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Adding air to compost pile  RSS feed

 
Louis Kinstler
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I don't get a lot of time to work a compost pile and to get enough compost for the garden I need to set up a few large piles. What i was going to try was adding air to the pile. Either by setting up an air pump on a timer or using an air compressor with a long pole. The idea was to push the pipe into the pile every 4 or 5 days and force air in. Has anyone tried a similar method?
 
Ken Grunke
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Location: SW Wisconsin zone 4
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That won't truly aerate the compost, as it needs to be loosened to allow the air in. If you don't have time to do that by hand, I guess a tumbler drum would be the answer.
 
Louis Kinstler
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i've never had much luck with the tumbler drums. I think they fall a little short due to size. Always wanted to turn a rain water tank into one if i could make a frame up to turn it.
I might set up a couple of piles and see if there is a difference. I know i will still have to work the pile, but it would be nice to cut that down a bit. I have a spare air pump that will push a 100ltrs of air 3mtr under water per minute.
 
Ken Grunke
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Location: SW Wisconsin zone 4
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Your air injection idea is interesting, I wish you luck with that.

Now after checking out barrel tumbler systems on youtube (there's a gazillion of them LOL) I want to build one myself.
I like the roller cradle idea where no modification to the barrel is needed, just turn it by hand for a minute or two.
Here's one example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMEMvQnGWg4
There really needs to be space below the hatch to park a wheelbarrow though so I'd change the frame design accordingly.
 
Matthew Fallon
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Location: long island, ny Z-7a
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dont know if that would work so well . besides getting air, you also want the outer material to get mixed in good.

my compost corner is about 15x15'ish . when i make a big heap it can take up about the entire area with just enough room to walk around it easily.
that doesnt leave room to flip the pile back and forth, so i've employed my rotor tiller for that task (the only job it has anymore). till it down flat
then heap it back up with a pitch fork. works great! and cuts the job in half.

not the most permaculturally-aligned of solutions, but it works .


i can also speak to some of those barrel tumblers.

i had 2 small ones that were given to us, they worked better as an outdoor vermicomposter than for hot composting.
they were just way too small to generate good heat quickly. maybe 20gallon size or so.
even the 55gallon ones are pretty small in my opinion to get good heat...i've talked to owners of them who report the same experience.
may be fine in the city with zero room for a pile(thats where mine live now) but take forever.

now what they WOULD be good for is as a compost trommel .. or simply build one from wood and hardware cloth like this.

 
Saybian Morgan
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Location: Lower Mainland British Columbia Canada Zone 8a/ Manchester Jamaica
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I don't know how I didn't see this threat before, tumbler's aside am I correct in surmising your looking for solutions to static active aerated composting?

I do it small scale with about 1 1/2 to 2 cubic meter's of compost stacked up in the cage from one of those water holding tote tanks. I havn't moved my compost brewer air machine up the hill yet so I can push through an equal volume of air per minute, but honestly I'm really happy with my shop vac and a 3 inch capped tube with holes in it. I remembered how the shop vac was used to clear the 44 gallon pond sand filters so i started researching static aeration because I wanted to speed up my 18 day compost and possibly switch to no turning.

Mind you I'm really really happy with my results, but I've got allot of hands on experience with fast composting in awkward situations and materials. If you have a flat or cold pile all it's going to do is make it colder, but if you bury the pipe and introduce air on day for you can really stoke the bake.
There's no recipe for how long to run the air, and you have to manage the formation of runnels of air. You want the whole mass to steam you don't want to see venting unless you made it on purpose to manage excess water. When I first started I overdid it with air and the pile began to dry out, if I didn't catch that and just sat back with my feet up relying on a timer I'd be toast.
 
Louis Kinstler
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The more i look at composting the more I like the idea of building a large tumbler. Maybe out of two totes bolted together. I have a couple spare that each holds 380ltr.
But due to the amount of cardboard I get from the shop I will be building a few static piles. If i can get the bulk of the pile composted without turning then it would make an easier job to run a tiller over it. Drying out might be overcome with the air going into a sealed bucket of water. Then from there it could go under the pile. That would keep the air going in with a higher water content. Also may mean you could add molasses to the water to help feed the pile.
 
Brian Chandley
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I had a pile in a two bin system and the material rested on a wire grid 4" off the ground (think of it as a floor in the bin). The wire was stapled to 2 x 4's and I had a piece of rebar in the middle to help support the weight. I would then use a 4' piece of rebar to make holes every 4" through the pile. As the material heated in the pile (grass clippings and carbons) this would draw fresh air into the pile. The temperature got to 160 in short order. The wire grid on the bottom had a short lifespan but worked great to aerate the pile.
 
Louis Kinstler
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Currently modifying the wood chipper to better handle cardboard. I might even look at building a small conveyor belt. One that can sit behind the chipper and make the pile as it is chipped. Could also be used when turning the pile into the next stall. I can also see a mesh barrel getting bolted onto the cement mixer as a trommel.
 
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