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Compost fire? Toplef10Compost fire? 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.

Compost fire? I22gcj10Compost fire? 14dhcg10

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Compost fire?

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Compost fire? Empty Compost fire?

Post  markqz 7/17/2021, 1:53 pm

My daughter found this post about a compost fire.

I'm skeptical, but wondering if it has to do with the added fertilizer?


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Post  OhioGardener 7/17/2021, 3:52 pm

That can happen (very, very rare) if the compost is excessively dry. If the compost is kept moist and occasionally turned, it cannot catch fire. But, for that matter, the same fertilizers that are used to make bombs can self-ignite.

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Post  sanderson 7/30/2021, 2:08 am

Highly, highly, highly unlikely it had anything to do with compost.  Most likely a careless cigarette or match.  The volume was way, way too small for it to happen.  

Spontaneous combustion requires a huge volume of moist material, like a stack of too-green cut hay.  Or, mega hills of moist compost or mulch.  In other words, a critical mass + moist combustibles heating through normal thermophilic activity. The average compost size is 3'x3'x3' to 4'x4'x4', which is large enough for "hot" composting but too small to combust.

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/dairy/facts/hayfires.htm

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=spontaneous+combustion+hay&qpvt=spontaneous+combustion+hay&form=IGRE&first=1&tsc=ImageBasicHover

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Post  Hawgwild 3/20/2022, 10:25 pm

OK...I didn't have a fire in one of my compost piles but did find a layer of chard leaves where my first layer of greens were.

Had thought I had watered that pile plenty but found it was very dry throughout the pile. Water had just run off the top of the shredded leaves and never penetrated on down into the pile.

When putting that pile back together I made sure it was completely wet all the way. I'd add a layer then water in. Mix it up a little and water more, all the way to the top.

I'll try to find some of those chard pieces and post a pic tomorrow..

Live and learn..
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Post  sanderson 3/21/2022, 3:31 am

Hawgwild wrote:. . . . Had thought I had watered that pile plenty but found it was very dry throughout the pile. Water had just run off the top of the shredded leaves and never penetrated on down into the pile.

When putting that pile back together I made sure it was completely wet all the way. I'd add a layer then water in. Mix it up a little and water more, all the way to the top.
Yes, wetting well during the building process is the only way to make sure everything starts off wet

I'll try to find some of those chard pieces and post a pic tomorrow..

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Post  OhioGardener 3/21/2022, 9:36 am

sanderson wrote:We all have to learn from our mistakes.  Even reading the book and getting advice in advance, there is no substitute from actually doing it.

So true!  Reminds me of this saying:

“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”
                                                                                   ~ John Dewey

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Post  Hawgwild 3/21/2022, 4:05 pm

Here is a pic of some of those charred leaves and such from my compost pile...This was in the area where I put my first layer of greens and pile was bone dry above and below where the charred stuff was..When I built the pile back up I would add 8-12 inches of browns then water, water, water... Did that all the way up, then took my 2X24" auger on my drill, drill a hole and water more down that hole. That was yesterday so did the same again today with the drill and auger.

Kinda hard to see in the pic but there was allot of charred stuff all through the pic...
Compost fire? Char10

The shredded leaves really forms a type of barrier and water has a hard time soaking down into the pile.  They pack down pretty tight and water just sheds off. I usually cover my compost piles when expecting rain but left them open now as we are getting a pretty good thunderstorm/rain as I post this..

On a better note I bagged up another 8 very large bags of shredded leaves yesterday and this morning. Aught to last me a bit and my neighbor will let me run my sweeper over her property soon as the leaves get dry again... Very Happy

Shredded about half the pile yesterday afternoon and finished this morning.

Compost fire? Leaves10


Reminder....make sure my compost piles are wet throughout...
Scottie
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Post  Soose 3/21/2022, 8:44 pm

Hawgwild, I am green with envy at your pile of leaves!

Now you've made me wonder about the "soil conditioner" I brought in today.
It's lovely stuff. But I declare, some of it in the first load looked a bit like charred wood.
Not that I had a problem with that! 

In daylight I'll have to see if I can get a photo of the mix.  At $30/cu yd it's a
good deal.  Just lovely stuff.  I've got to get some composted down further.

My better half was planting the blueberries (in ground) and I found he used 10 large
spades of my dark, finished, all-leaf compost I was saving for the raised beds.  Sniff.
"That's what the blueberry instructions said to use...," he said.  What could I say?
Normally, I'd be glad he used it. He didn't know I had my own designs on it.
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Post  Hawgwild 3/21/2022, 9:26 pm

Doing OK with the leaves..I have a 4' wide lawn sweeper I pull behind my lawn mower and just ride around picking the stuff up... Getting a pretty heavy rain now and will have to wait to get more leaves rounded up till they dry some...heard my shredder doesn't like the wet stuff.

A little charred  wood I believe is OK in the compost. I did check and seems it will have some benefit as it will add trace elements/minerals to add back to the compost...Think it will be OK as I've put that charred parts I had back in mine also..

Yep...send us some pics too..

Scottie
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Post  Soose 3/21/2022, 9:57 pm

I think charred wood is great. I have read some about biochar. The charred will soak up the nutrients to slow release later and provide a living place for all the microorganisms in the soil, right?
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Post  sanderson 3/25/2022, 3:34 am

Charred wood is not necessary nor endorsed for SFG. We use a variety of composts for nutrients and the coarse vermiculite uptakes and releases water and nutrients, due to its electrical conductivity.

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