Forum home Problem solving

Compost Not Cooking

Hi everyone - I'm after some help with my compost system as it is not cooking anymore. I had a makeshift single bin that was getting frequently overloaded and I found that after turning the new material was mixing with the finer material and I had no way of getting the good stuff from the bottom. However, it was in a sunny spot and I kept it aerated and wet.

I decided to remedy my issue with grant composing goals! A three bin system in 1tonne bags! So i seperated what was by this point a top layer of new material from the finer material at the bottom.

After reading up on composting advice, I decided to move it to a new location as the old one was taking the sun all day and apparently a shadier spot is best (also, there was nowhere else for the bins).

They have been sat there for a good three four weeks now and there is zero heat in there. It's not soggy, it's not unbalanced, it's just cold. I'm worried it isn't breaking down anymore.

Any ideas?
«1

Posts

  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    edited June 2020
    What's the green and brown mix? You only get a lot of heat with correct (or near to correct) ratios and correct moisture content. Else it's a cold heap that will compost slowly.

    If it is mostly greens, sprinkling in some sawdust will kick things off again. You could also try kicking the heaps off again adding layers of animal manure if available.
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,658
  • GemmaJF said:
    What's the green and brown mix? You only get a lot of heat with correct (or near to correct) ratios and correct moisture content. Else it's a cold heap that will compost slowly.

    If it is mostly greens, sprinkling in some sawdust will kick things off again. You could also try kicking the heaps off again adding layers of animal manure if available.

    Thank you GemmaJF. The mix is as 50/50 as I can resonably get it without spending too much time on it. I have a heap of browns ready to go and add when I think enough greens have gone in (just a general rule i've seen so many conflicting opinions on ratios I'm not sure what i should be doing TBH). As this is my 'middle' bin, I didn't want to add anything to it as I'm afraid it will ruin the progress so far...(?)
  • GemmaJF said:
    What's the green and brown mix? You only get a lot of heat with correct (or near to correct) ratios and correct moisture content. Else it's a cold heap that will compost slowly.

    If it is mostly greens, sprinkling in some sawdust will kick things off again. You could also try kicking the heaps off again adding layers of animal manure if available.

    Thank you GemmaJF. The mix is as 50/50 as I can resonably get it without spending too much time on it. I have a heap of browns ready to go and add when I think enough greens have gone in (just a general rule i've seen so many conflicting opinions on ratios I'm not sure what i should be doing TBH). As this is my 'middle' bin, I didn't want to add anything to it as I'm afraid it will ruin the progress so far...(?)

    Sorry....in addition....before I moved the heap it was cooking like crasy and doing really well. Has only gone cold since I'm moved it. Maybe it will just take a while to get going again?
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    Yes it may well just take time, turning or moving a hot heap does cause it to cool down. Have you a probe thermometer to check the core? If mix, aeration and moisture are good, it should start going again after a few days.
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    PS 50/50 by weight is a good rule of thumb on green/brown mix. It works for me.
  • GemmaJF said:
    Yes it may well just take time, turning or moving a hot heap does cause it to cool down. Have you a probe thermometer to check the core? If mix, aeration and moisture are good, it should start going again after a few days.
    No thermometer. I was of the opnion that if its heating up i'd be able to feel it with my hand? It's been there a few weeks and I've been turning it every couple of days. Maybe I'm turning it too much?
  • Mary370Mary370 Limerick, Ireland Posts: 2,003
    It'll never heat up if you keep turning it......
  • GemmaJFGemmaJF Posts: 2,286
    Perhaps turning too much, perhaps not. The only really sure method I know is to measure the heat at the core. When it gets to 60 C, then turn. If everything is perfect, it can easily be that it will get to that and need turning every couple of days. Over 60 C the compost will lose carbon and not only reduce in volume, but also mass (not an ideal situation).

    If the mix is not exact, or too dry or too moist or too compact, you might expect something like 45 C and not rising, so you know then the mix needs tweaking or some sort of attention.


    The probe thermometers are not expensive, I use one of these:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Green-Wash-Ltd-Compost-Thermometer/dp/B0036DCVB4/ref=pd_lpo_86_t_0/257-8941362-7396107?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0036DCVB4&pd_rd_r=44869f81-97ea-4f20-a49e-4c7fb527eb60&pd_rd_w=4Is00&pd_rd_wg=xdwsh&pf_rd_p=7b8e3b03-1439-4489-abd4-4a138cf4eca6&pf_rd_r=QKPPCWB5781PM8127B75&psc=1&refRID=QKPPCWB5781PM8127B75


    Really had no idea how useful it would be until I started to use it!
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 5,967
    I have compost in three builder’s tonne bags in shade, mix the greens and browns correctly, water and turn as required etc. It starts off with some heat then loses it rapidly and composts very slowly as a result. I think the builders bags are just not insulating enough. I have lined them with cardboard which has helped a bit, so you could try that when starting a new one. Apart from moving the heap, it could be that your previous makeshift bin was actually better. I plan to build proper bays at some point, been on the to-do list for ages!
Sign In or Register to comment.