Yet another "can't get it too compost...

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Yet another "can't get it too compost" thread
Author: Billy_thr_krik (Billy_thr_krik)
Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - 5:12 pm
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Couldn't resist !

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Tuesday, September 03, 2013 - 4:32 pm
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hahahahahahahahahaha.....thats good.

Author: Billy_thr_krik (Billy_thr_krik)
Monday, September 02, 2013 - 4:10 pm
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Eat chilli peppers!

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 5:27 pm
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Some would say dogs don't have a sense of humour, but that look on your dog's face says it all.

Great communication, Morpho, wishing you well.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 7:37 pm
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Ecointerest:
So I did a temp conversion and 105F is 40C....I might have to mail you a couple muskrats and a beaver or two to get your temp higher than that.
My dog is a machine and will be more than happy to oblige.
Poor critters....

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 7:30 pm
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Joe:
nuff said...like all good things in life, they take time to mature...compost included.

Ecointerest:
I will mail you a stinky old muskrat...that last one boosted the temp to 105F



I hope my trials and tribulations will help out the next would be "poo cooker" who comes looking for answers.

Thanks everyone

Author: Joe (Joe)
Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 9:38 am
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For what it's worth, my compost pile developed higher and more consistent temperatures over time (years) situated in the same place. It used to take as long as 6 weeks to start heating up when I started a new pile, now it heats up right away. I think it's feasible that you will develop a bacterial strain or strains that become acclimated to your location over time, maybe after many bacterial generations. It's kind of like cheese bacteria - different strains produce different results (cheeses). Give it some time and let your compost organisms organically evolve.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 5:33 pm
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I can hear your frustration, Morpho. My pile is running at just under 40 C now, and it does not get any where near the amount your pile gets.
I have stopped worrying about getting the temperature up further. I reckon the bio-diversity in the pile will do all the breaking down necessary over 9-12 months before I use the compost.
If it heats up to 50-55 I will be happy, but if not, no sweat.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 12:15 pm
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Okay...I will just keep adding to it....and adding to it.
I dump three buckets a week and add probably a little more than a wheel barrow of greens with that...the kitchen scraps go in there...plus the odd random mouse, squirrel, muskrat that the dog drags home.
If I am outside and I need to pee I have a bucket that I use so I can pour that into the pile. I don't know why I can't get it HOT...lukewarm is the best I can get for some reason.

I started this pile in mid May and it is currently near the top of the bin.... 4'...maybe a bit taller.
I currently have 5 bins on the go because they simply seem to take forever to do what they are supposed to do....no worries in the end...I have 5 acres to pile up poop in.


I

Author: Joe (Joe)
Monday, August 26, 2013 - 8:49 pm
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Continuous compost piles need fed on a regular basis in order to keep up their temperatures. If you neglect to feed them long enough, the temperature will drop.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 7:30 am
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Reminds me of my time in East Africa, when I was experimenting with a methane gas plant.... and my neighbour was terrified it would explode and cover his house in s....t!

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Sunday, August 25, 2013 - 1:25 am
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Hmmm?
I don't know....sounds logical as well.
I'm "this close" to diesel and a burn barrel! There!...how is that for hot compost!!??!!??
I'll add even more greens and even more liquids and see what happens...

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Saturday, August 24, 2013 - 3:18 pm
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Just thinking aloud here, in case it helps your situation:
Consider what is essential for that composting process, and see if any factor gets "used up" in a short space of time. For example, with those greens, like the grass from the lawn mower, maybe it's the sugars which are being used up quickly. The organisms need more "food."
Or as it heats up initially, the moister gets used up and it becomes too dry for any more heating to take place.
Often when I open up my humanure heap ready for a new addition, the previous batch has become too dry, so I sprinkle about 1-2 litres (a couple of pints probably) from the watering can before emptying my bucket into the pile.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 1:12 pm
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ya, there was a mix of fines from under the lawnmower and some straight from the grass whip. (yes I still use a grass whip...needs no gas and if I were a golfer I'm sure it would improve my game!
It is what it is for the moment I guess.

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 12:52 am
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@morpho - I have seen even relatively small piles of grass clippings get very hot within several days, maybe less. But if the greens are fairly dry or bulky and unclipped it could well take longer. SIZE does matter, Finer particles tend to heat up faster.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 7:16 pm
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it's still warm...not exactly steaming though.
Moisture seems fine.
When I added the buckets last time I put probably a wheel-barrels worth of greens in with three buckets of humanure/sawdust. It heated up then the temp dropped off.
Today It is 85....so I don't know.....don't sweat it. I will just keep at it and in the meantime I will build another bin.

