Monday, March 9, 2009

Lighting a Fire Under My Compost

When I initially started my first compost pile, I vowed not to turn into a composting maniac. I may have gone a bit too far with the vow. Other than filling the pile, I have completely ignored the poor thing. Despite that, when I peek in it seems that Mother Nature is doing her thing. I could give it a little help and have some nice, rich organic compost in time for a Spring green-up treatment for my potted plants. The one thing I have done to assure organic compost is to only put in organic food scraps. So whenever I finally get some real compost, it is going to be super duper healthy stuff. Hmmm.....maybe I could sell bags of it!

So, how can I tell that Mother Nature is working? The appearance is becoming more like a textured soil-like material, and it smells fresh and earthy. I guess it's about time I paid some attention, so here is my plan:

  • Buy a small pitchfork and begin turning the pile a few times a week. I could say I was going to turn it daily, but I don't honestly believe that will happen. At heart, I am still the lazy composter.
  • Turning the compost will allow me to asses its moisture and temperature. Warm, moist compost will decompose faster. If needed I can add a bit of water to assist Mother Nature.
  • The pile is ideally located where it receives several hours of morning sun, so the temperature should generally be good in that location during the summer. The concern I have is that we have had a particularly cold Winter this year, so that may have slowed things down a bit. One night we had an unheard of 23 degrees, which hovered for 5-6 hours. My compost was probably frozen that night, so doubtful if it has reached an optimum temperature since then.
  • One other thing I could test for, after a good stirring, is the Ph. Or is it pH? Yeah, I think it is pH. Anyway, I have some of the pH testing papers, so that could be an interesting science experiment. I'll look up the pH goal for compost piles and we'll see where mine stands.
  • After assessing the condition of my compost, I may decide to purchase a package of stimulator for it. Supposedly, this is all natural stuff that aids Mother Nature by luring in the microorganisms that do its work. There may be some natural enzymes in there too; I'll have to look into that. There are all kinds of these products on the Internet, so I'll be calling my composting mentor, Vicki at Jolly Green Planet, for some advice.

Meanwhile, I'm going to check out the compost activator products available at Planet Natural and the ones shown below. Has anyone out there got a favorite? I'd love to hear from you.

1 comment:

Debbie O said...

We have a compost pile, too. I am not sure we put anything into it to help. I will have to ask.

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