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Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method

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Post  sanderson 10/22/2014, 1:04 pm

GS, The temp will be lower for a few hours after turning. Then, it will heat up again, as long as there is material that is still composting.

I'm excited that you and Audrey are using the Berkeley method. I think I was the only active member using it. Are you keeping a log?

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Post  grownsunshine 10/22/2014, 4:41 pm

Yep, keeping a log. Just bought a composting thermometer on Amazon.  Now logging my temps will be easier and more accurate.Very Happy  I'm starting to love the Berkeley method. I love the smell of hot steamy poo...that's what I tell my wife...lol! But really the steam has such a nice earthy smell that gets me so excited about my next crop.

I would do Back to Eden if I had a large property, but since I live in the burbs Berkeley is perfect for me.
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Post  sanderson 10/22/2014, 8:28 pm

grownsunshine wrote:Yep, keeping a log. Just bought a composting thermometer on Amazon.   since I live in the burbs Berkeley is perfect for me.
 The thermometer can double as a mix thermometer to see when the beds are warm enough for direct sowing in the spring.  Berkeley is perfect for burbites.

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Post  plantoid 10/22/2014, 10:02 pm

GS ,
Have I understood this right ?    You are forever adding new stuff to your heap ?


 If so at some point you have to stop adding things to the heap and then turn it over several time over the 18 day period only adding a spray or three of water it over to get the final quality compostresult.

If you keep adding heat producing materials thinking the high temp is good for weeks & weeks your wasting a lot of time & energy and it will never be a true finished compost.


 Re :-
Your thermometer ....... A simple very very cheap digital one with a probe/sensing head on a yard of sensing cable is ideal , Simply  slip the sensing head / probe down a yard long copper tube pushed deep in the pile.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 10/22/2014, 11:21 pm

I'm probably on my 6th or 7th Berkeley Method pile, been doing it a couple years now. I used to be so uptight about getting it just right. What I've learned over time is if you didn't get the mix right, just keep adding whatever you were short of and start it over again.

Once you're getting over 130-140 finish out that pile, it will be good enough. Not every pile gets all the way up to 160.

If you can't turn on a specific day, it will keep. All that will happen is it will take a little longer. If your pile is interrupted by life events, it will shift into regular compost mode and continue to take care of itself. This happened to me this spring when I had an unexpected medical emergency trip for my step-father's quadruple bypass. When I got home, it had continued to break down quite a bit but had gone cold. I just sifted the pile to get what was finished and put the big pieces back in to start a new one.

I've become a very relaxed composter Very Happy
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Post  sanderson 10/23/2014, 3:28 am

way to go  I guess I didn't realize you have been doing it all along. Embarassed

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Post  jimmy cee 10/23/2014, 8:18 am

audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:
I've become a very relaxed composter Very Happy
My sentiments exactly
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Post  camprn 10/23/2014, 10:03 am

jimmy cee wrote:
audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:
I've become a very relaxed composter Very Happy
My sentiments exactly
+1  sawing logs

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Post  grownsunshine 10/23/2014, 12:31 pm

plantoid - nope, I only added additional greens and equal amounts of additional browns on the 2nd day to try to make the 5 different greens . Since then I haven't added anything else, except maybe more moisture and some fish emulsion. I already bought a 20" thermometer. We'll see how that works after it arrives and I'll make modifications if needed (using your idea).

You guys are a crack up!! I know I'm a bit excited right now  silly me . Maybe after a couple of piles and after I figure out what I'm doing, I'll add myself as another relaxed composting cucumber like you guys...a +1 Cool ... 
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Post  sanderson 10/23/2014, 1:51 pm

grownsunshine wrote: the 5 different greens.

??  I'm confused.  I don't think most folks have 5 sources of greens for the composting process.  I know I don't.  Some browns (dried leaves or grass, hay or straw, clean sawdust), some coffee grounds, some manure, maybe green grass, and various chopped up produce.  Those near the oceans may have seaweed or lobster shells to add but the rest of us have to make due.

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Post  grownsunshine 10/23/2014, 2:46 pm

Sorry I didn't explain myself very well. The compost I have has 5 different sources of greens (=nitrogen)? I think I only have 4 (horse manure, cow manure, chicken manure & coffee grounds), plus supplements of fish emulsion and a few veggie waste items to equal 5 (sort of). I only have 1 source of browns (carbon) which is brown grass. I used equal amounts of greens and browns measured using 5 gallon buckets.

I think my lingo (greens vs browns) was taken from different site I was reading, which didn't translate very well.  Embarassed
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 10/23/2014, 2:54 pm

sanderson wrote:way to go  I guess I didn't realize you have been doing it all along. Embarassed
No biggie, LOL!!! Just love having company on the journey Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method  - Page 4 3170584802
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Post  grownsunshine 10/24/2014, 12:14 pm

audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:
sanderson wrote:way to go  I guess I didn't realize you have been doing it all along. Embarassed
No biggie, LOL!!!  Just love having company on the journey Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method  - Page 4 3170584802
I love sharing the journey too!  Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method  - Page 4 3170584802 Back to you.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 10/24/2014, 1:39 pm

Coffee and a compost check is a great routine Laughing  145 degrees this morning after turning yesterday afternoon.  I have this persistent bull frog that is loving my pile.  I've almost speared him the last two times I've turned it.  I hope he gets a little smarter about it over time!

