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leaves composting fodder soil

Hot Composting~

This method of composting requires more work, but you get faster and better results.  Once you learn how to compost with this method, composted material can be ready (in ideal circumstances) within a few weeks.  You will find that it is slower in the late fall, winter, and early spring, and a faster process in the late spring, summer and early fall.  In other words, it coincides with nature’s growing season in your area.

  1. Pick the location for your compost pile.  You’ll want it in an area that drains well, that’s fairly level, near the garden, but not too near the house .
  2. Determine how you want to contain your pile (build a bin, or put it right on the ground.)  If putting it on the ground, you may wish to put a layer of sticks down first to help air circulate around the pile better.  Determine the size of your pile/bin.  A minimum of 3 feet x 3 feet by 3 feet is recommended.  Optimal is 4’ or 5’ in each direction.
  3. Start building your pile, by using equal alternating layers of high carbon (dried leaves and twigs) and high nitrogen (clover, fresh grass clippings, vegetable/fruit scraps, manure) materials.  Add a few shovels of soil to each layer (adds microorganisms to help in the decomposition process).  Layers should be 4” to 6” thick.
  4. Keep the top of the heap slightly concave to catch rainwater.
  5. Water.  Keep the pile moist, but not saturated.   Check it daily.
  6. Poke a few holes in the sides of the compost pile, to help aeration.
  7. The pile will heat up and then begin to cool.  When the pile’s internal temperature reaches about 130 degrees Fahrenheit, start turning the material in the pile.  (You can check the temperature with a compost thermometer,  it’s ready when it’s too hot to the touch.)  A pitch fork is generally the tool of choice in turning the compost pile materials.Move materials from the center to the outside and visa versa.  Turn the materials every day or two.  During the growing season, this should produce compost for you in less than a month.  If you turn it only every other week, it will take a few months for your compost to be ready.
  8. Finished compost will be dark brown or black, be sweet smelling, have no traces of the original matter, and be cool and crumbly to the touch.

If the compost pile is too hot, you have too much nitrogen.  Try adding more dried leaves and sticks/carbon material.

If nothing is happening in your compost pile, you may not have enough nitrogen materials, water or air.