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compost not heating

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Re: compost not heating

Post  plantoid on 2/20/2012, 7:16 pm

@JK wrote:Yep, Thanks to you both camp and llama.

When I dig out the old I will check but just from turning it I dont think there is really anything finished. Old pile was probably 2 x 2 or so? It had more room than that, just didnt have the stuff to put in it. Now that I have manure I will add more leaves and what not to bulk it up. I have about 200 free 3/4" x 32" untreated boards that im going to use to build a new pile. Whatever doesnt get used goes to camp for firewood lol. Im somewhat design challenged so im still thinking of the best way to build it given the size of the boards...


See if you can folow this blurb .

Make up rails by using four of the 32 inch boards as follows

Set up end to end using two boards, cut another board in half at 16 inches and screw it on one of the 32 inch board at one end so you can now add a 32 inch boars to make a stepped join add the remaining 16 inch board to give the final thicknesses of board which now is 64 inches long by two board thicnesses thick.

Make top and bottom rails and screw on the slats to make a wall ,repeat two more times and screw each wall onto a 4x4 posts which become the corner posts those 4x4 posts can als be made up of several boards as mentioned but more in the sandwich and be concreted or just buried in the ground for 18 inches or so .

This will give you a three sided enclosure 64 inches by 64 inches and 32 inches high ..using the same principle as mentioned you could also increase the height to 48 inches so long as the uprights are made long enough .

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Cincinnati on 2/20/2012, 10:40 pm

@Boz wrote:
If you need more carbon you can use shredded newspaper it gives you 175:1 C:N

At the risk of starting an argument:

I don't add anything that is not contributing to the nutritional value of the compost. That generally includes anything not occurring in nature. Newspaper is one of those things. It's acidic. And the ink is acidic. Plus the chemicals added in the solvents are suspect in my mind. Some of the composting books I read say that as well. However, I know many people use this.

Some better alternatives: Let some of your green stuff dry out. Buy some bales of straw (but you may not know if chemicals were added to the wheat crop). Rake the neighbor's yard for them — you do a good deed and reap the compost raw ingredients.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 2/21/2012, 2:17 pm

I've now finally located a source of some chicken manure. I'll add it to my leftover horse manure to build into my next layered (hopefully hot!) compost pile. Today is day 4 since I built the pile according to the guidelines on the permaculture website, and I should turn the pile today. I'll post tomorrow to let you know if it has finally heated up.

I'm building a new 4x4 for strawberries, so I hope to use some of the newly finished compost when I make the MM for the new garden.


Last edited by 1airdoc on 2/21/2012, 2:37 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Kelejan on 2/21/2012, 2:33 pm

@Boz wrote:GWN
If you need more carbon you can use shredded newspaper it gives you 175:1 C:N

Some people do not like to use newspaper. May I suggest egg boxes?

At our bird rehab centre we breed all sorts of wriggly creatures and we use food grade egg cartons otherwise the commercial gray packaging kills all of the creatures. We get a surplus of egg cartons given to us so I use some of the surplus ones, tearing them into little bits. So if the egg cartons are OK for the birds then they are OK for composting.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  floyd1440 on 2/21/2012, 8:38 pm

I have been following your posts on compost but have an odd situation. My yard has between 3-10 deer on it at any given time. I had to fence in my two SFGs just to keep them out and they dig around and try to under the fence.



So where do I put my compost pile? I would think they would eat my scraps and if I try to cover it up they might try to knock it over; ie the bin or fenced area outside the one I built.

I am thinking of making a much smaller comtainer to put inside my fenced area; I wish I would have made the fenced area larger..any ideas?

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Cold weather composting

Post  tomperrin on 2/21/2012, 9:36 pm



Above is a time and temperature graph of my two compost piles. The first pile was started last fall, and after adding a great deal more raw material, went dormant. My second pile was started at the beginning of the year, and just would not get off the ground temperature-wise. Both piles had the same original raw material: horse manure with sawdust or wood chip based bedding, laced with mulched leaves, coffee grounds and veggie scraps from the kitchen. The sawdust and wood chip combo predictably used up whatever nitro was present in the horse manure.

