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compost not heating

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Re: compost not heating

Post  camprn on 2/24/2012, 5:49 pm

Tom I love your posts! Thanks for taking the time to do the research and then sharing your findings so generously! Very Happy

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Re: compost not heating

Post  dsfin on 2/24/2012, 8:21 pm

tomperrin,

That's some great composting data!!!


Thanks for including all the supporting references!!! Sometimes that's the biggest part of researching a subject; finding the documents, articles & websites about the subject.

Now I gotta readup and find out what all the BIG word mean!! affraid

Thanks a bunch. ---Dave

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rebar holes

Post  curio on 2/24/2012, 8:31 pm

If you're using rebar to poke aeration/water holes in a compost bed, how large should you make those holes?

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Rebar hole size

Post  tomperrin on 2/24/2012, 8:38 pm

@curio wrote:If you're using rebar to poke aeration/water holes in a compost bed, how large should you make those holes?

I've never done much bigger than the size of the rebar unless I was pouring alfalfa pellets down the hole. I think perhaps quantity of holes is more important than size. All you want to do is to break up the compaction a little bit and allow oxygen to reach deep into the pile.

Tom

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Re: compost not heating

Post  camprn on 2/24/2012, 8:41 pm

Curio, do you have an open compost pile on the ground? If so, as I mentioned previously, you can pound some wood stakes into the ground, build the pile around the stakes, then just remove the stakes after you have turned the pile. You get the same effect as shoving rebar down into the pile. Little chimneys an inch or two wide.

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compost pile

Post  curio on 2/24/2012, 9:51 pm

Ours is open but contained, similar to yours but with a front panel that's removable. I'll try that with the one I'll be creating in the next week or so.
Has anyone heard of using large septic type pipe with the holes in it in the middle or in a couple of places in a pile? Seems like I either read about this or saw it at some point. I would imagine using the stakes would work the same.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  yolos on 2/24/2012, 11:10 pm

Curio:

I am trying the pipe with holes in it method. I have a 4 x 4 x 4 compost bin. I took leftover 3/4" pvc pipe and drilled many holes in the pipe. I buried them horizontally in the bin. 3 pipes per layer every 12" up the pile. I also leave the pipes sticking out of the sides of the pile about an inch. I then can put caps on the ends of the pipes on cold days and take the caps off when it is warm to allow air into all parts of the pile. I don't have any idea if this is doing any good or not. Just saw it on UTube and decided to try it.

You can also put a hose in the pipes to introduce more water if needed.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 2/27/2012, 3:44 pm

Update on my compost pile: day 10 with the deepgreenpermaculture.com technique. Although I understand the recommendations to just leave the pile alone for a while, since I had begun the deepgreenpermaculture.com technique, I decided to stick with that and see it through to determine if it works. Since my temps had not really heated up much, I had continued to wonder if the N:C ratio was still too low in my pile (primarily as a consequence of the excess sawdust in the horse manure. To test that theory, I blended some chicken manure into the compost in one corner of the pile. As suggested, I also added air channels (using a 2x2 board to poke multiple holes through the pile).

Today (3 days later), I checked the temperatures. The temp in the main pile had actually fallen a few degrees from day 6, but the temp in the test area with chicken manure was 7 degrees warmer than the main pile. I took this as confirmation that my pile was too low in N, so as I turned the pile today I blended chicken manure (about 100lb) into the entire pile. I also poked more air channels into the pile. We'll see what the outcome is in two days.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  AZDYJ2K on 2/28/2012, 2:29 am

I have also had problems with getting my compost pile to heat up...until recently. I scored on some straw from a chicken/duck/goose house and within a day or 2 I had a hot steamy compost bin going. I think much has to do with not having the correct brown material in my bin since my original (cold) pile was clumpy. I did add sawdust and bedding from hamster/gerbil cages but it still never took off. I tried fresh grass clippings, rabbit and goat poo and nothing heated it up.

The straw from the bottom of the chicken house seems to be the perfect catalyst to heat up my pile and I now have a good steady source for that. The only downside was that I had to pick it up during lunch and it sat in my trunk for 4+ hours so it stunk up the car pretty bad even though it was bagged. I will have to think of another way to transport it in the future.

In short, I would see if you can score some straw or hay and get some fresh manure to see if that would help.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Furbalsmom on 2/28/2012, 4:18 am

The straw from the bottom of the chicken house seems to be the perfect catalyst to heat up my pile and I now have a good steady source for that. The only downside was that I had to pick it up during lunch and it sat in my trunk for 4+ hours so it stunk up the car pretty bad even though it was bagged. I will have to think of another way to transport it in the future.



Oh No! Need to schedule weekends or evenings, or borrow someone else's car. Laughing

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Re: compost not heating

Post  plantoid on 2/28/2012, 6:53 pm

The " poop from the coop " and any urine form the stock is what feeds the bacteria that breaks down the cellulose in the straw fiberous material .

Getting the right moisture content of the newly mixed heap is essential & keeping the heap covered to retain that moisture is the only way I know of getting the bacteria 7 moisture to do it's work

uncoverd the heap loses heat & moisture so the composting take longer .

There are two main ways of making a compost pile .

One is heap the materials up , leave it alone and dig out the composted material once every year or so this may well have lost a lot of nutrient value due to the action of the wind , sun and rain

Or

The express way of a regular turning during a composting cycle of a specific batch of materials that gives a much better compost as nutrients content tends to be higher.

Don't forget that once your spefcified heap is made and running through the nominated composting cycle of turning and watering as needed you ought to start another pile .

For you'll extend the composting time if you add new stuff to the heap at a later date.

