toxcrusadr
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That's a good point - heating up 5 gallons of water from spigot temperature to 120 degrees taks an enormous amount of heat - in other words it will cool off a pile in short order. And the excess will seep out the bottom into the ground, taking heat and nutrients with it. You're looking for 'damp', so use only enough water to achieve that.
Tox

pickupguy07
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to me it seemed like a lot of water also..
but when I turned it, a week after I added all that water; it was 'moist' for the first time since I started. Not so wet that it dripped,.. it just wanted to stick together a little. (Actually I'd have to add water to get it to drip) lol

Just did the whole process yesterday.. then covered it with plastic. I'll see how the temps do
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting

toxcrusadr
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I'm not sure how your adding water but if it's poured on the top all at once, water will find 'channels' in the pile and run rapidly through the path of least resistance to the bottom. Areas only inches away may not be wetted. So, it may seem like you're adding a lot of water and the pile isn't getting very wet. The best time to water a pile is while it's being turned, because you can spray everything evenly as you're turning. You can also stab it with a fork or stir up the top layer a bit, or make holes in it. The slower you can add water the better it will soak in to the materials.
Tox

pickupguy07
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good point about the watering process...
I did that when I was watering every day I did use a pitch fork to stab holes in it as I watered... but I also just poured it on top.

The last couple times I have watered it has been when it was turned, and I'd pour on some water as I turned.
Neither way seemed to make much difference however.
Anxious to see what happens now that I covered it with plastic.

OH.. how long should it take to see the results (warming up). A day, a week, what.
The pile IS in the ahe to help keep it from drying out since we have such long hot dry summers.
I've never heard the "cycle time" mentioned anywhere. Time it takes to warm up from a low temp.. up to the max temp, and then cool off.???
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting

toxcrusadr
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A fresh pile will start to heat up within 24 hours, and will take a couple days to reach max temp, then a few more days as it slowly declines. The heat leaves long before compost is actually 'done' and ready. I used to make hot piles in a triple bin, and turn each batch twice, and finally use it several months after it was started. But the heat only lasted a few days.

If this pile has been cooking for awhile, it may soon exhaust its ability to heat.
Tox

pickupguy07
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toxcrusadr wrote:If this pile has been cooking for awhile, it may soon exhaust its ability to heat.
This pile has been created about 5 or 6 weeks..
Each time I turn it, I add in new browns and greens. I turn it about once a week since I have been having problems getting the heat up.
I also seem to have been ading more greens than browns since I have no heat...
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting

john gault
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When I first started composting I always heard about temps; everyone was saying, "you gotta get your pile to this temp for this long..." However, my pile never heated up to those high temps, best I could get was just under 100.

I've read many books on the subject from my local library and one of them finally answered my question of why I couldn't get the heat up and it's all about size. I could, if I really wanted to heat up my pile by containerizing it and putting it in a sunny location, but really there's no need. I have large decomposers doing most of the work and they don't really like the heat anyway, especially the worms, which I have tons of.

Bottom line, I don't worry about temps anymore.

toxcrusadr
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Pickup, if you want to actually get some compost out of this pile, it is a good idea to stop adding at some point and let it 'finish'. Otherwise there is always going to be uncomposted material in there. You probably knew that but I thought it might be worth mentioning. You can always start a fresh pile with your incoming material.
Tox

rot
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Cut bait

..
6 weeks old means you've got about all the heat you're going to get. Not a major disaster. One, 115 degrees F sustained probably killed off a bunch of seeds and pathogens. Two, with all that moisture you've been adding, I bet you killed a bunch sprouts with the subsequent turns. Three, should some weeds pop up where you apply the finished stuff, I bet they can be just plucked right out of the ground real easy like. Weed like I vote: early and often.

OK so this pile takes a little longer to finish. It will finish. Start a new one and apply your observations in the making of a new bin. Adjust as you go along.

