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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

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Post  sanderson 12/23/2015, 9:17 pm

Day 7 with no rain so I turned the pile.  I thought this was interesting showing the hot center core at 160*F primarily from the action of bacteria and the cooler outer material with mold.  (At least that is what I read about the microbial activity of hot composting verses 'cool' composting. Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method  - Page 14 Compos16

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Post  sanderson 12/24/2015, 1:08 pm

After turning yesterday, the temp was down to 80*F. Today, Day 8, it is back up to 162*F.

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Post  plantoid 12/24/2015, 3:20 pm

sanderson wrote:I turned the pile on Sunday, Day 4, when it was 160*F.  Today is Day 6, back up to 160*F again, but we had showers all day, so I will turn it tomorrow, Day 7.  The nights are in the 30's with day temps in the 40-50s.  In the summer the day may be over 100* with the night at 75-80.  Just saying, ambient temps don't seem to play that much into a well built pile.  It's all about the C:N ratio (24:1), moisture, oxygen and microorganisms.
 Methinks it is not a straight forwards as that .
The fact that you have the heap in an enclosure away from the rages of the elements will most certainly play a big part in the heap heating up for there will be no wind to blow away the ammonia gas that the bacterial action  releases & the yeasts & moulds feed on as it turns to nitrogen inside the heap .
 
 The white on the outside of the pile could well also mean it's a tad dryer on the outside edges .
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Post  sanderson 12/24/2015, 10:26 pm

Plantoid, You may be right. I looked at several articles (trying to stay within universities or dot org articles. Couple of take aways: The mold I think I am seeing may be actinomycetes, a chain-like bacteria. Also, Hot piles (160*F) may be good for killing many seeds, weeds and pathogens, but turn it to allow oxygen back in. Otherwise, you can kill off the good bacteria and be left with stinky Clostridium-riden compost. Composting is a fascinating subject.

Kitchen Gardener Magazine 2009:
Organic matter goes through a number of phases of decomposition, with different organisms working in different phases and at varying temperatures. When the temperature within a compost pile rises to 60°F degrees, mesophilic bacteria work to break down organic material. Mesophiles can raise the pile temperature above 100°F; at this point the thermophiles take over. Thermophiles (or heat lovers) can bring the temperature up to 150°F. Even at temperatures as low as 28˚F, there’s bacterial activity by psychrophiles, critters that will work during the winter.

http://compost.css.cornell.edu/microorg.html

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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 3/17/2016, 10:17 pm

Time to open this thread back up for the new composting season, lol!  Dust 'er off and turn the pile, summer is coming before we know it!

I have 3/4 of my first pile built.  One more load of fresh cow manure and bedding straw tomorrow and my pile will be 4 x 4 x 3 roughly or about 48 cu ft.  It was heated up to almost 100 degrees today when I added another wheel barrow load and then wet the pile thoroughly.  

Approximate pile make up:

*Hay straw
*Cow manure
*freshly pulled weeds - no seeds
*Household kitchen waste
*Garden trimmings
*egg shells (large quantities)
*coffee grounds from church coffee shop
*semi-composted material that wintered in my tumbler and was completely taken over by   worms 

Anybody else have their pile going yet?
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Post  Kelejan 3/17/2016, 11:41 pm

I made a start today by moving all the bags of leaves and grass I had scattered around the paths.  I have coffee grounds and egg shells, shredded newspaper and frozen kitchen scraps to add as well.

So I have a good start.  A friend is going to bring over 5 x 5 gallon buckets of chicken manure that has been well matured, though I may put that on top of my wood-chips as they will not burn anything they touch.

Also this friend has a lovely SUV, not new but in good condition, that she was able to buy due to a legacy, and we will be going on a regular basis to places she knows has all sorts of goodies.  She is our local Worm Lady and has been doing it for 25 years.  I spent last Saturday with her at her table at a Seedy Saturday event. Great Fun.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 3/18/2016, 12:47 am

That 's so fun that you have a gathering buddy :-)

Every year I plan on making leaf gathering trips when we go into town.  I keep thinking I just need a leaf rake and a bunch of black plastic trash bags and with all the medians on our streets I could bag up a bunch of leaves *deep sigh* I never quite get to it.  This is the time of year I wish I had!

