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My Compost Pile

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Additions to the pile

Post  tomperrin on 3/8/2012, 6:27 pm



I picked this load up on March 2, 2012 from the free manure dumpsite. It's well aged manure from, I think, a variety of farm animals with little bedding. I'll have to add some straw or it will never heat up. I checked the site this morning and it had been wiped clean.

The stump in the background is all that remains of an old oak that collapsed last fall. It was scavenged for firewood.

Tom

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  camprn on 3/8/2012, 6:29 pm

ooh, I just found this DIY Compost Bin Aerator cyclops

tom if that manure is old and alreay composted, no need to try and compost it again. I don't know if it has what it needs to heat up a pile if it is already composted. Just a thought.

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/8/2012, 6:31 pm

I don't think I was ever more impressed with manure. That looks awesome

I got about half of that amount in two trips with my Chevy Cobalt. I sure wish I would've had access to a pickup

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/8/2012, 6:33 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
Hey Tuxdad, adding worms to the compost pile is a great idea. Thanks for that. If I do that, then I better not use an aerator to mix my compost up.

Woops....I meant to say rototiller instead of aerator. I would think that an aerator is safe to use if you have worms in the compost pile.

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old manure

Post  tomperrin on 3/8/2012, 7:25 pm

@camprn wrote:

tom if that manure is old and already composted, no need to try and compost it again. I don't know if it has what it needs to heat up a pile if it is already composted. Just a thought.

It's brown, not black, indicating, I think, that it ain't done yet. I threw it on Pile # 2. It's pretty cold stuff, at about 55F. On the plus side, most of it is pretty disintegrated and not identifiable.

I'm not in any rush. I don't think any of my piles will be ready until mid-summer. When it gets to the point where its siftable, I'll probably bag it all in anticipation of 2013 planting. I'll have about 150 cu ft when I'm done thanks to the free manure.

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/9/2012, 11:45 pm

Wow.........

I just checked the temperature of my compost pile a few minutes ago and it's at 120F. That's an increase of just over 40 degrees since yesterday morning at 8:30am.
It rained for most of the day yesterday so I put a tarp over it. This morning I was running late for work and didn't have time to remove the tarp so it stayed on till I got home around 10:30pm. Could keeping the tarp over it for two days cause that big of a temperature spike?? Or is it more likely that it's due to the fact that I rebuilt the pile and added rabbit food and dried blood?

Whatever.....that's just incredible.

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Tuxdad on 3/10/2012, 3:06 pm

Here's a couple of pics of my compost bin... I keep a heavy tarp over it to keep critters out of it...







I just finished adding about half of about an 80 bag of manure/straw mix, and turned it a few times..

I guess things are ok in there since I don't have any off smells, such as ammonia, or anything.. It still smells damp and musty...







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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 3:51 pm

How deep is the compost? You might have a small problem with maintaining high temperatures if the pile is less than 3ft deep.

Although I would imagine that it might get warm in there being covered by black plastic.

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 3:55 pm

Temperature today is about 132F. Up from 40F since last Sunday.


Last edited by camprn on 3/10/2012, 4:11 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : double posted photo removed)

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Tuxdad on 3/10/2012, 4:35 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:How deep is the compost? You might have a small problem with maintaining high temperatures if the pile is less than 3ft deep.

Although I would imagine that it might get warm in there being covered by black plastic.



It's dug up about 6"-8" deep below the frame, but it's about 2.5' at the front, and about 4' at the back end.. Yea the black rubber helps get the heat going good in there, if this winter was any proof of it.. On some of the coldest days there were bugs crawling around in there when I went to check on it, if that's any indication...

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 4:53 pm

Hopefully some of the better composters will add their two cents into this. I don't want to give you bogus information.

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Tuxdad on 3/10/2012, 5:47 pm

It was my cold frame last year but I couldn't find a heavy enough plastic for it to survive the few weeks before the last frost.. So once that was over I decide to make it into a compost bin.. The reason for the heavy tarp was to keep critters out.. I had to take out 4 raccoons in a span of a month before of them going into it and scarffing scraps.. Once I added it, I had no more troubles...Twisted Evil We still have raccoons and skunks roaming around but have yet to catch or see any around my compost bin..



