Wendy - welcome, and thanks for following the blog!
Even though I have a pretty good handle on the current composting cycle, the piles just aren't heating up to an acceptable level. This is mostly because of the rough winter we've experienced here, but also due to lack of microbial activity. The best decompostion rate happens when there is a healthy supply of microbes in the pile, which feed off of sugars and carbohydrates, mostly. Afterall, the microbes are the ones that do all of the hard work for you, and they need a constant supply of food to survive. Well, these foods that I speak of can be provided by adding dry dog food and dry mollases to the piles. Since alot of dry dog food had previously been added a while back, it was time to get the other ingredient from the farmer's cooperative.
Photo below - here's a 50 lb. bag of dry molasses, which came at a price of $13. Even though I thought the packaging was rather corny (heh), it was the contents that I was after. This entire bag was put into the piles where the compost turner is located, because it needed to be incorporated into the mixture pretty well (and I certainly didn't want to do it manually - as would be needed in the old bins!)
Photo below - here's a handful for reference, and really had a strong molasses smell to it. Oh...Jude was having a fit for this stuff, but of course I didn't give her any. The little stinker wants everything that I am holding!
This has been one of the coldest winters that I can remember, and certainly not ideal conditions for composting. I had initially intended on having a finished product for the garden by mid-April, but that's just not gonna happen. Lacking the ability to turn the piles for a couple of months because of my back problems, things just didn't happen as needed. Mid-May is more feasible, which of course will be too late for the initial planting of some things, regretfully. But ya know what? I'm gonna make enough compost this year to already have surplus for next year's garden, and will be able to compost throughout the warmest months from now on. No big deal! And now that the compost turner is up and running, things will be much easier in the future.
In other news, I just began making my sweet potato slips for the summer garden, and hopefully will have some nice ones ready sometime in early May.
Also, most of the germinated tomato seeds have been put into soil inside the propagation systems, and i'm still waiting for a few more to do their thing. As best I can figure, a little over 320 have already been placed under the lights, and the others will join them sometime within the next 24 hours.
Oh, and the 8ft lighting system is generating pretty good heat inside the enclosed space, which is a very good thing right now. Fans are cycling as intended, and the temperatures are being maintained according to my program parameters. I'm really enjoying the new setup......
Take care, and happy composting