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compost thermometer

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/20/2016, 12:22 pm

I turned the contents of the compost bin again. Back down to 28.5C but already climbing within the first hour.

The contents smelled OK so I think the right kind of bacteria are working. The moisture content seems to be OK as well. So let's see what happens now. 

Our outdoor high temps are 27C and 26C for the next two days and then things really cool off with highs in the 15 to 18C range and overnight temps getting down to 4C (39F) on one night. Won't be long now and we will get some frost. I'll keep the compost experiment going as long a I can.

sanderson ... Is it ok for me to continue posting about my compost attempts on this "Compost thermometer" thread? I think I have taken the thread away from its original intended path. So maybe I should be posting this stuff on another thread.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  sanderson on 9/20/2016, 3:34 pm

Yes, it did drift away and I am partly the blame for not corralling it sooner. I may split off some of the replies to another thread when I have more time to concentrate.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/20/2016, 3:46 pm

@sanderson wrote:Yes, it did drift away and I am partly the blame for not corralling it sooner.  I may split off some of the replies to another thread when I have more time to concentrate.
Okay ... sorry about that. It still is about monitoring the compost temp with my simple digital refrigerator thermometer although I drifted into things like turning the compost. BTW now up about 6 degrees Celsius since turning it about 4 hours ago. But I'm wondering if that isn't mainly residual heat that was left in the materials prior to turning. Will have to see if the heat loving microbes can take control.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/21/2016, 9:06 am

FWIW ... the thermometer is reading 39.2C (102.6 F) as of 8:30 am. which is about 21 hours after turning. It's not yet into the thermophilic range above 40C but very close. After today the ambient temperatures are going to be much lower so with this small pile there could be considerable heat loss to the atmosphere.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/21/2016, 6:41 pm

@trolleydriver wrote:FWIW ... the thermometer is reading 39.2C (102.6 F) as of 8:30 am. which is about 21 hours after turning. It's not yet into the thermophilic range above 40C but very close. After today the ambient temperatures are going to be much lower so with this small pile there could be considerable heat loss to the atmosphere.
Well it looks like I killed it. The temperature is down to 35C and not rising. I may have to rebuild the pile or just leave it to cold compost.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  sanderson on 9/22/2016, 2:18 am

If it's an undersized pile, it may not heat up to the high temps again. I'm predicting that it will turn into some nice compost come spring.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/22/2016, 8:23 am

@sanderson wrote:If it's an undersized pile, it may not heat up to the high temps again.  I'm predicting that it will turn into some nice compost come spring.
Totally agreed on all points. Temp is 37.7C this morning.

I really need to make a bigger bin especially since there will be a ton of things to compost as we clean up the veggie and flower gardens and get leaves from the neighbours.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/22/2016, 3:29 pm

@trolleydriver wrote:
@sanderson wrote:If it's an undersized pile, it may not heat up to the high temps again.  I'm predicting that it will turn into some nice compost come spring.
Totally agreed on all points. Temp is 37.7C this morning.

I really need to make a bigger bin especially since there will be a ton of things to compost as we clean up the veggie and flower gardens and get leaves from the neighbours.
As an interim measure I have added fresh lawn clippings (grass, clover, weeds), straw, etc. and have brought the level up to the top of the bin. There's a layer of straw on top for no real reason. Now will monitor temps again to see what happens.  The tomato, tomatillo and ground cherry plants beside and behind the bin are very healthy. BTW this compost bin gets high marks in reviews on Amazon.


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Re: compost thermometer

Post  yolos on 9/23/2016, 12:04 am

Is the pile moist enough?

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/23/2016, 8:36 am

@yolos wrote:Is the pile moist enough?
I believe it is. It was quite damp already and when I added the new straw I made sure I watered it down. The grass clippings were already damp. I mixed the grass and other things with the straw layers to help prevent clumping of the grass. The top covering of straw was not watered down (no reason why).

