So what if I don't get the piles big enough to heat up? What are the consequences? They will still rot, it'll just take longer -- right?
Normally the idea of a "hot" pile is to get it hot enough to kill diseases , weeds and their seeds. If you use things that you know are not diseased, and don't throw seedy and weedy things in the pile, I think a pile that does not get "hot" is supposed to actually have some advantages (like not killing good bacteria and attracting worms).
I recently used some compost that was started last fall with mostly trimmings from the garden. I recently used it to prepare some beds, and what started growing was watermelon from last year's crop! So evidently, my compost did not get hot enough to kill these seeds.
Got it, thanks -- heat kills seeds.
Over winter, I built a 24"x24"x30" tall compost bin. It was "pretty" but I was concerned it wasn't enough volume, so I built the next three 36"x36"x36" and after reading your posts and considering how much volume I've got to "dispose of" I built a wire bin that is 36" tall and 6'x6'
Last fall I built a raised garden bed that is 32' long, 32" wide, and 1' tall. I stuffed them heaping full to 2' with chopped-up leaves and grass clippings and covered the whole thing in black plastic. Just checked and it is now 3-4" tall. I dug my fingers in and it's about half earth worms and half black gold. Just over the winter lying under black plastic in full sun 6 hours/day it's a lovely sight.
Composting is FUN.
Usually I get left-over crop seeds to sprout IN my heap. Snow peas and Brassicas, mainly. I see the big roots and shoots trying to reach the surface and I think that I am encouraging beneficial root fungus (I wish I could remember how to spell mycorrhizae).
They spout and die. I wish weed seeds would do the same, but they probably have trickier dormancy schemes.
I don't have enough sources of compost that I feel can afford to throw anything away, other than seriously diseased plants. I expect I'll always have to weed no matter what I do. Coarse mulch does help.
I really really try pulling weeds BEFORE they bloom. If they bloom at all, I toss them in waste places already full of weeds, or under the forsythia where nothing grows.
compost- it always grows, eventually, if you wait long enough!
>> I toss them in waste places already full of weeds
Just this last weekend I did the same thing. I dug a lot of weeds & roots out of some beds, screened the4 roots and weeds out, then returned the soil to the beds.
Then I threw the soon-to-be-dead weeds onto some dead clay surrounded by other weeds. That's also a spot I walk on often! Let them compete with themselves, consume each other, and dry out and die. If an y DO manage to force any roots int6o that hard, I'll congratulate them, buy them an ice cream cone, and then kill them AGAIN.
Before I made raised beds and tried to grow my own plants, I used to admire weeds. BEFORE! Now weeds are Enemy #2. Enemy #1 are slugs.
Most weeds I pull up and drop into the walkways where they wither and die and become worm food.
Larger weeds get tossed into the compost bin, where they turn into worm food.
So, what eats the worms? Birds!
'tis the cycle of life. :)
I friend used to pull weeds and then drape them around the plants where they had been growing, to discourage or deter the next generation of weeds. He called it "the dead relative principle".
I'm not sure whether he intended some biological, or homeopathic, or psychological effect ... psyching out weeds ... maybe ... I would call him an ex-Hippy, but not very "ex".
Rick, sounds like he was mulching with the tops of weeds. I had a neighbor do that with pretty good success. Just have to get them BEFORE they seed.
I was always too chicken to allow a weed the chance to re-root...I work too hard to get them OUT of the flower beds in the first place.
>> Just have to get them BEFORE they seed.
Yes YES YES! Totally necessary. That really is critical. I keep getting busy and "forget" to do that. Fortunately, no near neighbors are gardening at this time.
Hoeing or pulling weeds is like drowning slugs in the fall: "you can hoe 20 weeds NOW, or 2,000 later".
>> dead relatives ... mulching with the tops of weeds
Yes, exactly. Plus, he hopes that some weed-pest or weed-disease would be transmitted.
>> too chicken to allow a weed the chance to re-root...I work too hard to get them OUT
Too chicken or too smart. In this case, I expect 5-10% to root ... in the decomposing bits of the rest of the weeds. Then I get to kill them again. There really is no chance that any will penetrate the hard-packed clay in that walkway.