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compost not heating

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 3/1/2012, 11:01 am

Found earthworms in my pile yesterday as I was turning it, but they were all at the periphery or near the ground where presumably the pile was cooler. I imagine that they will all hightail it out of there in the next 2 days as the pile gets warmer.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 3/3/2012, 10:42 pm

Compost update - day 14. Yesterday I turned the compost, but checked the temperature first. It was up to 131 degrees! Finally it is heating up well. With all the delays in getting enough nitrogen in the pile, I doubt it will be ready by day 18 as suggested on the deepgreenpermaculture.com site, but hopefully it will be ready much sooner than my old, cold pile. I hope to be able to use a good bit to blend into the MM for the new boxes I am building.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 3/4/2012, 3:21 pm

Compost update - day 16. My third post in a row, but I promise it'll be the last for a while. Today I turned the compost pile and it was finally "smokin' hot"! The steam was rising out of each forkful as I turned it, and the white, ashy look of the microbes was evident, just like the pile in camprn's picture. I did not measure the temperature, but it was clearly warmer than the last time, certainly in excess of 150 degrees. I'll be out of town for a few days, so I'll definitely be leaving the pile to cook on its own for a bit, but I put at least 15 air tunnels into the pile to keep it aerated, and it looks like it is well on its way now. Thanks to all who have given advice on how to get it heated up! I'll give an update later when I'm back in town.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  camprn on 3/4/2012, 5:05 pm

@1airdoc wrote:Compost update - day 16. My third post in a row, but I promise it'll be the last for a while. Today I turned the compost pile and it was finally "smokin' hot"! The steam was rising out of each forkful as I turned it, and the white, ashy look of the microbes was evident, just like the pile in camprn's picture. I did not measure the temperature, but it was clearly warmer than the last time, certainly in excess of 150 degrees. I'll be out of town for a few days, so I'll definitely be leaving the pile to cook on its own for a bit, but I put at least 15 air tunnels into the pile to keep it aerated, and it looks like it is well on its way now. Thanks to all who have given advice on how to get it heated up! I'll give an update later when I'm back in town.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/4/2012, 6:33 pm

I shut my compost bin down the Saturday after Thanksgiving(it stayed covered with a tarp) and this weekend, I restarted it using camprn's method.
Instead of horse manure, I went to the local feed store and bought a 25 pound bag of rabbit food.
I took about 2/3 of the materials off the top of the pile, put about a dozen or so sticks in it and built layers with some rabbit food, a sprinkling of dried blood, and some water. I repeated the layering until I was done.
I'll be away for two days and I sure hope to see the temperature increase when I get back.
I noticed alot of identifiable ingredients in the pile. Most of it was from the big bag of leaves I got from working in NJ last year

Wow....was that pile ever smelly. Must've been the buckets of fish parts I put in towards the end of last November.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/6/2012, 8:39 pm

I got back from NJ tonight and the temp of the compost pile is up to 60F. When I reworked it on Sunday it was only 40F.

Things are looking up.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/6/2012, 10:50 pm

Lol, I checked mine on Sunday and thought of you and how hot our piles where at one time Razz
Mine is still frozen solid as a rock! Shocked

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Re: compost not heating

Post  snibb on 3/6/2012, 10:59 pm

Way to go Too Tall!....

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/6/2012, 11:16 pm

I remember late October/early November the compost was up to 130 + F. I really should've kept it going then. After I added all of the stuff I did, the pile just got too big for me to work properly.

I'll tell ya.... as soon as this compost pile is done, I'm probably going to have to either pay someone to mix it up for me or I'll have to rent a small tiller to mix it up. It is seriously way too big. I'm going to take a picture tomorrow and show you what I'm talking about.

After I start my boxes, I'm going to buy myself a compost tumbler and make small batches at a time. Lowes sells a nice tumbler for 98 bucks.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  snibb on 3/6/2012, 11:24 pm

That sounds like a pretty good price Too Tall

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Re: compost not heating

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/6/2012, 11:28 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:I remember late October/early November the compost was up to 130 + F. I really should've kept it going then. After I added all of the stuff I did, the pile just got too big for me to work properly.

