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Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

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Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  llama momma on 3/8/2015, 9:45 am

I'm getting rather antsy and mulling over trying a Berkeley 18 day style heap including manure and other activators.
Is anyone else trying this in current mid 40 to 30 degree temperatures ?
How is it going?

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 3/8/2015, 10:38 am

Our temps weren't that low, but my Berkeley pile this winter was tepid at best.  Not sure exactly why, but I'm not sure that next winter I'll even try.  I'll probably just create a few large piles and let them sit over the winter to cold compost.

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  camprn on 3/8/2015, 10:55 am

I have had success at those ambient temperatures. If you build the pile correctly, the heat is generated within the pile.

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  sanderson on 3/8/2015, 2:26 pm

LM, What have you got to loose? Try it.

Camp, You have both a green thumb and a "brown" thumb! I'm like Audrey in that I didn't have much success with a cold weather pile this winter. BUT, maybe it is because of the summer seasonal ingredients I'm used to working with.


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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  llama momma on 3/8/2015, 2:53 pm

@sanderson wrote:LM,  What have you got to loose?  Try it.

Camp,  You have both a green thumb and a "brown" thumb!  I'm like Audrey in that I didn't have much success with a cold weather pile this winter.  BUT, maybe it is because of the summer seasonal ingredients I'm used to working with.


With warmer consistant 40-ish temps this week I am so tempted.  The snow is receding around the yard and hopefully reach my compost area midweek, fingers crossed.  I think I could make it work. if I build it with heavy handed N ingredients, make it a 5 ft high and wide pile,  and insulate with tarp on top and old bales around the sides...  It will be quite a workout to turn when you consider a smaller pile 3 ft high and wide pile takes me about 60 fork fulls to turn over... I'll wind up either in shape for the summer or resting peacefully in my grave.
Shocked

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  sanderson on 3/8/2015, 3:19 pm

LM, Why not try it with a smaller size like 3" cube or 4' x 4' x 3' tall? It still needs oxygen so the urge to "insulate" vs. oxygenate seems to be the obstacle???

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  llama momma on 3/8/2015, 3:26 pm

Sanderson, from what I'm understanding the larger mass is critical to hold in heat. Plus adding bales around it and a tarp over it.   Honestly with cold weather composting,  I'm speaking from this afternoon's book learning and not real world experience.  Then there is the famed Eliot Coleman that basically says don't waste your time trying.  Then I read other stuff that says it can work!
Anyway, it's a challenge I'm trying to talk myself into and learn something from.

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  CapeCoddess on 3/8/2015, 3:33 pm

Geez, LM, where do you get all that energy to even be thinking about this, let alone doing it??? Shocked

I'd rather compost in buckets and

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  llama momma on 3/8/2015, 3:44 pm

CC
I know Its funny at our age right?   Laughing  
Armchair composting is a lot like an armchair quarterback.
Both easier said than done.

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  Triciasgarden on 3/9/2015, 4:59 pm

LM, last fall and all winter I did the armchair building of my compost pile, lol.  We have had a very mild winter and record breaking warm weather here and I still procrastinated!  Finally I got all my stock piled ingredients together and built a short/wide compost pile.

From what I remember reading, building a pile bigger than a 4' x 4' is counter productive.  I think it has to do with air not being able to get into the pile.  I wonder though if that would be different if you made sure you had air vents throughout.  Like where people poke holes in their piles and work the posts around to open up vents so air gets in there.

I know others have built piles in that kind of colder weather, only covered it with a tarp, and the piles heated up and melted the snow on top of the pile.  I think it was Plantoid or Rooster who posted the picture.  If you can keep yourself warm enough while working out in that cold weather, I think it would give you a little bit of a jump on spring.

CC, buckets do sound like a good idea?


