Square Foot Gardening Forum

Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.


Search
 
 

Display results as :
 

 


Rechercher Advanced Search

Latest topics
» Kale Question
by countrynaturals Today at 3:09 pm

» New England September 2016
by camprn Today at 2:59 pm

» Hand Pollination ?
by camprn Today at 2:57 pm

» CANADIAN REGION: What are you doing in September 2016
by sanderson Today at 2:12 pm

» What are you eating from your garden today?
by sanderson Today at 2:00 pm

» compost thermometer
by sanderson Today at 1:58 pm

» Plantoid' s going into hospital ....
by sanderson Today at 12:54 pm

» Tryst with my first DIY SFG
by sanderson Today at 12:51 pm

» Admin back! Classic cars
by sanderson Today at 12:47 pm

» Northern California & Coastal Valleys - What are you doing this month?
by sanderson Today at 12:37 pm

» EXPERIMENT: Tomatoes to Powder
by trolleydriver Today at 11:00 am

» N&C Midwest: September 2016
by Scorpio Rising Today at 9:29 am

» The Research Journey:what to plant now, fall gardening in Dallas-Ft worth
by sanderson Yesterday at 9:55 pm

» Second Year SFG in Canada
by sanderson Yesterday at 9:53 pm

» Medical Topic...may be helpful to some folk....
by sanderson Yesterday at 9:50 pm

» Gardening in Central Pennsylvania
by Scorpio Rising Yesterday at 9:04 pm

» Mid-Atl - Jul 2016 - Wwwwaaaaahhhhh!
by Scorpio Rising Yesterday at 6:07 pm

» Another item for composting.
by llama momma Yesterday at 4:04 pm

» mulching
by dstack Yesterday at 12:27 pm

» 1,000 worms on their way....
by Cajun Cappy Yesterday at 11:45 am

» Mid-Atl - Oct 2016 - Fall Garden 2016
by BeetlesPerSqFt Yesterday at 9:32 am

» When is a great time to start a garden? The Fall!
by MrBooker Yesterday at 6:05 am

» NEW ENGLAND OCT 2016
by Scorpio Rising 9/24/2016, 10:02 pm

» leggy potatoes plants were started too early in the hous
by sanderson 9/24/2016, 8:31 pm

» Soil Blocks: Tutorial In Photos
by Kelejan 9/24/2016, 12:49 pm

» Mix for making soil blocks
by trolleydriver 9/24/2016, 7:54 am

» soil testing
by Kelejan 9/23/2016, 9:26 pm

» Terrible News: Bumblebees In Trouble
by Scorpio Rising 9/23/2016, 8:51 pm

» Facebook - SFG Foundation postings
by Scorpio Rising 9/23/2016, 8:49 pm

» A traditional German dish with a Fall twist.
by sanderson 9/23/2016, 6:38 pm

Google

Search SFG Forum

Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  llama momma on 5/6/2013, 10:56 am

As many of you know, there is a method of hot composting called the Berkely method.
I tried a very similar method called a hot hospital heap as described in a wonderful composting book, The Complete Compost Gardening Guide. It is also suppose to take about 18 days, then cure for a month. The heap went hot and ranged from 130's and 140's to about 158 degrees. Would probably have been hotter but at that point you turn and water every 2 days.

The heap is currently in the cooling stage and is 110 degrees the past couple days. It has a couple more weeks to go.

If you try this method here are a couple of pointers I learned and would like to pass along.

1- Use shredded leaves before you begin. I was thinking the method didn't work because the leaves broke down a little, all turned black. They finally broke down just the other day, but it sure had me worried.

2- the heap overall seemed to have larger generally lumpy contents despite all my readings that said very hot composting makes a fine textured result. Again, be sure to break things up when you get started.

3- This is labor intensive work, you must turn the heap many times. Be very prepared to baby the pile and sweat a lot. I lost over 5 pounds!

4- Never had a heap smoke and smoulder so much, my husband began to think there would be flames shooting from it.

5 - It's currently aging, very dark brown and black, has reached a lovely crumbly stage and should be ready to use in about 2 weeks.

