Two Ways to Compost


Cool composting is what most of us are doing in our backyards. When piles of feedstock, whether its manure or yard and food waste, are allowed to sit until they break down that is considered cool composting. Cool composting your own yard and food waste this way makes absolutely, wonderful compost that is filled with many microorganisms (keep noxious weeds and diseased plants out). You may want to surround the pile with a fine screen like chicken wire to keep the animals out. Cool composting manure is not an effective way to kill pathogens. If you want to compost manure it should be turned to aerate and the temperature should be monitored. Cool composting does not eliminate weed seeds either.

To kill weed seeds and pathogens compost must go through a thermophilic stage where the temperature is above 131 degrees for a certain amount of time. For compost made in long rows or piles the amount of time is 15 days and during that time the compost must be turned at least 5 times.  For compost made in aerated piles or bays the amount of time is at least 3 days. The feedstock must be aerated either by turning the pile or by allowing air to go through the pile. Aerating the compost encourages aerobic microorganisms that speed up the decaying process. After the thermophilic stage, the compost needs enough time to become stable and mature. If compost isn’t mature it will take nitrogen and oxygen out of the nearby soil and away from plants.

Don't poo-poo cool composting. It's an easy way to divert some of your garbage out of the landfill. It also makes a fantastic soil amendment.


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