The Q&A Archives: Cold Compost

Question: I have a compost pile. It's composed of chopped leaves and some cow manure. I stir it once every week. When I put my hand in to check the temperature, however, it is cold (It's not composting.) Do you have any idea on how to get my compost pile to start?

Answer: Well, if you're willing to turn the pile weekly, you've got the toughest part of the process covered! That's where most aspiring composters fall short. Be assured that your stuff is decomposing, just slowly. <br><br>If you build the pile to 5x3x3 feet, maintain even moisture (moist enough to hold together, but not dripping wet), and keep on turning. Ideally, the balance of carbon to nitrogen in a pile is about 30 to 1. Fresh manure contains more nitrogen than aged manure, and green leaves contain more nitrogen than brown. You may need to add some nitrogen (blood meal, alfalfa meal) to the pile to jump start it. Some companies offer a mix of a nitrogen source and added microoganisms (called an activator) to get things cookin'. See the Gardener's Supply Co. website ( for some samples. Hope this helps! <br>

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