This morning at 8 am the temperature reading was 43.5C (110F) which means it has moved into the low end of the thermophilic range. Overnight ambient temperatures will be going down to 3C (37F) for the next few nights which probably will result in heat loss in this relatively small pile.

Anyway, whatever happens with the compost pile, it's fun to play with and to monitor it.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/23/2016, 11:09 am

I get so excited about this compost stuff (I know ... that is so pathetic) that I have to go out every few hours and check the temperature.  Three hours after the earlier reading the temp has gone from 43.5 to 45C.  I like what is happening.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/23/2016, 4:20 pm

After 25 hours the temp has reached 47C (116.6 F). That's a rise of 3.5C in the past 8 hours. Hopefully by tomorrow it will be over 50C. The previous attempt topped out at 57C before starting to cool down but that was with much higher ambient temps than we have here today.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  jimmy cee on 9/23/2016, 9:47 pm

@trolleydriver wrote:I get so excited about this compost stuff (I know ... that is so pathetic) that I have to go out every few hours and check the temperature.  Three hours after the earlier reading the temp has gone from 43.5 to 45C.  I like what is happening.
TD, you're not alone in your quest for composting. I enjoy the composting more than gardening itself, so much that I am fairly close to sending for a microscope. Only reason I do not have it now ? I want to make certain I will use it.
This book in case you're not aware will explain everything that goes on inside the piles and much more.


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155F!

Post  dstack on 9/23/2016, 10:12 pm

My bin has been 155F for at least 2 days this week.  I love when it cooks!  It's hotter than...  Twisted Evil

lol!

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/23/2016, 10:56 pm

@jimmy cee wrote:
@trolleydriver wrote:I get so excited about this compost stuff (I know ... that is so pathetic) that I have to go out every few hours and check the temperature.  Three hours after the earlier reading the temp has gone from 43.5 to 45C.  I like what is happening.
TD, you're not alone in your quest for composting. I enjoy the composting more than gardening itself, so much that I am fairly close to sending for a microscope. Only reason I do not have it now ? I want to make certain I will use it.
This book in case you're not aware will explain everything that goes on inside the piles and much more.


Jimmy ... Last Spring I borrowed the book from my local library.  It was a good read.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/24/2016, 8:06 am

@trolleydriver wrote:After 25 hours the temp has reached 47C (116.6 F). That's a rise of 3.5C in the past 8 hours. Hopefully by tomorrow it will be over 50C. The previous attempt topped out at 57C before starting to cool down but that was with much higher ambient temps than we have here today.

Success. At about 8 am the temp is 50.2 C.  Outdoor temp is about 7C (45F) and was lower during the night.




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Re: compost thermometer

Post  jimmy cee on 9/24/2016, 10:26 pm

I turned my pile 2 days ago and inserted a SS rod deep within. Today, I pulled the rod out and was not able to hold onto the middle, that indicated to me a temperature of 145 and up. I do like that electronic readout. If only I can make it a wireless signal and have a readout in the house...Maybe even hook up a 24 hour recorder to monitor temps.


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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver on 9/25/2016, 1:10 pm

Very cold here overnight ... even got some frost. The compost temperature has dropped from a high of 50.8 yesterday afternoon to 49.8 at 8 am this morning. Another cold night coming today as well.

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Re: compost thermometer

Post  trolleydriver Yesterday at 11:14 am

Cold again overnight.  Compost temperature is down to 46.8C.

Here are a couple of graphs I found on the Web which show the effects of pile volume and turning frequency. My pile is only about 12 cubic feet and my max temp was about 123F which is about right according to the graph. Going to a 3x3x3 (27 cubic feet) provides a significant increase in max temperature (as we already knew) and duration of max temperature. I really need to get that 3x3x3 built and hopefully test it before winter. I'll have plenty of greens (plants from the gardens) as well browns (leaves) to throw into it soon. 



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Re: compost thermometer

Post  sanderson Yesterday at 1:58 pm

Rings pretty true. Twenty (20) days of high temps with frequent turning. Turning reintroduces oxygen and allows frequent checks of moisture.

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Re: compost thermometer

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