navajo
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HOW LONG TO HEAT UP?

Hello all!

I have yet ANOTHER noob question...

I built a compost bin this weekend out of wooden pallets and filled it almost 3' deep with a mix of shredded paper/cardboard and kitchen scraps and weeds. As I was building the layers, I also wet it with alfalfa/molasses compost tea.

Anyway, I was all excited when I got home tonight to go out and see how hot it was. Well, it's NOT hot at all. Kind of cool all the way through. I am pretty sure there isn't enough "green" material but the question is, when should it start heating up? I thought it'd be fairly quick since I have read that the first turning should be within a day or 2 of piling it due to heat.

Thanks!

Tom

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engineeredgarden
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Tom - Since the pile was just put together, you may need to let things settle before any heat begins to build up. It sounds like your pile is big enough, but biomass compression will need to take place so that the outer crust of the pile can become an insulator for the core. (That's where the heat begins to form)

EG

navajo
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engineeredgarden wrote:Tom - Since the pile was just put together, you may need to let things settle before any heat begins to build up. It sounds like your pile is big enough, but biomass compression will need to take place so that the outer crust of the pile can become an insulator for the core. (That's where the heat begins to form)

EG
Ah, now that makes sense. I am REALLY trying to work on the whole "Patience Thing"! :lol:

I am also supposed to get a few buckets of fresh-ish horse manure this weekend so I will bury that throughout the pile also.

As I said, I was just concerned as i have read in numerous articles that the pile would need to be turned every couple of days at first to keep it from overheating.

Thanks for the info and I'll just wait it out for a few days and see what develops.

I've said it before and I'll say it again... This is the nicest most helpful group of people here on this board that I have come across in a LONG while !

Thanks!

Tom

rot
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Size and mix

..
From my experience, I get better heat filling the bin all at once. I'm using small 17 cu ft bins. If your bin has a 3 x 3 ft foot print then you have 9 cu ft which is smaller still. With a 4 x 4 foot print then you have 48 cu ft at 3 ft deep and now you're cooking.

The other thing that seems to make a difference when I'm doing things is the mix. I can only speculate that maybe you have a lot of shredded paper and cardboard and not so much in greens - the weeds & kitchen scraps. I don't know, I'm guessing. The horse manure will give it some oomph.

I haven't added sweets like molasses like you have so I have no data to relate.

Speculating again, I'd expect some heat around day 3 or even as late as day 4. I haven't considered the dynamics engineeredgarden pointed out so that might explain a few things too.

to sense
..

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engineeredgarden
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As rot says, your pile is on the threshold of being too small, in my opinion. My bin systems have a combined capacity of 96 cubic feet, and i've done it every way you can think of. By far, the best results come from a pile that is 4x4x4 - or 16 cuft. Ingredient particle size has alot to do with a successful pile, as well....

EG

navajo
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OK, now I am getting confused again. I have read many times on here and in books that the optimal size of pile for the "backyard composter" is 3x3x3. My bin is about 3.5(W) x 3.5(L) x 3(H) and is filled to about 2.5 feet deep. Should I have gone bigger?

Btw, a 3x3x3 bin is 27 cubic feet not 9 ( :P )

Oh well, I realize this is not a race and I really don't need much more compost until next Spring, I was just hoping to see it do something soon. My experiments with the tumbler the past 2 years produced nothing but soggy, smelly, gnat infested gunk (I know, not enough air and too many greens).

I am sure you are right, rot, that I don't have near enough greens in there. My wife is supposed to get me a couple of big boxes of spoiled veggies from the grocery store today and as I said, I'm getting some buckets of fresh horse manure this weekend.

Thanks for the help folks! I get it going one of these days!

Tom

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engineeredgarden
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Doh! after seeing your last comment on figuring cubic feet in an enclosure, i've realized that my overall compost bin capacity (6 bins total) is 384 cubic feet....No wonder my back hurts all the time! I'm glad you cleared that up for me...

EG

navajo
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engineeredgarden wrote:Doh! after seeing your last comment on figuring cubic feet in an enclosure, i've realized that my overall compost bin capacity (6 bins total) is 384 cubic feet....No wonder my back hurts all the time! I'm glad you cleared that up for me...

EG
:lol:

If you're turning all of that at once, I'll just BET your back is killing you!

Take care and thanks for the info!

navajo
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So, I am sure most of you fine people don't get excited about these small steps since it's all "old hat" to you, but when I got home tonight, my wife had brought home a HUGE box of slimey wilted lettuce, spinach, and some kind of greens from the grocer. While I was digging some holes in the compost pile to bury it in the middle, I found that the pile is heating up! :clap:

It wasn't REALLY hot yet, but definately a lot hotter in the middle than the sides.

So, thanks for the hand holding! I feel better now. :lol:

Tom

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engineeredgarden
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Tom - it's pretty exciting when decomposition finally begins to take place, and your pile will really start to heat up in about a week or so...

EG

navajo
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engineeredgarden wrote:Tom - it's pretty exciting when decomposition finally begins to take place, and your pile will really start to heat up in about a week or so...

EG
Thank for the encouragement and the guidance!

I added quite a bit of semi dried grass clippings tonight. I'll get 'er going one way or the other!

Thanks,

Tom

rot
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got my arithmetic wrong

..
Yeah somehow I got my arithmetic crossed up. Maybe I read too quickly but I had the impression the bin might be small.

You got some heat so that's something.

I'm sure as you try different things and observe how it goes it will work out.

w/apologies
..

navajo
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Re: got my arithmetic wrong

rot wrote:..
Yeah somehow I got my arithmetic crossed up. Maybe I read too quickly but I had the impression the bin might be small.

You got some heat so that's something.