I'll tell ya.... as soon as this compost pile is done, I'm probably going to have to either pay someone to mix it up for me or I'll have to rent a small tiller to mix it up. It is seriously way too big. I'm going to take a picture tomorrow and show you what I'm talking about.

After I start my boxes, I'm going to buy myself a compost tumbler and make small batches at a time. Lowes sells a nice tumbler for 98 bucks.

I remember. You where doing great!! After we got a couple feet of snow and incredibly cold temps for awhile, I just couldn't keep up. It froze like a dirt Popsicle overnight What a Face

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/7/2012, 7:26 am

@snibb wrote:That sounds like a pretty good price Too Tall

And it'll fit perfectly where I want to put it. Right where the current compost bin is and it's just a few steps away from my kitchen door.




Hey Rooster, it never really got that cold here. Other than the occasional bit of frozen "skin" on the tops of lakes and ponds here, nothing ever froze enough. The thermostat I have in my compost bin read a constant 40F since late November. I would've been able to work it properly. I just got lazy.

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How

Post  joe23 on 3/8/2012, 7:00 pm

big are your piles? Most sources say they need to be a cubic yard to get the heat really going.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/8/2012, 7:21 pm

@joe23 wrote:big are your piles? Most sources say they need to be a cubic yard to get the heat really going.

My pile is 5ft x 5ft x 4ft tall. It's heating really great now. Last I checked it was at 80F. That's double what it was when I rebuilt it Sunday.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  camprn on 3/8/2012, 7:30 pm

TTT I think you are having success with a hot pile!!!!!! now all you gotta do is leave it alone for week or more! Patience Grasshopper! And congratulations Very Happy


Last edited by camprn on 3/8/2012, 7:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

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There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Re: compost not heating

Post  RoOsTeR on 3/8/2012, 7:31 pm

My piles are plenty big and generated plenty of heat. Once your outside temps drop below freezing for extended periods of time, plus a few feet of snow... Ain't happenin.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  camprn on 3/8/2012, 7:35 pm

nKedrOoStEr wrote:My piles are plenty big and generated plenty of heat. Once your outside temps drop below freezing for extended periods of time, plus a few feet of snow... Ain't happenin.
Shocked

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Re: compost not heating

Post  LeeAnne12 on 3/8/2012, 7:55 pm

After I start my boxes, I'm going to buy myself a compost tumbler and make small batches at a time.

TooTall, if you can get one to heat up, please tell me how you did it. I've had some tumblers going since last October and I still don't have dirt. The temp inside the tumbler is usually colder than the outside temp. Shocked

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/8/2012, 9:06 pm

@camprn wrote:TTT I think you are having success with a hot pile!!!!!! now all you gotta do is leave it alone for week or more! Patience Grasshopper! And congratulations Very Happy

Thanks camprn.

I do owe it all to you. I followed your advice with taking it apart and putting sticks in the pile. Rebuilding it with layers of compost, rabbit food(you suggested horse manure but I couldn't get any more right now so I used rabbit food and I forget who suggested that), dried blood, some water.

Thanks again!

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/8/2012, 10:57 pm

@LeeAnne12 wrote:
After I start my boxes, I'm going to buy myself a compost tumbler and make small batches at a time.

TooTall, if you can get one to heat up, please tell me how you did it. I've had some tumblers going since last October and I still don't have dirt. The temp inside the tumbler is usually colder than the outside temp. Shocked

Lee Anne

Hey Lee Anne,

I don't have much experience with tumblers but if what I did worked on a pile I'm sure you can modify it to work in a tumbler. It also depends on what is in your tumbler now. Is it mostly greens? Or is it mostly browns? My pile started out mostly greens but at the end of last season I worked in a lot of browns; yard debris from my own yard and bags of leaves left at curbside(thank you northern NJ!!) Now that I think about it I really don't know what the green/brown ratio of my pile was because I also added alot of manure and fish parts near the end. I just followed the advice from camprn and I crossed my fingers and toes that it would work. So far it seems to be great.

