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Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  April on 10/29/2014, 9:16 pm

Grownsunshine, I wonder about the boiling water too.  Maybe I'll try that next time.  I really don't want weeds in my garden!  Thanks for the advice!

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/29/2014, 11:11 pm

@April wrote:Grownsunshine, I wonder about the boiling water too.  Maybe I'll try that next time.  I really don't want weeds in my garden!  Thanks for the advice!
If you're very concerned about it, you can solarize your compost when it is finished by placing it under black plastic in the direct sun for several days.  You would probably have to wait until early summer to have enough sun to be able to do it in most areas of the US.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 10/30/2014, 2:55 am

Catching up, here, with some thoughts.

No need for boiling water on horse manure. If the manure is soaked well with the hose, and the temps get to 160 through several turnings, the heat and steam should "autoclave" the seeds and weeds.

It is a trick to get the pile turned inside out, but it can be done. I have an 8 prong manure fork and carefully remove the wet hot center for say, 6", and place in one pile. Then move the the outer 6" of drier, cooler material into a second pile. I rebuilt with the top materials at the bottom and the bottom materials at the top, with hot core on the perimeters and cooler material on the inside. It take 1 1/2 to 2 hours for the first couple of turns. As the pile shrinks, it takes less time.

If I don't need the compost right away, I store it in black garbage cans. (Another way to solarize) It sweats inside in the heat. This helps kill insects that moved into the cooling pile. I imagine that the compost gets a little sterile (micro-organisms slowly killed off) but putting it in the beds, it gets re-innoculated. ??

Plantoid, very polite language Very Happy

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  slimbolen99 on 10/30/2014, 9:22 am

Do you guys and gals compress your piles initially, or just pile up your contents and allow them to compress naturally?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  yolos on 10/30/2014, 9:52 am

@slimbolen99 wrote:Do you guys and gals compress your piles initially, or just pile up your contents and allow them to compress naturally?

I do not compress piles.  The pile needs air so the microbes can do their thing.  That is one of the reasons for turning the pile.  To introduce more air/oxygen into the pile.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  slimbolen99 on 10/30/2014, 10:28 am

That makes sense. Thanks for the reply.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  grownsunshine on 10/31/2014, 1:25 pm

I ended up with 3 thermometers. I know, it's crazy - 2 meat thermometers (1 cracked glass) and 1  20" compost thermometer. The cracked thermometer gives me about 10 degrees hotter than the other 2...hummm???

I turned the pile last night. The cracked thermometer gave me a reading of 140. The pile has been pretty consistently at that temp. from the beginning.

Today is the 18th day. I'll be busy this weekend, so I plan to sift the compost on Monday, top my beds, put some around my fruit trees & make MM for 1/2 a box (the other 1/2 is already filled). I don't think I"ll have enough to do all of that, so I'll start making a new pile soon.

I never thought I'd have so much fun making compost...LOL!

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  plantoid on 10/31/2014, 8:21 pm

I've spent some of the afternoon stripping out two x 12 sq feet of bed and put about 50 pounds of 3 yr & 4 yr old compost in each bed then topped them up with spent tomato compost from the greenhouse tomatoes. 



 The 3 yr. old compost was done by the 18 day method some I left in bulk inside a Dalek this dropped from 2/3 full to about half full.  
The other half barrow was nearly four years old , was stored in heavy duty black poly trash bags with  the tops carefully folded over and weighted down so the rain ran off easily with a big brick on each bag of them for good measure  These were then stored undercover this time last year.

 The three year old out the Dalek still showed partly composted woody materials , egg shell and some fat.

 I just buried the fat a lot deeper made a three inch layer of the compost and then five inches of spent compost this one is for the over wintering onions. I planted the onions in the spent tomato compost rather than turning it in with the 18 day  compost 

For the Asparagus bed ( they can last 20 yrs in the same spot ) i did the same but this time turned it in several times . Come Feb 2015 I'll be adding even more well composted materials and then by April will put in the three year old crowns .

 This has been a long term composting exercise , done for me and the site so I could build up a decent working stock amount.   Then simply  keep feeding into 18day made compost into the storage / longer term cycle as I now have seven Daleks at  various stages of composting 7 right now none in the 18 day system .

I'll see if I can get the pictures up.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 10/31/2014, 9:13 pm

Plantoid - I wish I could get that far ahead. I'm using my compost as fast as I make it right now. I'm trying to get all my garden beds ready to sit for the winter. And then figure out what I might want to plant to grow through the winter that I haven't already started.

I turned my pile again today - 2 more turns until it will be completed.  Temp was 144 degrees, dropped to 130 after turning.

