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Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 4/28/2016, 10:46 pm

Jimmy, You have a shredder now, but aren't using it to shred dry leaves for composting? Man, that's one reason I bought the little bugger!

Ralitaco (ha! I spelled it correctly) Free plastic buckets from bakeries?? I think you mentioned you needed one, or a dozen. However, you have to wash the greasy frosting, etc. from the buckets. Yes, either shred or mow the dry leaves before measuring. Looking at my notes for the last 2 piles, it took 55 buckets of leaves and alfalfa hay with 9.5 buckets of manure and coffee grounds for one, and 42 buckets of leaves and alfalfa hay, 6.5 of city compost (so-so stuff so I wanted it to go through a hot compost) and 8 buckets of horse manure and farmer market wilted produce. I'm glad I measured the ingredients so I could get an idea of how much it takes to fill a cubic yard. 56-64 buckets, depending.

Free wood, awesome.

I have been following Camp's advice by adding a tiny amount of blood meal to make sure it takes off.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  jimmy cee on 4/28/2016, 11:06 pm

@sanderson wrote:Jimmy,  You have a shredder now, but aren't using it to shred dry leaves for composting?  Man, that's one reason I bought the little bugger!

Haven't used it for leaves yet. All my leaves are bagged and most probably wet or moist.
I use them one at a time as I dry them  along with mixing with all the other stuff I use.
I'll try it some day, need to see it it works on dry leaves, I am certain it won't on wet.
Must be warm, sunny and nice when I do my leaves.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 4/29/2016, 12:37 am

@camprn wrote:Fitbit eh? Put a compost fork in their hands, that pile ain't gonna turn itself. Wink

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 4/29/2016, 12:38 am

@jimmy cee wrote:railataco
make sure those leaves are shredded up before going into the pile.
I do mine in a plastic garbage can with a weed whacker.
Takes a little more time, however, I do not need another piece of stuff ( shredder ) hanging around.
Thanks JC, I ran over them a few times with the riding mower. I'll take a close up later

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 4/29/2016, 12:46 am

@sanderson wrote:Ralitaco (ha! I spelled it correctly)
FINALLY!!! but whatever you had, you must have passed on to JimmyCee:
@jimmy cee wrote:railataco
Razz

@sanderson wrote:Free plastic buckets from bakeries??  I think you mentioned you needed one, or a dozen.  However, you have to wash the greasy frosting, etc. from the buckets.
I plan to ask at the grocery store bakeries. I am going to need something to tote manure

@sanderson wrote:Looking at my notes for the last 2 piles, it took 55 buckets of leaves and alfalfa hay with 9.5 buckets of manure and coffee grounds for one, and 42 buckets of leaves and alfalfa hay, 6.5 of city compost (so-so stuff so I wanted it to go through a hot compost) and 8 buckets of horse manure and farmer market wilted produce.  I'm glad I measured the ingredients so I could get an idea of how much it takes to fill a cubic yard.  56-64 buckets, depending.
That sounds like a lot, I'm not sure I'll have enough

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 4/29/2016, 2:47 am

RT, I buy a bale of alfalfa hay (20:1) in order to have enough volume. It is a "green" though, so I don't use as much horse manure, coffee grounds and produce as I would have to if the browns were all leaves. Bedding straw (80:1) didn't break down at all in prior piles. Trial and error.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  plantoid on 4/29/2016, 8:41 am

Zapping a pile a 3 inch thick layer at a time with a power washer for a couple of seconds ( it's messy ) instead of using a hose pipe for the water helps shred pierce the outer coatings of  straw & other matter turning it  into a very acceptable material that composts down exceedingly well .

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 5/3/2016, 10:53 pm

Well I finally finished building my triple 3'x3'x3' bins and am ready to start adding material to make some compost using this 18 day Hot method.
Here is what I have collected:
1. I have a pile of leaves mixed with some kitchen scraps. Some of that pile is in one of the bins and is 1' deep.
2. I have 10 - 5 gallon buckets of "mature" horse manure. I was told it was from last year.
3. I have approx 1 - 5 gallon bucket of coffee grounds.
4. I have a large pile of riding lawn mower, mulched leaves.