For max heat and fastest composting time, assemble your bin/pile all at once. Not too much water, especially at first because it won't have a great capacity to hold that much water at first. I think you'll find your 6 week pile holds a lot more water than your new one. If you really want to see, try building it on a concrete deck and watch the excess water run off. I add a gallon a day to a new pile that size. Out west whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over - don't waste the water.

When you assemble your pile, mix well and rough things up a bit.

Turning - I'm sure once a week will be fine. If you want to make it a science project, monitor the temperature and as the peak temperatures trail off, turn. One of those studies determined optimum time was otherwise once every 4.5 days. I can never quite fit 4.5 days into my calendar.

So you don't get 160 degrees F. I got that once. 130 F for even a couple of days will do the same thing.

Don't stress it. Don't go bending over backwards to make it work. It works for you, not you for it. Make it fit into your way of doing things and adjust things like air and moisture to make it work better as you go along. the bin will do the work if you let it. Consider weeding instead of turning that bin one extra time. I think you'll find you will still get compost.

If you've got limited space and little patience then maybe you want to work it. I think you'll find that if it takes a little longer you'll be just as satisfied if not more so because of the conservation of energy. Work out that work/compost balance.

to sense
..

pickupguy07
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toxcrusadr wrote:Pickup, if you want to actually get some compost out of this pile, it is a good idea to stop adding at some point and let it 'finish'. Otherwise there is always going to be uncomposted material in there. You probably knew that but I thought it might be worth mentioning. You can always start a fresh pile with your incoming material.
Yeah I hear what you are saying.... and thanks for pointing that out.. some folks may not kind of put that together.
I am wanting to get some done.. and to be honest all I plan on doing is tilling it into my garden this fall before Winter comes.
SO if it's not 100% done at that point,.. it will be by spring
What with all this extra greens starting to accumulate now is probably a good time to start a second pile. Corn is finishing, stalks need to be put someplace, I have tons of Gladiolas that have bloomed and need to be snipped off.. lots of tomatoes, beans, etc all just getting done... and tons and tons of watermellons, cantaloupe that will produce many many rinds.
Last edited by pickupguy07 on Fri Jul 22, 2011 3:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
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HunkieDorie23
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I have never been able to get a hot compost pile until this year. I even have a thermometer too. The big things that made a difference were the size of the pile and honestly fresh grass. My husband added some grass to my yearly compost pile and a few days later I went to turn it and there was steam I about fell over. I also went to www.composting101.com and it had a lot of info that was helpful.

If your pile is 6 weeks old and you are getting 110 temps it may be cooked down enough that the temps won't get hotter. I know you are adding to it each week and that's what I did when I had a cold pile, but one of the tips I read was that when you feed your compost pile feed it big, which is what my husband accidently did when he added the grass. It about doubled the size of the pile. I have a second pile now (because the first is about done) and I turn a 3x3x3 pile into a 4x4x4 which more than doubles the cubic ft of my pile. I was getting temps of 140 when I made the addition, I haven't checked it but I know it is at least 150+ now. I will have to turn it in the morning and will check temps them.

Maybe instead of feeding each week keep it in another spot and add a large amount at a time. It makes a difference. Good luck.

pickupguy07
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still not having any luck with getting temps up...
They were about 100.. now they are down to 80*
Temps outside are in mid-90's. hhuumm

If I'm not mistaken I ned to get the temps up bexcause I have been throwing my watermelons (and seeds) in the compost pile. If the temps don't get up will these seeds volunteer next year..??
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting

rot
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Not a major disaster

..
A month ago the pile was 6 weeks old so now it's closer to ten. I don't think you're going to get much more heat out of this sucker. Keep turning and mind the moisture level and let it finish.

If the watermelon seeds were added while you were still getting 110 F or so, I'll bet you killed most of them. I think you'll find that some seeds will still be around but they will be dead. The seeds themselves can be tough to break down. By design I suspect. If a couple of watermelon plants pop up, I can't imagine that to be major disaster.

