Square Foot Gardening Forum

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.


Search
 
 

Display results as :
 

 


Rechercher Advanced Search

Latest topics
» Mid-South: December 2016
by AtlantaMarie Today at 7:40 pm

» Mid-Atl - Dec 2016 - Seed Catalog ?
by AtlantaMarie Today at 7:37 pm

» CANADIAN REGION: What are you doing December 2016
by AtlantaMarie Today at 7:34 pm

» Gardening in Central Pennsylvania
by trolleydriver Today at 6:38 pm

» Holy snow Batman!
by donnainzone5 Today at 4:40 pm

» Second Year SFG in Canada
by trolleydriver Today at 4:06 pm

» TrolleyDriver's Compost Thermometer
by trolleydriver Today at 4:01 pm

» Tomato Tuesday 2016
by countrynaturals Today at 12:12 pm

» Amaranth
by countrynaturals Today at 12:06 pm

» Northern California & Coastal Valleys - What are you doing this month?
by countrynaturals Today at 12:03 pm

» Garlic: Freeze, thaw, and heave
by donnainzone5 Today at 11:14 am

» Live and learn
by jimmy cee Today at 9:08 am

» New England, December 2016
by sanderson Today at 4:09 am

» 1st Seed Catalog Arrived :)
by Scorpio Rising Yesterday at 10:42 pm

» AtlantaMarie's Garden
by countrynaturals Yesterday at 2:04 pm

» N&C Midwest: December 2016
by sanderson Yesterday at 1:44 pm

» Mychorrhizae Fungi
by audrey.jeanne.roberts Yesterday at 1:28 pm

» December 2016 Avatar: Show your Winter Season Colors!
by Scorpio Rising 12/3/2016, 11:17 pm

» SFG not giving the results I expected
by No_Such_Reality 12/3/2016, 7:21 pm

» New Member
by trolleydriver 12/3/2016, 4:14 pm

» First season SFG results / lessons learned
by countrynaturals 12/3/2016, 10:36 am

» Eat Broccoli Leaves? Brussels Sprouts? Cauliflower?
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 2:55 am

» Winter's Coming!
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 2:53 am

» Dry versus fresh spices to infuse vinegar
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 2:50 am

» 2016 SFG in Brooks, Ga
by sanderson 12/3/2016, 1:28 am

» Senseless Banter...
by MrBooker 12/2/2016, 5:17 pm

» Blanching and Freezing Vegetables
by sanderson 12/2/2016, 4:59 pm

» Your Christmas wish list?
by sanderson 12/2/2016, 4:29 pm

» SFG Adventure of a first time gardener in ND
by sanderson 12/2/2016, 4:14 pm

» Fusion Life Brands Power XL pressure cooker
by CapeCoddess 12/2/2016, 2:39 pm

Google

Search SFG Forum

So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Go down

So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  arla on 6/2/2012, 12:32 pm

I turn it, water it, and dump a lot of what I'm told is high nitrogen (fresh grass clippings) into it, and yet it refuses to get hot, managed 100 a few weeks back which was a major win (normally 80 is normal) by all rights it should be a smelly soggy mess because there isn't much carbon, and yet.

Wondering if I should just get a bunch of blood meal and add some of that and see what happens? Anyone have any hints, mostly around here all I can get is grass and my garden waste, I put in the vegetable waste from the kitchen, but getting manure is unlikely

arla

Posts : 109
Join date : 2011-09-09
Location : El Cerrito, CA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  westie on 6/2/2012, 1:07 pm

You have not mentioned using anything that is carbon rich like leaves. In total the pile should have a c:n ratio of about 25:1 or so. It is not the material ratio they talk about but the total average c:n ratio of all materials in your pile. I used someone here’s idea of adding blood meal and rabbit food pellets both are very nitrogen rich and my temp shot up a lot but that suggests mine was too carbon rich. look at this site for some decent ideas http://www.composting101.com/c-n-ratio.html . I have several of the recommended composting books yet it seems just like walking you just have to experience it you really can't master it from a book.

westie

Posts : 48
Join date : 2012-03-27
Location : Iowa

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  mrwes40 on 6/2/2012, 1:20 pm

I use 4 parts brown stuff, to 1 part green stuff. Usually gets me between 90-120F when properly moistened.

