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Hey there, small, hot and composty

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Hey there, small, hot and composty Empty Hey there, small, hot and composty

Post  markqz on 1/16/2020, 3:55 pm

Well, maybe not hot. But very warm.

I'm trying to work out a method for hot/warm composting for small quantities of material. I'm rarely able to gather more than a garbage can's worth of compost material at a time. Also, maintaining a larger compost heap takes a fair amount of effort.

After reading some links posted by sanderson, it seemed to me that the main difficulty with small compost heaps is keeping the pile insulated. Well, I know something about insulation thanks to other interests.

What I'm doing here is wrapping a trash can with reflextrix and cardboard (cardboard is a fairly good insulator) and then inserting it all in second, worn-out bin.

Hey there, small, hot and composty Sp77ZeE

Then I put a layer of reflextrix on top of the pile and then wads of packaging paper on top of that:

Hey there, small, hot and composty 7EyrT8g

Put both lids on top. Finally, I've moved the whole thing to my tiny shed, so that it gets more wind and overnight thermal protection.

Since it's a smaller amount, I will need to stir it more often, probably. I have this tool which was advertised as an improvement over shovels/forks:

Hey there, small, hot and composty HNI3gYZ

Well, I'm not so sure. I think someone would wear out their hand joints using this on a big pile. On my short stack, it only takes 10 to 20 plunges. That's still a bit of an upper body workout, which isn't all bad.

When I measured the temperature the other day, I had a brief hit of 129F and one or two of 124F. The problem is that I was using an IR thermometer, which only measures the outer surface temperature of things. On something damp like compost, that temperature plummets in a few seconds of exposure to the outside air.

Since then, the temperature has gone down, but it's still in the "active" range. I'm hoping that it will come back up after being churned this morning:

Hey there, small, hot and composty N4VrM9e
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Hey there, small, hot and composty Empty Re: Hey there, small, hot and composty

Post  Dan in Ct on 1/18/2020, 6:55 am

markqz, I came upon this method quite by accident after reading everything I could on hot composting. My town awhile ago offered residents Garden Gourmet Composters for $15 because of some deal with our DEEP. Somehow our departments of Energy and Environment combined, we have genius politicians here in Ct., party affiliation makes no difference. Anyway, my mother-in-law gave me hers and I picked up another off of Craigslist for a total of three. Well because they are enclosed and no microbiology was added I basically had a standing 3 compartment waste dump for almost 3 years. I had also had at the same time built a leaf bin to make leaf mold, 7' x 11' x 3' which was because I had heard about the benefits of leaf mold in a book written by Prince Charles and too lazy to make over 15 trips with my pick-up. Long story short after a couple of years learned about the microbiology and added some leaf mold to the compost bins and I started making compost. A note to the wise, do not place leaf bin amongst Silver Maples, shallow rooted tree that grows its roots up into a leaf bin. Ask me how I know?

I don't hot compost, I would rather cold compost which takes me about 1 1/2 years to make good compost but after the initial delay, I now get a steady supply of compost and no matter how much you make, you can always find a use for more. Many don't realize that compost has to have time to cure to be finished compost and the other is to keep your pile aerated to the maximum otherwise you are making crude bokashi. Bad microbes live and thrive in low or no oxygen environments and great care and know how has to be exhibited to ensure any kind of usable product from such a process. 

Hot composting needs size or a certain mass to obtain the temperatures needed and then watchful observation and turning within certain time and temperature parameters to accomplish making good compost. I am a Master Composter here in Ct and I don't feel the average homeowner has enough material to build a large enough pile with a desired carbon to nitrogen ratio to hot compost. I am not the favored one to go out and give a Compost Workshop anymore. If you can, if there is a commercial or town operation nearby check it out. Our town has a large leaf composting operation and because of the size of the furrows which are at least 5' high and well over a football field long, the compost process goes all winter long and it still takes them 6 months, so they do two batches a year, one leaves, the other following the leaves, yard wastes. My theory if you want good compost now, you should have started a 1 1/2 years ago. Or better said, "Before you garden, compost.
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Hey there, small, hot and composty Empty Re: Hey there, small, hot and composty

Post  sanderson on 1/24/2020, 7:22 pm

@Dan in Ct wrote:. . . Long story short after a couple of years learned about the microbiology and added some leaf mold to the compost bins and I started making compost. A note to the wise, do not place leaf bin amongst Silver Maples, shallow rooted tree that grows its roots up into a leaf bin. Ask me how I know?. . .
I think adding leaf mold or newer compost to a new pile can help as a starter. I never cleaned the bin or tumbler between batches.

And those pesky roots, I believe it. I had tree, bush and rose roots coming up in my beds the second year, so I have to change to table top beds.

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Post  plantoid on 1/25/2020, 1:15 pm

Put the composting bin on a 3 inch thick poured single slab of concrete base if you're able to . So the base is a foot or so wider than the bin.  It  helps stop roots & rodents trying to get in .
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