Do I need anything else for my pile? I may be able to get some seaweed, Chicken manure and possibly some more rabbit manure w/ bedding.

How should I build my pile?

I am thinking I will do the following layers:
12" - Existing mix of leaves and kitchen scraps
3" - Leaves
4" - horse manure
6" - Existing mix of leaves and kitchen scraps
1" - Coffee Grounds
4" - Horse manure
6" - Leaves

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 5/3/2016, 11:54 pm

Sanderson will be able to give you the best counsel on the layering etc.  My piles are pretty simple - I gather one trailer full (about 22 cu ft) of hay to one large wheelbarrow of manure (probably 5 to 7 cu ft) and then just toss in anything else I have.

If it cooks from the start, great.

If it's slow taking off I gather more manure, put it on top and water it down into the pile.

My pile is at 155 degrees right now.  

I have a compost calculator website that's on my other computer.  I'll try to remember to log in on it and post it for you.  It's helpful to start understanding how the pile calculations end up.

I don't use it for every pile only when I'm using either different things or at a different ration.  

GOOD LUCK & HAVE FUN!

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 5/4/2016, 4:06 am

Audrey, Is this the calculator of which you are thinking? http://klickitatcounty.org/SolidWaste/fileshtml/organics/compostCalc.htm

Ralitaco, I build in thinner layers. Say, 6' of mowed alfalfa hay and leaves, then 1" of greens, 3" of mowed leaves, 3" of alfalfa hay, 1" of greens, etc. When I plugged in 55 buckets of of loose dry or wet compacted leaves, 10 of horse manure and 1 of coffee, I got a ratio or 33-39. 25-30 is better. When I plugged in 55 of loose dry leaves, 20 of horse manure and 2 of coffee, I get 30.5. Better. More coffee or alfalfa hay or alfalfa pellets or chicken manure or fresh seaweed/kelp will help bring the number down. Plus a sprinkling of blood meal to ignite. I water well with the hose wand after each couple layers.

Here are some more possible ingredients and their ratios. (forget the human waste!!) http://www.weblife.org/humanure/chapter3_7.html

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  Zmoore on 5/4/2016, 8:25 am

My 2 cents.  Basically what Sanderson says Smile
I'd recommend splitting your first 12" layer to 6" and then insert a layer of horse manure.  Instead of 2 layers of horse manure at 4" each do, 2"-3-3.  Same amount of horse manure just 3 layers instead.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 5/4/2016, 4:16 pm

@sanderson wrote:Ralitaco,  I build in thinner layers.  Say, 6' of mowed alfalfa hay and leaves,
That would be a very tall pile lol!

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 5/4/2016, 5:36 pm

I know I am overthinking this, but I am trying to avoid having a stinking, slimy mess in the back of my yard. Since I have not really composted before and never done the hot method, I want to try to understand better before I go and build my pile. I probably should have thought this through more thoroughly before getting 50 gallons of horse manure which is now sitting in buckets in the sun in my yard. (my wife is gonna kill me one of these days) I am very concerned that I am going to stink up the neighborhood when I open those buckets.

@sanderson wrote:When I plugged in 55 buckets of of loose dry or wet compacted leaves, 10 of horse manure and 1 of coffee, I got a ratio or 33-39.
Based on your experience (from your earlier post), you came up with the 55 buckets of leaves and the other 2 items is what I stated I had on hand. Then you put those measurements in the calculator and got the 33-39, correct?
Now what I have on hand and what you used are almost identical, but since you used the alfalfa hay, which you said was a green, your C:N was lower, correct?

@sanderson wrote:When I plugged in 55 of loose dry leaves, 20 of horse manure and 2 of coffee, I get 30.5.  Better.  
I picked up some more coffee, but I would need to empty my buckets before I could  get more manure; however, that sounds like a lot of manure. Any idea how 50 gallons of horse manure converts to inches in the 3x3x3 bin? I guess I may just have to find that out on my own...it may be time to dump out the buckets into a bin with my new front panel in place. I am thinking that may be a better plan than letting it sit and ferment in those buckets.

