anything i should know for compost pile

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by mrkosar, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. mrkosar

    mrkosar LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 680

    i'm going to get a compost pile delivered soon. it will be out in the open on soil. i will be using some here and there all year long. is there anything i should be doing?

    turning it? spraying it with water occasionally during dry spells? covering it from weather? will the quality slowly go down through the year? should i get half the amount now, then another half in the fall?
  2. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    1st I like that it is on the ground, some folks do it tumblers and such. I personally like the ground so that worms, etc can get in there

    Compost piles do need to be kept wet just not too wet, people reference a damp sponge often as the "kind of" wet it should be. It will go anaerobic if it gets too wet for too long, the anaerobic microbes will eat up all of the nutrients if it stays that way too long, it may look like compost but it won't have much value if the pile turns anaerobic for a long time.

    Compost piles should heat up pretty fast, meaning within a day or 2 you should feel heat if you put your hand in there, they need to stay above 135 ish for 3 to 5 days to kill off pathogens and destroy seeds

    It needs to be turned after that period so that the sides and top can get composted too

    If the pile does not heat up your carbon to nitrogen ratio is wrong, too much carbon

    If a LARGE pile gets above 160 it needs to be turned right away as it may catch on fire, you need a lot of volume for this to happen but believe me it is a absolute bear to put out, almost the only option is to sit back and wait for it to burn out

    If the pile has a strong smell something is wrong, turn it. piles that are doing nicely do not have a strong smell
  3. mrkosar

    mrkosar LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ohio
    Messages: 680

    this will be finished compost that i put on the side for use in the future. how often should i be turning it and spraying it with the hose? this will only be a truckload of compost. no covering it?
  4. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    My most definative answer is depends

    I misunderstood and thought you were starting from scratch

    If it is finished compost it can just hang anywhere as long as it doesn't get washed away. The microbes are basically dormant when compost is finished, there are some but I would not make any fuss over the pile at all

    I might cover it so it doesn't go down the drain, other than that just use as needed
  5. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,320

    Is there the possibility of deterioration of the finished compost if it is covered and gets very warm?
  6. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,115

    I would not worry about it

    only in extreme circumstances
  7. treegal1

    treegal1 LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,911

    wet shady and turned when you can..............just not to close to the shade......
  8. kabrac

    kabrac LawnSite Member
    from Alabama
    Messages: 235

    I have two seperate piles cooking, one gets midday-afternoon sun and the other hardley sees any sun at all except late afternoon. The pile that sits in the sun is cooking faster than the one in the shade even though both have about the same percentage of leaf/grass matter....oh, one I do put friut/vegtable scraps on.. that is the one in the sun. Still, I think mostly sun and a little damp is better. What do others think.
  9. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,335

    I would probably lean towards keeping it damp, but then I probably wouldn't go out of my way to make sure it stays damp either.
  10. quackgrass

    quackgrass LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 253

    I would agree with keeping it damp if it isn't much trouble to do so.

    This keeps the wind from blowing the pile away and will also germinate weed seeds that blow into it, giving you the opportunity to pull them.

    Like Kiril said, not a big deal though.

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