Q: I attended the Extension’s compost class and set up my bin. But I can’t get my pile to heat up enough. So, what am I doing wrong?
Answer: In the packet of information you received at the workshop, you have a copy of the PowerPoint presentation and a Home Composting Wheel. Both contain information on what to do if the temperature of your compost pile is low, below 90 degrees.
However, if your filing system is anything like mine, I understand how difficult it is to locate these things. So, let me make this easy for you. The issue with your compost pile not heating up can be from one of several causes: insufficient aeration, insufficient moisture, lack of green materials (pile is too low in nitrogen), cold weather (this is NOT the case now!), small pile (less than 1 cubic yard) or your compost pile has finished the composting process and is done.
The solutions to the issues include: turn your compost pile more frequently; mix in green materials and small amounts of water, add fertilizer with a high nitrogen number (the first of the three numbers on fertilizer) to heat up the pile and build a 1-cubic-yard pile.
The moisture content should be that of a wrung-out sponge only. Green materials include vegetable and fruit peelings and general kitchen waste, including egg shells, but no meat or meat byproducts, no dairy or oils. Be sure to turn your compost pile regularly, too.
Lynn Barber is the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods agent at Hillsborough Extension. Reach her at BarberL@hills boroughcounty.org.