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I've been doing a little research into hot composting. From what i understand you need a carbon to Nitrogen ratio of 30:1 and you need to rotate the pile when the center gets to around 150 degrees. From what i understand, the rotation had mostly to do with aeration, so the pile has enough oxygen to decompose. I currently have a very large pile of leaves, pine needles, and organic matter, and it's unwieldy to turn. I have a few perforated HDPE sewer pipes Around, and I was thinking about trying to build some kind if aerated system. All of the examples I have found require and active fan to aerate the pile. I want to create something that does not require a fan. Has anyone had any experience with something like this?

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    The other reason you need to turn the pile is that if you don't, the outside will never get hot - the material on the outside insulates the material on the inside. But if what you have is mostly leaves, you can turn most of it into leaf mould without any fuss at all, as that process does not need air or heat or turning...and leaves are lousy feedstock for aerated compost, too. – Ecnerwal Apr 22 '17 at 23:58
  • Well, I got some compost from the town compost pile ( steaming with organisms ), and threw a bunch in and mixed it with the pile, also added some nitrogen grass fertilizer ( although I'm concerned that it might be time release or something ). I also got some HDPE pipes from home depot and put them at the bottom of the pile .... I'm going to measure the temp in a few days and see if the approach worked at all ... if so I max mess with the aeration and see how it works – user379468 Apr 24 '17 at 19:37
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Your compost pile doesn't have the right carbon to nitrogen ratio to get hot if it is just leaves and needles. Just let that pile sit and cold compost for a good year or two. It will work.

Besides that though, you can aerate the pile well enough with the perforated pipe coming from the center out of the pile and no fan. I have done that before with good success. Sometimes I also just jab hole into the pile with a digging bar or stick and twirl it around to introduce some oxygen.

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I would simply divide this big pile into a few smaller piles. I had 6' piles 300 feet long that I left alone all winter. This stuff was chipped tree and branch matter from the pruning by the electric/power company. It steamed all winter long. I did not touch it. I did however have it dumped on all my blackberry shrubs...these were weeds and the next spring 6 foot piles had reduced to 6". No more blackberries. I just left compost where it was. Couldn't scrape up enough to transfer to garden but that was my experience with tough material, no turning just threw a few handfuls of nitrogen at the piles...buckets actually 300 ft. is a lot of material...maybe 6' wide, 6' tall. Fed nitrogen (kitty litter) only once.

What Bamboo said about the OUTSIDE of the piles is very true. I would turn a few times and if your compost is not finished continue to turn once a month? What are you using for nitrogen? There is a kitty litter made from alfalfa pellets that is EXCELLENT to throw into and onto your piles whenever you turn. Cheap and perfect for composting. If you can find this litter. Make sure you keep your piles MOIST not wet or soggy. That also accelerates decomposition.

  • I used my parent's compost for growing veggies... They had put the compostable kitty litter in it... and I caught toxoplasmosis. – peufeu Apr 23 '17 at 18:59
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    Shoot! I meant kitty litter right out of the bag, NOT USED!! Oh you poor thing!! That is what pregnant women get when cleaning cat boxes!! No meat, no poo poo allowed in compost (unless one other type of compost)! – stormy Apr 23 '17 at 20:47

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