Bill

mrwes40

Male Posts : 123
Join date : 2012-04-12
Location : Zone 6b (Central Connecticut)

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  malefacter on 6/2/2012, 2:23 pm

how big is your pile the bigger the hotter it will get

malefacter

Posts : 84
Join date : 2012-05-15
Location : Phx AZ

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  littlejo on 6/2/2012, 3:32 pm

If you've turned, watered and added nitrgen, then it may need air, which it needs too.

As you turn and re-build the pile, add some sticks, pvc pipe etc to layers to make some spaces for air.

Also, try not to let grass be in clumps. You can let some of the grass dry out good before adding to the pile, which should work as maybe a carbon.

If you ever get it hot, that grass will get really smelly.

Jo

littlejo

Female Posts : 1528
Join date : 2011-05-04
Age : 63
Location : Cottageville SC 8b

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  SwampCatNana on 6/2/2012, 8:13 pm

Everything mentioned is great. I was at HD yesterday and noticed they have something to add to a compost pile to get it moving. Might check that out as well.
As to the fresh mowed grass, I always thought it was to be dried out some before adding.
Lee

SwampCatNana

Female Posts : 237
Join date : 2011-06-28
Age : 78
Location : Boston MA (Z6a)

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  arla on 6/2/2012, 11:21 pm

The only thing I'd seen about fresh grass was a small chance of spontaneous combustion if you had too hot of a pile, since mine is barely approaching 80 degrees no chance of that.

I have used shredded oak leaves for brown when I can get them (and try to add that at the same time as grass clippings, but I'm wondering if my lawn is just so dry that the grass is pretty much brown already, and counts as carbon not nitrogen (I've read dried grass is carbon). I'm thinking of adding the big plant I just cut down



Although not knowing what it is, I'm not sure if it'll break down or not, but will try it I guess. See if that does anything, if not, will try adding some bone meal or compost started, the problem is that when I have to buy a ton of ingredients to get my compost to actually "work" I start to wonder what the hell is the point, why not just buy the compost.

The reason that I don't think it's too much nitrogen is that everything I've read says that if you have too much Nitrogen it's supposed to be a smelly, yucky mess, mine isn't, doesn't smell at all, just sort of sits and mummifies.

arla

Posts : 109
Join date : 2011-09-09
Location : El Cerrito, CA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  westie on 6/3/2012, 12:57 am

If the picture is of the big plant you cut down it sure does look like Japanese Knot Weed which is horribly invasive stuff and really tough to get rid of. Roots can travel under a driveway to spread itself further. Some came up under my neighbors siding at the roof line. I had some at the edge of my garden once. To rid it I had to cut down some really lovely Lilacs then blanket a 30x30 ft area with layers of black plastic, roofing felt and two layers of tarp to light smother it. That took 3 years and I had to remove all that cover every couple months and pour gasoline on the shoots that were poking my cover up. finally it decided it was no match for my persistence and died. None has come up now for 4 years but the neighbors still have not choked theirs all out. Straight concentrated roundup would slow it down temporarily but anything less was a tonic to that stuff. On the bright side tender young shoots of Japanese Knot Weed are good to eat if properly identified. The stuff makes me so mad but I am afraid to eat it just in case it has revenge in mind. I think you would do well to study your debris pile.

westie

Posts : 48
Join date : 2012-03-27
Location : Iowa

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  arla on 6/3/2012, 1:16 am

Well, maybe it's Japanese Knotweed, although all the pictures seem to be that it's green, and mine is a very deep red color, it also has never been a problem for me. I've got a patch of it, around 2ft by 1ft (approx) it grows up in that spot, gets to maybe 5 ft tall, falls over (which I hate, because I love it when it's 3-4 ft tall, it looks great) I have to cut it all down, and then it starts growing again, rinse and repeat, but never had an issue with it trying to spread (all sorts of other weeds spreading, but this, no).


