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Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 8/5/2015, 4:48 am

Very Happy I was so tempted to try just one sip of the cold apple flavored beer. It smelled so good, sort of a beer version of a wine cooler. Chemically, I can't drink even a sip without affects. Karma from college years?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  jimmy cee on 8/5/2015, 10:04 am

I love composting

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 8/5/2015, 11:42 am

I haven't built a pile since the spring.  I did build a massive pile when gathering all of my rural neighbor's goodies and it's just been sitting.  I was thinking of taking a shovel to it and seeing how it's coming along.  It's too big for me to even think about turning it.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 11/12/2015, 2:16 am

Update on the Berkeley pile built in August.  I made a mistake and called it the 1st pile of 2015; it was the 2nd pile.  Everything was nicely shredded with the mower or chopped up.  Even the horse manure was in smaller poo balls.  I pulled it all out, lined the wire mesh liner with commercial weed fabric so the smaller bits wouldn't keep falling through every time I turned it.  It's all back in and covered for the winter.  The best I have ever made, finally!!  Won't even have to screen it.  

PS  The stuff that looks like wood is alfalfa stalk.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  jimmy cee on 11/12/2015, 5:44 am

How I love that picture. you sure did good with that pile.
Is another pile starting ?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  yolos on 11/12/2015, 8:34 am

Looking Good.  I have never been able to do a Berkely pile because I can't get enough stuff together at one time.  My piles are slowly built and slowly decompose.  Maybe someday I will get around to actually trying to locate someone who has enough horse or cow manure to give me a little.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/12/2015, 10:31 am

Yolos, I do both hot and cold piles.  In researching, it seems that when the same material is broken down in the two different ways (bacterial in the hot, fungal & worms in the cold), a different nutritional value is achieved.  So I make a point of having both kinds working.  

I have the luxury of having more space than I can use at any one time so I put my cold piles directly on the soil that's not being used, my worm helpers do the turning which saves my back  Laughing

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 11/12/2015, 6:08 pm

Jimmy and Yolos, Thank you. Audrey, how is your back?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 11/12/2015, 11:29 pm

@sanderson wrote:Jimmy and Yolos,  Thank you.  Audrey, how is your back?
My back's good - but I'm having shoulder issues from working at the computer so much... *deep sigh*  this old body just ain't what she used to be, LOL!

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Brain Fart Compust

Post  grownsunshine on 12/13/2015, 1:13 pm

Geez, I had a major brain fart! Yesterday I went and got cow & horse manure and hay. I was excited, as it's been a little while since I composted. I've done it before so I knew what I was doing. I was going to do the Berkeley method, so I layered my hay & manure (cow, horese, chicken, coffee grounds and other organics). When I was done, I realized I also layered vermiculite a peet moss too - WHAAAAT did I just do!!!!!!!!!!! Major brain fart! 

...so here I am wondering if it's going to take forever to compost. Is it even going to compust?  I really don't need it until the end of February, so ok it's okay if it takes longer than "18 days". Any ideas what I'm in for? Any theories is much appreaciated!  Ugh!

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  CapeCoddess on 12/13/2015, 2:22 pm

Oh wow! I have no idea how that's going to work out. I sure hope  it turns out to be ready made MM w ith no additions needed... in which case I'll be doing the same thing next time I need more MM.. Sorry I can't help. But I'm looking forward to the answer.

Maybe if you posted this in the Berkeley thread you get a quicker answer.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  plantoid on 12/13/2015, 7:17 pm

All organic matter composts eventually so no great problems there.

 I think I'd try injecting it with water right through the heap via a hose and long copper pipe.
( Or use the lance  on the power washer (for a lighter more penetrating wetting session .... this gets a bit smelly & messy to say the least  Laughing ).
 
Done so as to get the heap nice and wet to liquefy & dilute the dungs . This will / should  be soaked up by the peat & vermiculite as a liquid manure and then start to feed the bacteria once th heap gets heating up .

 One thing though, you say you've put hay int he heap .  Sadly hay is full of weed seeds so even it you do get everything into a magic compost you may well still find you have some weeds seeds in it . If you take great care witht eh 18 day turning and ensure that all the outer sides are put to the middle first off then you will  reduce the odds considerably.

 Wet , wheat , oat or barley straw are better than hay if you want to add extra browns .

 One thing will happen to the vermiculite if it is too wet & you manipulate the heap is it will break down into microscopic particles  , some times making a slimy sludge form . ( same thing happens if you turn over a really wet ANSFG bed too often in a couple of days like I did ).

I'm not sure in my own mind if this is detrimental , for it happened in a couple of my ANSFG beds and they still seem to work well .
Though due to  me adding coarse home made compost  over the following  two years , I think the compost may have taken over the task originally allotted to the vermiculite .

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 12/14/2015, 4:22 am

Grownsunshine,  I moved this into the Berkeley topic. I'm sure you're not the only one who has built a BF compost pile.  Razz  I've built half a pile forgetting to add the coffee grounds I collected.  Embarassed

How big is your pile?  The minimum 3x3x3' or the big 4x4x4'?  In a pile or in a cage?  Did you maintain the ratio of 1/3 fluffed peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 total compost ingredients?  I ask because from personal experience, my finished Berkeley piles are only 1/2 the size when finished, so you won't have Mel's Mix when done.  Do you have a compost thermometer?

The following are just my suggestions.  Others may differ.  Your finished product will be short on compost unless you double the amount of compost ingredients now.  As much as you have invested in this batch, bite the bullet and add the ingredients now.  

