Cold compost

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Chris Willis, Apr 30, 2012.

  1. Chris Willis

    Chris Willis Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Hello everyone out there :).....I'm turning one of my compost piles at the moment and there doesn't seem to be any heat in it. I have a good balance of all the ingredients needed and it's developing nicely, but quite cold. Can anyone tell me what I'm doing wrong please? I turn it weekly. It's in a compost bin :think:
     
  2. purplepear

    purplepear Junior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,456
    Likes Received:
    11
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Farm manager/ educator
    Location:
    Hunter Valley New South Wales
    Home Page:
    Climate:
    warm temperate - some frost - changing every year
    Perhaps it is a lack of the bacteria you need for the process. Did you add manures or old compost atleast? Is the bin exposed to the soil? Do you add anything with benificial biota? What is your sources of nitrogen and is there plenty of moisture? Does your bin get some warmth from the Sun? How long has it been down? Did it ever heat up?
     
  3. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    What do you mean by 'it's developing nicely'? Is it a problem that it is cold, if it's working otherwise?
     
  4. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,456
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    I decided to throw all the recipes out the window and attempted a composted mulch/manure/blood and bone compost. About 1.5m in size.

    It's slightly warm as I suspected it would be. Turned it today and added comfrey leaves.

    I'd question your ingredients and water levels but purplepear basically laid it out for you, answer each question in order.
     
  5. Chris Willis

    Chris Willis Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thank you for responding, PurplePear & Pebble:) I have built the compost using grass clippings, household vegetable scraps, pea hay, manures and blood & bone. When I turn it, I add some water as I go. Yes, it is in contact with the soil and does get some sun...although it's starting to cool down now, I live in Perth. It's been a very long, hot summer. I don;t think the compost has ever been hot when I turn it....this latest lot has been working now for around a month. AS I said, it's looking quite good.....it's the lack of warmth that's concerning me. The last lot of compost I dug into my garden is producing tomatoes like weeds among the seedlings I've just planted. Other weeds are popping up as well. I'm sure that must be due to the lack of heat? I'm reasonably new to serious composting. Have had a bin for a while....but pretty much forgot about it.....I now have 3 bins and a compost pile that I just throw garden clippings etc onto. I'm now very serious about organic gardening...I have the time to put into it, and although I only have a smallish garden, I'm determined to use as much of it as I can to produce our vegies. Thanks again for your help :)
     
  6. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    How big is the bin, and what kind is it? If you put your hand into the middle of it now, is it warm? How about the other piles?
     
  7. Chris Willis

    Chris Willis Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The bins (I have 2) are round in shape and made from thick green rigid plastic....the kind found at Bunnings. It has a removable lid, and the base is larger at the bottom than the top. Easy to remove when turning the compost. I also have a revolving compost tumbler. It's late at night here, but I shall try putting my hand into the middle of it tomorrow....although I'm pretty sure it will be cold since I turned it this afternoon. Thanks for leaving your reply :)
     
  8. wmthake

    wmthake Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Slightly off topic...what's wrong with cold compost? I love it.
    William
     
  9. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,456
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Reduces your intakes. Little physical effort with a cold is a reduction in ingredients and increased seed germination potential. Higher physical effort, more selection of ingredients gives you a larger, seed-killed compost in a hot.
     
  10. wmthake

    wmthake Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I didn't understand this:
    As for increased seed germination, currently i'm only getting potato germination. It might have to do with the fact that I let it cold compost for at least a few months.

    I also like very much things that I normally eat germinating in my beds. What's wrong with volunteers?

    William
     
  11. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,456
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Nothing, what kind of question is that!? I kid.

    But, what if, one of your sources was grass, or some other undesirable that germinated readily and your chickens were unavailable? Hot compost!
     
  12. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Sources? Do you mean ingredients? I compost grass separately.

    I guess I would do hot compost if I wanted some in a hurry.
     
  13. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Messages:
    1,456
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Yes, sources = ingredients = whatever is on hand.

    I hot compost for other reasons. I worm farm everything day to day, or chop and drop. I plan a hot compost, assemble the ingredients, and then prepare myself for 2 day turnings. Or, I get lazy and warm compost like my first post in this thread but with ingredients I have on hand.
     
  14. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    Warm is what I meant. I'm not quite sure how one would build a compost that was completely cold. Actually my composts get quite hot in the middle, but I don't do all that turning all the time thing, so that's why they're slow (cold).
     
  15. briansworms

    briansworms Junior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2011
    Messages:
    1,161
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Water and Oxygen are a good start. Chicken manure thrown it will heat it up as will pig manure. If you are not getting it hot there is no microbial bacteria at work to start the composting cycle. How old is the manure you used? It could be already past the heating stage. Never put tomatos in as those seeds seem to live through anything. Sewrage treatment plants have some of the best tomatos growing.

    The use of composting is one way to warm up your worm beds in winter.
     
  16. eco4560

    eco4560 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2009
    Messages:
    5,925
    Likes Received:
    8
    Trophy Points:
    0
    That is unless you want tomatoes everywhere!
     
  17. Chris Willis

    Chris Willis Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The compost I put into my garden beds was a few months old....can't remember exactly how many. It looked great, but obviously I didn't have it hot enough to get rid of the seeds. Although I've loved gardening most of my life, I've only been composting seriously for a short while really. I have used cow manure in it....but will try chicken. I always add water when I turn the compost. I noticed that S.O.P said that they turned their compost every 2 days. I usually do mine once a week, so maybe I should up the action in that department :) As for the tomatoes....I'm not overly worried about them....it's the grass and weeds that really get to me.
     
  18. wmthake

    wmthake Junior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    As for grass, I'd compost that separately and probably by itself or near (or on) places you actually want grass to grow. I composted some neighbor's grass under a shady pine tree, which means no grass is going to grow there.

    My compost is strictly kitchen scraps, straw, and stuff from the yard. I have no grass in the yard, maybe a tuft or two. No straw seed is germinating.

    I get the occasional potato, which I just remove and replant somewhere else. You just have to be able to recognize it. Every time I get volunteers I get curious and hopeful that something nice will grow for me for free. There's some chard thing coming up now I'm checking out. There was also a tiny cabbage.
    William
     
  19. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,721
    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
    Climate:
    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    I've been looking after a garden that had to be low maintenance so I had to be extra careful about not putting things in the compost that might cause problems. I kept all seeding or rooting things out of the compost and put them in a barrel of water instead for liquid compost. I sort as I weed or prune - anything with seed or roots that regrow goes in one box, everything else in another.

    I have to admit though, that I also like having things pop up in the garden and in my previous one I cold composted deliberately.

    Adding grass clippings to my composts always made them heat up.
     
  20. Chris Willis

    Chris Willis Junior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2012
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks for all the interesting reading, fellow composters :) I've been learning a lot from all your interaction. I hadn't heard before that these extra, un-planned seedlings are called 'volunteers'. You learn something new every day, eh? Cheers :)
     

Share This Page

-->