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Another compost question

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Another compost question

Post  mckr3441 on 5/10/2010, 9:38 pm

I need advice on how to make my compost piles heat up! Is that a fall/winter thing? Do they heat up in the summer? Do I have to use fresh manure instead of already composted? Why the heck don't my SEVEN compost bins heat up? They're all at least 3x3x3 and most are bigger. Some are enclosed. Some open.

I can't use grass because everyone around here puts chemicals on their lawns. In two of them -- 3x3x3 and 4x4x4 all enclosed -- I have leaves (I shred them first), coffee grounds, and all the chopped up yard and garden waste from last fall's 30x60 row garden. I put composted manure in there and mixed it all up a few times then left it for the winter. I'm sure they never heated up. In the other open bins, I "lasagna'd" the same ingredients.

This spring the two enclosed bins had all broken down but I'm still sure they didn't heat. I never mixed up the open bins so there they sit -- fodder for shredding and the closed bins. I screened the stuff from the closed bins (I'll be screening all summer!) and mixed it with my screened kitchen compost. I have a very nice batch of usable homemade compost that I'm blending with whatever I can find at the garden centers. But I'm sure it must be filled with weed seed.

What do I have to do differently?

Claire
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Re: Another compost question

Post  Chopper on 5/10/2010, 10:29 pm

How do you know they did not heat up? Did you feel or take a thermometer to the center? If they are left to fend for themselves, they may have heated up and you missed it.

A little toss of blood meal or steer manure often makes the bacteria hysterically happy.

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Re: Another compost question

Post  mckr3441 on 5/10/2010, 10:46 pm

Chopper, yes I did get into the boxes to feel for heat. Nothing. When the snows came it just piled up on top and all around the sides with no indication of warmth from inside. I would have thought the snow would have melted just a tad but the piles on top of these boxes stayed the same as those on the open boxes.

I don't have any idea where I could get steer manure. My big question about the manure is do you mean fresh or composted? Or does it make a difference? I've been tempted to stop at some farms out in the country and ask them if I could have/buy some. Would they think I am nuts?

I'll have to learn more about blood meal and maybe try that. Thanks for the tips.

Claire
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Re: Another compost question

Post  Chopper on 5/11/2010, 1:00 am

Steer manure is something I find in bags at the garden center. LOL. I do not have much access to compost material outside of my own yard.

I am thinking fresh is the best. They do have additives just for compost starting the get things going, but I assume you know that. It is a conundrum. No problem with the slower compost, except as you said - the seeds may not be killed.

Next thing to buy - a kiln! LOL.

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Re: Another compost question

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/11/2010, 8:11 am

Use fresh manure -- the composted won't heat up because it's already composted. I just finished an open bin with layers like you used, except I can get non-treated grass clippings. BTW, I don't know how organic you are, but you can use grass clippings from a treated lawn, just not the first mowing. Most people treat once or twice a year around here, so I can get plenty of "safe" clippings a bit later in the season. Put an ad in freecycle to see if anyone has chickens and would let you clean out their chicken coop in exchange for the litter. Or, even better, rabbit manure. Rabbit pens are easier to clean under. A couple of 5 gallon buckets of poultry or rabbit litter will heat it up really fast. So does urine, and it's quite safe to use. I use a sawdust toilet as a urinal and empty it in the compost pile twice a week. Within a day of emptying it, the pile is hot.

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Re: Another compost question

Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/11/2010, 8:15 am

"I've been tempted to stop at some farms out in the country and ask them if I could have/buy some. Would they think I am nuts?"

Heavens, no! Anyone who lives on a farm knows the value of manure. Most would be happy to give you as much as you need. And would probably be proud they are helping a "city girl" with her garden.

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Re: Another compost question

Post  mckr3441 on 5/11/2010, 2:46 pm

See ya! I'm off to buy sawdust, farm manure and a kiln! Oh, wait a minute! I better talk to my DH first.

After having had no success with composted manure I figured it was supposed to be raw, but nowhere in anything that I've read did it say that. I am going to put on my brave city-girl face and go knocking on farmers' doors. (Don't tell anyone, but I also may get some sawdust -- we have only one bathroom and could always use a second. All for the sake of a greener earth, you know!

Thanks for your help.

Claire
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Re: Another compost question

Post  camprn on 5/11/2010, 3:07 pm

Clare have you reviewed the recent (last few weeks) threads regarding compost. You may have some of your questions answered here & there.
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Re: Another compost question

Post  mckr3441 on 5/11/2010, 5:58 pm

Thanks Camprn. I learned a lot on that thread. I'm going to try to combine these two. I was away from the forums for a few days and missed that one.

Claire
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