No More Heat.

by Pam
(Leakesville, MS, US)

I live in Southeastern Mississippi. It is very hot and humid here.

I started my compost pile in the woods about 10 weeks ago. Just threw some sides up from old boards and started putting kitchen scraps and I came across some wood shavings. I also added pine straw and leaves from the woods.

I layered it like I read to-do. Turned it a couple of times and noticed that it started heating up. It heated up for a week to 10 days and then I turned it and it hasn't heated back up since.

I have had compost in the past and it looks to be broken down but I'm not really sure if it's ready to use as compost. So that is my question should it have heated back up?

Ready or Not?

Hi Pam

It's hard to say. When a pile looks like finished compost and isn't heating up anymore I say it may be ready. Or at least ready for the curing phase.

My only concern is that it seems you added a lot of very high carbon materials to your pile. Wood shavings, pine straw, and leaves from the woods.

These are excellent compost browns but it could be that your high nitrogen kitchen scraps have fully broken down but these high carbon items have not. You'd have to look closely at the compost. Can you still see wood shavings, pine straw and leaves or have they broken down.

If they have broken down of course your compost is ready to go.

If they haven't broken down my guess is that your pile isn't heating up because it needs an infusion of greens. You can rebuild the pile adding more greens and it will heat up but that may seem like too much work...

Another option if they haven't broken down is you can go ahead and use it anyway. Just don't dig it in. Spread it on top of your soil as a kind of mulch. The worms will till it in for you. The woody matter will simply act as a kind of mulch over the next while. And that's not a bad thing.

Hope this is helpful


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