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Old 05-04-2013, 01:36 AM
 
Location: McKinleyville, California
6,413 posts, read 8,853,968 times
Reputation: 4190

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I have tried the cold compost method, but there were too many weed seeds that always came up, or tomatoes and peppers from vegetable scraps. I tried vermi culture, but it takes too long. Once I started my garden service and maintained my yards organically, I started bringing home the grass clippings and leaves to compost in the 14 day method. The pile has to be fairly significant in size to acculate and hold heat for proper destruction of bacteria, diseases and seeds. I start a heap with part of an old heap, grass clippings or hay, straw has no nitrogen, but is good filler with grass clippings. I layer it like a cake and frosting; grass, dry material, grass, dry material, on and on with a light sprinkle of water every so often to keep the moisture content equal to a squeezed out sponge. Minimum size for generation of heat is 3 feet high and 4 feet wide, it can be done in bins with drop or removable sides, but I choose the open yard method and rotate the heap from one side one day and back the next. I add more grass clipping, or rabbit droppings or chicken manure to keep the heat going and rotate, layer and moisten the heap every morning. Rotating can be skipped a day, but much longer than 2 days and the heat can put the fire out and dry the heap. For best results and the hottest, richest compost rotating every day for 14 days gets beautiful compost. I have measured a high of 164 in the core, but average is 140 to 150. I have 32 yards that I maintain and a good portion of the grass and leaves I compost, so my heap is quite large and measures 10 across and 4 to 5 feet high, weighs about 4800 pounds, shaped like a volcano and steams like one. I rotate it around 8 am every morning while I have my second cup of coffee.
Attached Thumbnails
Hot Compost-compostheap04-18-13-2.jpg   Hot Compost-turningthecompost1.jpg   Hot Compost-turningthecompost2.jpg  
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:18 AM
 
Location: Hot Springs
1,299 posts, read 2,258,950 times
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What sort of climate do you have in Mckinleyville? I live in a semi-arid part of South Dakota and a lot of these ideas do not work very well here.

uh
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:31 AM
 
Location: Dallas
5,457 posts, read 4,575,985 times
Reputation: 15588
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDragonslayer View Post
I have tried the cold compost method, but there were too many weed seeds that always came up, or tomatoes and peppers from vegetable scraps. I tried vermi culture, but it takes too long. Once I started my garden service and maintained my yards organically, I started bringing home the grass clippings and leaves to compost in the 14 day method. The pile has to be fairly significant in size to acculate and hold heat for proper destruction of bacteria, diseases and seeds. I start a heap with part of an old heap, grass clippings or hay, straw has no nitrogen, but is good filler with grass clippings. I layer it like a cake and frosting; grass, dry material, grass, dry material, on and on with a light sprinkle of water every so often to keep the moisture content equal to a squeezed out sponge. Minimum size for generation of heat is 3 feet high and 4 feet wide, it can be done in bins with drop or removable sides, but I choose the open yard method and rotate the heap from one side one day and back the next. I add more grass clipping, or rabbit droppings or chicken manure to keep the heat going and rotate, layer and moisten the heap every morning. Rotating can be skipped a day, but much longer than 2 days and the heat can put the fire out and dry the heap. For best results and the hottest, richest compost rotating every day for 14 days gets beautiful compost. I have measured a high of 164 in the core, but average is 140 to 150. I have 32 yards that I maintain and a good portion of the grass and leaves I compost, so my heap is quite large and measures 10 across and 4 to 5 feet high, weighs about 4800 pounds, shaped like a volcano and steams like one. I rotate it around 8 am every morning while I have my second cup of coffee.
Kudos to you for your excellent compost making skills! I'm going to try flipping my pile daily....I've never been successful at keeping the heat going and it dries out way too quickly. Didn't realize I had to moisten it every day.
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Old 05-04-2013, 08:43 AM
 
Location: Near the Coast SWCT
64,972 posts, read 47,284,481 times
Reputation: 10512
Nice pile there! Nice steam too. Wow! I'll have to ask some questions when I have some time.
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Old 05-04-2013, 09:52 AM
 
3,339 posts, read 7,175,816 times
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What a thing of beauty!! I also layer my green and brown -- like lasagna. Then I keep it moist and begin turning it two weeks after it's all layered. This time of year, I let our back field grow to about 8" and then mow it and collect the clippings to layer with all the brown that's been sitting around all winter. There's a riding stable down the road where I need to go pick up some aged manure. Geeze, I do love composting. I can't possibly make enough because we have three acres, but it's still so worth doing. I probably make a couple cubic yards per season.
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Old 05-04-2013, 12:42 PM
 
Location: Near the Coast SWCT
64,972 posts, read 47,284,481 times
Reputation: 10512
Default Homemade Compost

