Managed Composting

Making hot compost involves active participation, which can range from slightly more effort than is required for the passive method to a major commitment of time and energy. Most home composters find a middle position. They do a little management of their pile but don’t pursue composting as a major hobby. The amount of management depends on how fast they want to produce compost and whether they want to kill pathogens and weed seeds.

Some books about composting make a distinction between a “slow” pile and a “hot” pile to characterize the involvement of a homeowner in the composting process. However, the concept of managing a pile reflects more accurately the potential for varying degrees of participation in the process.

A person who wants to manage a compost pile for any reason—speed of production, efficiency of composting, or exercise—can intervene in the process in many ways. A hot compost pile is one that decomposes fast enough to heat up. Properly managed, it will heat up enough to kill most weed seeds, insect eggs, and plant pathogens, to over 130 degrees. Most of the instructions on this site describe in detail how to manage hot composting.