Posted in "Rotline" Question of the Week, tagged "Rotline", carbon to nitrogen ratio, compost bins, compost piles, compost thermometers, Composting, diseased plants, Heat, microbes, moisture, pile size, Solana Center, Temperature, thermophilic bacteria on June 23, 2009 |
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You can definitely compost without a thermometer, but thermometers do make composting a bit easier. Thermometers can help you know when to turn your pile, when to add more material, when to add water, and when your compost is finished. Many composters also enjoy the satisfaction of seeing just how hot their pile can get!
Optimal Temperature: The target range for optimum composting is between 100 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, where thermophilic (heat-loving) bacteria thrive. This temperature is achieved by having the correct carbon to nitrogen ratio, moisture content, and optimal pile size (3′ x 3′ x 3′).
Low Temperatures: suggest decreased activity, at temperatures under 90 degrees beneficial microbes will go dormant, piles will still break down at low temperatures but will take longer to decompose
High Temperatures: At temperatures over about 130 degrees Fahrenheit, weed seeds and pathogenic organisms will be destroyed. Over 140 degrees thermophilic bacteria will die or go dormant. If your pile heats up over 160 degrees it is suggested to split the pile in half and water it down.
The Solana Center sells Compost Thermometers for $20 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during our bin sales. Click here for directions.
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When the bacteria in your compost eat your organics, your compost heats up. Sometimes, our compost gets so hot that it will even steam in the early morning. Exactly how hot should compost get? How hot can compost get? Is there any way to regulate your compost’s temperature?
Ideally, our Master Composters teach that your hot compost piles should be hitting between 130°-160°F in order to kill pathogens and decompose the compost as quickly as possible. You can compost colder (below 120°F) at the risk of some pathogens surviving, or you can compost hotter (170°-200°F) if you are willing to turn and water it on a daily basis.
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