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Square Foot Gardening Forum
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New To Composting Toplef10New To Composting 1zd3ho10

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.

New To Composting I22gcj10New To Composting 14dhcg10

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New To Composting

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plantoid
lbmcse
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Post  lbmcse 1/16/2013, 9:21 pm

New to the site, too. Howdy everyone. First post.

I'm near West Palm Beach FL and acquired some free compost from the SWA (Solid Waste Authority). The pile from which I collected my compost was about 12' tall. It smelled quite strongly of manure/ammonia, and was too hot to handle at the site. It was a bit on the dry side, and wasn't fully composted when I got it; as evidenced by larger pieces of organic material like wood chips, etc. Once I got it home, I placed it into a 4'x2'x2' bin outside, wetted it a bit, turned it well and left it. It's now been more than 48 hours, and there's no heat being generated at all.

Do I just need to be patient and allow it to heat back up on its own; or is there something I should be doing?
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Post  plantoid 1/16/2013, 9:33 pm

Welcome to the4 site.
The ammonia is as you think a sign of it not being fully composted .
When you remade the heap you will have entrained fresh oxygen . Give it another couple of days and once the bacteria start consuming the oxygen and nitrogen the heat of the heap will start to rise in the middle of the heap .

If the heap was ice cold and full of ice when you built it it will like as not take till spring to thaw and get going . If the latter is the case save any old unused flour or coarse , corn meal or use some dry kibbled biscuited dog feed to sprinkle on the heap as you rebiuld it and it won't be long before it takes the kick start to heart and gets going again.
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Post  meatburner 1/16/2013, 11:16 pm

Just a thought but I doubt in West Palm Beach Florida that it would be full of ice. The pile is probably too small being 2 x 2 and would be better if at least 3 x 3 x whatever. That is probably why it is not staying hot. Pile it up higher. Just be patient and see what happens. Give it a few days and post back on here what is going on.
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Post  llama momma 1/16/2013, 11:51 pm

I agree, 3' x 3' x 3' is the usual minimum size needed to sustain good microbial action. If you can get more compost then go up to about 4' x 4' x 4'. When it is finished it'll shrink down to about 1/2 the volume depending on what the heap is made out of.
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Post  lbmcse 1/17/2013, 1:33 pm

Thanks for the replies, all. It's in the 80's here in WPB so no ice. Smile

So this heat is created by microbial activity, right? I think I understand the ingredients needed for the heat. A 30:1 ratio of carbon (brown) to nitrogen (green); ample moisture, the presence of the bacteria responsible for decomposition, and the critical mass/density of 3'x3'x3' minimum.

At this point I probably shouldn't be adding any new ingredients since the compost is closer to being finished, as opposed to just beginning. Does that sound right?

Thanks, all!
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Post  Kelejan 1/17/2013, 3:36 pm

lbmcse wrote:Thanks for the replies, all. It's in the 80's here in WPB so no ice. Smile

At this point I probably shouldn't be adding any new ingredients since the compost is closer to being finished, as opposed to just beginning. Does that sound right?

Thanks, all!

You have that right, lbmcse. If you want to use your compost soon, then it is better to start a new pile,otherwise if you keep adding new ingredients, you'll never get to use it. Very Happy
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Post  lbmcse 1/17/2013, 3:41 pm

Kelejan wrote:
lbmcse wrote:Thanks for the replies, all. It's in the 80's here in WPB so no ice. Smile

At this point I probably shouldn't be adding any new ingredients since the compost is closer to being finished, as opposed to just beginning. Does that sound right?

Thanks, all!

You have that right, lbmcse. If you want to use your compost soon, then it is better to start a new pile,otherwise if you keep adding new ingredients, you'll never get to use it. Very Happy

Thanks! As I thought.
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Post  camprn 1/17/2013, 4:58 pm

glad you\'re here to the SFG Forum! Here is a good thread and there are many others about compost. You may find them using the search feature to the left.
Compost 101

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