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Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  yolos on 8/30/2014, 10:21 pm

Thank you camprn and plantoid and Jimmy Cee.  That will save me a lot of time and I will be able to get my compost going faster.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  plantoid on 8/31/2014, 9:43 pm

That's what I'm basically doing theses last 100 days or so as well Jimmy . Time got short and my disabilities decided to kick off a lot more.

 I have half a barrow of todays lawn cuttings ( thank you Alison for cutting the lawns for me ) to spread out in  three bins and then start to compost  the trim back from the flower & veg beds as there are now quite a few finished plants and excess growth to sort out over the next few days if I'm able .

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/1/2014, 12:47 am

@yolos wrote:Is chlorinated water bad for the compost pile.  I have an aerator that can aerate the water and disperse the chlorine but it is a pain in the neck.  I do not have an electrical outlet near the compost pile so I have to aerate the water in the garage and then wheel barrow it out to the garden.

Yolos,  I'm on city water that is periodically chlorinated on a rotating basis.  The amount of chlorine, around one (1) ppm, is quickly exhausted (used up) by the mass of organic matter in the compost pile. Very Happy

For any new person just now reading this Topic, it was originally just about the Berkeley hot quick compost method. Other general composting info has gradually been added, so it's gone a little astray, as often happens to a topic with all us happy and enthusiastic SFG gardeners. Very Happy

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/9/2014, 10:09 pm

Today is Day 30 and time to rest the pile.  I'm not as happy with this pile, #6, as I was with #4 and #5.  I screened a small fork full on 9-5, and re-screened the "straw" remains again today.  The flower pot is the result of the moist screening, the paper bowl is the result of today's re-screening, and the plastic pot pan is the left over bedding straw.  The containers are sitting on new MM (for the newly raised beds) in a cement mixing pan. The MM is made with compost #5, not this stuff.



Marc, this is why I'm not pleased with using new bedding straw as a brown.  The first few turns were easy but the last 2 turns it was hard to insert the manure fork, kind of sticky.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/9/2014, 10:56 pm

When I pull straw off a year-old bale, it often comes up in mats. I thought you might be having trouble keeping it from matting together and getting into big clumsy rafts and chunks.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/10/2014, 12:35 am

In horse language, the "mats" in bales are called flakes. I broke up the flakes before putting them in the pile. No matting problems, just sticky.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  plantoid on 9/11/2014, 12:58 pm

Hope I'm right when I say you look as though you needed to use more water and horse pee and dung to soak the dry straw cellulose in a nitrogen rich liquid which will feed the bacteria ( even resort to adding your own pee at 1 part of it to 20 parts of water )
 
That last lot looks like neat dry unused straw.  Do you know what type of straw it was ie barley wheat oats rye etc. ?


Covering the heap in plastic sheet would have helped it heat & sweat more through out the heap thus making for a better decomposition of matter . If you wrap plastic sheet round a heap so it looks like a wigwam with s snoke hole inthe top the excess moisture will also evaporate up through the top as the heat increases .


If you have done all the above a weak  caustic soda solution  via a fine rose'd watering can or from a coarse pump up spray on new unused straw helps break really hard dry straw down ready for decomposition , leave it in a three  inch thick mat for a couple of days , then add the manure and  treat as an eighteen day jobby .

Over here the farmers used to spray the fields with a mild caustic to break up the chopped straw that came out the back of the combined harvester whe it was harvesting to crops and also to knock weed seeds back a bit before turning the soil over to capture the decaying vegetation & straw for the next crop of different seeds ..

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/11/2014, 2:01 pm

Plantoid,
I have a feeling that what ever went wrong happened during the early composting days when we were on a cruise (Sunday morning-Thursday night).  My best bet is that it stayed over 160*F for too many days without turning.  Destroyed too many of the composting microorganisms.