6- Will I do this again? Reluctantly and probably. Have to consider the serious tremendous physical effort over a few weeks.

llama momma

Certified SFG Instructor

Female Posts : 4582
Join date : 2010-08-20
Age : 59
Location : Central Ohio zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  bnoles on 5/6/2013, 2:47 pm

Thanks so much for the update LM. Sounds like it will make some good compost, but I'm not sure if I can commit to the physical aspects of this method due to a vertebra compression and other limitations. I can only do something like this on my good days which book their own schedule. The 30 day waiting time is the part that would have me squirming after all that work (I am not a patient old man... LOL). Overall, I would be willing to give it a go if I could, based on your review.

bnoles

Male Posts : 804
Join date : 2012-08-16
Location : North GA Mountains Zone 7A

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  llama momma on 5/6/2013, 3:27 pm

Regarding the vertebra issue -- Oh noo, that's no fun.
Tell you what happened here - being right handed I mostly turned over compost in a right to left motion supported by the left leg. Think I'll blame this on a recurring stabbing left leg pain that unexpectantly and literally stops me in my tracks. Hope time will prove this is temporary. Finally have to admit that 56 yrs of age has officially robbed my youth.
affraid

llama momma

Certified SFG Instructor

Female Posts : 4582
Join date : 2010-08-20
Age : 59
Location : Central Ohio zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  bnoles on 5/6/2013, 5:10 pm

I forgot to mention that I broke down and ordered 1 lb of red wigglers and will be drilling my tub this evening in preparation of their arrival. You do know this is all YOUR fault! I figure with the chickens and the worms, I will have a little help keeping the compost churned a bit.

bnoles

Male Posts : 804
Join date : 2012-08-16
Location : North GA Mountains Zone 7A

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  llama momma on 5/11/2013, 2:11 pm

Here is the results of the first attempt at hot composting. Some of the contents were from the fall but I'd say most was assembled this past January during a warm streak and a lot of leaves, grass, soybean meal were added just a few weeks ago. It needs to sit about another week or so, sift, then its ready to go --


Last edited by llama momma on 5/11/2013, 2:26 pm; edited 1 time in total

llama momma

Certified SFG Instructor

Female Posts : 4582
Join date : 2010-08-20
Age : 59
Location : Central Ohio zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  bnoles on 5/11/2013, 2:25 pm

Hi LM.... Actually that looks like pretty good stuff and like you said, about ready to use. I have been thinking about one of those little Mantis like tillers to use for stirring up my compost rather than trying to do it by hand. I know there would still be some fork work involved to pile the sides back up, but it sure looks like the back breaking part could be lessened a good bit. What would your thoughts be on this?

bnoles

Male Posts : 804
Join date : 2012-08-16
Location : North GA Mountains Zone 7A

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  llama momma on 5/11/2013, 2:29 pm

I haven't used one of those but it sounds terrific if it really works and saves your back. I must say at this point the pile finally got a little smaller and lighter and today turning over the pile was easy compared to the beginning stages.

llama momma

Certified SFG Instructor

Female Posts : 4582
Join date : 2010-08-20
Age : 59
Location : Central Ohio zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  plantoid on 5/11/2013, 7:55 pm

BOB , I have an electric mantis with the standard tines and also the grass rake tines fitted with wheels.

The grass rake tines work best when on slow or medium speed , drop the heap to about a foot thick , put on glasses and some sort of mask like an old pillow case , wear complete cover up overalls and wear sturdy boots .
In on of the composting threads you can see a picture of my shed wall where " smelly things " ( very polite words ) got splattered when I tried it on full speed .

The soil tines are not as good as the grass rake tines and wheels as the wheels help keep you from digging in the pile too deep in one go , they give you a lot of easy control for little effort as well . The grass rake really tears thing apart and puts in a lot of air . This makes it really easy to shovel the lighter shovels full .

My bins are on smooth concrete , so shovelling is easy .

On the one bin that I had on bare earth I used a two tined pitch fork with a pair of extra tines welded on (on inside of the two outer ones so the fork end is barely 6 inches wide by 8 inched tall ) to fork the new pile back together as shovelling on soft earth is pretty mean if your using a shovel.


Last edited by plantoid on 5/11/2013, 8:06 pm; edited 1 time in total

plantoid

Male Posts : 3591
Join date : 2011-11-09
Age : 65

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  plantoid on 5/11/2013, 8:02 pm

LM I'm 3/4 of the way through using my second bin of home made compost , a total of about 15 cubic feet .

