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Hot Home Composting

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Learn from a Master Gardener with 12 years of composting experience!

Container tips for hot home composting:

  • Containers should be nothing less than one cubic yard in size

  • Commercial containers are often too small and don’t allow for easy pile turning.

  • A segmented container is very useful when it comes to turning the pile; build one yourself out of wood.

(Note:  If you need them, plans to build a container are available from a variety of resources.  Check the Internet, or with local recycling centers or other businesses to see if they have plans available.)

Hot composting begins with making the pile:

  • You need two ingredients -- greens (nitrogen) and browns (carbon); nothing larger than a thumb.

  • Have a cubic yard ready beforehand; you can store in bins while gathering.

  • Start with a 2” layer of greens, then a 2” layer of browns.

  • Water well, fork, and water remaining dry spots.

  • Repeat until pile is full and soaked.

Cooking the pile:

  • Have a compost thermometer available (check the web if you can’t find it locally).

  • Temperature should reach at least 140º; lower layers of the pile will be the hottest.

  • Cooking continues as long as the pile stays soggy.

  • Hot weather is not necessary for cooking; proximity to a water source is more important when choosing a site.

  • Cooking correctly will eliminate any weed seeds.

Turning the pile:

  • Frequency of turning is a personal choice.

  • Effort or faster compost production -- the more you turn, the faster it cooks.

  • Turn the pile on it’s head; you do not want to mix the pile.

  • When turning, you may notice large white grubs.  Don’t worry.  These are just the harmless larvae of green beetles.  They won’t damage your plants.

  • Compost will be ready in about 3 months with one or two turns.