Composting w/ Limestone?

Hi totally new to composting - we are down in the tropics of sout
america (actually got a write up in the Guardian http://tinyurl.com/348e99 ) where they seem to do a very poor compos pile with limestone?
The food we grow tastes great - but I think I can help make the garde even better with a good compost made up of all the organic veggi scraps we generate here at the hotel.
Their pile seems a bit shallow and spread out for the heat we have her - this I can fix.
They also put limestone in with the waste?
My question is if limestone is some sort of activator that they kno about and I don't? (something like alfalfa?) Or is it just doin nothing and we should use some other activator -- in th leaf/scraps/activator mix.
A follow-up would be - what activator to use if limestone is no available -- something that would be readily available in such a area.
Thank you
S
--
septemous

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On Sat, 22 Mar 2008 22:57:50 +0000, septemous

Limestone has the tendency to raise the pH. I guess if your raw material is acidic, adding limestone dust makes sense. Compost is usually neutral. No special "activator" is really needed to make compost--bacteria is plentiful. I found that piles resting on the bare ground allows insects, bacteria, and worms to quickly enter the compost pile. I have never added lime or "whiting" to a compost pile, and our soils are naturally acidic.
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Living in the hill country of Central Texas, am very familiar with limestone. That's the basis of the ground we live on out here. May be on the surface, varying topsoil on hillsides at an inch to a foot or more topsoil on bottom land. Very few plants can survive on it directly, the local trees plow through it to get to water. A similar calcium compound, caliche, is also abundant. Both caliche and limestone are alkali in nature regarding PH.
The only reason I can see to use powdered limestone is the plants in the ground like a less acid soil than what is common in your region.
--
Dave



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septemous wrote:

My guess is they are using the limestone to kill fly larva or some other insect/bug. I'd never put limestone in my compost pile because it will also kill those little "buggers" that are doing the composting. ;-(
Tom J
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Thank you all--
will experiment with different things -- I think the main thing is that they are doing a wide flat pile instead of a tall enclosed one. This leaves everything really dry and the resulting soil looks super blanched and non-nutritious.
appreciate it all - and if we can stay and play longer I'll be asking more questions!
with sunshine s_
--
septemous


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On Sun, 23 Mar 2008 19:16:25 +0000, septemous

One thing I read and tried about composting--a 1 cubic yard of material mounded works best. If the pile is spread out, it may dry out and halt bacteria action. If you peel back the top of an active compost pile, steam and heat will rise out of it. Guideline: No smell means too dry; sour or rotten smell means too wet; earthy smell is just right! I now have 3 rabbit-wire compost rings--simple, low cost, low profile, easy to build, easy to move. My chicken-wire rings lasted about 8 years before they finally fell apart. There are many benefits to composting.
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wrote:

Dolomite lime will stabilize pH if the pile starts to turn acidic. It will also add calcium and magnesium.
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