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 - 5:25 pm
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@Morpho - Dig down say a about a foot in the center - its not steaming ?

Is it damp ?

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Sunday, August 18, 2013 - 1:49 am
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Okay...the pile maxed out at 112 for a few days then dropped down to 95.

My steaming pile was short lived.....

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 10:26 pm
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@Morpho - good job. The greens tend to be high Nitrogen so is the horse manure. Both also have moisture, unless the manure was dried. By increasing the size of the pile you increased the mass. These are the issues Ecointerest and I talked about.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 7:55 pm
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hahahaha...metasomethin' anyway.

I hope to see the temp keep rising over the next few days.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 7:27 pm
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Well done! That sounds Metamorphic, Morpho!

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 2:33 pm
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Who's got a steaming pile of POOP!?!?!?
ME! ..thats who!

I added a whole whack of greens to the pile this last bucket dumping and a bit of manure I stole from my neighbours pasture.

I put a bucket in....put a good pile of greens on top....added another bucket...another pile of greens etc.

a day and a half later it was up to about 105F
So there you have it...I will just need to keep the greens levels up.
Though I will need to reconcile the fact that the pile may grow fast...which was the original problem...hmmmm?
Maybe the more rapid composting will shrink the pile faster...I will find out I guess.

Thanks again

Author: Chemo (Chemo)
Wednesday, August 07, 2013 - 11:00 am
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How about putting a dark colored tarp over it and let the sun bake it? Also, I include OLD horse manure that has been baking for a long time in the Arizona sun. This provides a good, brown covering for your bin. All horse owners love to give away manure, LOL.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Monday, August 05, 2013 - 5:41 pm
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The ambient temp was about 80...+/-
The bin is 5'x5' the mound is about 3' across and about 3' deep.

So if there is too much sawdust then I'm not sure what to do as we need to cover the deposits in the bucket and the only way to do that is to cover with sawdust. Hmmm?

I have tried to use less, but then I am not getting good coverage.
And we are not talking crazy thick layers of sawdust here. My wife says she often uncovers poop when she pees. ( I aim for the back edge...score one for the boys!) Though I can concede that we are not shy about using it to make sure everything is covered and there is no smell.

So then I need to add more greens to the pile then...okay...

That takes me back to another question I have about adding the greens.

So I am confused by how the sawdust and the greens react with each other if they are layered one on top of the other.
Deposit bucket contents... cover with greens... cover with cover material.....repeat next time...

So if they are layering it would seem obvious that the sawdust is just sitting there as a glump , isolated from the nitrogen it needs.

Am I missing something?

Author: Joe (Joe)
Monday, August 05, 2013 - 4:21 pm
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When the compost was 93F, what was the ambient temperature?

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Sunday, August 04, 2013 - 11:36 pm
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@Morpho - use less sawdust if possible. Also rotted sawdust will heat up faster.

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Sunday, August 04, 2013 - 11:33 pm
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@Morpho - are you saying the contents are in a bin 5ftx5ft at the base ? How deep are the contents ? If its over 3 ft tall and still not heating up and you want it to, my guess is it is too dry and or not enough nitrogen. Said another way too much sawdust.

I will suggest sprinkling a thin layer of soil over the pile, follow up with a nitrogen solution (urine,chicken manure, fertilizer...) and sprinkling on some more water. Cover it up with weeds, grass clippings... and wait about 5 days.

I assume you are using sawdust and not shavings.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Friday, August 02, 2013 - 11:09 pm
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Hi test2...welcome to my version of "I just want a steaming pile like Joe has" thread here on the Humanure Forum.

The pile is in a 5'x5' bin.
All urine is added.
The greens are a random mix of clover, alfalfa, thistle, canola, grass from mowing (scraping out the underside of the mower)
etc. etc. Mostly added as fresh and green straight from the field.
I checked the moisture in a very non scientific way and it certainly wasn't dry nor was it dripping wet....just moist.

The temp dropped today by 5 degrees.

Author: Test2 (Test2)
Friday, August 02, 2013 - 5:31 pm
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Mass (big is good), Moisture(like a damp sponge) and adequate Nitrogen is very important. Urine must go in.

What are the approximate dimensions of the pile ?

Alot of dry corse long weeds may slow the heating process down. Smaller particle size makes the process faster.