My first intervention was with Pile #2. To this I added 250 lbs of wet chicken manure and two bales of straw. This combination, when mixed together, heated up very rapidly, going from 35F to 110F in 7 days. The pile has now leveled out in the 95-100F range, and will be turned completely over tomorrow.

My second intervention was with Pile #1. To this I added a coffee container of plain alfalfa pellets underneath an equal amount of table scraps and coffee grounds, followed by water. In each corner of the pile, I wiggled a rebar around, filled the resulting hole with pellets and filled with water. Results: nothing much, until a couple of days ago. This morning the pile was at 61F, well on its way to hot, 14 days after inserting the pellets.

The point to all this, is that compost takes time. Pile #2 didn't take very long because it had a huge amount of fresh material to work with. Pile #1 took twice as long to wake itself out of dormancy because it only had a handful of pellets to work with. In both cases, patience was required. What really is helping to understand the process is the thermometer.

Tom

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Re: compost not heating

Post  llama momma on 2/21/2012, 9:42 pm

Floyd
I have deer also. Are you able to put up a 3 sided wooden pallet bin? The front side I put chicken wire on and bungee cord it to the pallets. Then it is contained yet easy to get to and keeps out critters. If you use manure in it I would think it would be less attractive to them too. I've never seen deer get close to my compost area and I have 3 bins operating.

Some people swear that Irish Spring soap deters deer. I've used deer repellant granules along with Mel's critter cages, with perfect success. Hope this helps.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  llama momma on 2/21/2012, 9:46 pm

Floyd
Locate your compost pile where you want. Some sources say put it in the sun, but how about the leaves in the woods - all shade right? And it still decomposes anyway. Mine gets part shade and I'm very happy with its production.

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Deer in the garden

Post  tomperrin on 2/21/2012, 11:41 pm

@floyd1440 wrote:I have been following your posts on compost but have an odd situation. My yard has between 3-10 deer on it at any given time. I had to fence in my two SFGs just to keep them out and they dig around and try to under the fence.

I'm not among the Bambi lover contingent when it comes to deer and suburbia. I believe them to be a menace to health and safety, whether it is as a mobile road hazard, vector for Lyme disease, crashing through glass doors, or ravaging your garden.

Among the positives: venison steak fried in butter or ground into burger tastes wonderful. If hunting them is not possible due to proximity to houses/roads etc. then it is necessary to make them feel unwelcome. There are chemical barriers available. I've got a gallon of the stuff kicking around but have never used it. A string of tin cans with pebbles around the garden area may help - actually anything that evokes a startle response. Solar powered lights, a windmill, ribbons on a rope, flagpole rope banging against the pole, spraying water, tape recordings....whatever works to make them uncomfortable and leave.

I'm not sure that the compost pile will be a target - your fresh veggie scraps should be buried deep in the pile anyway.

But the sad truth is that without proper herd management, your deer herd will double in size every year or so. While I like to look at them as much as anyone, they are far too dangerous an animal to be in your yard.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 2/22/2012, 11:05 am

Wow, Tom. Your data are interesting.

Yesterday on day 4 of the deepgreenpermaculture.com hot composting technique (http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/) I turned my reworked pile. This was my new pile made of layered leaves/garden waste, horse manure, older cold compost, and sprinkles of blood meal. The pile was... slightly... warm in the middle. Definitely warmer than the old cold pile, but not exactly hot yet. I didn't measure the temp - not sure what I'd use (don't think I want to stick my grill thermometer in the manure!).

The deepgreenpermaculture.com website suggests that this technique should work within 18 days, but I'll try to recall your advice on patience and time.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 2/22/2012, 11:20 am

Floyd - We have deer on our property, too. They never touch my compost. I always bury the kitchen scraps beneath the surface, so maybe they don't smell it or it is not attractive to them. The compost pile is not far from our garden.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 2/22/2012, 11:26 am

Camprn - how often do you turn that pile in the photos you posted? Looks like you don't turn it too frequently.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  camprn on 2/22/2012, 11:44 am

@1airdoc wrote:Camprn - how often do you turn that pile in the photos you posted? Looks like you don't turn it too frequently.
well, I do not turn it in the winter time as I do all my turning by hand. It is cold out there and part of the pile is well frozen. When it warms up I try to turn the pile every one to two weeks. I have to say that before I started making the chimneys in the pile the whole process was noticibly slower. I am hoping I can turn out usable compost from that winter pile by Memorial Day or the middle of June.

