Critical mass

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Critical mass
Author: Rman (Rman)
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 10:26 pm
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Funny you should mention old manure because I placed my compost pile near an old barn foundation that still has 3 ft of composted cow manure in it. Gardeners drool when I tell them about it. I wonder how much I should add? The area underneath is old hay field, what we would call light or sandy land here, fairly close to an old log building so it has not seen a plow in 70 yrs or so. It had 2 ft tall mixed hay on it that I brush hogged before putting the bio sponge on.

(Message edited by rman on July 30, 2014)

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 10:18 pm
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I would suggest not worrying about the thermophilic objectives at this stage. When the mass does increase, and the temperature starts to go up into the 30s (C), then thermophilic species will begin to take over. As the heap gets bigger, temperatures then will go up into the high 40s and low 50s. Patience, most important, whilst continuing to apply all the principles you have read about in "The Book."
What is the soil like underneath your pile? Is there a good biological diversity? Does your ground have its own group of earthworms? If not, consider getting hold of some composting worms. Is there a source of old animal manure, other rotting compost around anywhere? Add some if there is.
This biological mix will start working away for you until such time as the higher temperatures are reached.

Author: Rman (Rman)
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 - 8:14 pm
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I have heard that large compost piles can start on fire from overheating and I seem to be having trouble getting mine to heat up adequately, does that mean I have not achieved a critical mass of material or should I be tweaking my mix. Mine is quite new, just over 3 weeks old and I am adding about 100 lbs per week plus kitchen scraps plus some raw green grass pulled from nearby. First week maxed out at 85, second at 107 but this week I appear to have maxed at 100 and am now dropping. Guess I will tweak the mix next week and try adding more greens. Any advice would be appreciated.

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