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#114 - Step-By-Step Active Composting - Day 3

It has been two days since we set up the new compost piles so it is time to check their temperature again, turn them over to oxygenate them, and check them for moisture.


Since the piles have been working hard for the past two days, I am absolutely sure they will be extremely thirsty and will need water. I did check them yesterday and had to add water to both piles to keep them going as they were drying out too quickly in the Hawaii heat. The first pile yesterday morning was at 165 degrees and the second pile was at 125 degrees. Both were starting to get pretty dry so I had to moisten them both back up again to keep them going.


Since the first pile is getting so hot I need to back its heat down a bit to make sure that the temperature does not get too high that it starts to cook out the beneficial bacteria that is breaking down the material.


I also need to heat up the second pile. To do this I am going to have to add more biomass to it. The second pile is only about 2 feet tall so it is not quite tall enough to contain enough biomass to properly generate enough heat for active composting. a three cubic foot pile is required to generate the heat necessary. Normally I would never add material to a compost pile that is already working because it throws the timing off of the decomposition. I would rather start a new pile each time, which is why I have multiple cages set up. Since this is only the third day for these piles I will make an exception this time so that I can get the pile up to the required height for it to work properly.


The first pile is barely tall enough for a proper compost pile and I am afraid as it composts down over the next couple weeks it will become too short to generate enough heat to finish the compost out. To fix both problems, what I have decided to do is merge the piles together since they are the same age. This will put the pile over the minimum 3 foot height and should cook down nicely. While I am at it I will also chop down the citrus tree cuttings into smaller pieces to help them compost faster.

I am already seeing a good amount of decomposition in what was the first pile in just the first three days. Everything is darkening up nicely and was extremely hot to the touch. 

I made the mistake of turning the pile wearing slippers and parts of it would roll down the front of the pile onto my foot as I was transferring it from one pile to the other. Let me tell you, a pile of grass clippings that are smoldering at 160 degrees does not feel good on your bare foot.