I know I'll probably have to take the tarp during the day, once I put the worms in there.. It'll just go back on in the evenings is all...

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/10/2012, 6:28 pm

@Tuxdad wrote:It was my cold frame last year but I couldn't find a heavy enough plastic for it to survive the few weeks before the last frost.. So once that was over I decide to make it into a compost bin.. The reason for the heavy tarp was to keep critters out.. I had to take out 4 raccoons in a span of a month before of them going into it and scarffing scraps.. Once I added it, I had no more troubles...Twisted Evil We still have raccoons and skunks roaming around but have yet to catch or see any around my compost bin..



I know I'll probably have to take the tarp during the day, once I put the worms in there.. It'll just go back on in the evenings is all...


Oh ok....I thought the bin looked familiar. What a Face

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/14/2012, 12:03 am

Two days ago the temperature of the compost pile was 136F. I repositioned the thermometer because I wanted to experiment by keeping the tarp on it all the time. The temperature dropped to 130F.....my guess is that it just hit a slightly cooler part of the pile. Anyway it went up to 132F and it's been there since yesterday.

I'm really surprised that the temperature of the pile has been as high as it has been for several days now. The level of the pile has dropped noticeably since I reworked it 2 Sundays ago. Tomorrow I'll take a picture and compare it to a picture I took two days after I reworked it.

I owe my recent composting success to rebuilding the pile and adding rabbit food, dried blood, and a little bit of water. If anybody needs to kickstart their compost, I highly recommend those three things.

Now I know I will have compost ready by May. cheers

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  camprn on 3/14/2012, 4:41 am

the tarp may be occluding O2 from the pile. It does need to get air, even if it is raining. Just my $0.03. Very Happy

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/14/2012, 8:40 am

@camprn wrote:the tarp may be occluding O2 from the pile. It does need to get air, even if it is raining. Just my $0.03. Very Happy

It was just something I wanted to try, but I'm going to take it off now.

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tarping a compost pile

Post  curio on 3/14/2012, 9:07 am

I don't know if this would work for everyone, but we tarp our compost bins (we get a LOT of rain, particularly during the winter). However, in order for the pile to breathe, we use one of the blue woven tarps, and we fasten it to the top of the bin, four corners and one "clip" along the back, which in our case is 6' long. That way it acts sort of like a floating row cover, keeping most of the rain off and still allowing air circulation (and allowing us to keep adding during the winter as needed). The pile gets some moisture from the sides being open, and if it seems to be drying out too much, it's a simple fix... just remove the tarp or fold it back for a rainy day, or water it with the hose, then put it back in place.

I think doing this helps keep the nutrients from washing away.

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/14/2012, 9:26 am

@curio wrote:However, in order for the pile to breathe, we use one of the blue woven tarps, and we fasten it to the top of the bin, four corners and one "clip" along the back, which in our case is 6' long. That way it acts sort of like a floating row cover, keeping most of the rain off and still allowing air circulation (and allowing us to keep adding during the winter as needed). The pile gets some moisture from the sides being open, and if it seems to be drying out too much, it's a simple fix... just remove the tarp or fold it back for a rainy day, or water it with the hose, then put it back in place.

I think doing this helps keep the nutrients from washing away.

That's the kind of tarp I have. Only the top of my compost pile is covered. The sides are open. I think that it helps to keep it covered during rain but for another experiment, I'll keep it uncovered during the next rain and see what happens.

Two Sundays ago when I reworked the pile....



Picture taken today. Notice how much the pile went down. After maintaining temperatures higher than 130 for several days I'm quite happy. I've even noticed alot of new growth coming from the top of the pile. Overall I guess that is a good sign....meaning the pile is fertile. However when I rework the pile again, those sprouts and any seeds at the top of the pile will get worked into the middle and the heat generated should kill them.


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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  plantoid on 3/14/2012, 5:38 pm

@tomperrin wrote:

I picked this load up on March 2, 2012 from the free manure dumpsite. It's well aged manure from, I think, a variety of farm animals with little bedding. I'll have to add some straw or it will never heat up. I checked the site this morning and it had been wiped clean.

