Am I composting right?


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Hi everyone,
I am new to gardening and recently started a compost pile in my backyard. I recently came across a source for chicken manure and had heard that chicken manure is very high in nitrogen phosphorus and potassium. I know that this chicken manure will need to decompose before using it in my soil. The chicken manure I got was mixed in with wood shavings. The load I got consisted of about 80% wood shavings and 20% chicken manure. I watched a few videos on composting chicken manure. Right now I have that load of 80/20 in an upside down plastic bin with tarp underneath to keep the gophers out. I applied a generous amount of moisture to the mix and mixed it around. I plan on uncovering and checking , mixing, applying moisture if needed every two days.

Here are my questions for you experienced composers out there
!.) Will this mixture decompose into useable soil? (it looks much too light and mulch-y in my opinion)
2.) Should I add anything else to this composting mix to make it darker and more approachable for soil use?
3.) Am I better off using this mixture I have as mulch? 3a.) If I use it as mulch to lock the moisture in will the chicken manure in it harm the roots and plants in my bed?

Thank You and Be Well,

Mitch
 
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Your set-up will likely work fine, be careful not to create anaerobic conditions. Make sure there is airflow to the compost. Depending on conditions such a pile may function as a hot or cold compost. Their are certain parameters of size and temperature that must be maintained for hot compost, but even if a pile goes cold it will still produce compost.

The dark color of compost is due to decomposition, not the initial color of the parent material.

What do gophers do with a pile of chicken manure and wood shavings?

Mulching is a great idea for some situations. A topical soil application of chicken manure and wood product can be an effective way to fertilize. The amount of such mulch that can be laid down at one time will depend on the plants. Use a thin layer for seedlings and small pants, A thicker layer fro larger and more established plants. This saves a transportation step and more of the nutrients end up in the target location. Even before nutrients are released from the wood, it will still have other benefits such as water conservation and weed suppression.
 
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Your set-up will likely work fine, be careful not to create anaerobic conditions. Make sure there is airflow to the compost. Depending on conditions such a pile may function as a hot or cold compost. Their are certain parameters of size and temperature that must be maintained for hot compost, but even if a pile goes cold it will still produce compost.

The dark color of compost is due to decomposition, not the initial color of the parent material.

What do gophers do with a pile of chicken manure and wood shavings?

Mulching is a great idea for some situations. A topical soil application of chicken manure and wood product can be an effective way to fertilize. The amount of such mulch that can be laid down at one time will depend on the plants. Use a thin layer for seedlings and small pants, A thicker layer fro larger and more established plants. This saves a transportation step and more of the nutrients end up in the target location. Even before nutrients are released from the wood, it will still have other benefits such as water conservation and weed suppression.
Marck, thank you for getting back to me. Do you think it is better for me to just uncover the pile completely? Also, do you think th e non-decomposed chicken manure that is in with the shavings will harm the plants if I use it for a thin layer of mulching?
 
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Usually the only reason to cage off a compost pile is if it contains food material sthat could attract rodents (mostly rats & mice). Even that isn't a crucial issue if the pile is in a rural area away from human residences.

That blend of 20% chicken manure and 80% wood shavings could serve as an excellent mulch.
 
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I would use it as mulch. You will find the wood takes months longer to decompose than the manure. Plus, the components like nitrogen will be consumed into a compost where now they have a fertilizer value. Stinky fertilizer value, but it is the time of the year when fertilizer is useful. Compost is very useful for putting plants to bed in the fall.
 
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I would let the manure / straw mix rot down for at least 4 months before using it as a mulch . Fresh manure can ” burn “ plants , and in the case of mulching edible crops , fresh manure can contain pathogens such as Salmonella .
 
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In many situation a wood chip and manure mulch can break down in place as well as a compost pile.
It's always good to fully wash all garden produce, especially any that comes from below, at, or near ground-level.
 

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