If I were to add loads of nitrogenous material to a leafy compost and turn it vigorously, would the worms that weren't initially wounded easily be able to escape to a safe place before being fried by extreme temperatures? My pile is only 0.5m3 but my question still stands for a very large, say industrial pile. Also would it destroy the existing fungi or would they just go dormant until more favorable conditions return?

  • When you say 'leafy compost',does that mean your compost pile is primarily comprised of leaves (dead leaves I assume) and little or nothing else? Is the compost jus a heap, or contained in a composter?
    – Bamboo
    Jul 26, 2022 at 22:28
  • @bamboo hi thanks for commenting. As said nitrogenous matter was applied to dry leaves. Compost went up to about 140c. Just a heap but on the concrete. There would be cooler areas further down and at the edge. It's just that if the ingredients are perfect, we'll mixed and shredded right down - the heap fires up really quickly. Jul 27, 2022 at 12:59
  • I agree with the answer below - the worms aren't trapped inside a plastic composter, they're able to escape from an unenclosed heap.
    – Bamboo
    Jul 27, 2022 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


You have not mentioned anything that would appear likely to trap the worms, so they can leave. They may or may not get eaten by birds, (so not a safe place, exactly) especially if your heap is in the middle of a bare concrete pad.

140 °C seems highly unlikely for a mere 0.5 cubic meter pile, but if you say so...

Regardless, the worms can leave.

In parts of the pile that are hot enough, fungi will die. Fungi in cooler parts of the pile will not die. It's stunningly rare to manage to turn a pile in such a way that all the cooler parts become the hotter parts next time, so fungi that escape that are likely to re-colonize the functionally pasteurized parts of the pile when they are cooler. Or spores blowing by will settle on the cooler outside of the pile and start fresh.

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