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDragonslayer View Post
I have tried the cold compost method, but there were too many weed seeds that always came up, or tomatoes and peppers from vegetable scraps. I tried vermi culture, but it takes too long. Once I started my garden service and maintained my yards organically, I started bringing home the grass clippings and leaves to compost in the 14 day method. The pile has to be fairly significant in size to acculate and hold heat for proper destruction of bacteria, diseases and seeds. I start a heap with part of an old heap, grass clippings or hay, straw has no nitrogen, but is good filler with grass clippings. I layer it like a cake and frosting; grass, dry material, grass, dry material, on and on with a light sprinkle of water every so often to keep the moisture content equal to a squeezed out sponge. Minimum size for generation of heat is 3 feet high and 4 feet wide, it can be done in bins with drop or removable sides, but I choose the open yard method and rotate the heap from one side one day and back the next. I add more grass clipping, or rabbit droppings or chicken manure to keep the heat going and rotate, layer and moisten the heap every morning. Rotating can be skipped a day, but much longer than 2 days and the heat can put the fire out and dry the heap. For best results and the hottest, richest compost rotating every day for 14 days gets beautiful compost. I have measured a high of 164 in the core, but average is 140 to 150. I have 32 yards that I maintain and a good portion of the grass and leaves I compost, so my heap is quite large and measures 10 across and 4 to 5 feet high, weighs about 4800 pounds, shaped like a volcano and steams like one. I rotate it around 8 am every morning while I have my second cup of coffee.
Excellent info and great idea about rabbit droppings. Never thought about that.

Questions:

I have easy access to horse manure, is that ok to use?
How long does it take until it forms into and you can use the dirt from it?
What happens if there's sticks and small pieces of firewood in there?
Is ash from the wood stove ok to put into the pile?
Do you let the rain fall on the pile?

Every year I slap myself to do a compost pile. Last year I found a place in nearby town that lets you get free compost from them. Steam comes from the acreas of piles they turn every week. They stopped giving it away to non residents. So I started one this year.

I love the "volcano" analogy.
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:04 PM
 
Location: McKinleyville, California
6,413 posts, read 8,853,968 times
Reputation: 4190
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cambium View Post
Excellent info and great idea about rabbit droppings. Never thought about that.

Questions:

I have easy access to horse manure, is that ok to use?
How long does it take until it forms into and you can use the dirt from it?
What happens if there's sticks and small pieces of firewood in there?
Is ash from the wood stove ok to put into the pile?
Do you let the rain fall on the pile?

Every year I slap myself to do a compost pile. Last year I found a place in nearby town that lets you get free compost from them. Steam comes from the acreas of piles they turn every week. They stopped giving it away to non residents. So I started one this year.

I love the "volcano" analogy.
If you do not have access to grass clippings, good green hay works too, also good is just plain old rabbit food sprinkled between the layers of leaves, weeds and clippings, moisten and turn daily, same results and rabbit food does not require a rabbit and costs around $15 for 50# bag. I have done hot composting in humid Berkeley, hot California valley heat in Pittsburg and hot mountain heat in interior coastal Humboldt county and now here on the mild coast with a high humidity. Crucial to any hot compost is nitrogen, H20 and oxygen. Lack of oxygen makes it anaerobic and encourages a bad smell, aerobic keeps the fire going, but lack of moisture dries the heap and puts out the fire. It is all a balance, too much moisture can put out the fire and then you need to add dry leaves or dry hay between the layers to get the air back into the heap. So the heat needs food, moisture and air to get it hot and keep it going.
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:08 PM
 
3,777 posts, read 7,163,842 times
Reputation: 4129
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cambium View Post
Excellent info and great idea about rabbit droppings. Never thought about that.

I have easy access to horse manure, is that ok to use?
Horse manure makes excellent compost.
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Old 05-04-2013, 01:20 PM
 
Location: McKinleyville, California
6,413 posts, read 8,853,968 times
Reputation: 4190
Quote:
Originally Posted by sll3454 View Post
Horse manure makes excellent compost.
When I lived in Berkeley I walked in the hills and would carry a plastic bag and collect the horse manure to add to my compost heap, it does heat it up well, the hottest I have had was when I raised turkeys, had 18 of them and that manure was super hot, chicken manure heats it up well too. I have chickens and a few rabbits and use the manure in it. We often get heavy rains here in the winter, not this winter, and I cover the heap with a tarp to keep it from getting too wet.
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Old 05-04-2013, 02:48 PM
 
4,755 posts, read 8,380,470 times
Reputation: 3414
Great info. Thanks!

A question for you, does it has to be 3 feet tall minimum? The reason I ask because I would like to use this to make a new flower bed (no dig), but my border bricks are only 12 inches high. I could put 2 alternating layers of straws/grass clippings but that will be already 12 inches tall. I guess I could pile on top more & just let them fall off the edges, but just wondering do they need to be a certain height in order to retain heat?
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