The pile will still be short on organic material so add light sprinklings of blood meal to "start it".  Turn on the 4th day after you rebuild it.  Depending on how wet it is, the perlite may survive the 7 turnings without breaking up much.  I say 7 turnings because I have never managed to turn more than 7 times. Embarassed

If you rebuild it, you might be able to remove much of the layers of pure peat moss and perlite intact and set aside for blending with the finished compost.  May have to use a shovel instead of the fork for the fine perlite and peat moss.

I only have room for one 3x3x3' cage.  When I turn, I use a blue tarp for the material as it is removed.  The outer, top and bottom 6" of cooler, drier material go in one pile.  the hotter, wetter inner core goes in a second pile.  I fling and mix up each pile as I work so the ingredients keep getting broken up and mixed.  Then I rebuild using the hot inner material for the outer, top and bottom materials and the colder, drier for the new core.

All said and done, doubling the compost volume is the most important if you can't/don't want to remove the peat moss and perlite.  The temps may never get really hot like usual Berkeley piles, but extra time will eventually compost enough for you to use it.  A hybrid Berkeley/cold compost. Very Happy

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 12/14/2015, 5:06 am

PS I quit using bedding hay and now use alfalfa hay as it breaks down faster and doesn't have wheat seeds. It's shredded with the lawn mower, just like the leaves are.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 12/18/2015, 1:14 pm

I know I posted this under No. Cal topic but as it is a Berkeley pile, I thought it should go here also.  I had to remove finished compost before I could build the new one, aka Pile #10.  It took four 33-gallon rolling garbage bins for less than half a bin!!  Visually judging the volumes between conical, cylinder and cube containers is hard to do.  The built-base temp last night was 50*F, This morning at 10 AM it's 80*F.



The material spread on the tarp was not quite enough to fill the 3x3x3' cage.  Judging conical volumes for a cube can be hard.  Husband is standing there say, "You'll never get this all in."  Then he had to mow/chop up some more!   Razz   I used the following 5-gallon quantities:  28 mowed wet leaves, 1 bale or 27 mowed alfalfa hay, 1 of Starbucks, 8.5 small crumbled horse manure and total of 3/4 cup of blood meal sprinkled on 3 layers.  Gallon-wise, this totals over 27 cu ft, but as it is built and watered, everything compresses.  When it's finished in 3-4 weeks, it will be down to 18-20" in height.  I generally get temps as high as 160-170*F for a few days, so most of the seeds and contaminates are killed.

My neighbors have yard services, so the only things that would be spread on the lawns are fertilizer and maybe rye grass seeds for winter.  I carefully, lightly rake up the leaves, being on the watch and sniff for doggy doo and twigs. I hope all of this helps.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 12/19/2015, 2:16 am

The temp slowly increased today; now it is 115*F!

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  AtlantaMarie on 12/19/2015, 7:02 am

What a Face

For a minute there, Sanderson, I thought you were talking ambient air temps...  Then I remembered we were talking about compost...

Gotta get more coffee in me this morning!

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  jimmy cee on 12/19/2015, 8:55 am

Very nice setup Sanderson, neat too...is that an orange tree in the back ?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 12/19/2015, 12:40 pm

Marie, reading

Jimmy, Thanks, yep, my little dwarf naval.

PS: The compost is up to 140*F this morning (Day 3). I count the day it's built as Day 1, so tomorrow I'm supposed to turn it. Hope it stops raining tomorrow long enough to turn.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  jimmy cee on 12/19/2015, 3:02 pm

Today I picked up fifteen 5 gallon buckets of cooking horse manure, steaming as I shoveled.
I have 6 large boxes of discards to mix with my existing pile..I'm thinking this may be my last activity as far as starting a new pile for a while...I can go and work it, my blower will give me a path if snows an issue..
It should be heaping when I start and down to about 18 inches when done..

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 12/19/2015, 8:00 pm

It relieves me to know someone's pile shrinks besides mine. Hot steamy

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  yolos on 12/19/2015, 8:06 pm

@sanderson wrote:It relieves me to know someone's pile shrinks besides mine.  Hot steamy
I thought one of the benefits of the Berkley pile was that it would not shrink as much as one that was not done by the Berkley method.  

I am not doing a Berkley pile but I have a question for you experts.  My pile was at 150*F about 3 days ago.  Today, after the freeze last night, it was 140*F.  As the temp goes down, at what temp should I turn the pile.  Sunday will be day 7.

I usually do not turn it very often but I am building a new compost bin and want to put the new bin where the current pile is so I might as well turn it.


Last edited by yolos on 12/19/2015, 8:13 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 12/19/2015, 8:12 pm

All of my piles are about 50% when finished.   thinking   I would turn it now and introduce oxygen.  It should heat back up. Try to get the inside to outside and top to bottom.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 12/19/2015, 9:46 pm

My piles shrink 40% or so, maybe a little less. When I finish my pile I don't strain it, I put it on top of my beds instead of mixing it in.  I do no till.  I don't even pull up my roots on most plants, I cut them to the ground and let the worms work on the roots.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 12/23/2015, 1:14 am

I turned the pile on Sunday, Day 4, when it was 160*F.  Today is Day 6, back up to 160*F again, but we had showers all day, so I will turn it tomorrow, Day 7.  The nights are in the 30's with day temps in the 40-50s.  In the summer the day may be over 100* with the night at 75-80.  Just saying, ambient temps don't seem to play that much into a well built pile.  It's all about the C:N ratio (24:1), moisture, oxygen and microorganisms.

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