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
USDA Zone 7
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.
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.
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
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.
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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