Water- not the problem, I watered when needed
Horse manure - plenty (it even reached 172*F after the first turning, within 24 hours)
Blood meal in lieu of pee
Cover - yes, so the droplets fall back down
Straw- New/neat bale of wheat bedding straw.
Alfalfa feed hay - love this stuff
Chopped/rotting/wet produce - plenty

Lesson learned. Do not leave a fragile Berkeley hot compost until max temps reached after turning are in the 120-140*F range.

I will use the screened straw as mulch for fall plantings. Then recycle in another new pile. I will use the screened compost but mixed it with good compost. Like, to re-inoculate it. ?? At least there shouldn't be any viable seeds, weeds in it! Very Happy

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  plantoid on 9/11/2014, 6:07 pm

Yes , recycle pure straw in the 18 day method after using it as mulch and getting it well weathered for several months , that should/ will sort the problem .

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/15/2014, 2:47 am

I changed my mind (I'm a woman, right?) and built a new Berkeley pile last night (Day 1).  Compost #7.  I used the bedding straw that did not compost in #6.  It's to the right of the wheel barrow with the screened compost.

Closeup of the screened material:

If I don't use it in the SFG, I can use it for the rest of the garden.

Ingredients: the spent straw, 2-33 gallon cans of horse manure with some bedding straw, 4 flakes of alfalfa hay, 3 inches of dried leaves, one basket of lawn clippings, Starbucks, chopped produce, and 1/2 cup of blood meal. Watered each brown and manure layer well. Base temp was 80*F. Tonight (Day 2) it is 125*F.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/22/2014, 2:54 pm

Something new with Berkeley #7 this morning.  Last night, Day 9, I turned the pile for the 4th time, and covered with plastic (moisture control) and tulle (to keep the crepe myrtle droppings out).  Moisture was still perfect.  This morning I found these eggs and larva under the plastic.  While the internal temps are up to 145*F, the top is just lovely, warm and moist.  Ants were frantically harvesting the 1st instar larva.  There were a few soldier fly larva crawling around so I don't know if the eggs and larva are ants that I moved to the top, or are SF larva. Bummer.


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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/25/2014, 2:51 am

Day 12 - temps are still good - 140F. I turn each odd day. A total of 5 times so far.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 9/25/2014, 12:47 pm

I added one more load of horse manure mixed with very fine hay/straw to my pile last night and turned it again. I had to soak it so thoroughly to rehydrate the manure that it was really wet. This morning it's at 120 degrees. It's 4 x 4 x 3 high

I'll turn it on Sunday unless it starts to heat too high before then.

My aching muscles thank you for the motivation .... I think..... ;-)

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/25/2014, 1:32 pm

Oh, Audrey!  That's 48 cu. ft.!!  What a Face   I only start with 27 cu. ft.  (3 x 3 x 3)  I don't think I could do a Berkeley if it was as large as yours.  You're welcome for the motivation ..... I think .....    ;-)

Yes, heavy watering when building with manure and straw seems to be very important to start with.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 9/25/2014, 3:03 pm

Fortunately, my pile turning is much easier than yours as I simply scoop with a pitch fork and drop into the second bin.  But still... I definitely feel the effort Laughing

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  Marc Iverson on 9/25/2014, 10:26 pm

My new pile is on my neighbor's back property, and it's just a pile, so it needs to be huge in order for it to get three feet tall by three feet wide. Luckily, horses never stop pooping, 50 pounds a day, so it'll get there eventually. But I may have to be ankle deep to turn it. Razz

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/25/2014, 10:30 pm

Marc, you need some wellingtons Very Happy
It's cool and quite windy tonight so I will turn the pile in the AM. I've been spot on with turning until tonight.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 9/25/2014, 11:23 pm

First 24 hours after the pile is built and we're at 155 degrees. Sanderson, with your experience, is this pile going to be too hot or is it on schedule? If it gets too hot, what do you usually do to cool it down?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/26/2014, 3:26 am