However, this year I raked up all the leaves I could and blew the rest up my hillside and wet them down.  That kept them in place instead of the usual just blowing away.  The worms have been feasting on them nicely. 

I just love running out and checking my thermometer when my piles get cooking - I am a weird duck for sure, lol!
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Post  sanderson 3/18/2016, 3:09 am

Audrey, Thank you for reviving this thread. You're starting a new pile with lots of goodies - good for you! Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method  - Page 14 4223211841 I have considered gathering leaves outside the neighborhoods but I know folks walk their dogs and don't pick up!

KJ, That's so nice that you have a buddy like that.

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Post  jimmy cee 3/18/2016, 6:28 am

My compost piles never stop,Tending to them every day gives me pleasure. Although, when temps are very low and to much snow is on the ground I tend to let them rest from me..
I enjoy composting and thinking about it as much as I do gardening itself.
Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method  - Page 14 10_8_110
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Post  plantoid 3/18/2016, 7:59 am

Composting is an all year round activity for me & my family  unless there is so much snow we can't get out of the bungalow ( not happened yet ) .

I'm using  plastic Dalek bin  type  cones that have a decent lid fitted, these have proved perfect for my composting over the last 12 years or more .

 Of late due to the shoulders , spinal & knee problems I'm unable to stand long enough or work long enough to turn the heaps from bin to bin . So I'm having to use the lasagne's layering idea for it instead and then  let mother nature take care of things .

 I'm adding a lot of unused dampened wheat straw as a major source of browns because I don't get that many these days and I cannot produce enough quality compost without them as I have some 250 plus square feet of beds to supply with compost.

As soon as the floor of the bin gets a 3 inch layer of household & garden waste over it I'm dropping on a four to five inch layer of dampened wheat straw  and a sprinkle of processed chicken manure tablets to get the compost  going and raising the phosphates & nitrogen .

If this less effort of composting  produces good crop results this year it is the way I'll be making my composts for the foreseeable future .
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Post  CapeCoddess 3/18/2016, 11:51 am

jimmy cee wrote:
Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method  - Page 14 10_8_110

Shocked
That is beautiful!!!
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 3/18/2016, 1:12 pm

I just keep thinking about the volunteer tomatoes you're likely to be fending off, lol!  No matter how hot my pile gets, tomatoes are like the cockroaches of the plant world - you just can't kill them all  Razz

That's so pretty, a close up could be a food magazine photo!  NICE!

Plantoid - we do what we can and nature seems to do a great job of taking care of the rest (if we're patient!) Just glad you've figured out a way to keep doing what you love.
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Post  plantoid 3/18/2016, 4:02 pm

audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:I just keep thinking about the volunteer tomatoes you're likely to be fending off, lol!  No matter how hot my pile gets, tomatoes are like the cockroaches of the plant world - you just can't kill them all  Razz

That's so pretty, a close up could be a food magazine photo!  NICE!

Plantoid - we do what we can and nature seems to do a great job of taking care of the rest (if we're patient!) Just glad you've figured out a way to keep doing what you love.
 


Thanks , it is this ANSFG website & the membership that has allowed me to see what others have been doing in their golden years.  This has allowed me to develop my method without having to worry about failures .
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Post  jimmy cee 3/18/2016, 9:25 pm

audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:I just keep thinking about the volunteer tomatoes you're likely to be fending off, lol!  No matter how hot my pile gets, tomatoes are like the cockroaches of the plant world - you just can't kill them all  Razz

I get no tomato's other than what I plant, probably my compost isn't allowed to rest that long, I'm always messing with it, and it won't grow in cold weather.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 3/18/2016, 10:21 pm

Amazing differences in different zones.  I probably "weeded" 100+ tomatoes last year.  Same with squash.  I've stopped letting volunteer squash grow because too many are "mongrol" and I'd rather know what I'm growing.
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Post  sanderson 3/19/2016, 2:12 am

plantoid wrote:Thanks , it is this ANSFG website & the membership that has allowed me to see what others have been doing in their golden years.  This has allowed me to develop my method without having to worry about failures .
Ditto

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Post  ralitaco 4/26/2016, 1:00 am

Wow...I never would have thought that I would sit down and read 14 pages of posts about composting. You guys are some composting gurus. I think I will read the Composting 101 before I ask any questions or make any comments.
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Post  sanderson 4/26/2016, 1:14 am

Ralitaco, that's dedication.

