Soil and Compost forum→First Pile of the Season

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Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 18, 2021 2:25 PM CST
So this is kitchen scraps since last fall, then grass and leaves to the top, then settled halfway and topped off again. I emptied the finished pile from last summer which say through the fall and the winter. These bins are 4x4x4' which is over 2 cubic yards. Actually started a new pile in the 'cold composting' third bin since I had the materials. I figure I'll get that bin full before the first one is ready to turn. Will have to get the second bin emptied by then. It's half full but has been sitting since late last fall and it will be ready enough.
Thumb of 2021-04-18/thommesM/c39e1a

Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 18, 2021 2:29 PM CST
Day 2 of the compost pile. Figure I'd take a pic everyday
Thumb of 2021-04-18/thommesM/c09e75
Thumb of 2021-04-18/thommesM/e57169

Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 19, 2021 9:41 AM CST
Day three. Continued compaction and temperature increase. When it gets above 160 I typically use my compost tool to release a bit of the heat and get some air into the pile.
Thumb of 2021-04-19/thommesM/341e26
Thumb of 2021-04-19/thommesM/479a45

Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 20, 2021 7:52 AM CST
Day four. Pile is at about 1/3 volume mostly due to compaction. The temp was right at 160. Neglected to take a pic of the thermometer. Wave to the shadow of moi..
Thumb of 2021-04-20/thommesM/c17b36

Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
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sallyg
Apr 20, 2021 4:01 PM CST
Hello, Thomas-shadow Hurray!

Now the hard part, keep it going. Mine can start out cooking then pffft. It gets too dry, or consumes the initial nitrogen, or something.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 21, 2021 6:34 AM CST
What I found is that I don't add enough water at the beginning. The pile heats up to 160 and burns off the moisture. I've read so much about letting the pile keep going as long as it's hot but I don't like that idea. The center of the pile gets so dry when it's left to run as hot as it wants. I try to keep the pile around 145 so when it hits 160, I play in the pile. Use my compost tool to bring some of the inside out. Typically drops the temp a good bit. Plus a lot of bennies die off when the temp gets that hot. Have to go get a pic of today's pile. There's currently a couple of inches of white crap on the ground. For once the weather guessing people got it right. Not freezing though.

When this pile drops to 100 or so, I'll turn it into whatever bin is empty and well basically rebuild it. Add water, add nitrogen if necessary. It'll sit there until it heats up and cools down then goes into whatever bin is holding the usable cold compost pile.
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Apr 21, 2021 2:41 PM CST
Fascinating, I have cold piles with one about that size, plus or minus and one one-third that size.
I do put compost booster in mine but the smaller is now smaller, lower, than it was when I last added last fall.
I have dug into the smaller one in spring and found the middle still frozen in May but apparently , even with sub-zero weather last winter, it never stopped digesting itself.

One winter I buried a lot of fresh stuff, in the fall, down about 8 inches and all winter you could see where it was as the snow melted leaving bare ground.
[Last edited by RpR - Apr 22, 2021 12:41 PM (+)]
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Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 21, 2021 3:02 PM CST
Today's pic was meh for this reason. The temp was right at 160, but I didn't feel like uncovering the bin in the snow.
Thumb of 2021-04-21/thommesM/cf51f3

Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Apr 21, 2021 4:10 PM CST
Odd, even with the global warming paranoia, and climate change , which has happened since the day God created this nasty ball, while in Minnesota, a lot of snow, beside assumptions, is not really normal due to our very cold temps. on average but still for you to have snow while we have had a genuine shortage , even of average is , to me, really, really odd.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
Image
sallyg
Apr 21, 2021 4:15 PM CST
Impressive gardens. Thomas
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 22, 2021 11:58 AM CST
Rj, we didn't get near the snow that we typically do this year. Snow has been slowly dropping in amount over the years, just like precipitation. April has also been really shy of rain. Supposed to rain Saturday which would be nice.

