Over the weekend, I had a lot of yard maintenance to do. Mowing, weeding, de-bugging, etc. I also wanted to turn the compost piles and swap the contents of the two. It’s a good way of mixing them up and making sure they are aerated. I was expecting them not to really have much in the way of useable compost yet. Boy, was I surprised.
Maybe I had neglected turning them for too long a while, but the bottoms of both contained a foot of rich, dark soil the color of coffee grounds. It was filled with earthworms and the daddy of all decomposers, hercules beetle larvae (probably dynastes tityus).
I’ve only seen dead versions of the adults in my yard, and even that was a while ago. So hercules beetles are mostly a guess. But still, with larvae that big – the circumference of a golf ball – that’s probably the beast. I’ve seen these consistently in the bottom of the piles. I’ve always taken it as a good sign my compost pile was performing well.
I managed to dig out two wheelbarrows full of soil to top-dress a couple beds. I estimate there are 4 or 5 more wheelbarrows in there, and much more on the way. I added equal parts shredded live oak leaves saved from Spring and freshly-cut grass to the left pile. I covered that with some pieces of paper yard waste bags. I’m interested in seeing if the paper helps hold moisture in the compost. I left most of the useable soil in the right pile, though I did mix some in on the left to spread the microbial goodness.