Compost problem

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I don't think it makes much difference to the compost process if the pile is in the sun or shade. Sun will dry it out some, so more water will need to be added. I compost in the shade for 2 reasons: 1) I'd rather work in the shade, and 2) It's an area where fewer plants will grow. I've had 3' diameter piles that were frozen on the outside and 140 degrees on the inside. Turning a pile really helps with complete composting. _________________ John Henry Wheeler Washington, DC USDA Zone 7
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My thought about why your pile is cool now but was hot earlier is that all the easily digested food has been used up, and the microorganisms are not able to consume the remaining food fast enough to keep the pile warm. It will turn to compost or leaf mold if you keep it moist and wait.

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Yes, I agree. I expect there are many type of microorganism in there, some of which operate faster than others. Also the slowdown can be because the food is now more spread out and it takes longer for a microbe to find it, and because the microbes now also have to deal with being surrounded with their waste products.

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Mix in some shredded leaves, you have a mower run some over, turn it and keep it moist. Don't worry about layers it composts much better when mixed. It's done when none of the original ingrediants are recognizable. Straight up grass clippings pack down and go anaerobic after the initial heating and stinking phase where they offgas ammonia.
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hob wrote:

My compost is primarily brown matter: leaves from oak, ash, liquidambar, and zelkova. The only fertilizer that I add is high-nitrogen: urea (in very small amounts).
I had a great compost pile, just a mound against a corner of a block wall. When I had new landscaping installed, the contractor tried to do me a favor by cleaning up my yard. Not only did he remove all the leaf mulch from my camellias, but he also removed my "mess" -- my compost pile. Since then, I learned to always advise contractors to leave the mulch and compost.
It took about 14 months for a new compost pile to finally produce a good compost (actually a form of leaf mold). Now, however, I keep some of the old compost in the pile when I add more leaves. This ensures that the necessary micro-organisms are present. The time to compost should now be about 6 months.
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David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/
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