Mine looked a lottle bit more twiggy than yours as I used a leaf mulching garden vacuum that also took in loads of small twigs .

It seems darn good stuff . Most of my seeds and cuttings are in a highly diluted peat & sieved HMC mix ..... of 80 peat to one of HMC , sprinkled over as the peat was measured in small tin cans then mixed in four times , to get a real even distribution .

plantoid

Male Posts : 3591
Join date : 2011-11-09
Age : 65

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  bnoles on 5/11/2013, 8:09 pm

Thanks for your most helpful comments David. I am giving serious consideration into getting one of these in hopes it will save what little back I have left. Your comments make me lean even more in that direction.

bnoles

Male Posts : 804
Join date : 2012-08-16
Location : North GA Mountains Zone 7A

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  plantoid on 5/11/2013, 8:31 pm

When you set the handles for height , set them so the machine is upright when you are standing up . Far to many people set them too low so have to fight the machine when it's in action by having them too high or too low .

I'm that knackered these days I have to use a pneumatic tyre'd sack barrow to move it around if it is not set up with the wheel grass rake .

It is a good machine for aireating the lawn when using the soil spikes on slow speed . The grass rake is brill for digging out the dead thatch or any moss on the lawns which all goes to make good compost .

plantoid

Male Posts : 3591
Join date : 2011-11-09
Age : 65

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  llama momma on 5/11/2013, 11:55 pm

@plantoid wrote:LM I'm 3/4 of the way through using my second bin of home made compost , a total of about 15 cubic feet .

Mine looked a lottle bit more twiggy than yours as I used a leaf mulching garden vacuum that also took in loads of small twigs .

It seems darn good stuff . Most of my seeds and cuttings are in a highly diluted peat & sieved HMC mix ..... of 80 peat to one of HMC , sprinkled over as the peat was measured in small tin cans then mixed in four times , to get a real even distribution .
Plantoid you've been working very hard. I like your seed mix with peat and HMC mix. The compost picture I just shared is so dark, nearly looks burnt black to me. All my other stuff stored in containers from the slow composting method is a lovely coffee ground brownish color. My question for you is have you had stuff turn this black color too? I'm very curious/concerned how this batch will perform.

llama momma

Certified SFG Instructor

Female Posts : 4582
Join date : 2010-08-20
Age : 59
Location : Central Ohio zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/19/2013, 9:02 pm

I researched this method and started a pile on October 3rd.  I forgot to take a picture of it when I started, but I started a new pile today and have the picture from it. I decided on this method because I need the exercise as I am a professional artist and graphic designer and I spend waaaaay too much time on my bum - I need to stretch and move more.  I did not find it too strenuous because the compost started out in such fine pieces.  When there are large vines etc. that get tangled it seems like a lot more work to mix.

Here's the size and composition of what went into the pile.  It was all run through my chipper shredder.  Kitchen scraps, partially composted pile from my tumbler that was too wet and mushy, chopped garden waste, chipped small pine branches with leaves and sawdust.  I think I put too much sawdust and not enough greens in this first batch.  It heated up well at the beginning.  I did not have my compost thermometer at the start so I don't know the first 4-5 days temps but after 6 days when I got it in the mail, it was 145 degrees.  Every two days it was turned and the temps dropped 10 degrees every few days until it has been near 110 after 16 days.    




My other issues are we have a very dry humidity level and I don't think I watered it thoroughly enough at the beginning.  I'm now spraying the pile twice a day and keeping cardboard on it that gets wet down to hold the moisture in.  

At 16 days there is quite a bit of fine material in there but you can still see larger bits.  I'm going to continue turning it after the temp drops below 100 degrees.  Right now that's every 3rd day or so.  

My compost bin is a two compartment.  So I've been turning it from one side to another, but I just chipped up a bunch of yard waste so the pile will be turned in place with a pitch fork.  

