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When to turn compost?

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When to turn compost?

Post  QuercyGarden on 4/18/2013, 8:59 am

I am confused with regard to how often I should turn my compost pile. Mel says that if you turn your compost every day, you should have finished compost within three weeks, assuming that everything is in small pieces. Does this apply to this time of year, when the temperatures are in the 50's or 60's, or only to the summer? I have also read on this site that you should turn the pile only when the interior temperature is declining, about once a week. Otherwise, you can disturb the decompose cycle. What is correct? I would very much like to have my compost ready within three weeks if that is possible. Most of it has been in the bin undisturbed over the winter, but I added a good amount of green and brown material today.
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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  camprn on 4/18/2013, 9:18 am

Turning your compost everyday is not helpful in accelerating the time to finished compost.

Turn your compost, then it will take a day or two to heat up. Then let it's do it's thing until the temperature falls below 100F. Then turn it again.

http://compost.css.cornell.edu/

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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  QuercyGarden on 4/18/2013, 9:28 am

At that rate, approximately how long will it take for the compost to be ready?
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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  camprn on 4/18/2013, 9:33 am

Depends on how big the pile is and what it contains. I have had usable compost in 21 days. Please read all about compost at the link I posted.

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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  plantoid on 4/18/2013, 9:35 am

Look up " The Berkley 18 day hot composting method "
What is in there works well .

If you're fit & able turning the heap after day four and then every three days for five more times will see those quoted materials turned into a good useable compost.

Have a look into the left hand side of the home page .. there are several very useful composting thereads to be found in there .

You can also look in the main index on the home page for further composting threads.
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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  QuercyGarden on 4/19/2013, 10:50 am

I have just read several articles about hot composting. Hope that it works for me in time to put in my garden. Otherwise, I really doubt that I will find five suitable ingredients.
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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  camprn on 4/19/2013, 10:52 am

QuercyGarden wrote:I have just read several articles about hot composting. Hope that it works for me in time to put in my garden. Otherwise, I really doubt that I will find five suitable ingredients.
I'm in the same boat........ Think positively my friend! it will work out!! Wink

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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  QuercyGarden on 4/19/2013, 10:53 am

I will feel more confident about this if in a few days my compost pile is so hot that I can't put my arm in it!
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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  brainchasm on 4/20/2013, 3:22 pm

I can't generate enough materials to get a decent compost pile going. Sad

I did some major weeding and sweeping up of leaves and whatnot, fed it all through a chipper/shredder, and included a lot of (unfortunately) tough browns from the palm trees that shed everywhere.

All told, the pile is probably 30 cubic inches, and that was without it compacting. The first week, it hit 100degF, and I really thought it was on its way.

I watered appropriately, turned it when it cooled off a tick, and now it's 80 degrees outside, and the heart of the pile is 60 degrees, and won't move. I continue to turn it and water when it looks like it needs it, but the pile definitely went into slow mode.

The upside is, the stuff in the pile does look like it's oxidizing (green stuff is going black, pale brown dry stuff is going dark dark brown), but it won't actually break DOWN.

Gardening is so much fun in the desert. Rolling Eyes

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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  Kelejan on 4/20/2013, 6:41 pm

brainchasm wrote:I can't generate enough materials to get a decent compost pile going. Sad
. . .
All told, the pile is probably 30 cubic inches, and that was without it compacting. The first week, it hit 100degF, and I really thought it was on its way.
. . .
It seems to be an awefully small pile, brainchasm.
That make the pile a little over 3 inches a side. 3"x3"x3"
= 27 cu.in. Very Happy
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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  plantoid on 4/20/2013, 6:59 pm

brainchasm wrote:I can't generate enough materials to get a decent compost pile going. Sad

I did some major weeding and sweeping up of leaves and whatnot, fed it all through a chipper/shredder, and included a lot of (unfortunately) tough browns from the palm trees that shed everywhere.

All told, the pile is probably 30 cubic inches, and that was without it compacting. The first week, it hit 100degF, and I really thought it was on its way.

I watered appropriately, turned it when it cooled off a tick, and now it's 80 degrees outside, and the heart of the pile is 60 degrees, and won't move. I continue to turn it and water when it looks like it needs it, but the pile definitely went into slow mode.

The upside is, the stuff in the pile does look like it's oxidizing (green stuff is going black, pale brown dry stuff is going dark dark brown), but it won't actually break DOWN.

Gardening is so much fun in the desert. Rolling Eyes

Can you cover the pile with a plastic sheet to get the humidity up in the heap to get it " sweating " rather than let the moisture evaporate .
Once the humidity goes high the bacteria & fungi start to break the material down as it starts to go rotten , the temps in the heap should then start to rise again .

The woodier materials take longer to break down the harder / more fiberous they are .
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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  brainchasm on 4/20/2013, 8:25 pm

LOL, ok, 30" per side. Hurr, glad I didn't do my math like that when I was figuring out bed size and cubic feet of Mel's Mix!

I hadn't thought to use clear plastic, thanks! I'll give it a try!

Oh, and for fun - it's like mid-80s outside right now, and the compost pile even spent part of the day in full sun...

60 degrees in the heart. L-O-L.

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Re: When to turn compost?

Post  yolos on 4/20/2013, 10:05 pm

I use mostly live oak leaves for my browns. They take forever to breakdown. I get a good hot pile going, turn it a few times and it eventually cools off and I can't get it back up to hot. I figure at this point that all the greens have been consumed and only the leaves are left to decompose. So I add some more greens to the pile and it will heat back up but not as hot as before. For greens, I use grass clippings in the summer and veggie scraps. In the winter I use free used coffee grounds, and if I get desperate, I use some blood meal or alfalfa pellets.
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