Extreme composting

I am determined to make some good quality compost this year. I started this pile a few months ago, but unfortunately I put it on the north side of the barn.

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The main motivation for the barn location was to be close to the water source, and of course the ease of manure collection from when the cows come in during inclement weather. But the north side of our barn never really sees any sunshine, so I am not getting the passive solar heat that helps create the environment so the microbes can do their work of decomposition.

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I built this new pile on the south side of our house. I’m hoping that it heats up better in this location, where I also have access to water. My goal is to convert the leaves that we collected into leaf mold. Leaf mold is partially decomposed leaves that makes an excellent weed free mulch that holds an immense amount of water. I added some soybean meal and water to give the microbes some energy. I also collected some manure from the field to inoculate the pile and help hold the moisture.

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The leaves are mostly oak, one of the most difficult leaves to absorb water and breakdown. I’ll cover and wrap the pile with a silage tarp. I just haven’t managed that yet, but I will post an updated picture once I get it covered. The plastic tarp should hold the dampness while allowing plenty of airflow for the aerobic microbes.

I’ll add coffee grounds and maybe some ground up food scraps to increase the diversity of materials. I do have a worm bin in the basement. Do you think worms would work in a set up like this if I get the environment right in the center of the pile?

It is always an experiment, one of the reasons why working with nature is so interesting and rewarding.

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