Anyway what I would do is take a look at your tumblers and see how much room you have in them . If you don't have any room, then I would take some out of each one and put that pile aside somewhere. I'm not sure if adding in horse manure now would be good because the finished compost could still be somewhat hot by the time you want to use it. Hopefully someone else with more manure experience will add their two cents. I would use rabbit food.

It's pretty simple....just add some rabbit food(again it depends on how big your tumbler is...you'll have to play around with it somewhat) and sprinkle in maybe 1 cup of dried blood and add enough water to moisten everything lightly. Spin your tumbler around for a few minutes so that everything is mixed together. Get yourself a compost thermometer and stick it in one of the holes being sure to get the probe into the heart of the materials.

You should start to see the temperature increase by the next day. If it doesn't, no big deal because it will increase soon....maybe the next day. I'm not bragging at all but I've averaged about a 10F increase per day since Sunday when I redid my pile.

Keep an eye on the temperature and in no time you should see it increase nicely. Give it about a week or so and when the temperature drops out of the "hot zone" remove the thermometer and turn the tumbler for a few minutes. Put the probe back in and the temperature should increase gradually over the next few days. I'm not sure how long it'll take to cook because there's a lot of variables. You'll know it's done when the stuff coming out has a nice earthy smell and it has no distinguishable bits of material. You'll have to tumble the materials a few times until it's done.

Some people say that you don't need to cover the compost in the event of rain but I like doing that because I like to be able to control the moisture level in the compost. It's just my thing. You could put a tarp over your tumblers in the event of rain, and if it catches you off guard, don't sweat it one bit. My neighbors probably think I'm loony because I'm always covering it up before it rains. Hey, I'll even go out there with a flashlight at nighttime to check the temperature. I'm actually considering a wireless thermometer so I don't have to look like I'm nuts.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/9/2012, 6:01 am

Ok two things about my last post bothered me.

First of all I'm not so sure that you would need to put a tarp on a tumbler to keep excess rain out. It would be pretty difficult for rain to get inside one. Secondly, I probably shouldn't give advice like that because I'm no expert with compost in a tumbler. I hope someone else with more experience can chime in on that.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  LeeAnne12 on 3/9/2012, 3:00 pm

First of all I'm not so sure that you would need to put a tarp on a tumbler to keep excess rain out

Ha-ha...I wondered about that. Very Happy I appreciate any help I can get, TooTall. ...and you stated at the very beginning that you didn't know that much about tumblers, so no problem. I did get some rabbit food and am going to give it a try. One problem I may be having is that it's not wet enough. I turned them today...just to see, and there are parts that look really wet, but the majority of it looks dry as a bone. It's really driving me crazy, because I think I should know how to do this the first time I try it. Rolling Eyes

Thank you for your suggestions. They were very helpful.

Lee Anne

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/9/2012, 10:43 pm

You're welcome LeeAnne.

Compost materials should be no wetter than a wrung out sponge, but I'm not so sure I'd like the idea of sticking my hand in and giving it a squeeze. Yuck.

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Re: compost not heating

Post  1airdoc on 3/10/2012, 7:20 pm

Compost update - day 22. What does it say about my life that after being in Florida for Spring Break with the family for 6 days, the first thing I did upon returning home was to check out my compost pile! Oh, well, such is life as a SFG'er!

I turned my compost pile, which has been sitting untouched for 6 days. It was still steaming hot (literally) all through the pile (other than the surfaces), even though the outdoor temps were up in the mid 60's. The white, ashy, microbial appearance was evident all over the central material, and although I did not measure the temperature, the pile was VERY warm to the touch - even felt warm to my feet through the wellies. I did notice the the pile had diminished somewhat in size, however, despite the statements on deepgreenpermaculture.com. The compost is getting a very rich aroma now, and the oak leaves which had seemed resistant to composting, are beginning to break down finally.

I'm hoping it will be ready to use in the MM for my new boxes I am working on!

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Re: compost not heating

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 7:28 pm

hey 1airdoc, I was wondering how you're making out with your compost. It's great to see you're having success too. The temperature of mine is at 132F and I can actually see steam almost billowing from the top of the pile. If I didn't know better I would swear that someone's hiding out in my compost having a cigarette break.

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