Composting 3 – Cool Heaps

You know composting’s coo-ool 🙂  …

But to be serious, most books on biodynamics talk about making large heaps of compost, the hot heap method, though rarely calling it that. Hot heaps can be enormous (they’re also called windrows) several feet high and many feet long. I can see some of you paling at the thought already! These are the sort of compost heaps as you get at the Royal Horticultural Society gardens at Wisley, or at one of the National Trust estates, or on a farm. Most of us don’t have the space for this sort of thing, nor do we get huge masses of bulk material all at one time as they do.

To use the compost preps the way farmers and large estates do you need at least a cubic metre of “stuff” before putting the preps in – that’s a heap 1m tall x 1m deep x 1m wide. The posh wooden compost bins you can buy at garden centres and in catalogues are often about this size. To fill one up takes a lot of compost and I hear some of you saying “Even a cubic metre will take me a year to achieve!”, it won’t actually, as we produce far more compost every day than we realise until we being to make compost. To do it all in one go, as farms and estates manage is very difficult for gardeners except at spring/autumn clear-ups, but it’s all right, there are other ways to use the preps.

Cool-Heap Working

For most gardeners compost will come “little and often” over the whole of the year, adding weeds and kitchen waste as you have it, as the kitchen caddy fills up. This is cool heap working.

The cool heap needs the preparations just as much as the hot heap but, because it’s being continuously added to, you use them in a different way, using compost starters as they’re called. These starters are made of all six compost preps mixed with cow dung and allowed to mature. They come as a clean, dry powder that you sprinkle onto your heap as you put layers of compost material in. They work well with ordinary compost plastic bins, like the ones you can get through your local council in Britain.

These starter preparations are …

  • Mausdorfer
  • Cow-Pat-Pit (also known as Barrel Prep)


Mausdorfer is available from your local biodynamic association. It was developed by Josephine Porter, a student of Ehrenfried_Pfeiffer (1899-1961). Pfeiffer began work with Rudolf Steiner in 1920. He later developed an analytical method using copper chloride crystallization that was used as a blood test for detecting cancer. As a result, he was invited to the U.S. in 1937 to work at the Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia and emigrated to the U.S. in 1940. His theory brought him an honorary degree of Doctor of Medicine from Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital in Philadelphia in 1939. He also studied chemistry and became a professor of nutrition in 1956. But he always followed biodynamics and the Josephine Porter Institute carries on the good work. It has an excellent web site and does a very good magazine “Stella Natura” for which I occasionally do an article.

Cow-Pat Pit

Cow pat Pit is available from your local biodynamic association or you can make yourself, I’ll talk about how in another blog, it’s easy if you have the space.

It’s basically a mix of cow dung (cow pats), clay and basalt. The basalt is a real booster, getting the prep to work quickly into the heap, making it brew well.

Using Mausdorfer & Cow Pat Pit
  • To use in the heap, as compost starter, take about an ounce of of either Mausdorfer or cow pat pit and sprinkle it on the top of the heap after each layer of compost material you add.
  • Using cow pat pit in the garden … stir in water for twenty minutes, then flick onto the soil and plants as you would 500. Cow pat pit is a fantastic pep-up for both soil and plants in the garden. I do this three or four times a year in my garden and am  delighted how well the plants respond.
  • I also add it to the 500 sometimes as an extra pep-up.

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Celtic shaman – Elen Sentier Wye’s Woman

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