arla

Posts : 109
Join date : 2011-09-09
Location : El Cerrito, CA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  arla on 6/3/2012, 2:06 am

Thanks for the possible insight into it being knotweed, that led me to finding it, it's Red Dragon Knotweed (I think), while supposed to be invasive seems to be a lot less so thank Japanese knotweed.

Anyway, I chopped some up pretty fine, the rest I'm just stripping the leaves off, if I'm low on Carbon maybe this will help.

arla

Posts : 109
Join date : 2011-09-09
Location : El Cerrito, CA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  RoOsTeR on 6/3/2012, 8:13 am

If it were me, I would work at stock piling some good ingredients. Just about everything you've mentioned is a green. You need some good browns too. Purchasing "activating" ingredients are a waste if you don't have a good balanced pile to begin with. I would also discourage adding an invasive weed to the compost if possible. Especially if you haven't been able to achieve "hottie" status yet Wink


http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t9365p225-are-you-a-hottie#125122

____________________________


I am my gardens worst enemy.

RoOsTeR

Forum Administrator

Male Posts : 3879
Join date : 2011-10-04

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  westie on 6/3/2012, 10:07 am

Did not know about Red Dragon so that is why yours is red and mine is more green with red tendencies at times in places. Good for you but Rooster did have good advice about not using invasives till the pile heats enough to kill plant life in it. One parting comment there is an online recipe for knotweed jelly that looks awfully nice in the picture. Now back to getting the pile hot.

westie

Posts : 48
Join date : 2012-03-27
Location : Iowa

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  arla on 6/3/2012, 10:59 am

@RoOsTeR wrote:If it were me, I would work at stock piling some good ingredients. Just about everything you've mentioned is a green.

So, for stock piling, do you just get some large bins and fill them? I can start dumping my grass clippings into a garbage bin instead of putting them into the compost pile, and then just wait for the oak tree to shed enough leaves to give me my browns, don't get enough browns any other way really.

arla

Posts : 109
Join date : 2011-09-09
Location : El Cerrito, CA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  camprn on 6/3/2012, 11:18 am

As far as collecting stuff, I do that during the growing season. I primarily do my active composting in the Autumn, when I have enough ingredients. Through the course of the growing season I collect anything and everything organic that I can, kitchen scraps, weeds, expired vegetable plants from the garden, some shredded paper and all that stuff goes go into a holding bin made of 2"x4" wire sheep fencing. Through the growing season I simply pile my grass clippings on the ground (though sometimes I will toss some into the holding bin). When the leaves fall from the trees, I will collect and chop those and the build a new compost pile, by layering the leaves, the collected summer material and saved grass clippings. It's not very tidy right now, but it works for me. What a Face
Here is my holding bin on the left and the finished compost from last fall/winter on the right.

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13983
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/3/2012, 1:55 pm

camprn, are you using your last falls pile now? I'm always a year behind becoz it seems that no matter what I do, scrub oak leaves take a year to breakdown, and they are the major source of my compost. So right now I'm using the compost that I started 2 falls ago, and adding all my scraps/grass/etc to the pile of leaves I collected last fall. The new one is hot and has white hat guys! cheers I couldn't tell you why it works tho... Rolling Eyes

CapeCoddess

Posts : 5368
Join date : 2012-05-20
Age : 60
Location : elbow of the Cape, MA, Zone 6b/7a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  camprn on 6/3/2012, 2:55 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:camprn, are you using your last falls pile now? I'm always a year behind becoz it seems that no matter what I do, scrub oak leaves take a year to breakdown, and they are the major source of my compost. So right now I'm using the compost that I started 2 falls ago, and adding all my scraps/grass/etc to the pile of leaves I collected last fall. The new one is hot and has white hat guys! cheers I couldn't tell you why it works tho... Rolling Eyes

I have mostly maples, but some oak leaves. I 'rake' all the leaves using my lawn mower with a bag, this chops up the leaves and advances the decomposition. My compost pile also reached a fine 150*F, which certainly moves the whole process along.

