 pm

@wncsohn wrote:Thanks for the replies everyone.

Maybe I'll give it another week, then start "sifting". We'll see how the temperatures are over the next few days.

If you're looking for a compost sifter, here is a link with the plans for building a pretty nice sifter that has an external frame and you can slide the sifter back and forth.

Here's a picture of the one I built:



Bill
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Re: How to tell it's done?

Post  wncsohn on 5/15/2012, 7:25 pm

Wow Bill, thanks for the link and the idea! Now that we've got our chainsaw mill up and running I'll have to see about making some additional slabs to build one of these!
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Re: How to tell it's done?

Post  mrwes40 on 5/15/2012, 7:27 pm

@wncsohn wrote:Wow Bill, thanks for the link and the idea! Now that we've got our chainsaw mill up and running I'll have to see about making some additional slabs to build one of these!

Sure -- don't forget the little pointer at the bottom of the directions; the part about rubbing the top of the frame and bottom of the sifter with a wax candle. Makes the work much easier, I can attest to it Smile

Bill
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