[Market-farming] composting questions

Matt Cheselka cheselka at theriver.com
Wed Jul 21 23:00:57 EDT 2004

Two days ago, I started my first ever serious compost pile.  It's about 
95% horse manure, and 5% vegetable matter and weeds.  First let me say 
that although I've heard and read about compost piles heating up to 160F 
and higher, it was all just a theory to me -- until today!!!  When I went 
out to do my first turning (I'm starting with about a cubic yard of it, so 
it's not all that much work), the years and years and years of "thinking 
about composting" all of a sudden became a reality.  I couldn't even 
TOUCH the stuff, it was so hot!  Wow what a rush!!

So, now I have some questions:

1. At this point (two days as an actual compost pile), what should the
pile smell like?  The manure is pretty new -- maybe 2 weeks old and has
been sitting out in a large pile from the person I'm getting it from.  I
can tell you that it has a fairly sweet smell and nothing nasty about it
at all (but of course I could be a bit biased -- it IS my first one, don't
ya know!).

2. I've noticed that the flies have found the pile.  Is there anything I
can (or should) do about this?  My guess is that any eggs laid will fail
becuase of the heat.  I'm wanting to be as organic as I can, which means
I'd rather not be spraying stuff on it or anything like that.  Fly traps
seem to attract more flies than they repel, so that's out, too.  I'm
hoping that the flies are doing some kind of important job to the pile
(just like the bacteria inside).

3. I should keep turning until the pile stops heating up anymore, right?  
Yes, I'm going for a quickie load of compost.  I'm just making sure that I 
should let the pile tell me when it's done.


Matt Cheselka
Cosmic Lettuce

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