Do you chop your oak leaves?

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13983
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/3/2012, 4:29 pm

I have a mulcher mower, a Nueton, and I mow the leaves. You betcha! I ended up with 2 piles today and they are both heating up pretty fast now. I didn't get the rebar in coz it's at work, but hopefull I can shove them in tomorrow before the piles settle too much.


It's getting harder and harder to turn them. I sure hope I don't ever stop tho, becoz that compost grows GREAT gardens! And saves a ton of money that would be spend on the bagged stuff.

CC

CapeCoddess

Posts : 5368
Join date : 2012-05-20
Age : 60
Location : elbow of the Cape, MA, Zone 6b/7a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  squaredeal on 6/3/2012, 11:14 pm

My pile never seemed to " heat" up last year, but I turned it monthly and by this spring it turned a nice earthy brown. The pile was leaves and grass clipping with some kitchen scraps. Seems to work just fine although I do get quite a few weeds.

squaredeal

Female Posts : 192
Join date : 2011-05-09
Location : Indianapolis=6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  J_in_HamiltonON on 6/4/2012, 10:40 am

@camprn wrote:...I collect anything and everything organic that I can, kitchen scraps, weeds, expired vegetable plants from the garden, .....all that stuff goes go into a holding bin made of 2"x4" wire sheep fencing. .

Camprn: do you not have issues with rodents using the 2" x 4" fencing? I have 4 plastic bins and my biggest composting problem is keeping the mice out of the bins:evil: !

I think what might be missing is the decomposers. I always keep back a gallon or so of compost from the last batch to go into the new batch, as a sort of innoculation.

J_in_HamiltonON

Male Posts : 49
Join date : 2012-05-13
Age : 38
Location : Hamilton ON zone5(A?)

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  camprn on 6/4/2012, 11:44 am

Occasionally a skunk will investigate the bin, but otherwise, nope, no problems. It is open to the elements so it gets wet and is not an ideal nest site for the smaller creatures like mice and chipmunks.

____________________________

40 years a gardener and going strong with SFG.
http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-weeks-until-frost

There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t1306-other-gardening-books

Outlander is outstanding!


camprn

Forum Moderator Certified SFG Teacher

Female Posts : 13983
Join date : 2010-03-06
Age : 54
Location : Keene, NH, USA ~ Zone 5a

View user profile http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t3574-the-end-of-july-7-week

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  crs on 6/4/2012, 11:55 am

I have been running all my kitchen scraps through a blender and then pouring the liquid into my tumbler. I just had a thought that that may not be a wise thing to do.Is it keeping the compost wetter than it should be? My carbon material is not chopped up so is the difference in size between the two a problem? Maybe I should just chop by hand and see what happens?

Connie

crs

Posts : 65
Join date : 2012-05-05
Location : West Central MO

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/4/2012, 1:11 pm

I don't know how it works with composters, but I don't chop up my kitchen scraps. They just go right into the kitchen counter bucket as is, then I toss the full bucket onto the top of composting pile, cover with outer compost, and they seem to disappear just fine.
*shrug*

CapeCoddess

Posts : 5368
Join date : 2012-05-20
Age : 60
Location : elbow of the Cape, MA, Zone 6b/7a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  crs on 6/4/2012, 2:18 pm

yep, I think my problem was I read compost in 2-4 weeks if everything is mashed. Well it just ain't workin' here Rolling Eyes So I need to learn to be patient and try to just let it compost the way it wants.

crs

Posts : 65
Join date : 2012-05-05
Location : West Central MO

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  Lindacol on 6/4/2012, 3:41 pm

@arla wrote:I turn it, water it, and dump a lot of what I'm told is high nitrogen (fresh grass clippings) into it, and yet it refuses to get hot, managed 100 a few weeks back which was a major win (normally 80 is normal) by all rights it should be a smelly soggy mess because there isn't much carbon, and yet.

