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What Kind of Composter Are You?

Hot Composting

Part 2 of 3

If you want more compost available faster than cold composting can provide, you may want to explore hot composting. Hot composting takes more oversight and attention—even a teensy bit of math. But it will speed up your composting cycle, allowing you to amend more soil more frequently.

Hot composting is just what it sounds like: naturally “cooking” your compost to speed up the breakdown of materials and the creation of compost. On the most basic level, sunlight and warm temperatures will warm your compost. But to keep things percolating over time and seasons, you need to create an internal combustion system within your pile—natural microbial growth and activity that heats and ferments the composted materials from within.

Whether you hot compost in piles or bins, the basic ingredients are the same. You will need to balance brown elements (shredded cardboard, fallen leaves and shredded bark, sawdust, cotton fabric, dryer lint, paper, corn stalks, and hay) with green elements (eggshells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable rinds and peels, seaweed, and manure) in the mix. The right ratio to generate microbial activity is 25 parts brown with one part green. All elements must be chopped up and broken down and moistened with water to create the right environment that can heat a hot compost pile to 130 to 14o degrees.

Regular forking or turning of hot compost materials is required. (In cold-weather climates like Maine, you may even see steam as you turn your compost!) When done right, hot composting can yield a fresh batch of ripe compost in just three to four weeks.

An excerpt from “What Kind of Composter Are You?“, Pinetree Garden Seeds.

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