It's getting hot about like the 4 piles have this year.  To cool it off, I take it all out and put in 2 piles on a 10' x 12' blue tarp: 6" of drier, cooler stuff from the sides, top and bottom in one smaller pile.  All the hot steamy core into a 2nd larger pile.  I kind of toss the hot core stuff up in the air onto the tarp and keep the pile long and low as I can for the dimensions of the tarp.  Then rebuild with 6" of hot core to start the bottom.  Then all the exterior cooler stuff goes into the core space and 6" of hot steamy stuff tucked around the exterior, ending with 4-6" at the top of hot stuff.  The first 2 turnings are the hardest because of the weight of the water, the volume of material and the heat of the material.  I have either a double layer of tulle or loose plastic on top so the evaporation drips back in.

For you, with 2 bins, you can use a small tarp to start off, setting the top layer off to the side until you get some hot core stuff to start layering on the bottom of the 2nd bin. It's just a logistic thing.

I know this is a lot of work at first.  It takes me 1 1/2 hours and two 44 oz. ice waters to do it, especially in the heat of the summer.  That's why I do it late evening or after dark in the summer.

At 24 hours mine have reached 148*F, 158*F, 150*F and 125*F.   At 36 hours they were 160*F, 160*F, 160*F, and 148*F.

This is how this current pile is going.  (Base temps are 1 or 2 hours after building or turning)
Day 1 - build it - Base 82*
Day 2 - 9 am 100*, 5 pm 115*, 11 pm 125*
Day 3 - 9 am 148*, 6 pm 160* - TURNED - Base 100*
Day 4 - 6 pm 160*
Day 5 -160* all day - TURNED - Base 120*
Day 6 - 8 am  140*, 2 pm 160*, 5 pm 170*
Day 7 - 10 am 170*, 7 pm 170* - TURNED - Base 100*, midnight 110*
Day 8 - 160* all day
Day 9 - 1 am 148*, 7 pm 145*F - TURNED Base 94*
Day 10 - 1 am 100*, 10 am 150*
Day 11 - all day 142* TURNED
Day 12 - noon 141*, 11m 141*
Day 13 139*F all day (should have turned tonight but too windy and sneezy)

It's relatively cool so I will turn tomorrow morning. I am really trying to follow the Berkeley instructions this time.

I hope this helps.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 9/26/2014, 12:21 pm

Cold temps over night have dropped it to 150, so I'll watch it all day. I won't turn until Sunday unless it's rising over 160. Thanks for the tips!

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/26/2014, 1:50 pm

The core should not be affected by the cold??? Maybe just a normal fluctuation in your pile?? Are you covering so the moisture drips back in? It's nice to be at home so you can watch it all day Very Happy

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 9/26/2014, 4:31 pm

@sanderson wrote:The core should not be affected by the cold???   Maybe just a normal fluctuation in your pile??  Are you covering so the moisture drips back in?  It's nice to be at home so you can watch it all day Very Happy

I checked at lunch and it was 155 degrees again.

I have it covered with used dog food bags.  They have a wax coating inside so I open them up and lay them on the top in a couple of layers.  It's worked really well - even better than the old tarp I used to use.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/26/2014, 5:02 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:

I have it covered with used dog food bags.

Great re-purposing!

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 9/26/2014, 8:02 pm

Temp is 160 degrees at 48 hours. I'm not as meticulous with my record keeping as you are so I can't compare earlier piles, but I think this one is going to cook nicely. In the past I think haven't rehydrated the horse or cow poo enough.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 9/26/2014, 11:50 pm

Nice temp! The instructions do say to thoroughly water the new pile. I don't think I have soaked the initial piles enough in the past. You know, (squeeze and only 1 drop of water should come out"? Well, this one I really soaked. I think it takes a lot of water to initially hydrate the horse poop and straw. PS I finally turned the pile tonight, Day 14, for a total of 6 times now.

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