Hot or Cold Composting

July 7, 2010 at 9:08 pm Leave a comment

We’re all about composting this month. In this article we’ll discuss the different types of composting (hot, cold, vermi-composting) and how to build your own compost bin(s) for very little money. We spent about $35 to create 3 bins.

At our last work and learn day, we had several people asking about whether their compost is “hot” or “cold”. Well that depends on how well you treat it. Ideally, we would all have “hot” bins. The material in a hot bin gets hot enough to destroy weed seeds, insects and most pathogens. It can also get “hot” enough to spontaneously combust if you have too much dry browns so be careful! In a hot bin, the temperature can exceed 160 degrees Fahrenheit but above that, you’ll start killing the great organisms. If you find your bin getting super hot, just turn it more often. To have a true hot bin, you need to have a large cubic foot area at least 3′ x 3′ x 3′. A hot bin will create compost in just weeks.

Most home compost piles are built gradually where you add things from the garden and garbage. You fill it up and then it starts breaking down. The center will always be hotter than the outside so it is important to keep turning. Either put weeds in the center where they’ll get hot or toss them in the garbage. If you are a lazy gardener and rarely turn your pile, the outsides will continue to be unbroken down and filled with bugs. If your bin is smaller or never really fills it will tend to be cooler. A “cold” or “warm” bin still brings much biological activity that builds great compost but may need more filtering. You don’t want to put any weeds or pest infected debris in a cold pile because you’ll just be creating more problems.

Vermicomposting is usually smaller scale and uses worms to create wonderful compost. You could keep your worms inside or in a cool shady spot outdoors. This could be a whole article on it’s own!

To make the great and super easy compost bins like we did, just buy a roll of galvanized 36″ sturdy wire. Buy sturdy landscaping fabric that is at least 36″ long. Cut both the wire and the fabric into at least 10′ lengths to make a 3′ diameter bin. Make sure that there are no sharp or pointed wires sticking out. You can either use wire, twine or zip-ties to fasten the ends together. Just remember that you want it secure but easy to cut when you are ready to process your compost; just cut the ties and unwrap the pile.

For those who like to build, try building a square top for the compost bin that doubles as a compost sieve using 2x4s and 1″ wire mesh. Share your composting tips below!

Happy Gardening

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Entry filed under: Composting, Gardening Tips, Newsletters. Tags: , , .

Introduction to Aquaponics – June 21, 2010 Habit of the Month: Composting

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