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#115 - Step-By-Step Active Composting - Day 5

Ok, it is now Day 5 of the Active Composting cycle for pile #1 and it is Day 3 for pile #2 that I set up with all those bags of grass cuttings that I picked up the other day. Pile #2 is also the one that I used as an experiment to try out adding the "Compost Starter" product to.

Both piles have shrunk down about a foot in the past two days. Pile number 2 was at the very top of the cage and I even added another bag of older grass cuttings that were dried a little more than the rest on top of the pile which put it just over the top of the cage, now it is below the top again. as you can see in the photo below.

Both piles are working hard and are within the "active composting" temperature range although pile #1 is still running on the hot side right at 160 degrees.

Pile #2 is holding just under 150 degrees.

I noticed a problem when I started to turn pile #2, because it is such a large pile and is so heavy, with the way I have set up the cages side by side using the side of one cage to be the side of the next cage is causing issues when I go to open the cage door to turn the pile. It just has too much weight behind it and needs that extra layer of additional cage wire between them. So when I turned the piles this time I reconfigured them back into just 3 cages, each with their own four side walls independent of each other. This seems to help with the additional weight of these heavy piles.

If you remember, pile #1 was the pile that had the citrus tree trimming in it that I was really worried about being able to compost in the time-frame that I have set up for these piles. As you can see from the photo below, very little evidence of the citrus tree cuttings existed today when I did the turning.

There were a few green citrus leaves which were at the very bottom of the pile in the back of the cage which did not compost yet, but they are the only thing that even resembled a citrus leaf anymore. The 6 oranges that I cut in half were completely gone, I never saw a single one of them today which really surprised me. There were remnants of the other plants waste in the pile, but they are breaking down nicely as well.

I am more surprised with pile #1 that did not have the compost starter added to it and pile #2 which did, however pile #2 is two days behind pile #1 so I have to keep that in mind. Hopefully I will see similar results in pile #2 with the next turning.

Both piles did have some moisture issues and parts of the piles which started to go anaerobic on me, so I am going to have to watch that. I may have to go with a daily pile turning instead of an every other day schedule due to the excessive heat that the piles are generating. I will check them tomorrow and then decide how I need to proceed with it. I really hope that I don't have to go to a daily turning schedule.

Both piles are now turned, aerated, and moistened. Time to cover them back up with the tarp and let them continue to cook.

One thing that I do like about using the wire cages is that when I place the tarp over the top of the piles to protect them from rain and keep their heat inside, the cage keeps the tarp from directly laying on the piles so that it still allows airflow around the piles under the tarp.

Until Next Time,

Aloha & 73


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