Compost not fast enough! What's wrong?

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by natnkat, Jun 6, 2008.

  1. natnkat

    natnkat Member

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    Location:
    Escondido, CA, USA
    Hi there,
    Last summer I got really motivated and built a nice, ~4'x4' slatted wood compost heap bin. I put it over the spot a previous pile had been (previous owner), added my straw, leaves, kitchen goodies, dog poop (I know, I know, it's "bad" - but with a 90lb dog it's gotta go somewhere!), leftover worm bin stuff and some green stuff. This spring I eagerly went to see what had become of it (-40C winters here), and found a slightly reduced, brown pile that looked almost identical to what I'd left in autumn! What went wrong? There might be an inch or two of dirt at the bottom but I couldn't find it for the uncomposted plants!

    Thinking that it might be a water/air prob, I raked it over and over, added some new goodies, and watered it well. Is that all I need? How will I know if it's heating up - stick my hand in? And how often should I water it - enough to keep it moist? We're having a dry spring here so I can't count on rainfall. Also, I didn't see any worms in there - is it not good enough for them (they're rampant throughout the yard), or did I just not dig deep enough?

    Thanks a lot,
    Katherine
     
  2. smivies

    smivies Active Member

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    Location:
    Kingston, Ontario, Canada
    Keep it moist, add green stuff frequently, and turn it over with a pitch fork every 7-14 days. It'll reduce/compost in no time.
     
  3. 1950Greg

    1950Greg Active Member

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    Location:
    Langley, B.C. Stones throw from old HBC farm.
    Try cutting your scraps and other matter into smaller pieces and layering your compost pile with dry straw or grass and a layer of soil.
     
  4. MXB

    MXB Active Member

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    I would seriously avoid putting your dog poop compost (if you eventually get any) on veggie beds or around anything edible. Really bad idea......

    As for your compost....you probably don't have enough critical mass for the thing to heat up. A 4x4 compost heap needs to build up quite a lot before it'll start to work properly. Turn as directed in a previous answer, make sure you mix in equal amounts of brown and green material.

    Good Luck!
     
  5. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    I make a separate compost of dog doo in a large plastic rubbish bin with a large hole cut out of the bottom which stands directly on the soil. I then layer the doings with usually wood shavings because that is what I have but straw and leaves will work just as well. When one bin is full I start the 2nd one and alterante as needed. The by product is given to the rhodos etc BUT NEVER VEGETABLES. Keep the set up in a lightly shaded spot. Have been doing this for years. I have 4 VERY large dogs.

    Liz
     
  6. natnkat

    natnkat Member

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    What's wrong with da poop?

    Thanks for all the advice, everyone! As it stands now, it's still not going anywhere, so I'll try adding more stuff as I weed. :P

    Regarding the poop, I had read various opinions on the net about that, and decided to go ahead. From what I could see, people were mainly concerned that the finished compost would still contain bacteria, parasite eggs, or some unnamed ickies. Anyone know specifically what the problem is? I took premed in school and as far as I know, there really aren't many bacteria that would survive being composted and then infecting any veg's....as well, I am sure my dogs don't have worms, so there is no threat of worm eggs being passed (a very real threat since those eggs would survive). So really what's the problem? We rototill composted manure in every year and I can't see dog poop being that much worse than sheep or cow (probably better since I know exactly what they've eaten and where they've been). Can anyone explain it?
     
  7. Liz

    Liz Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Could be that dogs are meat eaters as opposed to vegetation eaters as in cow, horse,etc. Don't really know why but I know there is a bit of a too do here about vegetables that are imported from asia that are manured with human left overs. Probably a case of hygene

    Liz
     
  8. Coopmd

    Coopmd Member

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    Location:
    Kennewick Washington
    I keep reading all the stuff about not putting pet droppings in manure piles too. I was a microbiology major in college. I have never read anything that made sense to me as to why not to do it--the one caveat being that pregnant women should never handle cat feces. My cat litter goes in every week. My thought is that the cats are up on the counter tops with their feet after they go into their poop pot and I surely don't wash all the surfaces with an adequate disinfectant before I put food on them, so I am more likely to contaminate my food in the kitchen than in the garden.

    I agree that if your pile is not heating, the solution is usually increasing the amount of green stuff especially grass clippings.
     
  9. chemicalx

    chemicalx Active Member

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    Found some relevant information on this here:

    http://earth911.org/composting/compost-and-animals/

     
  10. natnkat

    natnkat Member

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    So basically dog poop risk is roundworm eggs, and cat is toxo. (many people who regularly handle cat poop already have had it, as determined by tests - it's really only dangerous if a pregnant woman gets it for the first time, or for children as stated). That's good to know, thanks for the info!
     

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