Last edited by Triciasgarden on 3/9/2015, 5:03 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : I got too wordy)

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  sanderson on 3/10/2015, 12:54 am

Building the compost pile is the easy part of Berkeley. It's the multiple turning of hot material that is the hard part! I turned the pile tonight for the second time (it reached 168*F in the core) and I am bushed! I don't have a second cage so it's take every out, out everything back in. Shocked

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  llama momma on 3/10/2015, 10:47 am

Sanderson
This will help you with  multiple turnings of a Berkeley pile -- every time I turn the pile I 'walk it'  toward the direction of the garden boxes.  When its done the pile is sitting right next to the boxes. It has moved across the lawn maybe 30 feet or so. The  couple of days it sits on the lawn between turnings doesn't kill it.  Sure the grass turns light green and yellow. Given time any lost grass filled in pretty much. Granted I don't have a solid lawn of beautiful turf grass to begin with. But who cares, ok not me Wink

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 3/10/2015, 12:00 pm

What a great idea llama momma!  I don't think she has room to implement it in the jigsaw puzzle that is her tiny back yard though... do you Sanderson?  

I tore my pallet double chamber compost bin apart and am moving it to the back yard.  I haven't set it up yet, but have been doing basically the same thing I did in the bin just without walls (tossing it from one pile to the next space over each time)

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  CapeCoddess on 3/10/2015, 12:28 pm

@llama momma wrote:Sanderson
This will help you with  multiple turnings of a Berkeley pile -- every time I turn the pile I 'walk it'  toward the direction of the garden boxes.  When its done the pile is sitting right next to the boxes. It has moved across the lawn maybe 30 feet or so. The  couple of days it sits on the lawn between turnings doesn't kill it.  Sure the grass turns light green and yellow. Given time any lost grass filled in pretty much. Granted I don't have a solid lawn of beautiful turf grass to begin with. But who cares, ok not me Wink
OMG, I love this idea!  Just read it in a composting book, too.  I'll have to wait for Mom to move on though.  She'd freak out seeing garbage walking across the back yard. 
affraid
It's GOT to be good fertilizer for the lawn in the long run, right?

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  llama momma on 3/10/2015, 1:00 pm

The composting book I mentioned earlier is where I got the idea

p.s weather forecast now predicting temps in the 50's, bring it on!  whoohoo.

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  CapeCoddess on 3/10/2015, 1:06 pm

I thought it was you that had mentioned that book but then I couldn't find it in this thread. Another thread maybe?  Or do I need better glasses? Shocked

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  llama momma on 3/10/2015, 1:11 pm

Oh shoot I thought it was in this thread, thank you! for catching that. Your eyes are fine. My brain debatable.

Book - "The Compete Compost Gardening Guide" Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L Martin

Ah, I think it was best composting ingredients thread where I mentioned it.

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  sanderson on 3/10/2015, 1:37 pm

@audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:I don't think she has room to implement it in the jigsaw puzzle that is her tiny back yard though... do you Sanderson?  
Jigsaw puzzle - perfect description of my tiny back yard!

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  landarch on 3/10/2015, 1:41 pm

My pile fizzled out...it's been in the 70's for the last few days and the core of my compost pile is frozen solid.  It did a good job of maintaining heat through the majority of the winter (melting the snow).  I need more warm days to be able to get in there and turn/ aerate.  I didn't have this problem last year.

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  Triciasgarden on 3/10/2015, 2:34 pm

Llamama, walking compost, lol!

Sanderson I don't know how you do it!

Landarch hopefully as it warms you can get you compost finished!

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  sanderson on 3/11/2015, 12:21 am

Right now, I'm tripping over myself. Planting beds, filling pots, making MM, spreading heavy mulching, etc. There has got to be an easier way for me to manage everything.

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts on 3/11/2015, 12:41 am

I looked at the future month's weather and decided it's time to start planting out in the gardens.  My squash are huge so it's really time.  

I'll have to finish tomorrow since the great cow escape interrupted my fun!

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  AtlantaMarie on 3/11/2015, 7:11 am

The great cow escape...?  THIS sounds like a great story...  Did you post it somewhere? 

I gotta hear this one!

Wink

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  camprn on 3/11/2015, 2:09 pm

This is a gentle reminder that off topics that can be moved, will be. So can the great cow escape story be sent to the senseless banter thread for viewing. Wink

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

Post  Triciasgarden on 3/11/2015, 8:50 pm

Yes post it.

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Re: Anyone composting in 40/30 degree temps?

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