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Mold in compost pile-concern?

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  • Mold in compost pile-concern?

    I'm composting manure for the first time. Searched through these threads and decided piles about 4' high and ~4'x4' wide made by pallets would work best for me, and so far, it seems great.

    I went to turn my first completed pile (filled about 2 weeks ago) and the entire core was hot, dry, and white with mold. I started the pile with old moldy manure that was left by the sellers of the property I bought, so that explains the mold. I soaked it before piling on top of it, and figured it would be fine.
    I live in the south where highs are in the 60-70's and we had two days straight of rain last week.

    Given the heat, I think something is working, but the dryness/mold is a big concern. Thoughts as to what I should do, if anything? When I turned it, I tried to get as much of the new "pure" manure to the core as I could.

  • #2
    It may be ash rather than mould. Manure and compost piles can get hot enough to slowly burn organic matter; even easier if some of the matter is truly dried out when added and then covered. Silly question - does it smell mouldy or hot?
    Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

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    • #3
      Meh...I'd not worry at all. Mine gets like that in middle if it dries out. Turn, turn, turn and keep it moist. Ours gets too wet here, so I do a lot of turning and tossing of the poo pile ( I have a tractor, which helps). Again, the mold is not big deal--I think you mean it gets this white "moldy" look right? If you turn it, does it steam (the pile that is)? If so, then you are cooking it, so that is good. Again, keep tossing and rotating. I do it about every 3-4 days, weather permitting.
      Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


      • #4
        Hot is very good, dry just means 'needs water'. Give it a good turning, making sure everything--including the middle--is damp, and don't worry about it.


        • Original Poster

          Originally posted by sk_pacer View Post
          It may be ash rather than mould. Manure and compost piles can get hot enough to slowly burn organic matter; even easier if some of the matter is truly dried out when added and then covered. Silly question - does it smell mouldy or hot?
          Holy crow, then it very well could be ash. At first that's what I thought it was, but decided against it because I knew I had mold when I started the pile. I was surprised that it didn't bowl me over with a mold smell, given how much there apparently was.

          No, the pile didn't really steam, because it was 80 degrees outside when I turned it, but I could feel the radiating heat. I'll try to turn more often and soak it as necessary; unfortunately that will only be on weekends, since I'm never home in daylight during the week these days.


          • #6
            Yep, that is ash, not mold. Totally normal. Obviously if you can, turn, water, repeat. I just pile it and let it cook...then flip it once and leave it. By the time I put it in my garden it is pretty good...definitely not professional quality compost, but usually lots of worms in it so I think it's good enough.

            Mine can get so hot I have considered trying to cook on it. Not sure I'd want to eat the product but it's pretty interesting. Did a nice lesson on decomposition/composting for my kids and some friends though...had them stand on the pile in rubber boots to feel how hot it was!


            • #7
              once a week turning is PLENTY!

              hot is good, moist would be perfect.

              when you turn try to get the edges closer to the middle, but you are certainly on the right track.

              besides, mold is a way of life in the south.