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Thermometer

Post  tomperrin on 2/22/2012, 12:26 pm

I use a compost thermometer.


Compost Thermometer


by Reotemp Instrument Corp

http://www.amazon.com/Reotemp-Instrument-Corp-FG20P-Thermometer/dp/B002P5RGMI/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1329931456&sr=8-1-fkmr0

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Re: compost not heating

Post  camprn on 2/22/2012, 4:34 pm

er, I use my kitchen thermometer

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Re: compost not heating

Post  floyd1440 on 2/22/2012, 8:30 pm

Thanks for the advice regarding my deer problem and concerned. My main concern is what the deer would do with my scraps so the idea of burying them seems to be a logical approach.

I will build one outside the fence but also put a smaller one inside it.

See what happens the spring....

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 2/23/2012, 9:22 am

Yesterday I noticed where I had washed out my truckbed that the horse manure has a LOT of fine sawdust mixed into it. This is really going to increase the carbon in the mix and may limit how much the compost can heat up as well as how much nitrogen is available in the final compost. When I turn the compost today, I think I should probably add in some additional nitrogen. Will tossing in more blood meal be sufficient? I may be able to get some chicken manure to add, but that won't be available for a few more days.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  camprn on 2/23/2012, 10:05 am

I bet that small amount of sawdust will be fine and not cause a problem. Now if it was wood chips I may think differently. My suggestion, give what you have a whirl and resist the urge to tinker. Wink If it was me, I would hold off on the dried blood and save it for the day when I can get no manure. Let us know how things progress. What a Face

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Re: compost not heating

Post  plantoid on 2/23/2012, 6:24 pm

My thoughts .


I think you can run to 80 or more parts carbon , most animal bedding will have a fair part of urine in it especiall horse box / stable cleanings , this is also source of some nitrogen which will help break down the sawdust .

You can add your own pee at 20 water to 1 part pee to get even more cheap nitrogen into the pile


The urine in the sawdust will start to seep out once you wet it up as you build the composting heap and this watering in turn will also bring out the juices of the horse muck , which will all end up fairly evenly distributed in the compost heap .

Adding the chicken muck on top of the already composting stable muck & watering it down will not hurt for again the run off as you water it when building the heap up will seep into the older heap & when it comes to turning the heap at a later date you'll mix it in .

But it may take a little longer to make the finished quality compost due to the addition time period needed for composting after adding of new material

If you have the space you could just help the stable muck run to compost on it's own and compost the chicken muck in a separate heap if it has straw or other bedding in it or by adding sawdust or straw if neat stuff that's free of it .

Then when it comes to blending the finished composted materials just use a bucket of each type and thoroughly mix them ( they should also be much lighter by now )



I have seven 9 cubic feet lidded composter bins and I'm composting each type of material separately, for I too didn't have the opportunity to make all at once neither am I fit enough to do it all in one go .

I can then just turn an individual composter bins contents one heap at a time when I'm able to.

My individual bins contain

Bin (1) Stable muck with straw & steamed out wood pulp .

(2) Chicken shed muck & straw .

(3) Goose shed muck & straw & some pig pen muck with their straw bedding .

(4) Duck shed muck & straw,

(5) turkey droppings , goat droppings and straw. Cow shed muck & strawbedding

(6) rabbit hutch cleanings with straw,hay and sawdust etc,

(7 ) partly earth based and spent growbags with straw, and kitchen veg matter plus five buckets of neat horse muck ( will use this for dressing the new lawns )

I'll be using bins 1 to 6 for the balanced finished compost as the replenishment compost in the beds when I replant , perhaps condensing them all down into one or two storage bins of mixed finished quality compost , so I can get the next composting cycle going and start adding veg matter from the beds/kitchen into my seperate worm farm bin .

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 2/24/2012, 10:40 am

Well, yesterday was day 6 of the deepgreenpermaculture.com hot composting technique, and the weather was unseasonably warm here - 77 degrees and gorgeous, so I eagerly went to the pile to turn it and check the temp. I used my grill thermometer and found the temp in the middle of the pile to be . . .(drumroll please).. 67 degrees. That was only 4 degrees warmer than the nearby dirt. I went ahead and turned the whole pile, wondering if I was wasting my time and back on a cold compost heap.

