What happens to the outside of the pile?

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: Humanure Composting Around the World: What happens to the outside of the pile?
Author: John Heckham
Monday, January 09, 2006 - 9:04 pm
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If you constantly add the humanure to the center of the pile and the outside is solely cover material (for obvious olfactory reasons), how does the outside cover materials break down into compost? I know, eventually, all things will, but in my pile (I have only used kitchen scraps), the outside never gets hot. The inside has gotten to 118F. But the outside is ambient temperature and still looks just like rotting leaves. The inside looks very dark except for the occasional corn cob or eggshell. Before I go "Prime Time", I want to make sure I know everything!!!

Author: admin
Tuesday, January 10, 2006 - 11:09 am
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It's not just thermophilic organisms that make compost. There are lots of other things in there including macro-organisms (bugs) and fungi, not to mention lower temperature bacteria, etc., that help in the composting process. Given enough time, which should be no more than a year of aging after the pile is built, the entire pile will be compost.

Author: John Heckham
Tuesday, January 10, 2006 - 11:49 pm
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Thanks for the reply! I have no access to sawdust, even though I live in South Carolina. But we have lots of leaves this time of year! I have taken them to my mulching mower to cut them up a bit. I hope it will absorb the aroma of my daily deposits at the Turd Bank!

Author: Sinfante
Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - 7:43 pm
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Leaves work wonderfully, I have used them for a year with no problems.

Author: John Heckham
Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - 8:19 pm
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How small do you mulch your leaves? And do you use it to cover your daily deposits, the big weekly deposit, or both?

Author: Sinfante
Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 11:30 am
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I mulch it through a shredder, confetti to slightly larger sized pieces. I use it daily in the toilet and I use un-mulched leaves in the pile outside, instead of hay or straw, as I get free leaves from my neighbor and my own trees and cannot justify buying straw or hay. My compost has been going a year and it is time to retire it and start a new pile. Out of the cracks in the bottom near the outside, "black gold" is falling out. I actually thought once that I had spilled some coffee grounds on the ground by the pile accidentally because that is how black and fine the compost coming out was.

Author: John Heckham
Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 12:45 pm
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Thanks! A regular office shredder? Is it time consuming to feed all the leaves through? Also, do you let the mulched leaf (or unmulched for that matter) rot/mold for awhile, or do they go over the turd dry? Your advice has been awesome so far!

Author: admin
Thursday, January 12, 2006 - 2:21 pm
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We use leaves in our compost, but we never have shredded them -we just use them whole. They are particularly good in the bottom of the bucket as they make it easier to clean after emptying. We still use sawdust as the cover in the bucket, however.

Joe

Author: Sinfante
Friday, January 13, 2006 - 1:58 pm
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A leaf shreader/mulcher, I only shread the leave used for inside as cover material in the toilet, as I do not have access to sawdust either. The leaves I add too the pile outside, I used un-shreaded/mulched leaves. I think a lawmower with a bag attached would achieve the same results as what my shreader does.

Author: John Heckham
Friday, January 13, 2006 - 7:21 pm
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Sinfante, do you let the shredded (or unshredded) leaves rot or mold for awhile before you use them or do they go into service dry?

Author: Sinfante
Friday, January 13, 2006 - 11:01 pm
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They go into service dry at the beginning of fall, but by the end of the year they have sat around a year. here is what I do: In autumn, my neighbor brings in a couple of truck loads of leaves. I shread about 2/3 of them into an empty bin and use them throughout the year for cover material in my toilet. The other 1/3 I put into another bin (or actually just a circle of fencing material connected to the tri-compost bin set up) to use as cover material for the pile when I dump my toilet buckets. The shreaded leaves actually do get very hot for the first 2-3 week, too hot to get any leaves from the middle, I'd get burned, but then they cool down and are just sitting there so they become leaf mould. I hope this answers your questions.

Author: John Heckham
Saturday, January 14, 2006 - 10:22 am
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Appreciate the clarification. Sounds like you have this down to a science!

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