Wondering if I should just get a bunch of blood meal and add some of that and see what happens? Anyone have any hints, mostly around here all I can get is grass and my garden waste, I put in the vegetable waste from the kitchen, but getting manure is unlikely



Arla,

If you were in southern CA I would say come get some goat manure. Check Craigslist in your area for manure, fertilizer or compost. There are lots listed but I have no idea how far they are from you. If you can't get manure, then go to a local feed store or pet store and get some alfalfa pellets or rabbit food and layer it in your compost pile. Water it well. Make sure it is damp all the way thru. Make sure the pile is at least 3x3x3 ft. Put a couple of sticks or pieces of rebar or even PVC pipe thru it and move them every so often.

Here are 2 good threads on composting:

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t9587-end-of-the-year-reflectionson-compost

http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t6722-please-post-pics-of-starter-compost-pile

I really like Boffer's refering to poops & plants & keeping it simple.

I had compost that was not breaking down a couple of years ago. Mine is mostly goat manure mixed with alfalfa hay. I had filled 3 pallet bins and left them. But we were having a serious drought and they were too dry and did very little breaking down for 2 years. When I wanted to start a garden I needed to move the bins, so I broke them down and moved the bins, then rebuilt the piles adding several thin layers of fresh manure(including some horse & yak manure with the goat)and sometimes leftover alfalfa pellets and kept them damp with water and sometimes milk. Remixed them a couple of times and in about 3 months had really good compost.

Lindacol

Posts : 777
Join date : 2011-01-23
Location : Bloomington, CA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

If I just let is sit.....will it compost?

Post  GardenSurprise on 6/5/2012, 6:20 am

I would love to make good compost at home. I don't know much about composting, except that (briefly) you should layer brown and green stuff, keep it moist, have some good air circ, and turn it often. When I first read Mel's book I was so excited (the new book)!! How easy, how fun, I could do it even with some health issues! As I read more and more, compost is so very impostant. I have never composted, except to leave the horse manuer and hay that got wet in piles for a year or so. My best friend is in a wheelchair and it would be very hard for her to turn a compost pile. There are composting barrels, but they are expensive...anyone know or any do it yourself plans? If you use a barrel....how is it? So, as my kitchen waste mounted the past few days, I say... gee that could go in a compost pile too.....hm.....maybe I would have more waste, weeds, etc. than I thought. The chickens, geese, and ducks keep the weeds in my yard down, they ate the grass too, so I have to replant, and the dogs and chickens, ducks, and geese get my kitchen waste...recycling at it's best, so not a lot for the compost pile??? Seems like soooo much work and SFG is supposed to be easy. If I just put it all in a pile and don't turn it, would it turn to compost anyway by next year? Or would it be a smelly mess? Should I add some good red worms...or whatever will also live in my garden in the compost/Mel's Mix....is seems like adding some worms would be good, but what do you think? I've always wanted to raise worms, but I have trouble keeping the moisture right. I can get good ORMI certified organic compost for $22.95/sq yard--27sq feet. Though it is about 40-50 miles from me, I could just take the truck or some big bags and keep it on hand when I need it along with horse and poultry manur. There are goat and cow dairys in the valley, organic ones too, that I might also be able to get manur from in bulk.....best gardens I had in the past used lots of steer manuer...tried the fancy expensive stuff and never did as good. So, I'd appreciate your comments.

GardenSurprise

Posts : 4
Join date : 2012-04-14
Location : North Fork, CA - Mountains Near Yosemite - Central CA

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: So confused, why won't my pile ever heat up

Post  Sponsored content Today at 7:48 pm


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum