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Let's Talk Compost!

Updated: Feb 3

Now winter is here, the perfect time to make compost or at least collect the items for your next pile. Compost is an ever-changing recipe from winter to spring -summer to fall we will always be using different materials, different ratios of materials and having different results.

But to begin we need some tools.

  • 5-gallon buckets for measuring and storing the starting materials.

  • a wheelbarrow or fancy cart if you like.

  • pitchfork and shovel

  • Hardware cloth 1/2" squares, 3' round and 3'to 4' tall

  • couple of bungie cords to hold it together as a bin for your compost.

  • Gloves and grubby jeans

  • A long-stemmed thermometer.

What I like about the processes of compost is that the tools needed are a one time

purchase. With that you can make endless amounts of fresh healthy compost.

Now that we have our tools, what are we going to collect for our pile?

  • Leaves fallen form the trees, fall leaves are easy to collect and store.

  • woodchips

  • yard waste

  • aged livestock bedding

these are all in the category of Carbons now you want to balance these carbons with

nitrogen. such as:

  • grass clippings

  • green leafy tender parts of plants

  • weeds before they go to seed

  • manure from livestock

  • coffee grounds

This is just a sample of what can be used.

There are so many options! To achieve good results.

The trick to getting the results:

Balance ...you want to have equal parts of the "carbons to Nitrogen or browns to green"

Thats were the 5-gallon buckets come in,

If you have 10 buckets of "Browns" then you need 10 -buckets of "Greens" and like a chef mix it all together on a tarp wet, it down to when you squeeze it 1-2 drips come out of the material that's about 50% moisture.

Layer this in your hardware cloth bin bungie it shut add thermometer and wait 24 hours for it to begin to heat. That heat is the microbes having a party!

They begin to work so fast and reproduce so quickly that it generates heat.

the heat can be generated so quickly, that is why we need to monitor this with the thermometer. This heat is also what makes it decompose.

Temperature guidelines are as follows

165° F= 24 hours

150° F= 48 hours

131° F = 72 hours

then you must flip the pile to let the temperatures rise back up for the recommended amount of time. repeat this process at least 2 times to ensure that all of the pile has been heated, long enough.

Now let's really look at the flip part this is where the magic of ensuring all of the pile has been heated in the process.

use the thermometer to determine where the Hot middle is anywhere in the pile that is over131° usually right in the middle.

Take off the top (about 1/3) and set it aside on a tarp.

Now dig out the HOT middle, put that in the bottom of your new pile.

Add the Top that set aside next.

I bet you guessed it the bottom is now the new top.

You will want to do this flip at least 2x to ensure all of the pile get's

Hot Enough Long Enough!

Follow the above temperature guidelines for every flip.

The pile will be done and ready to use if it has been heated and flipped 2x

and comes back to ambient temperature. This process can happen in 21 days total and be ready to use in your garden.

If you have any questions or would like us to assess your compost for the balance of organisms in your pile hit the contact us or Let's Chat button at mlsbiology.net

Happy Gardening


Diagram from Dr. Elaine Ingham Soil Food Web School.





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