[Market-farming] composting questions

Matt Cheselka cheselka at theriver.com
Thu Jul 22 10:53:01 EDT 2004

On Wed, 21 Jul 2004, Tradingpost wrote:

> Flies are a sign of a problem pile. Whatever is drawing them should be
> covered with a thin layer of soil and the pile should not be kept too
> wet.

The flies only appeared after this first turning.  They were nowhere to be
seen when I first made the pile.  I have no idea if they're there now (I
live about 18 miles away from the farm and compost pile, so I only get
down there every other day).  I'll make sure to note if they're there
tomorrow when I go down again to turn the pile.  Maybe they're attracted 
to the pile when it's turned, but leave shortly (hours) after.

> There should be no odor at any time, start or finish.

Hmmm.  I'm not sure I can agree with this.  Horse manure has a pretty
distict odor, so making a compost pile that's mostly horse manure it'll
undoubtedly have that smell.  However, this pile (even after a coupla
days) has a different odor than what it started with.  It isn't unpleasant
(of course I wouldn't want to be breathing it all day!) and somewhere I
read that a "sweet" smell is actually a good sign.  I don't remember where
I read that.

> The pile
> should have a variety of compostable materials and have some soil
> interspersed with the materials. Green vegetation needs to be in it to
> heat it up as it breaks down, and the heat is good for reducing
> pathogens. The best reference IMHO is still Rodale's big book Compost.

Well, as I said, I don't think I'm having *any* problem with the pile 
heating up.  I've actually heard of piles catching fire (of course don't 
have any direct experience with this).  But my pile was hot enough that I 
couldn't touch the stuff for more than about 1/10th of a second!  Ouch!

Matt Cheselka
Cosmic Lettuce

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