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Post  has55 4/26/2016, 1:23 am

sanderson wrote:Ralitaco,  that's dedication.
+1
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 4/26/2016, 11:46 pm

My second Berkeley pile is going.  It started out at 150 and dropped below 120 today so I turned it for the first turn today.  

I had a friend over today and was teaching her about how to build a compost pile - it was fun passing on the knowledge <3
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Post  sanderson 4/27/2016, 3:11 am

I should get one going while the weather is decent.

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Post  sanderson 4/28/2016, 1:11 pm

I finally re-located the original publication from the University. http://vric.ucdavis.edu/pdf/compost_rapidcompost.pdf

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Post  ralitaco 4/28/2016, 3:36 pm

Thanks to this great forum, I have learned that what I was calling composting, was really just creating a too short pile, with too many leaves and too few veggie scraps to create enough mass to start the Rapid compost process. From reading other forums, it looks like I have created a cold pile with lots of browns and a few greens.

Also thanks to this forum, I now know what I need to do to correct the error of my ways. (if only there were forums for my other...never mind... Embarassed )

My plan to build a 3x3x3x3 bin...that's 3 bins, 3' tall by 3' wide by 3' deep. There is a fence company that puts is scrap wood out by the road for folks to take and I have taken enough to at least frame in, if not complete my project which I am shooting for completion by the weekend.

I have also started collecting some ingredients.
As I said, I have plenty of leaves. (of course if this goes well, I'll be kicking myself for burning a bunch earlier this year).
I have made my first foray into the world of coffee pucks and scored a silver bag and trash bag with grounds in it equivalent to about 2 of those silver bags. There is a local coffee shop that told me if I would provide a clean 5 gallon bucket, they would fill it for me and call me. (I have to find some free buckets).
As I am typing this, I am also texting my potential supplier of FREE Mature Horse Compost. (I have to find some free buckets)
Also, my wife and daughters are ON the FitBit and as a result, they keep asking me to go walk with them. I may relent as a personal sacrifice for my garden and go with them, if they go to the beach...where I will look for seaweed. (I have to find some free buckets)

Hopefully by the end of the weekend I will be posting questions about whether or not I have enough browns and greens...although Sanderson's post has me a bit scared that I won't find enough of everything.

Sanderson's Post
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Post  camprn 4/28/2016, 4:14 pm

ralitaco wrote:Thanks to this great forum, I have learned that what I was calling composting, was really just creating a too short pile, with too many leaves and too few veggie scraps to create enough mass to start the Rapid compost process. From reading other forums, it looks like I have created a cold pile with lots of browns and a few greens.

Also thanks to this forum, I now know what I need to do to correct the error of my ways. (if only there were forums for my other...never mind... Embarassed )

My plan to build a 3x3x3x3 bin...that's 3 bins, 3' tall by 3' wide by 3' deep. There is a fence company that puts is scrap wood out by the road for folks to take and I have taken enough to at least frame in, if not complete my project which I am shooting for completion by the weekend.

I have also started collecting some ingredients.
As I said, I have plenty of leaves. (of course if this goes well, I'll be kicking myself for burning a bunch earlier this year).
I have made my first foray into the world of coffee pucks and scored a silver bag and trash bag with grounds in it equivalent to about 2 of those silver bags. There is a local coffee shop that told me if I would provide a clean 5 gallon bucket, they would fill it for me and call me. (I have to find some free buckets).
As I am typing this, I am also texting my potential supplier of FREE Mature Horse Compost. (I have to find some free buckets)
Also, my wife and daughters are ON the FitBit and as a result, they keep asking me to go walk with them. I may relent as a personal sacrifice for my garden and go with them, if they go to the beach...where I will look for seaweed. (I have to find some free buckets)

Hopefully by the end of the weekend I will be posting questions about whether or not I have enough browns and greens...although Sanderson's post has me a bit scared that I won't find enough of everything.

Sanderson's Post
I have found the 3x3x3 is adequate. If it doesn't heat up, I have added a sprinkle of dried blood, which will get the thing heating.

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

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Post  jimmy cee 4/28/2016, 5:49 pm

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.
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