After the herbicide setback with the garden on Tuesday, to salvage the compost that was almost finished I needed to raise the heat back up on it again to try to cook off the chemicals that over-sprayed onto it so I combined it with the second pile that was still in the "hot phase" of its decomposition.
The pile was holding 168 degrees on Thursday so I decided to just let it continue to cook some more and not turn the pile over until the temperature started to drop, signaling a reduction in oxygen inside the pile. This is why there isn't a DAY 17 update post. So now we are all caught up.
I have been checking the pile temperature daily, waiting for it to drop but it was being stubborn and just did not want to drop below the 160 degree mark before today. It has finally come down little, so we will go ahead and turn this pile over and have a look inside while we are at it. Since this pile has been running so hot for the past 4 days straight, I expect it to be extremely dry and will need quite a bit of re-wetting to get it back into shape.
We finally dropped down to 153 degrees this morning and as I turn it over I notice that everything is quite dry as I expected. Instead of just turning the pile and wetting it back down from the top I am going to treat this one like a new pile and wet it down between layers as I turn it over. This way I can make sure that all of it is getting wetted down properly.
I am shocked that I am not seeing the amount of decomposition that I would expect to see at this stage with a pile that has been running this hot for so long. The grass has turned, mostly to a tan or light brown color, but all of it is still easily recognizable and nothing has started to darken in this pile yet. There is a striking difference when I reach a layer from the other pile that was added into this one where it looks very much like soil. Remember, that pile was only 2 days older than this one is, so the difference should not be that remarkable, yet it is.
The only difference that I can think of between the two which may be causing the delayed decomposition is I added the Dr Earth Compost Starter to the second pile, which I have never used before. This should have sped up the decomposition, but it seems to have had just the opposite effect. Very interesting.