AS the pile builds up mass and moisture is adequate it should start to heat up.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Friday, August 02, 2013 - 4:16 am
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mmm.... my finger doesn't reach quite that far, lol !
However, it does show that composting has quite a bit of artistry and "try it and see" technique. Frustrating sometimes, because we all want to see it working well, with good reason, apart from the satisfaction point of view.
I have stopped worrying about my heap when it does not reach those higher thermophilic temperatures. Right now, in the colder weather of the southern hemisphere (Antarctica is not many thousands of miles away), my heap is bordering on 30 degrees C. I am aware of the factors which tend to affect temperature, i.e., moisture, nitrogen level, quantity of fresh humanure added and how often, quality of insulation, etc.
When I get it all right that's a great sense of achievement.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Friday, August 02, 2013 - 12:03 am
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well Ecointerest...stick your finger in there and let me know what ya think.... ;)

It is pretty moist...in my opinion...but then again I'm the guy who can't get it to heat up...so what do I know?...NADA apparently!

thanks.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Thursday, August 01, 2013 - 5:23 pm
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Looks too dry.....

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Thursday, August 01, 2013 - 1:22 pm
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Hello,
Okay, picked up a thermometer and have had it in for three days now. The temp has been a constant 93F +/- a degree or two.
Thanks for any input.


As requested...a picture of my pile:
Just dug into it and ready for a three buckets worth.

Author: Joe (Joe)
Friday, July 19, 2013 - 10:36 am
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Morpho - check the temperature with a thermometer. If it is actually not heating up, post a photo or two of your compost.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 11:19 pm
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hmmm?
I just had a look at the "Emptying Humanure Toilet Receptacles" video again and looked at the color and consistancy as you dump it.
It looks dark and kind of has cow manure consistency. When I dump a bucket it certainly doesn't look like that! It looks like a bucket of moist sawdust. Maybe I need more fibre. hahahahaha.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 11:04 pm
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Hi Joe and Ecointerest,

Okay okay okay...I'll pick up a thermometer next time I go to the city..... I hate spending money....almost as much as I hate going to the city! (currently shaking my cane at the fancy city folk with their "shoes" and their "horseless carriages"!)

yes we cover the contents with enough sawdust to make it non visible, (well not too fussed about paper and we don't always cover after urinating but you would be hard pressed to see a log sitting there!)
On occasion I get the ammonia smell from the pile indicating too much nitrogen. But this could be from the grass etc. layered above and sitting isolated from the sawdust. I don't know...it's all a weird mystery to me.

This seems to be the biggest issue people face with actually making it "work".
The local government permit types would undoubtedly be a lot less edgy if they could consistently see the pathogen killing temps in peoples piles.

I don't know....I'll get a thermometer and take it from there.

Hey Joe...still glad you wrote a book!?!?
hahahahaha...sucker!

Author: Joe (Joe)
Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 10:06 pm
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Get a thermometer.

http://humanurehandbook.com/store/Reotemp-20-Inch-Compost-Thermometer.html

Let us know what the temperature is.

Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Thursday, July 18, 2013 - 5:39 am
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Morpho, I can understand your problem there. My compost pile does not get hot right now. And like yourself, I am not too worried about it staying relatively cool. There are compost worms in my pile, (Tigers mostly), and they love the warm temperatures and breed prolifically. I reckon they do a fantastic job of breaking down the humanure over 9-12 months.
One suggestion about why your pile remains cool: how much sawdust do you put in the bucket? Is it possible you are adding too much and therefore lacking the right amount of nitrogen? I tend to cover everything, pee, pooh and paper so that you can't see anything but sawdust (aesthetic considerations). So this is probably the situation with my pile as well... too little nitrogen and maybe not enough humanure added each time: pile too small.

Author: Morpho (Morpho)
Wednesday, July 17, 2013 - 2:22 pm
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Okay,
year three.
Yes, everything goes into the pile.
Sawdust is spruce and poplar. Raw, not kiln dried, not shavings.
No I don't have a thermometer, but I can tell you it isn't even warm never mind hot.
Grass, straw, weeds are added to the pile...I copy what joe does in the video and others talk about doing. make a depression, add bucket, top with weeds etc. add cover material.
It's moist enough...not wet...just moist.

So, when I dig into the ever growing pile to have a peek at it. I find just a big pile of sawdust. The grass and weeds are mostly gone and the sawdust is just sitting there...doing nothing.

I have often wondered about the putting of weeds etc. on top of the bucket contents. What exactly does this accomplish if you are doing this over the top of three buckets? How does it affect the sawdust below it? Leaching down into it? Should I be mixing it into the bucket contents?
I have tried adding dead things. I have tried more weeds etc. less of them...all to no success.
I'm not actually worried or fixated on "hot compost" as a way to kill pathogens etc. I simply need it to break down faster as I can't keep building compost bin after compost bin waiting for it to break down. Winter is coming again soon enough and I will be adding to a frozen pile for 6 months. It gets well big by the time spring rolls around.
Any thoughts?

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