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A Watched Compost Pile Never Heats Up?

Discussion in 'Compost, Fertilisers & Recycling' started by Andy567, Jul 17, 2016.

  1. Andy567

    Andy567 Gardener

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    Hey everybody, hope y'all don't mind answering my newbie question. Ive been trying for years to get a compost pile to heat up so i can have it kill weed seeds and grass seed. So far no luck. I found one of those Joraform insulated composers on eBay locally so bought that. But though the compost has been in there for about 3 days and I DO feel some heat it hasn't gone above 82 degrees...at least not yet. I have stopped turning it 7 or 8 times a day as I read that doesn't really help, but how long should i leave it before turning? Whats the rule of thumb with this? Also how long should I expect it to take for the compost to go through its various stages and eventually heat up to over 100 fahrenheit?

    Thanks everybody. Poking round in the dark not knowing or having any clue what to do or whether things are going ok or not is kinda confusing at times :)

    Andy
     
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    • Sheal

      Sheal Total Gardener

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      All I have is one of the plastic Dalek type composters and that seems to heat up pretty well. I don't turn the compost at all but empty it twice a year removing what has broken down at the bottom and putting the rest back in.

      Are you creating a 'sandwich' with the items you are adding to it? Vegetable matter, weeds, paper and a little soil in layers? A good way to help it heat up is to put a layer of grass cuttings in from time to time. Also, make sure it doesn't dry out, I put a couple of cans of water in mine if it looks to dry.
       
    • burnie

      burnie Gardener

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      Ideally it should be turned around once a week, turning it more often will get more air in, but the microbes and worms can't do their thing if its constantly being rotated. I don't add water, relying on the moisture from the items that go in, but I will add manure or chicken pellets to both boost the decomposition and add some additional minerals. These small "cement mixer" type rotator are turned daily, but these are smaller with a lot less material and lack worms. Adding some horse muck will increase the heat, but if you do, don't use it straight away as you can burn the roots of plants.
       
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      What have you been putting in it? It needs plenty of 'greens' like grass cuttings to spark off the heat.
       
    • Andy567

      Andy567 Gardener

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      The composter is one of those rotating composers so its off the ground. No worms. But it does have very good insulation. Not much room in it for materials though. It is this one at . I have put in all the weeds from the garden plus some wood chip i picked up from the community composting site based locally. Not so much in layers because I think the rotating mixes it up. The comfrey certainly helped to get it going but its still kinda slow. Chicken manure is an interesting one, i did buy a couple of big tubs of pelted chicken manure recently so will add a little of that, see how it goes. I guess its going to be a long process of trial and error :( People do say they do work but i wonder too if its size is holding it back. Truth is i have never managed to get a hot pile even once in my life yet but I'm determined to do it :)

      Meanwhile by update its up a couple of degrees farenheit on yesterday. Ive just added some chicken manure pellets and pulled it out to face at the sun as its very warm and sunny today (they say we are in for a mini heat wave) so hoping that will help it :) Next batch i do i will weight the contents and make sure I'm looking at the right sort of amounts! :)
       
      Last edited: Jul 18, 2016
    • JWK

      JWK Gardener

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      Looks a bit too small to heat up properly. You really need to get a stack, green lawn clippings or similar to kick it off. I think too many wood chippings will slow it down.

      No point add chicken manure pellets to compost, they are already in a form to apply directly to your plants. If you put them in the compost they will lose the benefit.
       
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      • Andy567

        Andy567 Gardener

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        Yes thats my fear though videos in you tube do show the bins heating up well and giving off steam so I'm hoping I'm wrong. On an up note moving it into the sun seems to have pushed it up to 90 fahrenheit so fingers crossed, perhaps it will prove me wrong yet... i hope so :( But if not i will go back to the old pallet system i was using last year :)
         
      • Dave W

        Dave W Total Gardener

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        Try worm composting. We've two dalek type bins (now worm bins) that take just about all of our kitchen waste, shredded paper and card plus the odd layer of grass clippings and they produce good compost about twice or three times faster than our main, two year cycle heap and require no turning. The worm compost is also a bit higher in nutrients than 'normal' garden compost and is also better at holding moisture.
         
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        • Andy567

          Andy567 Gardener

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          Thanks Dave :) Yes i actually have a womery in the garage. I haven't tried getting them to eat the grass though, i figured it would be too hot for them as it heated up :) I could give that a go though for sure thanks :) i just wish i could kill the grass seeds with it :(
           
        • Phoozzle

          Phoozzle Apprentice Gardener

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          Hi Dave! How did the Dalek bins become worm bins?
           
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