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#116 - Step-By-Step Active Composting - Day 7

We are now on Day 7 of Pile #1 and Day 5 of pile #2 and I am seeing very different results from what I expected to see.

As I pulled the tarp off of the piles today I saw that the piles were soaked, it looked like someone had just flooded the piles with a water hose right before I took the tarp off of them which really worried me because the wetter a pile is, the less oxygen there is in a pile as the water will fill in all the spaces where air should be.

I also noticed that both piles were also between 165 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit which is just way too hot, so I knew there would be some anaerobic issues happening within the piles.

As I started turning the piles I noticed that after about the first two inches or so of the pile the moisture content was quite a bit less. I then checked the tarp, trying to figure out what had happened and noticed that the inside of the tarp was thoroughly wet.

It appears that what was happening is that the piles were so hot that they were steaming, even though the temperature is staying in the lower 90s in Hawaii right now, and the steam was condensing on the inside of the tarp and then dripping back onto the top of the piles wetting them back down, which actually is not a bad thing. That is what should happen to the pile which is why I put the tarp over them in the first place, I just did not expect there to be that much water dumped back onto the top of the piles. When I picked up a handful from the top of the pile in my hand it was already dripping before I even squeezed it.

I have decided to change over to a daily pile turning schedule because the piles are continuing to run at such high temperatures.

On pile #1 I did not see a lot of decomposition activity that had occurred in the past two days, everything basically still looks as it did on Day 5. I did add some powdered egg shell to the pile today after I turned it to add some calcium into the compost. That is the white that shows on top of the pile in the photo below.

On pile #2 I noticed something that I was not expecting to see in just two days. Remember that I created pile #2 with grass clippings, some asparagus ferns, and cardboard, both hand torn and machine shredded. All of the grass, and the asparagus ferns still looks the exact same as they did two days ago, but there was a lot of noticeable difference in the cardboard.

Almost all of the machine shredded cardboard was just gone. I could not find hardly any of it at all. Even the hand torn pieces were noticeably fewer. I assumed the hand torn pieces would help to maintain moisture in the pile, which it seems to have done, but I did not think there would be such a drastic difference between it and the machine shredded cardboard in just two days.

Since almost all of the shredded cardboard is virtually gone from pile #2 and all of the grass seems to still remain, I decided to add more shredded cardboard in layers along with the grass just as I did when I first set up the pile. I ended up adding almost 1.5 cubic feet of shredded cardboard into this pile today. I will watch it over the next few turnings and will add additional cardboard as needed. I still have about 30 cubic feet of shredded cardboard ready to use if I need it.Yes I do a lot of ordering from Amazon, lol.

I am going to leave the tarp off today to allow the piles to dry out a little and return back to their normal moisture level. If it looks like we will get rain later I will throw the tarp back over the piles to keep them from getting wet again.

I will see how everything looks when I turn the piles tomorrow and we will watch them over the next few days to see how they react to a daily pile turning schedule.

Until Next Time,

Aloha & 73


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