Today I turned our two compost piles. Unfortunately, the piles were cold. I had hoped to show the visitors — we had about eight, mostly adults — steam from the center. But evidently I waited too long; next year, I’ll try a December turning. Cold piles means that the decomposing bacteria have run out of fuel (carbon matter) near them, and have depleted the oxygen. Composting is like a slow fire, and needs oxygen to breathe. Turning both mixes up stuff, so that bacteria are relocated next to fuel, and refreshes the supply of air.
Both piles had reduced since November, when they were overflowing, showing that some decomposition had happened. The top halves of each pile had the least decomposition, so I set those aside. I then combined the bottom portions of the two piles into a new pile. There was significant dirt in those bottom portions, so I’m hoping we can get some garden-usable compost out of them by late April. I then combined the set-aside halves into a new pile, which is really going to need summer heat to decompose. And the thick sunflower stalk pieces may just take too long for us.
Very little was frozen, except at the bottom on the north side of the wire mesh bin. Comparing the two bins, I’d say the black bin had somewhat more decomposed matter than the wire bin. This may be due to the black plastic keeping the pile somewhat warmer, by absorbing more sunlight. Or due to less exposure to the cold winter air and winds. Or maybe I just preferentially put the better stuff (less stalks) in that bin in November.
Next turning sometime in March!