The stump in the background is all that remains of an old oak that collapsed last fall. It was scavenged for firewood.

Tom



Tom ,

By the colour of the stuff you have I suspect you have partially composted stable muck or poultry house muck with wood pulp for the texture is similar to mine but the colour is lighter very much lighter than mine .

I know I have a private source of guaranteed four year old composted horse muck on wood pulp and some savings , your load looks like it's only half done ..is there any faint aromas to it or anything visable such as paper , hair or feathers etc.

Perhaps before you commit it to your garden , get a bucket of it and add some compost maker to see it it fires up .. it may save you a big headache at a later date.

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my partially rotted manure

Post  tomperrin on 3/14/2012, 7:02 pm

This is doing the slow cook on the manure pile, currently at 78F after I added some alfalfa pellets, otherwise it would be at 61F or so. I'll turn it again in a week or so. I still have to get the straw.

Both of my manure piles will total about 150 cu ft when they are done. By that time we will be well into summer, I imagine. As the squares rotate off for the fall and winter, I'll top dress them from my two piles.

Hopefully, I will score some fresh manure for a third pile that I can start in the fall.

I now have squares built and being filled with MM that will plant 370 sq ft. I will probably end up with 400 sq ft by the time I'm done. So I am busy.

Tom

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/14/2012, 7:21 pm

@tomperrin wrote:This is doing the slow cook on the manure pile, currently at 78F after I added some alfalfa pellets, otherwise it would be at 61F or so. I'll turn it again in a week or so. I still have to get the straw.
Tom

If you added enough alfalfa pellets and you have plenty of brown material added in, you should see your temps increase pretty nicely. Once you get it cooking into what's considered the "hot" range, between 130F and 150F, let it cook till it cools down to around 100F. After that, fluff it up and mix in more alfalfa pellets, possibly adding a bit of water if the material is a bit dry.

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  tomperrin on 3/14/2012, 7:28 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
@tomperrin wrote:This is doing the slow cook on the manure pile, currently at 78F after I added some alfalfa pellets, otherwise it would be at 61F or so. I'll turn it again in a week or so. I still have to get the straw.
Tom

If you added enough alfalfa pellets and you have plenty of brown material added in, you should see your temps increase pretty nicely. Once you get it cooking into what's considered the "hot" range, between 130F and 150F, let it cook till it cools down to around 100F. After that, fluff it up and mix in more alfalfa pellets, possibly adding a bit of water if the material is a bit dry.

That's exactly what the book says. It's what I preach. That said, this has been a quirky pile all winter. So I'm not holding my breath. I'm just too cheap to add yet another additive like blood meal. I also preach patience. But it's still irritating when the beasties do not march to my command.

Tom

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  Too Tall Tomatoes on 3/14/2012, 7:38 pm

@tomperrin wrote:That's exactly what the book says. It's what I preach. That said, this has been a quirky pile all winter. So I'm not holding my breath. I'm just too cheap to add yet another additive like blood meal. I also preach patience. But it's still irritating when the beasties do not march to my command.

Tom

I bought a small bag of blood meal two weeks ago and it was around 10 bucks. It was expensive but I was willing to try it since camprn recommended it.
It's a good thing that a little bit of that goes a long way.

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Re: My Compost Pile

Post  camprn on 3/14/2012, 8:37 pm

@Too Tall Tomatoes wrote:
@tomperrin wrote:That's exactly what the book says. It's what I preach. That said, this has been a quirky pile all winter. So I'm not holding my breath. I'm just too cheap to add yet another additive like blood meal. I also preach patience. But it's still irritating when the beasties do not march to my command.

Tom

I bought a small bag of blood meal two weeks ago and it was around 10 bucks. It was expensive but I was willing to try it since camprn recommended it.
It's a good thing that a little bit of that goes a long way.
That 10lb. bag should last a long while! And truly, a little goes a long way. Do a little Googling to find out what and how much to use in certain circumstances. Wink Tom which book are you going by? I cannot recommend enough Rodale Book of Composting or better yet The Complete Book of Composting

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