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covering the compost

Post  curio on 2/28/2012, 7:08 pm

Living in the very wet Pacific Northwest US, I'm wondering if it would be more advantageous to cover our compost bin to retain heat and cause it to "cook" more quickly?

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 2/28/2012, 8:27 pm

I've read that you can cover your pile with a square of carpet remnant inverted (pile side down). It lets water and O2 in, but helps keep the heat from escaping. I've not tried that, but I'm not sure it gets cold enough in TN to need that.

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too much rain?

Post  curio on 2/28/2012, 8:43 pm

We get so much rain here (it seems) that I'm always concerned about the nutrients leaching out of the compost before it's finished if it's being cold composted. By the same token, I've not found a reliable way to really heat up those piles.

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To cover or not to cover

Post  tomperrin on 2/28/2012, 8:46 pm

@curio wrote:Living in the very wet Pacific Northwest US, I'm wondering if it would be more advantageous to cover our compost bin to retain heat and cause it to "cook" more quickly?

I cover so that less heat is lost through convection.

That said, I wonder if we truly understand what our resident bacteria are doing.

The bacteria give off metabolic heat. As the heat increases, different bacteria come out of dormancy, become active and multiply, and give off greater heat. Then these bacteria die, and the original bacteria take over again, and the temperature is reduced. We know that turning the pile over often (but not always) results in increased bacterial activity.

But what happens if the bacteria collude together on a particular strategy, and say to themselves, "Hey, enough already. Leave us alone while we do our thing. You heat loving critters stay away, and to make sure you do, we're going to munch along at a steady state so that you're not comfortable or hot enough to come in and push us out."

What the popular compost articles don't tell us is that bacteria are quorum sensing and have the ability to communicate at the molecular level. One article in particular is enlightening in its implications:

“In a process called quorum sensing, bacteria monitor the presence of other bacteria in their surroundings by producing and responding to signaling molecules known as autoinducers. The concentration of autoinducer in a given environment is proportional to the number of bacteria present...”

“....quorum sensing, allows bacteria to monitor their environment for the presence of other bacteria and to respond to fluctuations in the number and/or species present by altering particular behaviors. Most quorum-sensing systems are species- or group-specific, which presumably prevents confusion in mixed-species environments. However, some quorum-sensing circuits control behaviors that involve interactions among bacterial species.”



Michiko E. Taga and Bonnie L. Bassler Chemical communication among bacteria. PNAS November 25, 2003 vol. 100 no. Suppl 2 14549-14554. http://www.pnas.org/content/100/suppl.2/14549.full

So maybe the little beasties are just behaving like a high school clique, shutting out those bacteria that are different or don't fit in. At the proper time, they might condescend to invite other bacteria in to feast upon the goodies, but only on their own terms.



Tom

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figures

Post  curio on 2/28/2012, 9:18 pm

cliques in the compost bin... great... tongue

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Re: compost not heating

Post  graficow on 2/29/2012, 7:07 am

My neighbor suggested I put a can of coca cola in my compost bin

to get it started,,,anyone ever heard of that? I hope it works.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  llama momma on 2/29/2012, 8:17 am

I heard of molasses being added, so maybe it is the sugar benefits of cola to help feed the microscopic critters.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  graficow on 2/29/2012, 1:59 pm

I will try it

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 2/29/2012, 11:21 pm

Update on compost - day 12. Today the compost had increased 20 degrees from 2 days ago! The extra nitrogen in the chicken manure seems to be doing the trick. Temp was just below 90 degrees, so it's still not "smokin' hot," but it is definitely a turn for the better. I turned the whole pile and sprinkled a bit more of the chicken manure into each layer as I turned it. Hopefully it will be nice and hot in 2 days.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  LeeAnne12 on 3/1/2012, 1:07 am

My neighbor suggested I put a can of coca cola in my compost bin

My husband keeps telling me to do this, so there must be something to it. My problem in using coke is the chemicals in it. I don't know what this bothers me since I drink Diet Coke all the time.

Lee Anne

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Look for 140F

Post  tomperrin on 3/1/2012, 9:10 am

@1airdoc wrote:Update on compost - day 12. Today the compost had increased 20 degrees from 2 days ago! The extra nitrogen in the chicken manure seems to be doing the trick. Temp was just below 90 degrees, so it's still not "smokin' hot," but it is definitely a turn for the better. I turned the whole pile and sprinkled a bit more of the chicken manure into each layer as I turned it. Hopefully it will be nice and hot in 2 days.

In a day or two, your pile temp should reach 140F, and stay there for 3-4 days. After which it will probably drop off as dramatically as it rose.

I suggest turning it over when the temp is on its way down, before it hits 100F. That said, don't be surprised if the pile drifts in the low sixties after turning.

Oddly enough, my oldest pile, dormant for the longest time, kickstarted itself and is now hotter than the pile that had chicken guano added to it.

Tom

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Re: compost not heating

Post  LeeAnne12 on 3/1/2012, 9:24 am

Can you put manure in the compost tumblers? I've been trying since last fall to make compost and it doesn't look like the contents have decomposed at all. The directions also said to turn it every week, so I've been doing that, too. Should I leave it alone?

Thanks,

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Manure in compost tumblers

Post  tomperrin on 3/1/2012, 9:28 am

@LeeAnne12 wrote:Can you put manure in the compost tumblers?

Go for it.

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PS: Add some worms

Post  tomperrin on 3/1/2012, 9:46 am

I found some red compost worms in a bag of commercial compost and added them to my piles. My second pile rests on a slab, rather than bare ground, and so would not normally have access to worms. All compost piles should have worms to help digest the plant matter. Worms don't like temperatures above 95F.

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Re: compost not heating

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