This is my very first stinky pile - probably a little heavy on the manure.  Parts have a really nice earthy smell but when I get to the bottom it's not composting as well and is pretty strong smelling.  I may have to turn this one a little longer than usual.  It's getting better each turn though.

No.  Two.  Piles.  Are.  Alike.

EVER!

LOL!
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Post  plantoid 10/24/2014, 4:52 pm

Wink AJR last but third line ...... Sounds like haemorrhoids.
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Post  CapeCoddess 10/24/2014, 5:17 pm

funny post  rofl
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Post  grownsunshine 10/24/2014, 6:17 pm

audrey.jeanne.roberts wrote:Coffee and a compost check is a great routine Laughing  145 degrees this morning after turning yesterday afternoon.  I have this persistent bull frog that is loving my pile.  I've almost speared him the last two times I've turned it.  I hope he gets a little smarter about it over time!

This is my very first stinky pile - probably a little heavy on the manure.  Parts have a really nice earthy smell but when I get to the bottom it's not composting as well and is pretty strong smelling.  I may have to turn this one a little longer than usual.  It's getting better each turn though.

No.  Two.  Piles.  Are.  Alike.

EVER!

LOL!
Beautiful way to welcome the day...to take a moment, stop and smell the...compost. 145 - nice!! ...and you've found another Berkeley sojourner to join us. Ya! The more, the merrier!! I hope he stays safe too, so he can welcome you each day you visit him and enjoy some of the tasty compost morsels crawling around the pile while you enjoy your coffee.

I'm sure that when you turn your pile, the bottom stuff will air out and become beautiful like the rest of your pile, plus you'll get a full body workout in the process. My stuff is on the drier side, so I water it about every other time I turn it. 

No.  Two.  Piles.  Are.  Alike. I'll have to keep that in mind for next time. I'm sure I'll be posting for help again  Wink

PS - my 20" compost thermometer arrived today. Yahoo! 

Other than logging the days you turn the compost and the temperature, is there anything else you log?
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Post  grownsunshine 10/24/2014, 6:46 pm

Plantoid - I'm crackin up!!  darn funny
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Post  sanderson 10/24/2014, 7:51 pm

grownsunshine wrote:
PS - my 20" compost thermometer arrived today. Yahoo!

Other than logging the days you turn the compost and the temperature, is there anything else you log?

Yeah on the thermometer arriving! At the top of the page, I list the ingredients I was able to find.  I also note if and when I have to water, and how much the pile has shrunk every few days.[/quote]

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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 10/24/2014, 10:03 pm

Sanderson is the "detail oriented" gardener.  Me... not so much, LOL!  I'm an artist by profession so that will give you a hint as to my organizational skills.

I throw stuff together.  It looks right.  I call it a pile.

I check the temps to see if things seem to be progressing and if they are I start the process.  If they aren't I adjust the mix and watch temps again.

I rarely write days down (and if I did I'd probably lose it).  I try to fix in my mind the date it "should" be finished (last one was my birthday, next one election day) but if I turn it a few times too many, no biggy!  You can tell when it's getting ready.  It starts to cool down and it's brown, crumbly and smells good.
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 10/25/2014, 12:07 pm

153 degrees this morning, I'll turn it this evening.  Very Happy
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Post  sanderson 10/25/2014, 12:30 pm

Compost: Berkeley 18 day [hot] method  - Page 4 3170584802

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Post  grownsunshine 10/25/2014, 12:51 pm

153!!! Nice!!! You are definitely a Hottie! Your throwing the pile together method is really working well.

Note to self: log watering days. I think my pile is too dry...not wet like a wrung towel. I'll water a bit more than before when I turn it tomorrow. Hopefully that will promote more microbial/bacterial growth and increase the heat of the pile a bit...we'll see. Logging and getting a sense of the right texture should help me for the next pile. Thanks for the input.

Organizationally, I guess I'm between both of you guys but on the less organized side = unorganized for someone with an accounting background... Embarassed ...LOL!!
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Post  audrey.jeanne.roberts 10/25/2014, 3:25 pm

Because my fresh manure source is sun baked and bone dry, I start my pile by deep soaking the manure.  Every wheel barrow load gets soaked for about an hour before tossing it in to create the pile.  That helps a lot.

Then I water about every 3rd time I turn the pile.  It always drops the temp for a while when watering so don't panic :-)
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Post  April 10/25/2014, 10:11 pm

After reading all your inspiring posts I decided to start a Berkley pile 13 days ago.  This is my first time really putting any effort into composting and I think it's going pretty well.  I'm a little confused on the temps though.  Is the pile suppose to be kept hot the whole 18 days (130 to 150)?  Thanks for clearing this up for me!
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