@sanderson wrote:More coffee or alfalfa hay or alfalfa pellets or chicken manure or fresh seaweed/kelp will help bring the number down.  Plus a sprinkling of blood meal to ignite.  I water well with the hose wand after each couple layers.
As I said, I was able to get some more coffee, but I have to put it in a bucket to see how many gallons. I have no idea how much those silver bags hold and 2 of the stores just gave me their clear trash bags with grounds.

I am thinking I may get my daughter to get a bucket of seaweed for me next time she goes to the beach. Would 1 bucket suffice?

So which would be better to add to what I have: more horse manure or chicken manure?

If I use leaves, horse manure, coffee, chicken manure, seaweed and some kitchen scraps; that seems to me to be a more well rounded blended compost. I know Mel taught use at least 5 different composts, so that would meet that criteria, correct?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 5/4/2016, 5:38 pm

@Zmoore wrote:My 2 cents.  Basically what Sanderson says Smile
I'd recommend splitting your first 12" layer to 6" and then insert a layer of horse manure.  Instead of 2 layers of horse manure at 4" each do, 2"-3-3.  Same amount of horse manure just 3 layers instead.
Thanks ZMoore, any idea how many 5 gallon buckets it takes for a 2" or 3" layer?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 5/5/2016, 3:53 am

RT, How many buckets of chicken manure can you get? Yes, dump the ten 5-gallon buckets of horse manure into #2 bin while you are trying to get things collected. You actually have a place for it!!! I personally don't mind the smell of horse but when it gets to cooking with the rest, it does smell for about the first 2 weeks. I don't hang any laundry during that time! The 2 neighbors that are affected have dog doo they pick up once a week, even in the summer. So, I don't worry about them. Neither entertain or sit out side in the evening. Just coordinate with your neighbors (birthday, graduation parties) and tell them you will have a couple of weeks of work that could be smelly. I love the smell of alfalfa hay (can you tell I had a horse?) so to me the pile smells like a horse stable. Maybe you can get a big bag of alfalfa horse feed if you don't want to tear apart a bale of hay and mow it. Just thinking. Seaweed, several buckets of it if you can.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  Zmoore on 5/5/2016, 8:06 am

Thanks ZMoore, any idea how many 5 gallon buckets it takes for a 2" or 3" layer?

Very Happy
Fun with Math!!!  Weeeee!
Your bins are 3'x3' right?
2" layer= about 2 and a quarter (2.28 calculated, close enough)
3" layer= about 3 and a quarter (3.36 calculated, close enough)
4" layer= about 4 and a half (4.43 calculated)

Now that's using math as a check, but in actuality you don't have to measure to the teaspoon for composting.  You said you had 10 buckets of manure and were going to use it to make 2 layers of 4" each.  Two 4" layers calculates to about 9 buckets, you have enough, check.  So, I'd say just use 5 buckets per layer, close enough, an extra half bucket per layer isn't going to make it excessively "thicker".

I suggested dividing into 3 layers of 2-2-3".  Based on material you have, I'd use 2.5 buckets, 2.5 buckets, and 5 buckets (total of 10).  Uses all the material, which is close to the planned volume needed, and 1/2 a bucket is easier to judge than 1/4 bucket IMO.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 5/5/2016, 1:17 pm

@Zmoore wrote:
Thanks ZMoore, any idea how many 5 gallon buckets it takes for a 2" or 3" layer?

Very Happy
Fun with Math!!!  Weeeee!
Your bins are 3'x3' right?
2" layer= about 2 and a quarter (2.28 calculated, close enough)
3" layer= about 3 and a quarter (3.36 calculated, close enough)
4" layer= about 4 and a half (4.43 calculated)

Now that's using math as a check, but in actuality you don't have to measure to the teaspoon for composting.  You said you had 10 buckets of manure and were going to use it to make 2 layers of 4" each.  Two 4" layers calculates to about 9 buckets, you have enough, check.  So, I'd say just use 5 buckets per layer, close enough, an extra half bucket per layer isn't going to make it excessively "thicker".