I'm sure as you try different things and observe how it goes it will work out.

w/apologies
..
PLEASE! NO apologies even remotely necessary! I really appreciate all the help and info. Who cares if sometimes we forget to "carry the naught" (yea, I used to watch the Beverly Hillbillies!).

It is not as hot today but I am thinking it is because the pile has settled a lot (down to probably just under 2' high) and I forgot to cover it the other noght during the heavy rainstorm we got.

I'm going to turn it tomorrow and add more browns and 2 or 3 5 gallon buckets of horse manure. Shoud get 'er going again I hope.

Thanks!

Tom

rot
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temperatures

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I feel kind of dumb about the arithmetic. Geez Loueez.

About the temperatures. You'll just have to go through some trial and error. What really works best is what works for you. I stick to what's on hand and I'm more into digesting stuff than producing compost. Producing compost is good but I need to digest what we put out. Sometimes you find there's a trade off and yeah it would be great to have oodles of compost but at what price.

For max temps, build your bin all at once. Mix the greens and browns just right. Keep moist. Expect to turn a minimum of once a week. One study found optimal feed stock to compost rate to turn at 4.5 days. Ideally what you do is read the temperature and shortly after it peaks, a day or two, you turn. I've heard of folks turning daily. I think if you just plan on once a week you'll find it works out fine. I think you need to let things sit and digest a little.

to sense
..

navajo
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Re: temperatures

rot wrote:..
I feel kind of dumb about the arithmetic. Geez Loueez.

About the temperatures. You'll just have to go through some trial and error. What really works best is what works for you. I stick to what's on hand and I'm more into digesting stuff than producing compost. Producing compost is good but I need to digest what we put out. Sometimes you find there's a trade off and yeah it would be great to have oodles of compost but at what price.

For max temps, build your bin all at once. Mix the greens and browns just right. Keep moist. Expect to turn a minimum of once a week. One study found optimal feed stock to compost rate to turn at 4.5 days. Ideally what you do is read the temperature and shortly after it peaks, a day or two, you turn. I've heard of folks turning daily. I think if you just plan on once a week you'll find it works out fine. I think you need to let things sit and digest a little.

to sense
..
Yeah, I hear what you're saying. I just get wrapped up in new things sometimes. :lol:

I decided yesterday to do as you have advised and just R-E-L-A-X and let it set it's own rate. I don't have enough "stuff" to make a huge pile at once but can easily keep throwing stuff on it as I need to and let the pile work for me and not the other way around.

(I really WOULD like to see it heat up though, just because! :lol: )

Thanks for your to sense.

Tom

navajo
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Just thought I'd swing back through to answer the original question in case anyone else stumbles upon this thread.

It takes approximately 24 hours to heat up IF YOU GET THE MIX RIGHT! :oops:

I turned it last night around 7 pm and added (3) 5 gallon buckets of freshish horse manure while at it.

Tonight at 7 pm I went out to bury the weekends veggie scraps and while digging a hole in the middle to bury it, it is so hot I couldn't leave my hand in there for more than a few seconds.

MAN! Who'd'a thunk I could finally get it right! :lol:

Going to monitor it over the next few days and do another turn when it starts to cool down so I can kill any of the weed seeds I put in there.

Thanks for all the help!

THIS IS A GREAT SITE! With the kindest, most helpful folks I have had the pleasure of dealing with.

Give yourselves a great big pat on the back from me!

Tom

rot
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sounds like you're cooking

..
That's great that your getting some hot stuff.

Every now and then the planets line up and I get a bunch of stuff with a bin available and I build it all up at once. Then I get excited and work it and monitor it and love it when I get the heat. Just hard to find the time to do that all the time these days.

Some like it hot
..

navajo
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Re: sounds like you're cooking

rot wrote:..
That's great that your getting some hot stuff.

Every now and then the planets line up and I get a bunch of stuff with a bin available and I build it all up at once. Then I get excited and work it and monitor it and love it when I get the heat. Just hard to find the time to do that all the time these days.

Some like it hot
..
Yeah, I hear you there. I was scrounging and begging from friends for a week or 2 just to get enough stuff to get the pile built at once this time so I could try it hot (plus, I added a lot of weeds that had seed heads on them before I knew better :oops: ).

I probably won't have time to do it this way again for a while now that I am a single Dad, but it's working for now!

Thanks for all the help!

Tom

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I've turned my bin twice since starting it about 6 weeks ago. I don't think I had it wet enough the first week or so, then I started watering it. Now its more wet, and yesterday when I turned it and stuck my fist in the center i felt that it is warmer there, but not steaming hot like I've read here. So I'm concerned about that. Also . . .my bin is round, and it's about 3 ft diameter by about 4ft tall, and its almost half full. There are plenty of air holes all the way around it. The first time I turned it it was easy. I flipped it upside down so the new stuff moved to the bottom and the older stuff became the top. Yesterday when i tried to flip it it was realllllly a struggle. I don't think I can keep doing it that way (I'm a 56 yr old female who had a stroke a year ago, so have some weakness). Any ideas to make it easier to turn, and also to get it hotter? I put all household garbage, and as much shredded paper, paper towels , small cardboard bits and dry leaves as I can get, but I'm struggling to get the brown stuff.
Gardening is God's great big or teeny weenie therapy couch!

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MikeP09
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I've been taking my grass clippings and piling them up,, eventually to build a bin for it,, but the only browns I have are ripped up newspaper and cardboard, untill the fall when I can add plenty of leaves.
Well I'll tell you, that alone has caused the pile to start heating up quite a bit!! I mean, it is HOT!! I opened a hole in it last night after work and steam released!! Couldn't believe it gets that hot!! New to this myself as I have been using vermicompost for my garden with unbelievable results! What a strong, full garden I have! Love it!

Mike

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