I’ve been making compost and adding it to my soil for years, and my vegetable bed soil is now in great shape as a result. My earlier compost piles have had an expected temperature timeline, given the small bins I’m using, of getting hot (about 140-150° F) a day or two after I build the pile, then dropping to about 90-100° on day five.

Not so with my latest compost pile. I put the pile together five days ago. I checked it two days later and it was an astounding 160°. The next day, the same temperature. The fourth day it dropped to 155°. This morning I checked and it is still cooking away at 148°. If I keep it turned and moist (and not TOO wet with winter rains), I should have a fine batch of compost to use with my spring crops!

Update (11/5/10): Two weeks after starting this pile, it was still cooking along at 120°. I’m speculating that this pile is doing so well for two reasons: water and air. I was not as heavy handed with the hose as usual when building the pile, so I think it wasn’t water logged. I often shred materials to increase surface area and speed up decomposition. I didn’t do that with this pile, so the pieces are larger, allowing for better air flow.