Harvesting and Noticing Moisture and ...

The International Compost Sanitation Forum and Message Board: General Composting Issues: Harvesting and Noticing Moisture and Compaction Issues
Author: Ecointerest (Ecointerest)
Sunday, September 21, 2014 - 5:10 pm
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Jeremy, do you have access to quantities of shredded office paper? This, mixed with the leaves you mention, could make a better cover material and layering within the heap. When you add your next bucketful of humanure, don't move all of the leaves/paper aside, so there is a bit of air trapped in the layer of leaves/paper by the fresh humanure placed on top.

The type of worm present can make a difference. It is likely those already in the ground are deep-feeders and will not colonise the heap very well. "Compost Worms," like your "Reds," or "Tigers," are more surface feeders and will do the job for you.

Author: Jeremy_faye (Jeremy_faye)
Saturday, September 20, 2014 - 11:08 pm
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So, it's been two years, and I'm harvesting my very first batch of humanure compost! I'm so excited!

One thing we're noticing as we take it out of the bin, is that there are bits that are incredibly wet and mushy, and a bit smelly. By contrast, there are other large clumps that are rock hard and dry. Almost looks like charcoal. Once broken up and mixed with the wet stuff, it looks like nice compost, but it's been a huge PITA to break up the rock hard bits and mix it all up. Thinking about shoveling it all in an empty raised bed and using a tiller on it, because trying to sift it has been virtually impossible. There are lots of bugs in it, but no worms. I assumed worms would naturally find it from the ground. I'll plan on adding red worms to the next batch.

Could the compaction issue be from the lack of worms?
Any idea why the moisture is so uneven?
Suggestions for my next bin, which is now being capped?
Suggestions for an easy, low tech way of breaking up the rock hard clumps and mixing it all together? I estimate about 40 cubic feet.

For what it's worth, these bins are in Las Vegas, NV. I water them occasionally, because we get very little rain here. Furthermore, I don't have access to sawdust, and used dry spent coffee grounds as toilet cover material. As course bin cover material, I used leaves.

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