They say that the Berkeley method doesn't shrink the pile as much as the usual composting does (around 50% shrinkage) and I have found that to be true.  The pile is perhaps 20% smaller.  I could screen and use some of this compost right away so the "18 days claim" would be somewhat accurate.  But I would estimate this will be fully ready in 5 to 6 weeks for a total of perhaps 8 weeks time.  Doing this method the pile did not get too hot and I did not see the white mold that I usually see that is called "fire blight," it is an anerobic bacteria: "Need optimum temperature of 55-65 degrees Celsius. At temperatures over 65 degrees Celsius a white “mould” spreads through the compost, which is actually”fire blight”, an anaerobic bacteria. Temperature peaks at 6-8 days and gradually cools down by day 18"  

Here's the article I followed: http://deepgreenpermaculture.com/diy-instructions/hot-compost-composting-in-18-days/

audrey.jeanne.roberts

Posts : 1826
Join date : 2012-12-07
Location : Central Calif Mtns.

View user profile http://audreyjeanne-roberts.artistwebsites.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  GWN on 10/19/2013, 11:16 pm

Just a slightly different take on this issue.   I guess I am thinking that money is better spent on a chipper/shredder than a rototiller.  We happened upon a reasonable  gas powered chipper for about 400 dollars. It was used, not not much.
I recently took a huge pile of all of my garden waste, squash vines, pepper plants et..... and put them through the chipper.
I put the pile in my hoop house, and as such it is keeping all of the plants warm. It went from 60 degrees to 145 degrees in less than 24 hours, and stayed there. It is very easy to turn the pile regularly by hand as it is light and fluffy. Just a thought prior to investing in a rototiller.....

GWN

Posts : 2719
Join date : 2012-01-14
Age : 60
Location : british columbia zone 5a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/20/2013, 12:50 am

I recommend the chipper highly. Until I got my chipper shredder running again, I struggled so much to get a pile to heat up. With it, it's automatic. I will never willingly be without one again :-)

I wonder how effective a hot compost pile would be in my large greenhouse?  With the air volume it's going to be harder than a small one.  I have access to all the fresh organic, grass fed cow manure I can shovel.  I wonder if I should think about doing a large bed of cow manure with a compost pile on top?  Ideas?

audrey.jeanne.roberts

Posts : 1826
Join date : 2012-12-07
Location : Central Calif Mtns.

View user profile http://audreyjeanne-roberts.artistwebsites.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/20/2013, 1:08 am

I like that idea, GWN. Re the rototiller, the no-till methods seem really on the ball to me from so many perspectives -- building soil structures and avoiding compaction, leaving micchorizae or however you spell it intact, the savings in time and sweat and money ...

Not to mention, on the side of buying a chipper, the huge amount of wrist-wrenching work tearing up cardboard boxes can be, and the ability to turn wood waste into something actually useable outside the fireplace.

Having said that, using a shovel and gardening fork to prep the well-compacted and indifferent soil in a neighbor's raised beds this spring, I found using a rototiller to prep the beds for fall planting is an enormous time (and lower back) saver. I'd much prefer using no-till with a really good soil or a soil-less mix, though. And a shredder is one of the things that could help build more compost into the iffy soil I'm working with.

Marc Iverson

Male Posts : 3636
Join date : 2013-07-05
Age : 55
Location : SW Oregon

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/20/2013, 1:09 am

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:I wonder if I should think about doing a large bed of cow manure with a compost pile on top?  Ideas?
How about mixing some browns into the cow manure first?

Marc Iverson

Male Posts : 3636
Join date : 2013-07-05
Age : 55
Location : SW Oregon

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  sanderson on 10/20/2013, 3:11 am

The only negative thing I can think about composting in an enclosed space is the methane.  Keep it aired out when you work in it?  I don't know how much methane is too much methane Embarassed 

AJ and GWN, both your piles look good.  Wish I had a shredder but no place to store even a small one.  I have to "mow" the leaves and grass, purchase brown material, chop produce, screen manure and dance on the coffee pucks.  Wish I had your green houses!! I'm starting to save leaves as browns.

Marc, +1 on rototiller on dirt or compacted beds.  With MM, just my hands or spade.

My infamous stinky compost pile was 160* for 2 weeks, 150* for 2 weeks, 140* for 1 week (no more odor) and 130* this weekend.  No turning, just PVC with drilled holes.  I don't have any where to turn it.  I guess I will start pile #4 with the side and top material.

I love seeing how others tackle their projects.