Day 6-8 is supposed to be the peak of heating, according to this technique, yet my pile is not really heating at all. The pile seems plenty moist (damp, not dripping), so I doubt that's a problem. I'm going to pick up a load of chicken manure this afternoon, and then I'll be out of town thru Sunday. If the pile hasn't begun to heat up by Monday, I'll consider adding the chicken manure and/or blood meal for some nitrogen boost.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  camprn on 2/24/2012, 10:45 am

It is possible that it may be too wet. at this point a wee sprinkle of the dried blood will give a kick start. In my experience the pile needs very little of the stuff, sprinkle lightly every 4 -6 inches.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  yolos on 2/24/2012, 10:53 am

Thanks llama momma. I tried a small amount of rabbit food in a part of one of my compost bins. After 4 days that part of the compost pile heated up to 120 degrees. The part of the pile that did not get any rabbit food is at 60 degrees.

I also tried some blood meal in another bin but so far the temp has only increased to 80 degrees. But in this pile I spread it all throughout the pile so maybe there was not enough in one spot to give higher temps.

I am just experimenting now on a couple of things because ***** the people who own the property next to mine have just fenced it off and are getting ready to build a barn and move some horses onto the property. I asked them what they intend to do with the horse manure and they said they had not decided yet but they said I could have as much as I need for my compost pile. So someday, whenever they get thru building the barn, I may get a good source of nitrogen.cheers

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When to turn the pile

Post  tomperrin on 2/24/2012, 12:10 pm

I've learned not to turn the pile unless there is a compelling reason to do so. The reasons for me to turn the pile are:

1. The pile smells bad. This indicates anaerobic composting when what we need are aerobic beasties working.

2. The temperature of the pile is too hot. Bacteria are killed at 170F. I would turn the pile if the pile was approaching that temp.

3. The temperature of the pile has fallen under 100F after previously having reached 140F.

Other Points to Consider:

If you turn the pile before it is time, heat loss will inevitably occur. And then it will take time for the heat to build back up, if it does. I sent a pile into dormancy by turning before its time.

Heat loss through convection can be partially prevented through the use of a black cover. The black will absorb radiant energy as well as retaining some heat.

If you leave the pile alone and do nothing, compost will occur eventually. Ain't nature wonderful!

Any temp over 50F-55F is good. Bacteria are actively feeding upon your material and making compost. We don't have a written contract with the bio-beasties. They will do what they do in their own time. In winter especially, things may be more slow and more complicated. While supplements may quicken the process, patience on the part of the pile maker is perhaps more important.

Some compost ingredients make hotter compost than others. And the resulting compost may be higher or lower in its final nitrogen content as result, with all that implies.

Tom

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Re: compost not heating

Post  llama momma on 2/24/2012, 12:17 pm

Yolos

Your Welcome. The rabbit pellets are probably in the 14- 16% range of nitrogen, that's why things heated up so nicely! Glad I could help you!

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Composting Bacteria Temperatures

Post  tomperrin on 2/24/2012, 2:57 pm

I compiled the following for my own use. These numbers appear to be the general consensus on the internet, but may vary somewhat from source to source. Therefore, these numbers should be considered generalizations.



Composting Bacteria TypeExist at Thrive atLife Span
psychrophilic0F -70 55F
mesophylic40F -11070F -90F
thermophilic104F-200F 122F-130F3-5 days
kill pathogens & seeds131F3 days minimum
worms depart95F
bacteria self immolation begins170F
I suggest Turn pile @100F & falling
I suggest Turn pile @160F & rising
Consider using a rebar to poke aeration and water holes instead of turning the pile over. This should minimize heat loss from convection.
http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/fundamentals/biology_aerobic.htm
http://sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/compost-info/tutorial/microbes-defined-bacteria.shtml
http://extension.oregonstate.edu/lane/sites/default/files/documents/lc332careandfeedingofcompostrev.pdf
http://sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/compost-info/tutorial/glossary.shtml
http://sarasota.ifas.ufl.edu/compost-info/tutorial/index.shtml

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Re: compost not heating

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