Beginning compost...question.

randi86June 12, 2009

I was raised on a small southern animal farm. At any given time we have had horses, dogs, cats, goats, pigs, chickens, geese, guinaes, a raccoon, deer, etc.

Animals have come and gone, and now that I am in college, we are down to mainly one horse; we still have some smaller animals, but they do not matter for this question.

On our property we have a wooden barn with the natural earth as the floor. The horses have always had free reign of the barn, being able to come and go from it as they please. The dirt on the floor has slowly risen from manure, etc. accumulating.

I am wanting to take the accumulated dirt from the floor and possibly compost it.

With the horses being the main contributors of the "rich dirt" on the floor, (it's at that stage where it is dry and somewhat dusty, if that makes sense, very rich, but dry), I understand there are many weed seeds in the dirt and that it is too rich to put directly on plants.

I read about something called "hot composting" to bring the temp. of the compost pile up to a high enough temperature to kill the weed seeds.

How is the best way to do this?

I have no tractor. I would be shoveling by hand.

The barn is on a small hill. The article I read said to allow for runoff, so I am wondering if simply piling it into a large pile at the top of the hill near the barn would allow for a sufficient composting environment.

I currently have a vegetable garden: tomatoes, jalapenos, cucumbers, squash, banana peppers, etc.

and a newly planted herb garden that I am just now attempting to start with cilantro and sage...I hope to soon also get some Oregano, basil, thyme, maybe some lavender.

Any advice?

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I suggest you visit the Soil, compost and mulch forum - it has excellent FAQs and a great group of people.

Hot composting requires a good mix of "greens" and "browns" and learning about what those are would be helpful.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Soil, compost and mulch forum

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 9:09AM
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Thank you, I didn't see that one.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 12:54AM
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If it is dried and dusty, it is past the composting stage. It has already gone through a "heat" in which the bacteria cause the compost to get hot. Horse manure (and cow) is usually not too strong. Now some people claim too much urine can be a problem but I've never experienced it it in dried horse manure. Scrape it up, pile it up, let the rain fall on it and take a look at weeds coming from it. After the weeds sprout, cover the pile with black plastic to kill them. Repeat a couple of times until weeds are minimal. Then spread it in the garden. BTW, horse manure is great to break up clay soil.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:45PM
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