How to Hot Compost Yard DebrisFirst and foremost, you won’t get far with super big organic material. Large branches and tree stumps are prime examples. Although these will eventually decompose over time, it will take years. For big items like this, yard waste hauling is a far better solution. But, for regular leaf piles, small branches, and other miscellaneous materials, like moss, twigs, grass clippings, vegetables, fruits, coffee grounds, and the like, these are great compost ingredients.
Composting is a microbial process that converts plant materials such as grass clippings and leaves to a more usable organic soil amendment or mulch. Gardeners have used compost for centuries to increase soil organic matter, improve soil physical properties, and supply some of the essential nutrients for plant growth. Mulching refers to the practice of applying a layer of materials such as compost, leaves, or grass clippings to the soil surface in order to modify soil temperature and moisture as well as control weeds and soil erosion. —University of MinnesotaSome people choose to include food waste, such as uneaten vegetables and fruits or fruits and vegetables going bad and inedible. You can also include such items, along with other household materials like shredded paper, as well as top soil. The goal is to get a deep, rich mix of organic materials to cook up a healthy pile of compost. This will provide all the nutrients your garden needs and can be used to grow other things, additionally. Here’s a short guide for how to hot compost yard debris:
- Build-up a large organic pile. A huge mistake to those who are new to hot composting is starting too soon with too small of a pile. You need a lot of organic material, including leaves, branches, twigs, vegetables, fruits, coffee grounds, soil, paper, untreated sawdust, and more. Start with a pile at least three feet in height. Mix brown and green materials for the best results.
- Sprinkle the pile occasionally. Sprinkle the pile with water but do so sparingly. Do not waterlog the pile or this will cause microorganisms to essentially drown. If the microorganisms cannot function, the pile will rot instead of hot compost and will be a messy, stinky waste. To ensure it’s cooking correctly, monitor the center with a thermometer. Temperature should range from 130 degrees to 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Turn periodically to oxygenate. Occasionally turn the pile with a garden fork. Do so thoroughly to really mix the brown and green materials equally as possible. If you do not stir the pile to oxygenate, it will matt down, create a bad odor, and begin to rot.
- Check for signs of rot in the pile. If there are signs of rot in the pile, something is awry. While you might be able to salvage part of it, chances are likely it’s beginning to rot instead of compost. Under the right conditions, the material will be dry, brown, and crumble.