Time to start new bin. I bet the next one will get hotter than all get out.

to sense
..

john gault
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If you really want a hot pile sounds like you're going to have to increase the size, especially in the height dimension. Doesn't matter how much stuff you have, if you don't pile it high enough the temps won't build up. Your length and width dimensions sound fine, but you should concentrate on building the pile higher.

pickupguy07
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thanks guys.. I appreciate the input.
I started a new pile about 10 days ago.. (maybe I should of added them to the old pile to make it bigger)
The watermellon seeds are in the new pile.
Lots of greens added lately. Dad makes wine and jelly, and he has a lot of peach, apple, fig, etc peelings when he makes batches. twice he has brought over three 5 gallon buckets full. I do suspect I need some more browns right now. Unfortunately none to be found, except newspaper. I am wondering if that'll take too long to break down (I did run them through a paper schredder)

My melons seem to be "late". They were planted on 4/27 and should of taken about 90 days, and I had about 10 good size ones about a month ago. I have picked about 6 of them as they ripened, and since then I have had about 20 more sprout out.
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
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toxcrusadr
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Newspaper will not take that long, especially shredded. It will disintegrate pretty easily when it gets wet. Just distribute it throughout and don't put big wads in, because they will stay in big wads.
Tox

pickupguy07
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Drought is so bad here in the south that leaves are falling early.
Today I picked up 3 wagon loads of leaves, and layered them in my compost pile.
The pile had gotten to where it stayed at about only 80*. Heck the outside temp is 95 every day...
In any event, I took the second pile I had started and layered that together with the leaves on top of the older pile.
I now have a pile that is 4x4x4.
Pile I moved on top was moist, but not wet. I still haven't decided if the pile isn't heating up because of too little water or too much... (or too small pile)
Maybe with all this combined I'll get better results.

This is the time of year DAD is canning apples, pears, etc and making jelly, wine, etc. SO I have LOTS of greens from the peelings, cores etc. He usualy comes every 10 days or so with two big 5 gallon buckets full.
Hoping I get SOMETHING to happen to point me in the right direction to go.
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
Near Atlanta GA... newbie to gardening & Composting

john gault
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If you're not sure if there's enough water than you probably need to add water. Water is absolutely necessary for the mico-organisms to be active; without water eveything goes dormant.

Too much water is really only a problem if your compost is submerged in water (even just paritally) or organic matter is being carried away while watering.

yoseph
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Hi pickupguy07. I think I'm in almost same effort with you to temp up our compost. :lol: I want to temp up my compost pile caused of the main material I used is cow manure. I wanna surely myself to kill the danger E. Coli that maybe there. And I want my compost pile done faster too (around 2 months).

Two days ago I made my compost pile with fresh cow manure, sawdust, rice bran, and rice hull ash. My three Carbon materials are all powder. I mix all together form a heap and uncovered. Today, I monitored the temperature and got disappointed result. The temp. only 34 Celsius (the outside temp. is 33 Celsius). I think I made a mistake. My pile was too compact. Is it true?

So I added some grass clipping and dry leaves to give some space in my compact pile.

Then I'm wondering. Does manure release its nitrogen so fast so that it doesn't have nitrogen anymore? Does grass clipping release and keep its nitrogen longer than manure? So please advice what materials should I use to make my hot and fast compost?

Thanks :D
There are nature destroyers, there are nature guardians. But how awesomely some nature changers.

pickupguy07
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I'm not sure how fast nitrogen is released.
Maybe someone else with chime in that is more knowledgeable.
I "assume" the nitrogen stays in the pile, ot the compost wouldn't help too much..?? but thats only a guess
Life is great..... but if you get lemons - compost them :-)
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toxcrusadr
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You may be onto something with the powder problem. A hot pile consumes a LOT of oxygen, so if it's too compacted and dense, it can't get the air to create that much heat.

Also, it can take more than 48 hrs. to heat up. But I think you are on the right track by adding some fluffy materials.
Tox

yoseph
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After I added more grass clippings and leaves, my compost pile could get temp up. I was happy at that time. But the temp is disappointing now, same with outer temp -wall-

My grass clippings dried. I think the nitrogen lost, so fast? :?:

I don't know what should I do? Please help me, must I let for the next few months with this condition? I know my pile is in 3' x 3' and only 2' height caused of I can't collect the materials easily.