Compost pic update. Took this when it was dropping large heavy blobs of snow. Five minutes later the sun was out. Welcome to Ohio. Looks like the pile is mostly done contracting. Lost about 2/3 to compaction. Might stir the pile up some tomorrow as I'm getting itchy to play in it.
Thumb of 2021-04-22/thommesM/d221ad
Thumb of 2021-04-22/thommesM/6d6742

Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 24, 2021 3:23 PM CST
Took the day off yesterday. No pic today. For some reason whenever I take a pic my phone thinks the battery is dead and powers down. Sad No real change in volume, temp is steady at 150. Tomorrow will be day 7 and I might agitate the pile some. Was expecting a bit of grass today from neighbors but nothing was dropped off. Sad Means a lot tomorrow...
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
Image
sallyg
Apr 24, 2021 4:53 PM CST
Crossing Fingers! the grass to keep it going
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 28, 2021 7:00 PM CST
Oh no... the grass is for the second pile that's halfway built. I checked the pile this evening... I ended up getting one of those job things that make you not focus on gardening. The pile has cooled quite a bit. Maybe 120. No change in volume, still nice and moist. I didn't stir it up yet but did dig into it a bit to look. Might be the best pile this year. Smiling I suppose it is since it's the only full pile this year so far.
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
Apr 30, 2021 4:22 AM CST
Checked the pile yesterday. Still right around 130. The rain has moistened the top of the pile. The inside is still damp with some areas a bit wetter than others. I want to mix it up some, but determined to stick to the guns and wait until the temp drops to at least 110.
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
May 1, 2021 4:51 PM CST
Yeah I failed. I was out building pile number 2 and played with pile 1. Reno was about 116 before and I did it up and watered what was inside. Some was dry some wet. It looks like it's going well. By the time I headed in temp was already 125.
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
Native Plants and Wildflowers Organic Gardener Region: United States of America Cat Lover Birds Butterflies
Image
sallyg
May 1, 2021 5:31 PM CST
Who can resist??
What is the reasoning behind letting it cool?
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
May 7, 2021 10:40 AM CST
Just cause. Smiling Trying the hands off approach to see what happens. I always play in the pile. It's been close to a week since my last update. Got a job so been busy and going in half the week. The pile is still hovering around 120. I'm fine with that. I did stir it up a bit with a pitch fork. Funny thing is. I built the second pile last weekend. It was almost to the top of the bin. That thing has yet to really heat up. I mean it feels hot, but the thermometer says barely 120. Built it the same way but watered every layer, so maybe too much water. Typically the pile heats up to 150 in two days and then tapers off. I need to see a good 140 a couple times to make sure weed seeds get taken care of. The temps have been colder than expected and we have had rain for a few days, BUT, it should have heated up. Tomorrow I'll be getting a bunch of grass so I'll be topping off the pile. It's compacted about halfway over the last week. Pile one, well, I think it's going to get turned if I ever find time to empty the third bin.
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
May 11, 2021 7:25 AM CST
Just cause. Smiling Trying the hands off approach to see what happens. I always play in the pile. It's been close to a week since my last update. Got a job so been busy and going in half the week. The pile is still hovering around 120. I'm fine with that. I did stir it up a bit with a pitch fork. Funny thing is. I built the second pile last weekend. It was almost to the top of the bin. That thing has yet to really heat up. I mean it feels hot, but the thermometer says barely 120. Built it the same way but watered every layer, so maybe too much water. Typically the pile heats up to 150 in two days and then tapers off. I need to see a good 140 a couple times to make sure weed seeds get taken care of. The temps have been colder than expected and we have had rain for a few days, BUT, it should have heated up. Tomorrow I'll be getting a bunch of grass so I'll be topping off the pile. It's compacted about halfway over the last week. Pile one, well, I think it's going to get turned if I ever find time to empty the third bin.
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Composter
Composter
thommesM
May 12, 2021 6:56 AM CST
So sort of finished pile two of the season. The top half I didn't add a bit of water. The bottom half was watered every layer, and it rained on the pile for three days. Pile was cold. Adding the top half yesterday, I didn't use any water at all, the top half is hot. maybe 130? Goes to show that too much water of course an impact the lifecycle. I wouldn't say the pile is anaerobic as the pile still smells fresh, and I've had some piles go anaerobic before. The first pile is cold and looks like it's ready for the cold bin to sit for a couple months. Just need to get the cold bin cleaned out.
Everyone has something they can teach; everyone has something they can learn.

"America is the most grandiose experiment the world has seen, but, I am afraid, it is not going to be a success. "
— Sigmund Freud

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