compost vs. winter

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by ParadiseLS, Oct 20, 2011.

  1. ParadiseLS

    ParadiseLS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76

    My compost pile is good and hot and active, as temperatures this week hover between 40-55.

    I'm wondering, at what temperatures will the microbes stop going to work for me? I think we are expecting above-average lows for the next two weeks, so I'm hoping the new pile I started recently will get significantly decomposed before first frost.
  2. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Heat is generated during the decompostion process so it can continue even when outdoor temperatures go below least in the inner portions of the pile. It really depends on how big/deep your pile is and how much heat it generates.
  3. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    I had the local electric company crews dump their wood chips from the branches that threaten highwires nxt to my garden... It was a large pile of green wood and leaves, which steamed allwinter long... though it never composted and I never turned it, it certainly was blackened and dry by spring...

    Our winters commonly go down to -10 to -20F often for weeks at a time... I suppose melting snow kept it going... :)

    CHARLES CUE LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,374

    I compost my manure in piles

    and they keep going all winter long. when i turn them you can see the action going on in there

    They get warm enough to melt the snow and any oats spilled buy the horse will germinate and grow in the winter

    But if the pile is to small it will just freeze

    Charles Cue
  5. ParadiseLS

    ParadiseLS LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76

    I have one pile that is close roughly 2.5 yards and it is close to finished.

    Lately, the weather has been wet and I turn it twice per week. The rain compacts it down a bit and when I turn it, the compost is not hot anywhere near the surface. I shape into a cone about 6' wide, 4' long, 4.5' high and maybe only 1 yard in the center is actually hot and active.

    I also have a pile that i just started with lawn cuttings that include lots of leaves. It is about one yard and hotter towards the surface. Of course it stinks like hell because of the wet weather.

    I just kind of assumed that as I build up my second pile to be the same size as the first, both will get too big, I won't be inspired to turn them much in the winter, and before long it will be covered over with frost, ice and snow.
  6. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Some people insert PVC pipes into their piles rather turning them to introduce oxygen. You might want to look into that. It's nothing I've ever done...I have a tractor with front-end loader so turning my piles is easy, if not fun, lol.
  7. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,121

    I used to spend many hours turning wood chips with a large front end loader.
    Loved playing with the big boy toy! :)
  8. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    "Barry, didn't you just turn those woodchips yesterday?" LOL

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