Pleaseee... nutz:
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toxcrusadr
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Grass clippings retain their nitrogen when dried, as many green materials do (such as leaves harvested when green, then dried).

I do not think your manure pile lost its nitrogen in a couple of days.

How is the moisture content? It should be damp but not dripping. Dig in and check the middle.

And if it's compacted down again, consider turning it so it gets plenty of air.
Tox

yoseph
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Okay Tox, thanks for info. I'll pay attention about the moisture.

Now my pile consist a lot of grass clippings, green leaves and dry leaves. I think my temp down caused of my pile have shrunk and buffeted by many winds (My pile structure is Freestanding Compost Pile). It's good, means that my organics decomposing :)

In struggle work, I always collect grass clippings, green leaves and dry leaves day by day and shred manually with grass cutter. I want to collect until 3' of height. Now my pile is 40" x 40" x 23".

Thanks all folks :D
There are nature destroyers, there are nature guardians. But how awesomely some nature changers.

yoseph
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Hooray, this morning my inner compost temp is about 105F. Now, I know about insulating in compost size, thanks all folks.

My Freestanding Compost Pile had shrunk from 40" x 40" x 32" to 40" x 40" x 24" in few days. Let me ask about optimal size in hot composting process. The optimal size of hot composting are 3'x3'x3' until 5'x5'x5'. Is this optimal size valid just in the early of building a compost pile? What should we do about the size after this pile have shrunk caused of decomposing?

Thanks for advise :)
There are nature destroyers, there are nature guardians. But how awesomely some nature changers.

toxcrusadr
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The best way to retain heat in any pile is to reduce the surface area. A sphere would be the most efficient, but not very feasible. :) A cube is the next best. So your 40 x 40 x 24 pile would retain heat better if it was 34x34x34. It will not make all that much difference, but try to keep it as high as it is wide to reduce the surface area.

And if you can make a bigger pile to start with, by all means do so if you want to retain more heat. Two cubic yards will work even better!
Tox

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PunkRotten
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I don;t think my pile is getting hot either. I never see steam. My green/brown ratio is probably half and half, maybe a 2 brown to 1 green ratio.

Anyway, I use 4 pallets tied together as my compost bin. I used to lay it all down evenly covering the entire ground. But now I rake it up into a tall pile. Is this better? I also throw new materials beside it and weekly I turn the compost and usually rake the pile on top of the newer materials beside it. Each week I rotate it like this.

yoseph
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For PunkRotten, sorry for my late reply. I'm afraid coz I'm still newbie in composting :roll:

Have your pile hotter now?

[quote]My green/brown ratio is probably half and half, maybe a 2 brown to 1 green ratio. [/quote]
May I know what is your green materials?

[quote]I used to lay it all down evenly covering the entire ground. But now I rake it up into a tall pile. Is this better?[/quote]
Underground I think it's good for insulating your compost but be careful of lack of oxygen (anaerobic composting). Hot composting consume more oxygen. Tall pile I think is better.

[quote]I also throw new materials beside it and weekly I turn the compost and usually rake the pile on top of the newer materials beside it. Each week I rotate it like this.[/quote]
As I've read in this nice helpfulgardener forum, it's better for you to build your new pile than always add your new materials with your old compost. Your mesophiles bacteria can't create hotter room for your thermophiles bacteria.

Hope, this help you and CMIIW.
There are nature destroyers, there are nature guardians. But how awesomely some nature changers.

yoseph
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BTW, last week my compost have temps down, black, and crumbly, smell is good. Two months totally for my first love compost process.

I make two pots for my young chili. One pot contain of ground only and the second contain of mix of ground and my compost. In extreme daylight my chili leaves in first pot are become withered. And the second still look fresh and strong.

Thanks for composting :D
There are nature destroyers, there are nature guardians. But how awesomely some nature changers.

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