I suggested dividing into 3 layers of 2-2-3".  Based on material you have, I'd use 2.5 buckets, 2.5 buckets, and 5 buckets (total of 10).  Uses all the material, which is close to the planned volume needed, and 1/2 a bucket is easier to judge than 1/4 bucket IMO.
Thanks ZM, my findings are about what yours were but mine are not verified by math. I have determined that a 5 gallon bucket of whatever equates to about a 1" layer. of course as more is added the lower layers compress so it appears to take more buckets for the top 12" than the bottom 12"

Curiosity got the better of me and went out and decided to dump some buckets out to measure. That led to, I wonder how many gallons of coffee is in each silver bag, which led to I wonder how many buckets of leaves will it take to fill 6", which led to...well, let's just say I ended up building my pile, but more on that later.


So in my completely unscientific method, I dumped out 5 of the 5 gallon buckets of horse manure. As far as I can tell, it was about 5-6" deep. I raked it level in the bin and looked at it from various sides and determined it was 5-6"
Here's a view from the front where the front panel is 12" tall


I then dumped one of the silver bags of starbucks coffee grounds in the bucket and it filled up the bottom 5" of the bucket. Since 5 gallon buckets are tapered and are 14.5" tall, I would say that a single silver bag is about 1.5 - 1.75 gallons. I am guessing 3 silver bags would be close to filling the 5 gallon bucket but I only had 1 bag, the rest was in clear plastic trash can liners and I was not curious enough to scoop it into the silver bag.


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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 5/5/2016, 11:32 pm

Because I was impatient and let one thing lead to another, I ended up building my compost pile. I did not get any more manure or any other greens so I believe I may have just created a large cold composting pile.

Here is what I layered:
5 buckets of eaves
3 buckets of horse manure
5 buckets of leaves mixed with kitchen scraps
1 bucket of coffee grounds
2 buckets of horse manure
4 buckets of leaves mixed with kitchen scraps
2.5 buckets of horse manure
4 buckets of leaves mixed with kitchen scraps
.5 buckets of coffee grounds
2.5 buckets of horse manure
5 buckets of leaves mixed with kitchen scraps
12 buckets of leaves that had been sitting for several months and had started to break down already

Per the compost calculator:
For a total C:N Ratio of 36:1 mix
010 part(s) Horse Manure
01.5 part(s) Coffee Grounds
1 part(s) Vegetable Waste
035 part(s) Leaves compact-wet

So this definitely should have gotten some more manure or other greens as suggested. But having said that, I see the range for a hot pile can go from 25-40:1 so at least I'm in that range.

My temp immediately after the build was 73.3 and today it was 87.3 so perhaps I will be lucky and it will continue to rise in temp.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 5/6/2016, 3:55 am

You may have lift-off! Keep us posted on the temps. If it doesn't really heat up after 4 days when you first turn it, you can always add a little blood meal.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  yolos on 5/6/2016, 8:04 am

This is the compost thermometer that I bought years ago and it is still going strong.

http://www.amazon.com/REOTEMP-FG20P-Backyard-Compost-Thermometer/dp/B002P5RGMI/ref=sr_1_1?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1462536067&sr=1-1&keywords=reotemp+compost+thermometer

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  sanderson on 5/6/2016, 4:36 pm

My thermometer, eBay ~$20 plus $10 s/h = $30.  If you are going to use the Berkeley method, make sure the thermometer goes up to 180*F. That will let you know the pile is over heating (past 160*F).

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 5/6/2016, 8:41 pm

102.9 Very Happy

So I finished building my pile Wednesday night around 830pm.
When do I turn it? I am thinking Monday

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 5/6/2016, 10:52 pm

@ralitaco wrote:102.9 Very Happy

So I finished building my pile Wednesday night around 830pm.
When do I turn it? I am thinking Monday
You may need to add some nitrogen - either blood meal, coffee ground or urine to bring the temp up.

My pile was turned 2 days ago when it was at 155.  It's at 145 today when I should turn but we're wet and rainy so it will have to wait.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  ralitaco on 5/6/2016, 11:50 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:You may need to add some nitrogen - either blood meal, coffee ground or urine to bring the temp up.
I will probably pick up some blood meal. What do I do with it?

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 5/7/2016, 12:10 am

You can simply turn your pile and sprinkle it every six inches or so.  Sanderson, how much do you use in a pile?  I haven't needed it.

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Re: Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

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