My hubby was out working in the yard with me and I said, "I think this is the prettiest compost pile I've ever made" and he started laughing at me!!!  The nerve of him!  He just couldn't quite wrap his mind around compost being "pretty."  So of course I had to pick up a handful or two and educate him, LOL!

I chipped four big bags of tree limbs and trimmings.  Normally I would use that in the compost but I'm putting it directly on a new bed I'm making.  It will compost in place during the fall and winter.  Chipped branches with a lot of leaves and  pine needles are perfectly 30:1  I generally don't have to do anything but put them in a pile.  This bed is about 3 feet wide and 16-18" deep, with a layer of manure, kitchen waste and odds n ends.  

Quite a day's work.  We had to clean everything up as there's a rain storm coming in tonight - Boy do we need it in California.  It could rain for 2 straight weeks and it wouldn't bother me.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  plantoid on 10/31/2014, 9:39 pm

This is how much bthe 2/3 rd bin dropped to 1/2  in the three year old compost.
what I didn't realise was that my Munchkin decided to be lazy and dump some cut up Gladioli on top of the finished contents.
 I just scraped them off then filled the barrow with the good stuff .  I don't sieve it nature can do with it as it pleases when it's been composted this long.









  This bed was given a nice thick overcoat of compost  to make it like this , then the spent tomato compost.  It is now 7/8 th planted with overwintering onions & garlic. The free space is for some spring onion sets .


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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 11/1/2014, 1:52 am

@grownsunshine wrote:

I never thought I'd have so much fun making compost...LOL!

I'm living vicariously through you guys. Can't wait to get back to the garden and start another compost pile.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/1/2014, 12:28 pm

I've done rehabbing and it's a long hard job!  Just know you're missed Smile

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/3/2014, 2:02 pm

My pile is still 140 degrees through and through. One more turn and it's done. I will immediately start another, now that I have my chipper shredder back it's easier than it's been for a long while!

I turned it this morning as I was sick over the weekend so Nov 5 will do it :-) Then while it rests the final week, I build a new pile in the bin next to it and the process repeats, LOL! My back and core muscles are getting stronger and stronger, so it's building my soil fertility and my health at the same time.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 11/4/2014, 1:39 am

That is one hot pile Shocked Good job.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  April on 11/4/2014, 6:08 am

Sanderson & Audrey, you mentioned solarizing compost.  Any good links out there on doing this?  I'd like to read up about it and give it a try as my compost finished out the last 3 days at 80.  Thanks for your help!

Audrey, nice job on a hot pile!   :  )

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  slimbolen99 on 11/4/2014, 9:29 am

So I'm on day 4, and my piles are still measuring 140*F.  Should I go ahead and turn them inside out, or wait until they get down to a certain temperature?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/4/2014, 12:15 pm

April, I would just Google it and see what comes up!  Basically you were just covering with black plastic for a week or two to heat enough to kill any seeds or disease.

Slimbolen, I would keep to the schedule.140 is plenty hot enough for your first cycle Very Happy

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  grownsunshine on 11/4/2014, 12:20 pm

Slimbolen - yes, if you are following the Berkeley method, you'll turn the pile inside out every 2 days.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 11/4/2014, 12:49 pm

April, Here's a solarization link.
http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74145.html

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/4/2014, 1:21 pm

Nice article, thanks for posting it :-)

I made 1/2 of my new pile yesterday.  2 hours of blood, sweat and sweat!  I trimmed our trees and chipped the green branches and leaves, mixed it with horse manure, household waste and some old, bad pancake mix :-)  

If I'm energetic enough I'll finish today, but I'm thinking that it will be later in the week after my kinks unkink Laughing

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  grownsunshine on 11/4/2014, 4:30 pm

Isn't sweat considered a 5th nitrogen (green) ingredient Wink

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/4/2014, 4:58 pm

@grownsunshine wrote:Isn't sweat considered a 5th nitrogen (green) ingredient Wink
LOL!!!!!!

By George I think you're correct Laughing

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  April on 11/7/2014, 5:34 am

Thanks for the advice & link info!  Very Happy

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/7/2014, 12:17 pm

We're heading for Pismo Beach this weekend so I'm bringing large black bags to gather seaweed for my compost pile.  *Doing the happy dance!*

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 11/7/2014, 1:22 pm

Jealous, jealous!!  Just be careful not to take the fans or whatever they are called.  I guess the reproductive part. Just woke up late today and still on first cup. reading My great experiment from 2013.


Just edited with photos from 2013. I would not dry it again if I had some. Rise well for sand (and "elephant snot"!), chop and add while still fresh.


Last edited by sanderson on 11/7/2014, 1:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

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