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 11676
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 67
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  Marc Iverson on 10/20/2013, 5:30 am

@sanderson wrote:Marc, +1 on rototiller on dirt or compacted beds.  With MM, just my hands or spade.
I hope I ever get to the point at which I'm working with pure MM. What a relief! In the meantime, thank heaven for the rototiller. But as I get more and more of my own compost going, I hope to be able to phase out the rototiller more and more, and maybe (dream of dreams!) phase it out entirely.

I love seeing how others tackle their projects.
Me too! If two minds are better than one, then, well, a whole internet of minds is bound to be better than one even if just by haphazard coincidence, lucky accident, thwarted bad ideas, and serendipity.

Marc Iverson

Male Posts : 3636
Join date : 2013-07-05
Age : 55
Location : SW Oregon

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  floyd1440 on 10/20/2013, 6:04 am

I like the tiller idea in the compost bed and if you are in for a banner batch this would make a lot of sense and ease on the back.

Have the book "the complete compost gardening guide" and I am leaning towards the slow method at first.  Last year I collected almost 4 cu. yards of leaves, pine needles and some grass clipping then dumped them in a pile and let them sit for 11 months.  I went back two weeks ago to see what had happened and also took my pitch fork and wheel barrow to load the material up but I couldn't load it.

The material decomposed to such a degree that I had to use a shovel to load it up!  Since it will be full of weed seeds I then put this material in another compost bin, added grass clippings and in one day the heat soared to 154 but has taper of to 137 in two weeks time so it needs flipped of tilled>>>>

floyd1440

Male Posts : 784
Join date : 2011-06-21
Age : 62
Location : Washington, Pa. Zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  GWN on 10/20/2013, 12:27 pm

You know Floyd
There is something to be said for the slow method as well.
I have been hot composting for a few years now, in a panic to get enough compost.
Last year my Mother in law passed away and when we went back for the funeral, the relatives all looked on while I bagged up all of her compost and took it home.
It had been sitting for a very long time, likely over 3 years.
Now that compost on my plants had a much more significant impact than my hot compost does. There are clearly pros and cons to both methods.

GWN

Posts : 2719
Join date : 2012-01-14
Age : 60
Location : british columbia zone 5a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  floyd1440 on 10/20/2013, 7:32 pm

GWN

Since I am fairly new to this I stuck to Mel's method but always remembered how my grandfather did it which now I know is what we call "comfort compost". 

But also like to mix them both together, browns and greens for a better finished product that has less weed seeds.  Gotta learn from mistakes every time to make a better finished product.

Just built a  6x16x4 compost bin for leaves..hope the weather holds up cause recently the only days I have had off, it rains


floyd1440

Male Posts : 784
Join date : 2011-06-21
Age : 62
Location : Washington, Pa. Zone 6a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  jimmy cee on 10/20/2013, 9:43 pm

I love composting

I've been gathering up discarded veggies and fruits from a store in town.
In the beginning I just tossed them in and covered with last years leaves.
   Now I gathered up a spare scraper, (ice scraper) sharpened the edge, it chops down and cuts nicely,
potato's cukes, appples, pears, lettuce, beans, etc etc.
Not as good as a shredder would do, however I am done getting more stuff, stuff, stuff.
Every time I thought of a tool to help me I would just go out and get it..
This scraper hangs on the wall, doesn't take space on the floor and does the job.
Just wish I could take my arms off at the end of the day and rest them with the scraper....


jimmy cee

Certified SFG Instructor

Male Posts : 1800
Join date : 2013-02-16
Age : 80
Location : Indiana PA....zone 5

View user profile http://www.jcjigs.com

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  GWN on 10/20/2013, 11:01 pm

Hey there Jimmie, those veggies look good enough to eat... you could be making some fine soup with them veggies.
I too have thought about getting veggies from local stores to feel my worms....

GWN

Posts : 2719
Join date : 2012-01-14
Age : 60
Location : british columbia zone 5a

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  sanderson on 10/21/2013, 3:43 am

Jimmy, you just keep scoring!!

sanderson

Forum Administrator

Female Posts : 11676
Join date : 2013-04-21
Age : 67
Location : Fresno CA Zone 8-9

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Hot Composting/Berkely Method

Post  Sponsored content Today at 3:19 pm


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Page 1 of 2 1, 2  Next

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum