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Tore apart my compost pile

 
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Had some nice wet black stuff at bottom, tore it apart since we had to get to the door leading into the crawl space.

So my brand new composting method is two metal trash cans, drilled three small holes in bottom and loaded both to top, was told sitting in the sun with lid on it cooks real quick and kills the weed seeds too.

Nice and passive, let sun beat on the metal cans!

Now have 5 cans to the top with more sitting in the side, I'm a ha ha mad hatter at pulling up 'weeds' in yard, racking up cut grass, etc.
 
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Cooking organic materials is not composting them, the heat will not reduce and that will only allow soil pathogenic ciliates and anaerobic bacteria to thrive, not exactly what one desires in their compost.
If you want to cook your materials to kill the seed bank within those materials, you have found a great way to do that, but to turn those materials into compost you will need to place the containers in a shaded area and moisten them as well as get air into them so bacteria and fungi will be able to populate the "heap" and decompose it.
 
Michael Moreken
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Cooking organic materials is not composting them, the heat will not reduce and that will only allow soil pathogenic ciliates and anaerobic bacteria to thrive, not exactly what one desires in their compost.
If you want to cook your materials to kill the seed bank within those materials, you have found a great way to do that, but to turn those materials into compost you will need to place the containers in a shaded area and moisten them as well as get air into them so bacteria and fungi will be able to populate the "heap" and decompose it.



Composts is working, black soldier fly larva are helping since compost is on wet side.
 
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Perhaps you're getting something of a draw up through the small vent holes at the bottom and through gaps in the top of the can. If the air entering the system is cooler and warms in the can, it may be aerating itself through the pile.

Although I like the idea that I could sit a can of almost compost in the sun to kill seeds I don't want in my compost, I prefer to do my hot composting in a scenario where I can use a temperature probe to track thermophilic bacterial activity, which I have found is interfered with if you introduce external heat sources.

Though I might reconsider that approach if a solar can kills weed seeds and pathogens as effectively as a hot compost without consuming minerals and nutrients that could go to feeding the soil.

Dr. Redhawk, could this stand in for hot composting in terms of the killing of pathogens, and would it return more resources to the soil that are otherwise consumed by the thermophilic bacteria? Could you go from this solar cooking to a cold compost/BSFL/vermiculture staged process and burn through fewer soil resources in the composting?

-CK
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Dr. Redhawk, could this stand in for hot composting in terms of the killing of pathogens, and would it return more resources to the soil that are otherwise consumed by the thermophilic bacteria? Could you go from this solar cooking to a cold compost/BSFL/vermiculture staged process and burn through fewer soil resources in the composting?

-CK



The prime temperature for killing pathogenic bacteria is 180 f, That is the temperature that labs use for sterilizing in an autoclave (pressure cooker).
When we are hot composting we are doing several things in the heap, we are killing bacteria, we are killing fungi, but there will be spores released by the mycelium that die in this process, and those will come to life once the heat dissipates.
Since the air contains at least 100,000 bacteria per liter we don't need to be concerned that our compost heap is killing bacteria, both good and bad, the heap will repopulate when the heat dissipates.
The heating process also creates things like CO2, and it helps many of the mineral compounds in the plant matter become free by breaking the bonds that made them part of the plant material, mitochondria will dissolve, releasing many of the proteins that were part of the intercellular structure.
And there are plenty more reactions that occur within the working compost heap, moisture is released by the plant materials which filters down through the materials below and into the soil underneath the heap, this is where humus material will be found.
Some of the organic compounds will break down and form new compounds (this is part of the heating up phase too, in which the heat is the energy released by the processes of decomposition.
Most of the now released proteins will relax, the freed up DNA and RNA from the burst cell walls will uncoil and some will break down into component parts and then reform as other compounds or they will remain free floating, waiting for the right agent mineral or partial protein chain to come in contact so new bonds can form.

Most of the different processes we find in an actively working compost heap are not replicated in an oven like environment, that is more closely related to cooking.
Now, to bypass all these action/reaction processes that are caused by the thermophilic bacteria and other decomposing bacteria that are present in a heating compost heap, would perhaps be detrimental to the actual processes we call composting.
Even if an oven type heating did do some good other than killing unwanted bacteria, it would not be able to create as many new compounds or free protein chains as an actual compost heap would.

I think the idea is worthy of a trial or two just to find out the limitations of the oven process.

Redhawk
 
Michael Moreken
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Emptied all ~full 5 trash cans into a baby pool to dry out.  Got nice looking compost.  Stalks did not break down, but tossing them slimy ones in my pathways where they dry out.  Distributed about half compost in several areas around the 'garden'.  Flipped some stuff in pool to further dry out and dry out some still green stuff.  Slowly now filling one can again with green weeds, and more soldier maggots will come as soon as I put lid on, they migrate to top, until I lift the lid and they see sun.

With all green mostly the composting tends to be wet, which the soldier flies like.
 
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I also use metal trash cans for composting.  They are durable and rodent-proof, which is a big concern here in the city.  I have one resting on the ground which has holes drilled not just in the bottom, but also scattered holes up and down the sides for some ventilation.  That one is for kitchen waste.  Interesting idea to put it in the sun, because my one complaint with the trashcan composting is that it is not really big enough to get "hot" composting under normal conditions.

Another can we pried the bottom off and dug a pit so it is halfway buried, that is for dog poop, paper, ashes, and occasional dead bird. Plan to just pull up the can and bury that stuff in situ, then start a new pit.
 
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